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Project Management – Technosterone Wars
By Terry Rankin

“Never argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” Scott Adams (in Dilbert)

After years in the trenches as a mediocre software technician, I was trapped in YAM (yet another meeting) as a freshly-certified PMI PMP (Project Management Institute Project Management Professional, aka ‘pimmy pimp’), facilitating agile team collaboration (how’s that for corporate babblegab?), passively watching non-technical business team members nod out as the technophiles on the team boisterously bullied and bluffed each other over whose brainstorm would win out as the silver bullet du jour. Silently wondering, “what mysterious state of body or mind drives this post-industrial deconstructionist behavior?” (yes, I really do think like that sometimes). One of my best-ever neologisms answered in an epiphanic flash – technosterone!

As I recall, despite having been silent for 10 minutes or more as the technophiles prattle-battled on, with this flash of insight I unthinkingly blurted out my new word, instantly silencing the cacophony of technospeak multilogue dead in its multitracks and startling the dozing bizdrones from their slumber. Several seconds and furtive side glances passed before everyone simultaneously decoded this new semaphore, applied it to the past hour of shared experience, then erupted in genuine belly laughs and raised-brow fingerpointing for several minutes. This moment of glee was only exacerbated to a whole new level of hilarity when our version of Dilbert’s pointy-haired-boss (our project’s ‘business sponsor and product owner’ of course), yet to show a smirk, gag a giggle or choke a chuckle, finally spoke up and characteristically mumbled, “I don’t get it’”. Really?

It was a wonderful and rare moment of personal victory in my own ongoing technosterone wars. Such glib banter is an overused and abused trump gambit in those battles – often snowballing for the first and last 5 or 10 minutes of each cycle through the infinitely recurring loops of YAMs and predictably erupting throughout. This particular moment marked a rare victory for me as glib banter is more weakness than wile in my arsenal, and one round after another of jibes, jabs, feints, and deflections are water torture, both dripping and drowning me to death on the sidelines … I suspect it’s much the same for many of my PM peers who take their work to heart and silently endure these inevitable YAM rabbit trails.

With some disappointment I later discovered the ‘technosterone’ symbolic sign and the human state of being for which it stands had already been seized by others. I especially like the Urban Dictionary’s ‘technosexual’ connotation:

A person, male or female, who is so deeply enthralled with technology they discuss it with a level of passion that most people reserve for sex. Not always a geek or a nerd, but generally someone who has the latest and greatest everything – “She became so excited about her new laptop and PDA that her friends knew she must be technosexual.”

I was further disheartened to find someone else had already staked their claim on the TLD (top-level domain) name ‘technosterone.com’ … I remain dismayed each time I check to see what the site is doing, only to rediscover that after several intervening years it continues to be parked and nonfunctional. Repeated attempts to reach the registrant, admin, and technical contacts are ignored. But I laid claim to technosterone.it, .us, .biz, and .info anyway.

I’m finding that TLD names are like guitars and collectible coins: the number you need of them is always X+1, where “X” stands for the current count.

As a PM the only effective palliative I’ve discovered to flatten YAM’s technosterone tsunami is to give the floor and limelight to a bizdrone and feign rapt attention to their low-decibel monotone mbaspeak. The shared technosterone rush of the technophiles will plummet from its manic hormonal peak in a heartbeat and pure sweet silence will prevail (notwithstanding the death-march cadence and church-of-the-almighty-dollar plainsong of the bizdrone’s monologue). The only downside is that this is a temporary workaround: eventually, the conscientious PM must step out in faith yet again to preempt a resurgence of technosterone tidal flow; to struggle once more to actually get something done in YAM that might actually have a positive indexical effect on the project, i.e., to make a difference that makes a difference.

Best wishes on your own YAM diet!

Terry Rankin is a (mostly) sapient being and career technologist (by practical default) who befriends few, offends many, and alienates most, it seems, due to chronic impatience and acute intolerance in coping with the crawling grind and inevitable exsanguination of most human interrelation – who loves you nonetheless despite those contrary behaviors and misanthropic sins. His blog is often abstruse and deliberately esoteric (some may too hastily think elitist), but nonetheless universal in scope and vibrant when grasped (or so the blogger likes to think), as all worthwhile philosophical metalogue will be.

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