Would You Save RadioShack if You Had the Chance?

RadioShack sign on the brick wallIn February, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy.

In March, the business was saved by Sprint.

Well, “saved” in name only.

Sprint plans on sharing branding with RadioShack’s stores, and pulling these stores further away from their highly technical niche and pushing them further in the direction of mobile phones and peripherals.

In other words: the RadioShack we all know—the provider of tools, parts and know-how for hobbyists—remains dead.

While I hoped the classic RadioShack could revive, ultimately I’m not surprised Sprint saw little ongoing value in the company’s core mission.

During its prime, RadioShack’s key customers were hobbyists—people with the time on their hands to make a radio receiver, to fix a toaster, to tinker with a stereo transistor.

My father was a perfect example—he took a certain joy in making things, in building things, in figuring out how things work. RadioShack provided a critical resource that let him take on this hobby during his free time.

Unfortunately, the free time my father enjoyed may no longer exist.

As a whole, we now work an extra month a year compared to RadioShack’s hay day in the 1970’s and 1980’s. As journalist Christopher Mims noted in his excellent Wall Street Journal article titled RadioShack Suffered as Free Time Evaporated— as leisure time began to disappear in the United States, RadioShack lost the significant space it once occupied, and its collapse became inevitable.

I found this article penetrating in its insights, but it also left me with a pair of burning questions…

If we had the choice, would we even change how we work to gain this leisure time back? 

Is leisure time even important to us anymore—especially as IT professionals?

I’m not so sure it is.

As IT professionals we take a certain pride in working harder and longer than anyone else. We wear our “always on call” nature as badges of honor, and accept the limitations they impose as the cost of doing business. As one IT professional explained when asked about how he manages the demands of a 24/7 job:

“IT isn’t a job. IT is a lifestyle.”

These anecdotes align with the results of a survey I ran a few years ago.

I asked IT professionals—from CIOs down to individual contributors—What do you want most from your career?

I received hundreds of responses, and they painted a clear picture.

IT pros, at nearly every level of their career, voted quality of life considerations—lower professional stress, more family time, more free time—as least important to them.

Does that hold true for you?

We’re running our survey again to see if IT priorities have changed over the last few years.

In July, we’ll publish the results of the survey. Today, please take one minute to add your voice to the conversation, and help us all better understand what really matters to us IT professionals in our careers.

What matters most to you in your career?

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