Which IT Avenger Are You?
After rewatching the Avenger series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (including Captain America: Civil War – I feel it’s relevant), I realized that the personalities that make up the Avengers are actually common in most IT organizations. Somewhere between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, I started mapping the characters to people I have met and worked with, so I figured it would be fun to share.
Captain America really was more of the leader of the Avengers – which to me equated a lot to IT managers I meet. While the 70 years outdated knowledge may be a bit extreme for our industry, it lends itself to the IT professionals who got their start back in the 1990s or around Y2K. The important thing to note is Captain America professionals are still able to get the job done. You typically find these professionals mapping the latest technologies back to principles they grew up on, which can sometimes cause a bit of dismissal with how the new technology is actually much different or better than what is used today.
These professionals often make some of the best managers based on their level-headed evaluation of technologies and interoperability. They’ve seen everything. They choose to lead the talented teams, but are willing to be in there during the outages and power cuts to help as needed.
When talking about leaders, we have to mention Iron Man as well. Iron Man possesses leadership qualities, which inspires others to follow but never truly wants to be a leader. Iron Man looks after his team with a chip on his shoulder, willing to make the sacrifices as needed, as some sort of egotistical martyr. He is the reluctant hero. Iron Man is the brains of the department, in a very technical sense, which typically means you’ll find the Iron Man professionals in architect roles, as they are better suited to managing the technology than other employees.
However, it is important to realize that Captain America and Iron Man are two sides of the same coin. Either can do the job of the other – but are best suited for their side of the IT operations. When an organization has a Captain America and an Iron Man, then the rest always seems to work itself out. On his own and maybe at his best, Iron Man will maintain operations, but will quickly burn out with the management side of IT when others are involved.
The Incredible Hulk
Hulk is probably the hardest IT personality to describe – because it’s heavily dependent on how far in his or her career the Hulk is. Younger Hulks tend to try to be the “bull in a china shop” and bust their way through a situation, opting to yell their side of a story rather than listen to others or offer solutions. Often times, these junior professional have not had enough working knowledge in the technologies they support or implement, so when they “Hulk Out” it’s a game of root cause Russian Roulette. I can recall numerous times that I pointed administrators into the root cause and fixes, as if to say “Hey, big guy. Sun’s gettin’ real low.”
With that being said, Hulk’s can be incredibly valuable to the organization. Their rage is misguided passion about what they do and the organization they do it for. While it may not seem like it, they value most members of the organization, and sometimes the rage is coming from a place of feeling “not good enough” than blaming someone. While the soft skills may need some work, they as individuals may be best when dealing with problematic contractors to make sure the project or team stays on course.
Can anyone even tell me what Natasha Romanoff was doing on the team? She didn’t have any… oh… oh my gosh… I get it now. The Black Widow IT professionals are the members of the team that sit back and seemingly do nothing. You see them studying for a certification or otherwise wasting time. But when an outage starts up, the Black Widow professionals show off their skills, often times significantly lowering the time to repair. When projects need extra attention, they jump in with skills you may otherwise never have realized they had. The individuals have a broad set of skills, but are typically found on only a single “assignment” so as to maximize their effectiveness – stealthily.
The largest thing to realize with Black Widow IT professionals is that they will put everything into the projects and assignments they have. The worst use of their personalities would be to give them too many projects, as they will not thrive trying to go above and beyond on each. Furthermore, smaller projects will quickly bore them and they will invite scope creep just for the challenge.
So, full disclosure, I didn’t read all of these comics. My Hawkeye knowledge is from the movies – which starting from the original – he seemed like a one-trick pony. Granted he can shoot anything – from gun to his archery skills – but I mean, Iron Man could build the same thing if he wanted to. It wasn’t until Avengers: Endgame that we got to see what happens when Hawkeye gets his back against the wall. Hawkeye IT professionals are those that are going to get it done at any cost. You may always see them on one platform, one way, or one OEM (manufacturer), but that’s out of comfort and not necessity. The skill sets they have extend far beyond the obvious, but it is not until they are required to extend to those sets that it becomes apparent.
