Wearing different hats…

It’s one of the main things I enjoy about my job that I have to wear different hats. Not real hats, of course, I’m talking about metaphorical hats signifying different roles. Some of these hats I enjoy wearing more than others, and some I absolutely resent even going near as they are way outside my responsibility. It seems like web guys are lumped alongside general IT people when they clearly aren’t the same breed. But I digress.

Here’s a quick rundown of the hats I wear, how much time I wear them (in percent), and how well-fitting they are to me.

Developer Hat: Worn 40% of the time

My main hat is the Developer Hat. It’s plain black with a very small purple PHP logo on it. It fits pretty well, although sometimes I see people wearing the same hat and it’s quite obvious that they were born wearing the Developer Hat and I only got my one relatively late in life.

What most people can’t see is the intricate and complex mesh of technologies that make up the inside of the hat, a mesh that I concieved and constructed with my own two fingers (hmm, note to self, learn to type properly). A mesh of objects, functions, expressions and tricks that I’ve picked up over the last decade and now carry around with me. This is my Developer Hat, and I wear it with pride. It’s a pity that other people see it as a…

Technical Support Person Hat: Worn 25% of the time

That’s right, many people seem to see me as a general helpdesk dogsbody. Just because I work on the internet they ask me things like “Are my credit card details safe on this site?”, or “My screen has frozen, what do I do?” (reboot, muppet) or even “My mouse is going a bit funny, can you help?”.

The Technical Support Person hat is very distinctive. It is bright yellow with a big badge on it that says “Happy to help!”. I hate wearing this hat, it just Isn’t Me.

Let me say this once, in the hope I don’t have to say it again: there are people who are paid to answer these questions, they are called Technical Support. Ask them, not me. I am too busy to figure out how you can print every other page of your document.

Secretarial Dogsbody Hat: worn 10% of the time

Quite a lot of the time I find myself doing menial tasks that could be easily done by a much more junior person than me. The Secretarial Dogsbody Hat, therefore, covers a whole range of scenarios; from checking spelling in web pages to resizing images. While this brain-light work is sometimes a welcome change from the heavy development brain-ache stuff, it’s more often than not an annoying distraction from more important work.

Still, at the moment, there isn’t anyone else available to wear this hat, so I’m stuck with it.

Designer Hat: Worn 10% of the time

The Designer Hat is also quite distinctive. It has a set of tools down the left hand side containing things like ‘Gradiated Fill’ and ‘Bezier Curve’ and sucks up memory like nothing else on earth. It’s not a natural fit for me, but very occasionally I get it a a good angle and someone says “That looks nice”. I’d like to fit inside the Designer Hat better, but most of the time it’s a case of just jamming it on and hoping it doesn’t fall off.

Marketer Hat: worn 5% of the time

The Marketer Hat is slightly wierd. On the ouside it is all smiles and flashy graphics and low, low prices. But on the inside it is hollow, built with bits of string and devoid of soul. The kind of Marketing Hat I’d like to wear is one that is big enough for a whole community to get inside, but those hats are few and far between in big business.

Business Development Person Hat: worn 5% of the time

I like the Business Development Person Hat. It’s a no-nonsense sort of hat, plain and strong, with several useful compartments. The problem is I don’t get to wear it very often because people think that I am only capable of wearing the Technical Support Person Hat. And the few times I do get to wear the Business Development Person Hat most people tend to think I dont know what I’m on about because I don’t have an MBA or wear expensive suits.

Community Facilitator Hat: worn 5% if the time

The Community Facilitator Hat is a fun hat to wear, even if it does mean hard work. It comes with a mop for cleaning up messes, and a megaphone for making announcements. Wearing this hat means you have some degree of power, but it definitely doesn’t mean you have some degree of respect. The Community Facilitator Hat is the rarest of hats to find a perfect fit of, but once you find the right hat it’s there for life.

What most business people don’t realise is that the Community Facilitator Hat, Business Development Person Hat and Marketer Hat could (and should be one and the same.