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Typing vs Tapping
“I’m trying to ascertain where you stand in your managerial abstraction ability.”
Huh? Who talks like that?
The above is from a job interview I had several years ago. The interviewer was trying to assess my management skills. When I asked him to elaborate, he explained that a professional (in his view) went through 3 stages (and 2 evolutions) in their career:
There was some truth in there, but it felt like an over-simplification. In my mind, management was a spectrum, and you could dial the knob in either direction depending on the context. But I didn’t have a better framework for explaining my point of view, so I just said I was level 3 and left it at that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
we were talking about the spectrum of typers to tappers…typers are hardcore workers, hands-on-keyboard people…they generally have less leverage, but then my buddy, he was with the CEO of a firm and he said that his biggest insight from spending a bit of time with him was that he was a tapper and that he had so much leverage on his time that his career could all be done by tapping on a phone screen…and the fundamental takeaway was that he's directing the flow of a gushing river…
This is an excerpt from a podcast (linked below). The spectrum I’d envisioned fits cleanly on this range of typers and tappers.
As an individual contributor you are all about typing (code, specs, designs). As a “lead” you vacillate back and forth between typing and tapping. As a manager, you’re supposed to be tapping but you can end up typing in a pinch. And as an executive, your tapping should be brief, firm, and sporadic.
I like this analogy because it can help you catch yourself when you are drifting into a mode that doesn’t align with the expectations of your role / team.
I’d love to hear from readers on how they think about the management spectrum - please chime in via comments👇. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.
further reading / references
David Perell and Kevin Kwok talking typers & tappers on the North Star podcast
my post on Every Decision Ever, which offers some templates for framing
childish drawing / interpretation