My short stint at Microsoft taught me a great deal about “Tribal Knowledge” in the technology industry. I went through extensive training involving how to find answers to questions without taking up anyone’s time. However, there was a catch, a big one, that I quickly realized the entire company was built on. Documentation was never up to date. Those that held specialized knowledge kept it to themselves to guarantee their job security. Those that had been in their position for some time also had “legacy knowledge”, as in “you had to be there to know”.
You see, “Tribal Knowledge” is a term used to describe a group that holds information that others outside the group are not privy to accessing. I’ve been told that it is a common problem throughout the tech industry. At Microsoft, this meant that salesmen had to wait that much longer for me to figure out what I needed to do. Consequently, this meant that customers had to wait. While I still powered through and had more done than any new hire, it also meant that I was close to breaking the max error percentage of 2%. It was after all, hundreds of millions of dollars I was working with and every error could mean thousands lost.
Jumping to today, I’m at LexBlog where I just talked with multiple colleagues about me taking on a Project Manager position for building and managing online syndication communities. That was a ton of words that I don’t expect anyone to know and they are quite vague. Let me say it like this: I get to build online communities, digital communities. While I’ve already been a part of every aspect of these “Portals”, I get to wear the big hat of onboarding and training the people that will run these various communities. I’m stoked.
The one thing I’ve kept in mind throughout this process is language. How I talk about these communities to the managers is how they will grow their communities.
How you talk about a thing is as important as the thing itself.
What I don’t want is for my fellow co-workers to feel like anything that I know is off limits. I also don’t want these community leaders to feel like they cannot ask me about, well, anything!
Switching gears slightly.
I want this to help my long-term goals. I want to apply to a Phd with a solid New Media, Mass Communication, and digital community-building background. I want to be the guy in the room who can talk about these topics from a foundation of first-hand experience. This means that I’ll have to do my best to learn the language of designers, developers, and clients.
My head is already swimming from the last few months of learning a whole new set of skills as it is, but I haven’t seem to be lagging or dropping the ball too much.
Finally, I just want to say that I’m finally ready for phase 2 of going through Phd programs. I’m going to go through the faculty to see if there are people I’d love to work with. Of course, I already have some ideas, but I have too many programs on the list as is.
I say it every time because I mean it every time. Thank you for reading. Life has not been the most fun or easy, but this last year has really made the world of difference. I can confidently say that I’m going in a solid direction with tons of support. Even if I don’t get into any school, I’ll be happy for the experiences that lead me there through my time at LexBlog and the wonderful people that work there. Thank you all for reading.