“bring a teddy bear to work” day

I’d heard that today was “BRING YOUR TEDDY BEAR TO WORK” day and wish I’d known in advance.  I’m a collector of Teddy Bears – even having one of the first ones that I had as a kid.  He’s now in his 30s and still sits on My bed at home.  Teddy Bears have also influenced another hobby of Mine – My PT Cruiser and car shows.  If you’ve seen a lot of the custom PT Cruisers on the roads out there, you’ll notice that a lot of them – maybe as many as half? – are customized and personalized – with flames, as woodies, as old surfer wagons, with 50s or 40s or even 30s motifs and all sorts of other styles.

Of course, there are just as many that are simple, plain and unadorned.  Simple economy cars – even if they’re not too good with the MPG.

But I would have loved to have brought one of My Teddies to work today… Maybe the 5 foot tall polar bear.  Or the one My mom got Me for My 40th birthday from Vermont Teddy Bear Company – with custom clothing and My name embroidered on his back.  Or maybe the one from My youth…?  Could even go with current events and bring in the Banker Bear a pal gave Me for Christmas a few years ago.

I use My  teddies in the “theme” of My PT Cruiser – and take quite a selection of them with Me to the shows I attend and use them as … well … props.  PT Bearnum (My PT Cruiser) is festooned with bears of all shapes and sizes.  And then there are all of the bear paw prints on the car; a very cohesive look.  I’ve won a few awards and was a runner up in “Crowd Favorite” at a show a few years back.

But it’s this customization – this personalization of the Cruisers that comes to mind with My comments today.

Over on the EDI-L yahoo group, somebody had posted about how a semi-non-technical person was hired to fill a supervisory position (a contractor, really) over and above the regular employees that had been working for the company for a while and have major amounts of experience in IT and with EDI.

Somewhere in the thread, one poster commented on how upper management (the ones making the hiring decisions) seem to feel that “non-tech” people make for better employees than “tech” people – at least when it comes to management – or business skills.  And I had to disagree.  Where I work – our 1st level support positions generally tend to come to us from the stores.  They understand how we do things, why we do things and the way things work at the store level – they’ve BEEN THERE.

In the original post, it could be that our poster got his feelings a bit hurt because he’d wanted the job and they hired this outside source.  But maybe the upper management wanted some new ideas – some new ways to take what they’ve got – a functioning EDI program – and make it better.  Make it different.  Customize it, personalize it and make it a much slicker program – something more in-tune with a changing philosophy, a changing business landscape, a changing world.

If you’ve ever been to a custom car show – whether a PT Cruiser show or the Japanese Imports (Rice Rockets) or hot rods from the fifties and sixties – you’ll notice that there are many cars that are similar to others, and yet are completely their own creation and often very unique and different from the others.  Even if they’re the same make and model of car – the Chrysler PT Cruiser, for example – you can have so many different ideas and concepts and projects and looks and feels and … you get the idea, right?

Same can be said of our MIS/IT departments and our EDI programs.  We all don’t use the same documents, we all don’t require the same data segments and elements.  We all use the documents and the data that will best suit our own needs.  And our own business practices.  It’s what fits US.

Just like My PT Cruiser – PT Bearnum – fits ME.  It’s something from My world and My desires and My tastes – My Bears – and it’s put onto a similar “medium” as the guy that’s into Winnie the Pooh characters…  Or a fan of RC model planes… or hot air balloons, Betty Boop, Charlie Brown and his pals, Disney villains, Little Red Riding Hood, or even Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra and the “Rat Pack”…  not all themes work together and all are unique and different approaches to the same vehicle.  And then there are the PT Cruisers with the “factory” flames or the “factory” woody look or whichever.  There are the unique – and not-so-unique – flaming paint jobs.

And these are just like some of our EDI programs.  Some of use the EDI application we do right out of the box; with no changes, alterations or customizations needed.  Some of us use EDI applications that are custom made for us – based on a box stock application – but fully customized and personalized to suit out own business needs.

Same can be said of the hiring practices above.  The company may have found that it would better suit their needs to hire an outside source – with a different background and experience than our poster – and bring him on to manage the group and maybe – just maybe – point them in a new direction or down a different road.  Maybe take their fine running system and finely tune that engine to really make it roar and get and give more bang-for-the-buck – balancing and blue-printing the engine, super-charging it, adding performance enhancers and features – all to really make it GO!

And maybe – just maybe – it was easier to hire somebody with that “new way of thinking” as a leader, rather than promoting the “same old thinking” to leader and bringing in the “new way” as an underling and causing strife and discord from the start.

Often times, it seems that a trained monkey could do many of the IT jobs out there.  You just train them to push button A when light B goes off or throw lever C at 12:15 PM.  It’s not rocket science.  But then again, even rocket scientists had to be trained SOMEPLACE.  Maybe they were the monkey earlier on.

So maybe hiring the outside guy rocked the boat and made some people … less than pleased.  Maybe they wanted a really special look and feel to their program that they weren’t getting from the guys that just wanted that PT Cruiser with the factory flame package…  They wanted some OOMPH and something stupendous and unique – they wanted flames – and fireworks – and maybe even some bears…  maybe even “Da Bears!”…

Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator
Read more about Craig here:

EDI Job Resouces

 I saw this post on one of the mailing lists I belong to, its something to bookmark for the future if you are in the job market for a tech and or EDI related job.

Web-based Job Boards

EDI Consulting Firms

IT Recruiting Firms
and many others.

– Cast a wide net. Set up automatic searches on the job boards so you
will be emailed daily with listings. Do not limit your searches to
telecommuting opportunities as this limitation doesn’t seem to be used
consistently. Select Contract-1099/Independent & Contract-W2.

– Decide whether you want to publish your resume. Doing so will
subject you to many phone calls from many people across the world, all
of whom you need to carefully vet before committing. Placing very
prominent words to the effect, “Telecommuting Contracts Only” wherever
appropriate and in the header of each resume page may eliminate
inquiries for full-time and contract on-site positions but probably not.

– Visit the forums on Dice.com. Dice was probably the first IT
contractors job board and can be a good source of advice for first
time contractors.

While work at home contracts aren’t common, I’m noticing more and more
lately. I have recently been asked to lead a five person development
and implementation team from my office for the first time in my
career. Perhaps people are realizing it isn’t always necessary for
workers to be on-site to be productive.


Jim Divoky
EC Solutions, Inc.