Monday, March 21, 2005

Old School Competencies

A recent comment to a post where I extolled the virtues of the Microsoft Competencies (internal link):

Microsoft is currently streamlining the competencies. They're replacing the wheel with triangles! You can see the improvement already... Dev & PM will see the changes next review cycle, test sees them now (and these changes are also tied to the layoffs of low-level testers who can't code).

Hmm? This comment wedged itself in the back of my mind (in the "Whachu talkin' about, Willis?" region). Sure enough, this past week while trying to garnish my career discussion with some nice doses of the competency lingo, I stumbled across the career model site via the competencies site. After a quick scan I closed my office door so that I could swear freely.

I can only surmise at this point that HR's & Microsoft People Research's logo must be, "If it ain't broke, we haven't been there yet." The competencies are in the process of being broken.

I like the idea of Career Model and I can see it's indeed been heavily influenced by the recent rotor-tilling that Test portion of Microsoft has gone through. It's always great to be able to lay out an idea for a new hire about the various career options.

But don't you touch my competencies.

So if you're a Microsoftie, take a moment to go through some of the new, emerging competencies nested in the Career Model site. The old competencies pretty much represent crisp, common-sense focused attributes divided into four increasingly challenging levels. The new competencies seem to be a cut-and-paste job of buzz-worded business jargon arbitrarily divided into four columns of no particular difference. For instance, in one of the competencies there are attributes in Level 4 that I sure know I'd be fired for not doing every day an issue came up at work.

While the traditional set of career development resources were laser sharp focused and came back to the competencies, the recent five years has resulted in a web-page barrage of career and development sites that are so spread out, unfocused, and wordy that no one is going to have a chance to absorb it all. So, we ignore it. We've no doubt have put lots of money and effort into corralling this career information together, but no one uses it.

As the competencies go, so too goes the last vestiges of Old School Microsoft that has built the foundation of all the billions of dollars we currently bring in. It's like the last healthy plant in the newly landscaped garish yard finally dropping its leaves - why bother?

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