Empowering nerd: why? Because most often those who passionately study scientific subjects, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry or engineering find it difficult to undertake a truly gratifying career path within Italian companies. This is not just a personal problem, it also involves and has an impact on organizations as a whole in their capacity of creating the best conditions for technical innovation and expression.

On one side, as already well described by Daniel Goleman, we know that Emotional Intelligence is a fundamental key to success in one’s life. Unfortunately, however, we tend to underestimate its value due to our temperament or technical training. On the contrary, the “power” of rationality is overestimated, to the point of demanding mechanistic and binary cause-effect relationships, even if we know that they cannot be applied to human relationships.

On the other side, companies struggle with developing processes capable of supporting and fostering creativity, individual contribution and pro-activity. Organizations often surrender to an excessive need for control, parcelling and breaking out tasks and competencies while aiming at short term results. Paola Cinti, a communication expert, compared companies to mazes in her recent post.

Empowering nerd: strengthening scientific excellence is, therefore, a key passage to recovering a company’s generative and creative potential and acquiring greater creativity, dynamism, and vitality. This process needs to be supported also on the company’s side throughout the development and promotion of technical career paths. In several companies these paths are often a possibility only on paper and remain largely unexplored in actual facts.

However, not everything depends on companies, each individual can and must do their part learning to:

  • desire in an open, vital and pro-active way, falling in love with every single idea and with none at the same time
  • acknowledge their difficulties and fears instead of unconsciously projecting them onto the company or the bosses
  • always exchange views with everyone, consider conflict as something valuable rather then just an end in itself.
  • live any relationship with curiosity, broadening their perspectives and point of views and experiencing also those aspects that might be most distant from them (finance, marketing, HR environment…)
  • look for and appreciate visibility, communicate effectively, feel more calm about their relational struggles without allowing them to block their path
  • take pride in expressing their passions, share them and make them understood to the general public: never take refugee in the “you can’t understand” attitude
  • hold on, do not give up when you are faced with a “no” as an answer, always look for alternatives, fall in love with the intricate company’s body, accept and challenge it constructively
  • gain knowledge and “look beyond”, understand where the world is going, make proposals that play footsie with business, that take in new views and that are connected to the global market
  • look for feedback, accept them with openness and curiosity, look for them when they are not given spontaneously and ask themselves how to get more

This last point – looking for and accepting feedback- reminds me of a wonderful dialogue from the movie “Good Will Hunting” in which Sean, the psychologist, defines a soulmate as “Somebody who challenges you”. According to him, the value of love lies in exchanging views, provoking and being open to others and diversity. On the contrary, Will is smart and bright but he is caught up in his self-reference. This allows him to defend himself but it distances him from everything.

I see Empowering nerd as a way of letting the technical pride emerge, freeing it from a – solely Italian – inferiority complex about managers “that can do everything but understand nothing”. Those who can count on technical excellence need to learn to establish a dialogue, develop alliances and influence their interlocutors.
Metaphorically (yet not that much) speaking, this concept is beautifully synthesized in this video: I find it brilliant, I think it conveys divergent thinking, creativity, knowledge and, at the same time, the willingness to communicate, a great deal of courage and a certain degree of nerve.

Italian nerds, don’t you think it’s high time to get to work in a new way? And you, company managers? How are you dealing with this?

Halt and Catch Fire, frame

If you are interested in exploring the fascinating relationship between management and technology, I suggest you watch the new American TV series entitled Halt and Catch Fire.
It’s a starting point, perhaps a bit romanticized, but stimulating indeed!