New series on the blog launching today called 'Things you should never say at work' - hopefully that will focus on the non-obvious but still highly damaging things you should never say on the job.
(Slightly) edited for purposes of clarity and anonymity story from a former colleague of mine who has been talking to a potential client about a new (largely) technical project - the implementation of some new, pretty large enterprise systems for a mid-size manufacturing company.
My former colleague walks into a 'discovery' kind of meeting with the two ostensible subject matter experts in charge of the two most critical process areas of the project - let's call them Inventory Management and Supply Chain Optimization. The two client folks that run these functional areas are pretty experienced, my colleague guessed they had at least 10 or 15 years each inside the company.
When my colleague asked them how the early pilots of the new enterprise tech had been going, what the main challenges were, how the systems were being set up in order to support the organization's workflows, etc., both client subject matter experts responded similarly. Something along the lines of: "I really don't know - I'm not technical."
A huge red flag for my colleague for sure, as the two primary customers of the upcoming tech implementation were not only pretty disengaged from the process, they were seemingly proud of their lack of expertise and interest in what was going on with the new technology.
Maybe these two experts are able to get away with this open apathy towards the technology, due to years of accrued expertise and perhaps some organizational stagnation, but you can be sure their (and their kind) days are numbered.
I would bet that almost no one reading this post today would be able to proudly declare out loud in your shop something along the lines of "That new headcount trends dashboard? No, i have not looked at it. I'm not technical'. Or, "What do I think the 10% bonus pool reduction will do to voluntary turnover? I don't know. I'm not technical.'
It doesn't matter if you don't know about a specific technology. Tech moves so fast anyway that what specific skills that are in demand now probably won't be the same ones in demand in 2 or 3 years.
But the approach, the attitude, the willingness to 'be' technical?
It doesn't matter what kind of job you have now, the 'I'm not technical' card is one no one can afford to play today.
So you should never say it. I mean it. 'Cause if I find out you did...