Ninja Turtle office

Ninja Turtles

Last week, while chomping down burritos at a nearby restaurant, myself and several members of Team Viewzi™ were discussing the concept of super heroes, and what type of work environment would be conducive to various personalities. I must credit my coworker Stephen Anderson for starting us down this line of thinking, with some of the tidbits from a book he's been working on.

That conversation, coupled with Jared's recent musings about comic books, got me feeling all nostalgic. After mulling it over, I believe that heroes break down into three main groups, which have implications for intrinsically talented personalities. I think of the archetype for each group as: Superman, Hancock, and Turtles.


This type of personality is a go-getter, and rightfully so, because there is seemingly little that he (or she) cannot accomplish. To me, these are people with amazing skill-sets, who can muster nearly every aspect of web design and development: design, markup, CSS, JavaScript, etc. They make for ideal freelancers, because they offer the "total" solution. As with Superman, they are personable, but work best in isolation and left to their own methods.


I won't provide any real world examples for this personality type, but you know the sort. It's that prima donna who has the latent potential of a Superman, if not for the giant ego and disregard for team play. I think that all talented people can fall prey to this mentality - blinded by an overestimation of one's own abilities, to the point of self dilution, marginalizing assistance from others. Yet, there is redemption to be found, as in the storyline of Batman Begins. A reluctant and abrasively selfish Bruce Wayne realizes he has a higher calling.


This brings me to the third category, the Ninja Turtles. These unlikely heroes thrive on community. Alone, they are each formidable in their own right, but together they are greater than just a sum total. Each has a specific area of mastery, but there is a good deal of overlap. After all, part of being a ninja is having proficiency with an array of weaponry. Andy Budd said it best:

It's important not to specialise at the expense of your other skills. Clients and agencies like well rounded people with a wide set of interests. Your skills should resemble an inverted T. Generally very broad but with one (or preferably more) areas of deep knowledge.

This type of personality might be easily mistaken for a Superman, due to the breadth and depth of skills, but has a particular aptitude for synergy when brought together with like minded individuals. He (or she) also has a healthy respect for those like Splinter, who are more knowledgeable and experienced in their craft, and have a proclivity for mentoring. With such a sensei present, watch out, because ninja personalities become exponentially more effective when inspired by visionary leadership. Stephen phrased it thusly:

When you have the right people on your team, what qualifies as management is really about creating a platform from which everyone can track themselves. That, and figuring out how challenge folks so that they are delivering their best. This assumes a lot of trust and faith in their abilities, and not in your ability to handhold.

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I'd say this is the type of team we have at Viewzi - Skilled, yet teachable people who enjoy working together as a cohesive whole. We each have our own niche talents, all of which are complimentary to those around us. For instance, our designers can all write code, and our developers have an appreciation for good design. So, while we're versatile, we also know when to defer to various areas of expertise.

Who are You?

That sums up my thoughts on heroism in the workplace, but the conversation needn't end there. I want to hear what others have to say. What other types of heroes are there? What type of hero are you? If you fancy yourself to be a Ninja Turtle of sorts, perhaps you might find yourself fitting in at Viewzi. We are currently on the look-out for a few seasoned PHP gurus. Inquire within.