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To the Drifters, Makers, Why-Askers, and Systems Thinkers…

Published: May 14, 2017

1 gp OZtn lsmZvVb3bRggzQ I’m looking for my extended tribe. I know you’re out there! I want to connect ( @johncutlefish on Twitter)

. There’s not a lot of career advice out there for us, and I really wish that could change. I think we have a ton to offer.

What’s the name of our tribe? Drifting Systems Thinkers? “Creatives” ? Jack-of-all-trades (masters of some)? White-space Dwellers? Org Designers? Builders, crafters, tinkerers? Why-askers?

We haven’t taken the traditional path in tech (if there is such a thing). We’ve drifted, explored, tested, failed, and very occasionally “won”. We are “technical” AND “creative” (and empathetic/stubborn, strategic/tactical, makers/sellers, problem definers/solution pitchers etc.). Getting work isn’t difficult, but finding the right fit (for us, not them) is difficult. We lack the hardened political savvy of managers, but think in systems and have empathy and perspective. Disorder, uncertainty, and fluidity is comfortable (hey, we’re drifters), but hindered sense-making is not comfortable (we are natural sense-makers and systems thinkers).

I’m not saying this is “special”. Rather I’m pointing out that it can be hard to put us in a neat and tidy box. Those who pick the management track have certain goals. Those who stay deep in the trenches have certain goals. But we’re sort of stuck somewhere in the middle.

If you’re like me you relish that amazing rush when a team of creative people get flow and have impact. But I also see (and feel, deeply) the impact of the larger picture on the team. I can’t ignore the big picture. Unnecessary hierarchy bothers me. Intimidation bothers me. Perverse incentives bother me. Lack of transparency and coherence bothers me. Safety and diversity is extremely important to me. But that’s just me — I just sense this stuff. It’s me, not you.

It is precisely this “white-space” that can be hard for others to navigate. And this is where we thrive and where we can provide value. But we need to support each other with opportunities, feedback, and learning opportunities. We’re a diverse lot! Let’s capitalize on the bundle of contradictions!

Does this ring true with anyone? How do you balance your interests? Which environments do you thrive in? How do you find your fit?