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“Geeking Out” – 5 great management talents waiting to be discovered

Do you have “geeks”, “dorks” or “nerds” working in your midst? If you’re unsure just mention how Yoda was your favorite character in Lord of the Rings. If they cringe or walk away stunned, you’ve found them. While they may have been shunned in high school, there’s an amazing set of skills just waiting to be tapped if you can understand how to put them in the right roles (and we don’t just mean fixing your computers). In case WOW, DnD, RPG and DKP are foreign terms to you, here’s a quick rundown of 5 common “nerdy” types, and the unique skills they bring to the table.

A young Greg Hudgins perhaps?

The Dungeon Master – For the uninitiated, the Dungeon Master designs and regulates the scenarios for  role playing games (RPG’s) like Dungeons and Dragons, and in the process learns a tremendous amount about how people interact with systems and processes. A great DM knows how to create scenarios that lead the participants through them naturally, instead of a feeling of being forced. If you are lucky enough to have a great DM on your staff (or are one yourself) get them involved in new projects where they need to develop processes for others to follow, or have them work on troubleshooting existing processes. You may be surprised with the creative solutions they come up with, and how well the other staff responds to the changes.

The Collector – This is the stereotypical comic book geek. He has every issue of spiderman, and takes great pride in the condition, completeness and meticulous organization of his collection. This attention to detail makes them excellent candidates for tedious work with large sets of data, so long as it has a clear, definable and realistic end (Think matching up two sets of lists, not finding a needle in a haystack). From personal experience, I know collectors work very well in the finance department as accountants and bookkeepers. We might have one or two on staff ourselves.

The “Know it All” – You know the annoying guy who corrects all of your movie quotes, can recite all kinds of useless statistics and completely crushes you in trivial pursuit (think our old friend Sheldon Cooper)? Don’t let him fool you, he wasn’t born with all that knowledge. The “Know-it-all” is a voracious reader, and places a high value on being right all the time. If you need research done for a new marketing campaign or understanding a complicated new point of sale system, toss it to the know-it-all and they will not only figure it all out, they’ll let you know where you went wrong in the first place.

The Guild Master – If you’ve never played a massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG), the term “Guild Master” may sound barbaric and foreign, but nothing could be further from the truth. The GM’s primary role is as the executive leader of his guild-mates. He is responsible for setting the tone of the organization, enforcing guild rules, managing rewards and organizing events. Of all the “dorks” you  might encounter, the GM might be the most surprising, because he’s probably already a manager in your organization (if not your boss). A great GM has to exercise all of the same skills of a CEO running a large company and as a result many larger companies have started considering GM experience as being relevant for job prospects (if you don’t believe me, Google Stephen Gillett, who’s experience as a GM in World of Warcraft landed him a top spot with Starbucks and now Best Buy)

The Stat Machine – Still think there are no geeks at your company? Look for the guy with a fantasy baseball or football team (or two or three). With the rise of fantasy sports stat geeks are no longer confined to dice based RPG’s, they love to crunch stats of all kinds looking for the best combinations and min/maxing their performance against their competitors. One of the Stat Machine’s strongest points is the ability to quantify and compare data, so they are an excellent choice for projects like management projections and weighing complicated options against each other.

So if you catch your co-worker with a tube full of dice or a baterang paperweight, don’t be so quick to dismiss them as “the computer guys.”  You might find their outside knowledge gives them a unique perspective on the problem you’ve been struggling with. If you felt like any of the above described you, send us a message and share your insights. We’d love to hear from you.

p.s. No nerds, dorks or geeks were harmed in the writing of this post.

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