The IT Animal Kingdom

Now that I have liberated myself from the last zoo I worked at I feel that it is my duty to document the IT (Information Technology) world for those out there that happen to enter it. I wish I had seen the TV show “The Office” to see if I was ripping it off, but oh well. I am sure that someone has had a similar idea and I will hear a complaint. I’m intending this as a good PSA for all the people out there. It is no accident that I have made all of the managers predators, and it is not due to anger. If I was angry, I would have compared my managers to the characters from the “Wizard of Oz” – no heart, no brains and no courage. Disclaimer: Any similarity with real people is purely coincidental and it is up to you if you want to claim the title.

The Eager Beaver
I think there is a little Eager Beaver in all of us when we start in a new department. This character is the one that is always coming up with new innovative ideas that, while brilliant, will never be implemented. There are many varieties of this beaver, from the one that eventually gets beat down and controlled to the one that actually tells his boss he is just stupid. And, yes, to his face… and, yes, I have seen this one in the wild. Eager Beavers know what they are doing when it comes to technology; however they spent too much time on new ideas and not enough on actual production.

The Barracuda
Very hard to spot and very dangerous. This character, in the jungle, is the one that you think is a friend but it is only gathering information while your guard is down. When the Barracuda attacks, you will never see it coming. The Barracuda has a vast knowledge of the company, they have been there since the beginning of time and are still around because there are so many traps they have set that they pretty much have employment for life.

The Porcupine
I am very proud of this animal. They are masters at not doing their job. When anyone approaches them, bosses included, they ball up and sometimes even shoot back. They have very good knowledge of an old system and refuse to learn something new. It is very amusing to see a porcupine and a brand new eager beaver interact.

The Worker Bee
Thank God for the worker bee. Without the Worker Bee most companies would have closed long ago. You can see the Worker Bee getting to work before anyone else and working very late. The worker bee picks up the pieces that everyone else drops and actually makes them work together. Do not confuse the worker bee with our next friend the Remora. The Worker Bee at times is not as technically or talented, but thanks to hard work they always accomplish the task.

The Sharksucking Remora
My all time favorite animal… if I was a predator that could actually eat them. They are the all time boss servicing fish that keeps them clean and shinny. They pretend to be Worker Bees because they are masters at taking credit for everything that is done right in the company. They might have some talent, but it is hard to tell the difference between accomplishments and stolen credit.

The Peacock
It is amazing how this animal even makes it in IT. They are characterized by a display of knowledge that is outstanding. They chose their feathers wisely since their knowledge cannot be countered by anyone else in the organization. They are so crafty, that at times they even become managers.

The Migratory Geese
Also known as consultants. These birds, that sometimes come from India, come in and promise to fix everything. They are always very knowledgeable, talented and at times cheap. However, at the last second, they are called back to their mother ship and leave the project halfway done. At that point, they promise to send other birds, but these ones are even more expensive and harder to track.

The PM Skunk
Ah, the all too wonderful Project Manager. They are an animal that always knows when to appear. Everyone thinks they are not too bad, but when under pressure, they release a cloud of confusion that leaves projects paralyzed. Do not be fooled by their laborious nature, in the end they will leave you smelling for a long time.

The Irish Setter
They are masters at pointing fingers. They never solve a problem but have an uncanny nose that tells them who messed up and they spend their days pointing. All other animals fear him because even though he is not a true predator. He has the ability to have their backing.

The Orangutan Architect
I could make a whole post about this animal. They are genius that no one else understands. They create the most complex systems for simple solutions. You do not want to ever get into their code because they love spaghetti. Somehow they are also backed by the predators because of their capability to confuse.

The Dodo Bird
Every manager that I have encountered has claimed to be this animal. However, I have yet to find it. This manager says that he will always stick up for you, provide you with training and never look for blame. They are always talking about great benefits, compensation and comp time*. Along with his disappearance, comp time disappears.

The Shark
The most feared animal in the jungle. Even though he is not the strongest and without its habitat he is not much of a treat. He swims around the office looking for victims. Through fear he accomplishes everything and looks like a champ to those on the top. Never ask a shark for comp time.

The 900lb Gorilla
Like other managers, this one rules through fear. This one uses its brute temper to dominate all other animals in the kingdom. If he starts pounding it chest, it is time to leave the premises. Do not taunt this brute or you will be hurt.

The Narnia Lion
Like its movie counterpart this one comes and then goes. This is close to the dodo bird on being the perfect manager but they always seem to disappear or morph into another. I have actually worked with one Narnia lion and it was a wonderful experience. He was the only manager that ever gave me a heads up and told me, “Leave this company, they are going to collapse.”

In other instances, these are the managers that end up leaving because the Barracuda, the Orangutan and the Irish Setter conspire against him and end up killing him at the stone table.

I hope this is informative and entertaining. Feel free to add your encounter with other animals in the kingdom since I am sure there are others.

* Comp Time: Is a fictitious IT tool used to lured employees into working extra hours and weekend in the hope of future time off. The comp time never equals the effort if it ever appears. If comp time is ever offered it is later used as a guilt tool. Beware of anyone that offers you comp time.

6 comments on “The IT Animal Kingdom

  1. Love it. Brilliant!! So true. Comp time is a myth. It’s better to CYA and pad the Y*** out of time estimates if you ever get the opportunity. I’m going to forward this on to my bros.

  2. And who said you didn’t have enough time in your hands? Whenever you come up with all this stuff, John? Entertaining, indeed. :)

  3. Funny enough, I can see this applying to marketing as well. I’m a PM right now, but I hope that I’m not quite a skunk:)

  4. You should get funding and write a book!

    P.S. I still work at that zoo, and nothing’s changed.

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