Saturday, September 22, 2007

NPR - Why women have it right

Ok, I know this is sexist, men are one thing and women the opposite. And I know it's not true because an individual's personality and temperament is far more important than their gender. So making such a blatant statement seems ridiculus, but hear me out. It's not about individual gender but about the general view the genders use to resolve issues or solves problems.

The whole thing is about the approach you take to some issue, task, or problem. And in general - emphasizing general as I'll explain, is that men focus more on goals and results and women more on process and organization. These are really human traits and aligning them to one gender isn't correct, but it's simply for the sake of the argument. Except that generalities have some importance and relevance.

But then generalities are also about exceptions, to which I'm one. I'm a process and organization thinker, partly described in connecting the dots. I was great at data and database management because I thought about the pieces and the whole simultaneously and thought about the what and how with the pieces and the whole.

I was able to define the larger task by the elements, the process, the tasks, the organization, and then put it together in the goals and plan. My only problem was the timelines and deadlines. And this is where my boss and I had some interesting discussion. When he would argue about meeting the deadlines, saying redefine the work as you go and even dropping tasks or elements to meet the deadlines, I would argue for the work, saying deadlines aren't important when you want a quality result.

And in senior staff meetings, the generalities showed as most of the men and a few women would argue goals and results irrespective of the resources and staff, where most of the women and a few men would argue about people, quality, cooperation, etc. where the results depend on the resources and staff. It's safe to say in the long run, my view which brought about better products and services cost me my section chief job and duties.

This argument is the old one about quality versus timeliness. There is a balance between the two, but my experience tells me this is rarely done, and managers tend to side on the latter and the staff on the former. Managers like showing results and staff like showing the quality of their work. Throughout my career as a staffer, supervisor and (technical) manager while I managed my work within timeframes, I always followed quality and let time take care of itself.

And my point? Do women really have it right? Well, not totally but mostly, and I'll stay who I am and how I work and go through life. After all the only deadline we have in life is our death, all the rest is the quality of our life.

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