Friday, January 27, 2006

Taylorism and IT - Specialization is for Insects

I think way back in high school, I dimly remember a mention of Taylor. Or maybe my Dad mentioned his name to me at some point. In any case, I got re-introduced to Taylor via the excuse me, Ghidorah? podcast a while back. This guy seemed to have some interesting concepts and a creative way of combining them in one stream, so it's a shame that he hasn't blogged or podcast in months.

Anyway, I see an awful lot of Taylorism trying to be applied to IT, and it really makes me scratch my head. When I first got out of school, I didn't find a job right away - I started working at my part-time job at PSU full-time. Later in the fall, I found a real job at a small startup called TSA. They had so few resources that I wore many different hats, sometimes on the same day. I was db admin, architect, client/server programmer, script monkey, db programmer, db designer, UNIX admin, tape jockey, and did site installs and some tech support, gathered requirements, put together a schedule for my own work, etc. I learned a lot, but I got paid so little that I eventually moved on.

Now, I see people even trying to push themselves into a niche. I knew someone a few years back who pitched themselves as a "JSP developer". During a session of being laid off, I got "advice" from a headhunter that I should try to specialize, that generalists were shyed away from. Wow, that's a big difference from what I was used to in the past. I get blown off by people in "IT" (you know, the network/NT/Unix admins) because I'm a "programmer" who is probably asking too many questions, and they find it threatening, I guess. Same with some DBAs. And architects. It's not all, just some - but it happens far too much, in my opinion. I find it weird in any case.

Specialization is for insects
, and I don't understand why the workers themselves go along with Taylorism. It weakens their position, and leads to burnout.

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