Saturday, February 4, 2006

Recent Themes... Dilbertless in Redmond

Just and overview / commentary on some recent discussions and such...


The comments here were pretty divided between (my paraphrasing):

  1. I'm so inspired by Lisa! I have new found hope! and
  2. Don't believe the hype! Less talk, more results!

As a nice compressed example of #2:

Brummel scoured Mini's blog and has picked off the top 5 points of contention. Patriotic employees view it as a good effort. Anyone with a brain will call it what it is - crisis management.

The way Ms. Brummel has been talking certainly leads to a lot of hope for some kind of revisions come the major review period. But even with that, someone mentioned how HR is trying to roll-out new tools for June (and running into strong, subtle opposition).

Regarding HR implementing change by this summer: looks like HRIT is honestly trying to put new tools into place for this June.

As of today, they can not succeed. Not because of any fault on their own, but simply because the people they partner with and work with do not under any circumstances want them to succeed. The current system has worked absolutely fabulously for them, and they don't want to change.

The follow-up comments there were very negative around the HR tools being worth the bits they are encoded with, especially if designed by the management that got us to where we are now.

Which begs the question: if a new compensation system / review system was implemented for this summer, what changes would you expect to see and expect to be acceptable? Is this a no-win situation?

You're not the people I thought you were!

A recent comment in an old thread probably didn't get seen by many. It is one person's shocking introduction to Microsoft team hubris upon joining a Microsoft training organization:

When I was recruited up to Redmond 5 years ago into a training organization, I was so excited! I naively visualized a dynamic, creative, and curious team of brilliant people – afterall, this was Microsoft! What a silly dream that turned out to be – in fact it was a total nightmare from day one! I found that most people on my team knew nothing (nor cared) about instructional design or web-based training (which we were charted to begin creating, and which is why they recruited me to their group) but because of the overly competitive environment, they spent most of their time trying to convince people that they were adding value and kissing the managements' behinds.

I've thought in the past that our internalizing and team member isolation from customers, partners, and competitors really ups the internal reality distortion and hubris field regarding how great and smart we are. A little bit of humble pie from time to time actually helps you realize how much more room you have to grow and improve, and let's you get to it. As is, some groups calibrate themselves to degrees of relative mediocrity. I guess for them The Curve is a blessing.

Next Microsoft

Best of luck to the Next Microsoft blog over at - I'm surprised more Microsofties haven't started their own public visioning blogs but I certainly realize it does take (1) a large commitment of time (quite larger than I'd ever dream of) and (2) endurance (or ignorance) of the risk involved if you cross the line and push some buttons. And a certain bereavement of not being able to kvetch over experiences with the A-list-bloggers you deal with on and off (yeah, yeah, river crying in progress). Anyway, the blog is also cross-posted over at MSN Spaces - here's a snippet from one of the comments there:

The simple fact is that since about 1998, Microsoft has not had to listen to any customer about how to make their [products] better. Listening to customers is inefficient and gets in the way of making "innovative" products. I personally heard Sinofsky tell a senior executive (from a large customer) that Microsoft knew what customers wanted and that we didn't need to ask them.

Prodigal Microsofties

Hmm, with Michael Howard noting that David LeBlanc is coming back to Microsoft, I wonder if we have the beginning of a Return to Redmond trend. Probably not. For most people noting their "good bye" notes here and that I've been able to follow-up with in email, they'd consider coming back if Microsoft could prove it had shaken off its slumbering, bureaucratic way that encumbered creating and shipping great software and if Microsoft also developed a compensation system that didn't celebrate dysfunctional personal excellence but rather something more productive towards Microsofties actually working together and helping each other out to create a great product (do we even have a value like that?).

The depart and return cycle, however, has also been discussed recently as the only effective way to get a promotion or higher pay, given salary compression issues. Yes, salary compression sure does suck. It's not fun to have a new hire coming in that doesn't know the first thing about creating and shipping world-class software getting paid just as much, if not more, than some people who have been around for a few years. Given that the three-year person hasn't probably even been getting cost-of-living raises, it's understandable that their pay is stuck.

My first mentor gave me this key advice which remains true: the best way to get a raise is to switch companies. It's a risk and Microsoft may not take you back in a year or two, but if you're that good realize that the job market for software folks is really hot (again).

You strike while the iron is hot and you look for that new dream job while the job market is hot.

Like this Mini-Microsoft commenter who has made the leap:

I agree 100% that the longer you stay in the company the bigger [penalty] you pay. That is one of the reason I left Microsoft couple of months ago. I was hiring fresh college graduates making more money that some of my folks who were in the company for 3 or more years. I had a L60 employee(3 year at MS) making $6K less than someone I hired from college at L59. Then the thing that really blew me away was when one of my peers who left the company 2 years ago, rejoined MS and came up 2 levels higher. I know when he left MS in 2003, he was L61, and now he comes back at L64, and I was stuck at L62, and fighting hard to make it to L63. So that revolving door really works.

I still miss Dilbert, but...

While I do miss Dilbert being in the Micronews, I can read him anytime I want anyway thanks to the internets. I think we dropped Dilbert about the same time Dilbert started getting too relevant (that was probably dead canary warning #3). Well, that was replaced with Bug Bash, and it actually does have sharp moments as it has grown into its own. It's interesting which ones, internally, don't show up externally.

See Bug Bash's Tips for Rapid Advancement as you prepare for the major review. The mid-year stack ranks should be about all wrapped up now. Now we go into the five-month-long knife fight to get that 4.0 for your major review.

Administrivia: although they are not in the least related, both Blogger and my mail service have had a series of interruptions as of late. Sorry about that. If you feel something was lost in the outage, please feel free to resubmit or resend.

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