I’ve been in the software business for a while now – as a programmer, a project manager, and a business analyst. I think it’s affecting the way my synapses fire. Everywhere I experience poor customer service or encounter a web site that doesn’t work well, I get all tied up in knots. What’s worse, I’ll start asking the poor person behind the counter how her system works. I’ll start redesigning their systems and processes while I’m standing in line.
Of course, it’s worst at any type of government office. At the driver’s license office, when the clerk swivels from one application to another, I ask “Don’t your systems talk to each other?” When I call the Veteran’s Administration to get information about educational benefits for my daughter and the representative asks me my address in order to confirm my identity, but the address they have in their system is a duplex I lived in for five months during college 20 years ago, I just cut to the chase and ask to speak to a supervisor. Every time I have to try to navigate a university website, I am reminded what a bad idea it is for any organization to have dozens of different IT departments. And let’s not even talk about the toll road authority and their completely dysfunctional billing system (ahem).
I used to think that this was a professional hazard of being in the software business. But then I had a friend who went to medical school and specialized in psychiatry. One evening over dinner at her house, she stopped eating, stared at my husband in fascination, and burst out “Dude, you are totally manic.” I suppose dentists just can’t help noticing people’s teeth, and mechanics probably cringe when a car rolls by with a slipping belt or an oil leak.
But maybe there’s a way to use this brand of crazy to some benefit – besides annoying bureaucrats, that is. There are several web sites that will help match up your skills to organizations that need talented volunteers, like Idealist, Volunteermatch, and Catchafire. Maybe what the world really needs is some smart BA’s, people who know how turn organizational goals into software that works. You could be the hero who helps rid the world of crappy software! Who knows, maybe there’s a non-profit organization out there right now that is looking for someone just like you?