The least-sung heroes are perhaps the most important of all. They may not possess outstanding technical chops or great instincts. They might not be able to reverse-engineer mainframe code or get handy with plastic bags and duct tape. They simply do it right, every time -- and they speak up when something is wrong, no matter whose feathers get ruffled.
"They're the guy or gal who always does things the right way, no matter what corners their bosses ask them to cut," says Lowe. "They're usually also the people who stand up and say, 'We shouldn't be doing it this way; it's going to cause problems down the line. We should take the extra time to do it right.' They may not always be recognized or appreciated for that."
As in the example with the bank's failed storage array, only one person had the guts to say what his own department did to cause the problem and how it got fixed, says Howard. In that instance, that hero got rewarded by being allowed to keep his job. Not all organizations work like that.
"If you're the lone geek, you've entered a thankless realm," Howard says. "You can't walk into the arena expecting a lot of glory -- it's not there. You need to be part of this world because you're passionate about technology and helping people find solutions."
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