Blog Post

The Real Purpose for Kindle


It finally dawned on me why people would bother getting a separate book-reading device like Kindle - and why it might be a good idea especially in a database professional's line of work.

My epiphany came today while at Borders in the Business/Management section and I see a book called "Am I the only Sane One Working Here?: 101 Solutions for Surviving Office Insanity." Aha! Then another title pops out: "Surviving the Toxic Workplace." Yet another title supports the trend: "Dealing with People you Can't Stand." LOL!

That's what people are doing! They want to read these books during a spare moment - but it's a little embarassing to keep titles like this around your workspace where people might see them - but on a reader, one gets the privacy - and can get some JIT (Just in Time) advice right before a meeting with co-workers, bosses, management and the like.

See, I've been on a kick lately to cut down on devices so there's fewer to babysit. I already have to babysit five computers in the home with updates and such. I got rid of the GPS device, opting to use the Google smart phone for that. So the thought of getting a separate device to read on has induced nausea. But not anymore. Now I get it.

But seriously - I think there's some much-needed literature out there on "soft skills" that's relevant to the database professional - that would benefit the company and the career.

On a recent consulting gig a DBA commented on how often a DBA is "outnumbered" by the crew of software developers - and so often faces a minority position in the politics of decision-making. Sometimes the DBA becomes the lone voice for looking long-term and can get caught in an authoritarian role that breeds resentment.

In situations like this, some skill in finding ways to help people want to do things a certain way rather than being told to do it that way would come in handy.

An underlying premise behind many of these advice books is that a skill is involved that can be learned. If it were all just some inborn talent like "carisma" that made the difference, then there's nothing you can do about it. Might as well go read Shakespeare.

I think it's tempting to cast a problem in a bleak light - to make it look like it's outside of ones control. In these situations, I challenge you to think again. Is there really nothing you can do about it? Is it really hopeless?

I'm reading "Crucial Confrontations" right now - and plan to read a dozen or more similar books in 2011. That book explains how it isn't carisma or some inborn trait that makes the difference in tough social situations. It's skill that can be learned.

I think that if I add more soft skill to what I do as a database professional, I can help steer the enterprise clear of trade-offs that aren't worth the cost, I can round out some of my own rough edges, I can better share the vision of future-oriented thinking, I can better give voice to my perspective during meetings - and both the company and my career will be better off for it.

So go out and grab a Kindle - then you can read things like "How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You" or "How to be a Truly Rotten Boss" all on a comfortable, private reader device.


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