Hawkeye professionals need to have the comfort of utilizing their skill sets but must be pushed into unknown territory as well. Having a mix of traditional and emerging skills may make this professional perfect when looking at the road map of transformation to next generation of information technology.
Again, keeping in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange refers to the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch (best real name ever). There is two main points of Doctor Strange – he works horribly as part of a team, and he saves the day in the last minute. Whereas the Iron Man pros can be substituted into a lead or management position, the Doctor Strange pros cannot. When working with others, he is extremely egotistical – basically a Hulk without the rage. Before we beat up Doctor Strange too much, it’s important to note that he has abilities far beyond most of the team – which may explain some of the complications when dealing with other parts of his team.
Doctor Strange professionals work best when a project or initiative has taken a turn for the worse or an unexpected outage is affecting business operations. It is not only the challenge that calls to these professionals, but challenge mixed with a degree of hopelessness – this is when Doctor Strange rises to the occasion. I recommend everyone have a Doctor Strange on retainer, but my heart goes out to the person needing to manage this type of professional.
I love Spider-Man professionals, and it may be bias because I relate most to this type of individual. When watching the Avenger movies, Spider-Man is always blown away by the super heroes he is in the presence of. He sticks to Iron Man, despite Iron Man seemingly wanted nothing to do with him. Spider-Man professionals are very talented in what they do, but never secure they can do it. The imposter syndrome is probably most apparent with these professionals, but they are also some of the most talented professionals to come across. Breaking the Avenger-only track for this, you see Spider-Man creating his own suit, based on the tools Iron Man gave him.
While some may see this as a second-rate Iron Man, there is a huge IT lesson here – Spider-Man is willing to work with others, and values their input and tools especially if it allows him to be a more valuable member of the team. Instead of dismissing other’s values, Spider-Man professionals work with everyone, and bring the team together from the engineering side, a perfect complement to the management side.
These individuals are skilled in what they do, but refuse to believe in themselves. When you have a Captain America manager, Iron Man architect, and a team of Hawkeye, Hulk, and Black Widow engineers, it will be the Spider-Man professionals that rally the support for Captain America while still bringing in the input of Iron Man. However, Spider-Man may become jaded when left with a Doctor Strange for too long.
Black Panther professionals are an exceptional hybrid you will typically find in smaller teams or IT shops. These individuals possess the qualities of Nick Fury, Captain America, and Iron Man, with the confidence to maintain all of them. They deal with issues in their own environments and are willing to help others as well. They are very protective of their resources and personnel, but when presented with a strong business case, opt for the greater good. And loyal? You bet.
Miss Marvel is a very unique type of IT professional. If you remember during Avengers: Endgame, she explains that she was too busy to prevent the finger snap. This is a very common occurrence in our industry. Because Miss Marvel professionals are able to handle any project and situation, they are given every project and situation, and very rarely are limited more based on availability than their ability to delegate or defer. This is both a blessing and a curse, as they may be unavailable during the most critical times. While maybe not the most dependable professionals on the team, they are the most hardworking. Like Doctor Strange, it may be hard to get them to work with the team, but unlike Doctor Strange, the reason is time more than personality.
Nick Fury had no abilities. In fact, he is basically Agent Phil Coulson with experience and swag. That doesn’t limit him as an integral part of the team. He is needed to tie the team together, but not like Captain America. Nick Fury has the team’s best interest in mind but owns every decision as his own – regardless of where it came from or what it might mean.
The Nick Fury professionals are almost always in director positions, where they do not directly interact with the technology side, but are absolutely vital for the funding, training, and support of the technology. Their skills are in human interaction and soft skills and not in the technology and knowledge base. They get things done. However, without a Nick Fury, the entire mission could fall apart.
So if you find the yourself in a situation where – “the city is flying and we’re fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense” – you might be an IT Avenger.
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