Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Recent Random Bits

Lots of lightening and little biking today. Some random bits:

Yes, thumbs up to the start.com folks for getting something out there. I especially like this snippet from Sanaz's blog:

so we get to scoble's office, pick him up and drive back to redwest to steve's office to do the interview!!! it was fun! he gets it! he gets the concept of a lean and mean team that just gets shit done! you don't need a hierarchy and 50 ppl to ship cool stuff! and he so gets it.. it's been a particularly rough day filled with tons of politics today, so it just feel SO refreshing to run into ppl like scoble...

(My blog high-fives your blog!)

This all happened about the same time I re-read Mr. Lippert's How Many Microsoft Employees Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? post when I saw it was going to be in Joel's upcoming book of essays. Good lord, yes, this is the life some of us have to live (usually ending up with me back in my office contemplating the handfuls of hair I've ripped out of my scalp, muttering "Pleasing customers... while cutting features and keeping Elbonians happy, too..."). Meanwhile, Sanaz and her team and other inspired teams can show how to kick butt and get, ah, stuff done.

Dare Obasanjo has an interesting post called Ten Ways to Improve Productivity and Morale at Microsoft that looks at the "10 Crazy Ideas to Shake Up Microsoft" ThinkWeek paper and gives it a thumbs up. He encourages Microsofties to take a few minutes to track down the paper and then ruminate on its points and proposed solutions. Often.

One fantastic thing about Microsoft, and the reason it can be saved from its current bloated, slow, process-ridden, 20-person-lightbulb-changing ways is that it does encourage teams to just take responsibility and get out and there and ship something. Obviously in this day and age you have security and privacy to deal with, but you have the keys to all the other shackles we've managed to laden ourselves with. Cut the ropes with other external teams that represent "feature synergy" and focus on shipping as much fantastic code as you can possible bang out. We need to be a swift reacting armada, not some bizarrely entangled super-tanker manifestation.

Sometimes, you've just got to say, "I don't give a flying %#@& about the Turkish 'i' today!"

The "10 Crazy Ideas" paper, the personal blogs that include work-life gripes, the employee negative comments within blogs, and the anonymous blogs like this one are "steam-blowing" representations of the increasingly growing discontent employees have with where our company is going ("...and just why are we in a hand basket?"). And I don't know about you, but I've heard zip and nothing from our leadership since the Oprah-esque Company Meeting 2004.

I wish that I had a webcam recording my more funny quizzical expressions, especially when reading Computer Science Graduates Turning Away from Technology. Whuu?!? Come on, outsourcing can not be consuming computer science jobs at that rapid of a rate, especially given the low quality programming results I've seen from overseas so far. I must be pretty out of it. Reading a snippet like this:

The research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that up to 15 percent of tech workers will drop out of the profession by 2010, not including those who retire or die. Most will leave because they can't get jobs or can get more money or job satisfaction elsewhere. Within the same period, worldwide demand for technology developers -- a job category ranging from programmers people who maintain everything from mainframes to employee laptops -- is forecast to shrink by 30 percent.

Somehow these numbers are also wrapped up in folks like us who do "Deep Code." What I accept as fact is that far fewer students are enrolling in computer science. I haven't come around to accepting it's a dead-end career choice to be relegated to the dank basements of the corporate world. I guess you need to make that decision for yourself. If you agree with that article then it sounds like if you have a chance to get out to do something else you're passionate about, you should give it serious consideration.

Finally, one theme that pops up quite often in folks who post comments here and say they used to be Microsofties but left and now work elsewhere is: life is so much better now that I don't work at Microsoft.

Personally, I love my job and I love my company. I'm just one terrified voice screaming from the back seat that we've taken a horrendously wrong turn into a bad, bad neighborhood (Cut Alley, Product-Slip Row, and naked emperors in .NET stockings on every corner - shudder) and need to turn this car around and get back on the right route.

But if you work at Microsoft and it's a burden and you don't feel like you're fairly compensated: look elsewhere. It doesn't take much effort to put your resume together and try to build some buzz around yourself. While you're working on your review, you might as well channel all that insight by creating your updated resume / CV, put it up on the web, and go around and talk to some local companies about what they do. Stick your head up and you might find a truly greener pasture for yourself that isn't that far away. Where-ever you might go, I can absolutely assure you that you'll attend less meetings.

And if you agree that Redmond (or wherever you are) isn't that groovy of a place for you, do some focused targeting of places you'd like to live and get the heck out of Salmonberg.

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