Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Should You Stay or Should You Go Now?

A comment from the last post asks a question that turned into such a long response on my part that I'll go ahead and post it:

why aren't you looking for a new exciting job in a lean and mini startup?

Fair question. First, I'm a very clumsy Pied Piping Mephistopheles in my attempts to get other people to leave. But, part of that is putting out what the reality of staying at Microsoft entails, and it's not pretty.

You're not going to get rich.

You're not going to be a L68+ Partner.

You're no longer going to succeed based on your merits alone.

Ouch, think that's uncool? Then my good-looking Brothers and Sisters, there are better places for you. Elsewhere.

I'm a corporate animal and this Microsoft environment, with its toxic pockets and issues, is a well known savage savanna to me and I'm able to succeed and be fulfilled, seeing the situation for what it is. And of course trying to change those things that I believe the other Microsofties can attempt to influence, given insight. The great potential for this change for the better is an exciting inspiration.

But I almost left recently. True. It was a situation where I didn't have to worry about sim-releasing in N-teen languages and ensuring that the Lords of IT were well and pleased. I could put out some cool features and IT-fanboys would suck-it-up and use whatever we made available to them and celebrate each newly released gizmo feature vs. crap all over the product and boo-hoo complain about all the compliance testing they had to do before moving to it. Tempting.

It did make me realize the accumulated shackles we haul around given the greater responsibility we have in creating World Class Software. No one else does it near the scope that Microsoft does. I don't know if we appreciate that deeply enough ourselves. Or appreciate it as a distinguishing, competitive feature. It certainly does not make you nimble and I've seen more than one feature killed due to localization and internationalization.

So, I stay because I still care. I care about making a difference for Microsoft products, and for carrying on the conversation here to see what other issues there are that should be brought out into the light and discussed, with the hopes of change for the better of Microsoft.

But Microsoft continues to bloat in size, the stock is flat, innovation is still somewhere out there, inspiring leadership is absent, executives seem to be flipping stock-grants, and efficiency and agility are still unrealized for many teams. The aircraft carrier hasn't turned very well yet, and the crew has become more and more dispassionate. I know my blue-badge clock is ticking and I hope I can make some difference before I head for the door and get to have fun writing EN-US Class Software.

All of us of deep software talent (and I'm putting myself in that group) are volunteers. We work where we work in a voluntarily sense because we enjoy it and it's the best place we can imagine for ourselves. We can pretty much get a job where-ever we want. Right now, for me, that's Microsoft. And there are changes happening. Slowly. But I think I've personally made the mistake of being anti-this and anti-that vs. being pro-this and pro-that. When you're anti-something and it gets attacked and then reduced, what takes its place? Whoops. Hadn't thought that one through. Maybe something worse than what was there. You've got to flip it around and be pro: pro-agility, pro-efficiency, pro-transparency, pro-compelling features, pro-iterative shipping, pro-stock growth, pro-meritocracy, pro pro pro.

I'm enjoying it while I can, and taking notes. I'm growing more in a business sense than a technical sense.

I can tell you this: I, like a lot of senior Microsofties, can't imagine staying for another year of flat stock growth. I'll have to be developing the bestest, funnest software in the world to live through another year of watching a stock price that meanders around like a fat, gassy contented cow from Carnation. I see this next year as the loyalty tipping point for Microsofties who have held on this long, hoping beyond hope for the shares to finally perform. If that doesn't happen, the office spacing problem around large of chunks of Microsoft will start to ease up without new buildings opening. And be wary of those who do stay, because you'll have to ask why.

So. You've had a chance to go through the MSPoll recently and perhaps consider how things are going for you. Why do you stay? Is it something beyond great benefits? What would compel you to stay for a long time, and what's on the verge of pushing you out the door?

No comments:

Post a Comment