Why IT managers are Type ‘Z’ personalities

The other day I sat in on an event where the keynote speaker, an industry analyst, started off with a great strategy for warming up the crowd. It went something like this:

“I want everyone to think of the following shapes and pick out the one that stick with you,” he said. “Pick only one. Now think of a triangle. Okay? Now think of a circle. Now think of a square.” He also asked us to think of the letter “Z.”

Then it was time to go around the room for a show of hands. Who thought of a triangle, he asked? A number of hands went up. “Okay, these are the people who will stop at nothing to get to the top,” he said. “Keep a close eye on these people. They’re probably in sales.”

Then it was time for those who picked a circle. “These are the creative types, the people in marketing and so on,” he said. A few people put up their hands for a square. “Okay, well, we always need accountants and finance people, I guess,” he joked. Those “Z” people? Those were people who used all kinds of strategies to get things done, zig-zagging this way and that.

I don’t think I have to tell you who I think the IT managers are, but “Type Z personalities” seems like an appropriate description to me. By constantly dealing with new demands, different stakeholders and keeping up with a wide variety of new technologies, IT managers are used to providing flexibility, and more than one approach to solving a problem. You just can’t forget about – or ignore – those other shapes.

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