Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Playing to your strengths...?

So, it's 2.41am on a Wednesday (i.e. work day) morning... and I've been awake since 11.50pm. Since I'm guessing I dropped off to sleep around 9.30pm... you do the sums. ;-) I'm not too bothered, though, because this has been a very productive and enjoyable few days, work-wise (at least, from my perspective) and if this is part of the price I have to pay for that, then so be it.

If I had to characterise the times when I feel happiest at work, it is when I am being "creatively productive", by which I mean that I am breaking new ground (for me, for my employer, ideally both) in terms of what I am producing with the technologies I specialise in. Typically, this is when I'm working on new product development, e.g. prototyping new products or proving new technologies. "Non-creatively productive" (or cranking out what my boss sometimes refers to as "monkey work", i.e. detail-oriented but not particularly intellectually stimulating work) is fine from time to time, but increasingly I don't have the concentrated focus to do such work for long periods (i.e. weeks at a time). This has particularly been the case over the last few months; when I would have to classify a fair proportion of my time as having been "non-creatively non-productive".

As a conscientious employee, that really bothers me. For an employer, I rather imagine I can be somewhat of a trial; by turns innovative, productive and frustratingly ineffective. Put it this way; I'm glad *I* don't have to manage me! ;-)

However, recognising the realities of a situation at least allows you to focus on turning that situation to your advantage; so we decided that (at least for now) I would step away from direct development responsibilities and focus almost exclusively on prototyping and new product development. I say "almost" exclusively, because I'm still on hand to offer design guidance, performance optimisation advice and to act as a "sounding board" for my colleagues.

I think (I certainly hope!) that this is proving beneficial to my employers, because I certainly feel it's working for me. Sadly, I'm not at liberty to divulge specific details in a public forum like this (my colleague James made the point in this post that while blogging we must be mindful of our responsibilities; specifically, in this case, not inadvertently giving away Intellectual Property Rights). The educator in me wants to share the benefit of what I'm doing freely with the community; the employee in me recognises that my employer would probably rather I didn't give away what they pay me to produce! Which is fair enough.

Anyway, I'm having quite a ball at the moment; on the one hand, using my specialist technologies in ways that I haven't before now (and, it would appear, in ways that others haven't) and on the other, dusting off skills I haven't used in a long while (e.g. hacking together a "quick and dirty" user interface in Active Server Pages) because I don't want to distract the people who normally tackle UI issues. To be honest, it's so much fun that it seems overkill that I'm actually getting paid to do this! (Note: that's *not* an offer to cut my wages!) It's "show and tell" in a week or so, so I'm looking forward to letting my colleagues take a peek at what I've been doing.

On a non-work note, my friend and colleague TJ fitted a new CD radio in my car Lottie last week, and I cannot adequately express how much difference this has made to my commute. Freed from the dreck that is (in my opinion) UK commercial radio, I can listen to music (*my* definition of music) and also use the time to listen to podcasts which I've downloaded and burnt to CD-Rom. If there's one technology innovation that's made a step change in my habits this year, it's podcasting. Even though I don't have an iPod - although I rather covet an iPod Mini; in pink, naturally! ;-) But I think I'll wait for a wireless iPod, ideally with iPodder (or similar) embedded.

Hey ho, 3.58am, might as well do some work!

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