I observe three basic types of people working in the IT field: kings, sages, and cogs.
The king is one who has complete control over how they are going to orient a given IT shop. He creates strategy and manages the implementation of that strategy. Most importantly, he can come up with his own ideas and implement them. Think director, VP, CTO, or CIO.
1% of the workforce.
The sage is the person that everyone listens to. He may not get to (or even be in the position to) implement the changes he proposes, but when he proposes a solution to a problem it gets taken seriously by those who can make the changes. Think high quality consultant.
9% of the workforce.
A cog is an employee in a large organization who simply implements the vision put forth by someone else. He has no real pull with the kings of the organization and is not respected as a sage. This is the average IT worker bee.
90% of the workforce.
Which Are You?
In general, to attain fulfillment in IT one must be either a king or a sage. Being a cog is deeply depressing to any who values his intellect and creativity. In both the king and the sage’s cases, they can see a problem, have a flash of genius, whiteboard a solution, and either implement it or recommend it be implemented with good chances that it will be.
Cogs, on the other hand, are bodies. They are there to write code, create pretty documents, or to flip switches. What they are not there to do is give meaningful input, and when they attempt to do so it’s usually greeted with a polite smile and promptly disregarded. Ideas from cogs are viewed as amusing to management–like a child pretending to be an adult.
Of course, these roles often mix together. Everyone in IT is, to some degree, a cog for the business, and some cogs are treated like sages by their management. But in general, the gravity within large companies encourages sages to become cogs. In short, if you regularly identify serious problems, know how to fix them, constantly mention this only to be summarily ignored–you’re a cog.
Life is Short
Be a king. Be a sage. Don’t be a cog. Life is too precious, and this is all the time we get. Don’t waste it in an environment that stifles creativity and weighs on the soul. ::