Are you a team player?

What does that mean?!

A couple weeks ago, we have skip-level meetings. Which is Intel-speak for I had lunch and a one-on-one with my boss’s boss.

Before you cringe, keep in mind I have never hidden my personality.  I stir the pot and am generally disruptive when it comes to creating new software solutions.  I hate the status quo. Change is good. Change is eternal. Change is the only constant. I digress…

During lunch, the Director of my division started talking about the latest reorg that was happening as a fall-out of our CEO change. He talked about how we were organized more like a golf team than a basketball team.

What does that mean?

A golf team is built up of individual contributors. Each adds independently to the overall goal. Each plays to their strengths. And team cohesion is not very important.

A basketball team is almost an exact opposite. You have a collection of players that have to be “in sync,” in each others heads to know where to pass the ball, when to dribble, when to press a fast break or when to hold back to slow the game down as a single unit. Integration and team cohesion is critical.

After doing another interview for an opportunity at another corporation, I had to reflect on this topic. The feedback from the interview said that I was too much of a solo player to fit into the organization this manager was trying to build.

My response was “Yes and no.”

As a long-term consultant, I am used to fitting into the mold in which I have been poured (sort of). I fill a need. Usually something that can’t be done with the existing team, if there is one. I fix shit.

There are limits to my ability to adapt, as I said above. I am not a “Yes Man.” I figured I am paid to tell people what I think, so that we can reach the best decision for the topic at hand. My job is never to just go along. If that is what you want, I’m 100% NOT your guy.

I am very good at ripping apart ideas and reassembling them to fit the current context. I study design patterns, code samples, and best practices. I am always searching for new idea to express my own style of story-telling visa-vie programming. That’s why I build frameworks for my little group then share them with my peers as needed. I also “rescue” apps. If something an app has some strange behavior, I get tasked with figuring out the problem and coming up with a solution. I build most of the application footprints. I scaffold up the shells and set up the paradigm that we are going to use to deliver a solution for the current business need. About half of my work is truly mad scientist, locked away from everyone else, hyper-focused on a given problem. I work strange hours and tend to do my best work long after everyone else has gone to bed.

I am assuredly a team player. I work very hard so that we can “win.” But I also do it my own way, off in a dark corner.

In short, I’m a golfer.