2012-07-08

Microsoft makes me glad...


...that I don't work for them!


This "little" rant is in response to this particular article published on Vanity Fair's website and shared on Google+:




At the company that I work for, developers are treated like royalty.  We are "graded" by our peers.  This group of "peers" are fellow developers.  I'm not graded by a marketing manager, sales manager, or even my direct boss, the COO of the company.  I'm graded by the people that I work with on a daily basis.  Everyone gets to contribute ideas, no matter how "new" to the company they are and no matter which school they got their degree from (if applicable).  All ideas are put up on the board and put up to a peer review and used or discarded based on its own merit.

The culture of the development environment at my company is very much conducive to innovative thinking, learning, and practical application of ideas.  Everybody has their own individual goals that they set for themselves, and everybody has a set of goals that are recommended by the group.  We all try to make each other better at what we do so that all of our lives are made easier, more productive, more rewarding, and ultimately, more profitable for our company.

Stacked Ranking is BS, especially in the "wrong hands".  Ranking developers (or anyone for that matter) based on the input of people who have no idea what the hell you are doing (show me a sales agent that can write code, and I'll show you a closet geek; basically, the exception to the rule) is just plain stupid.

I colleague of mine said something like this when describing the reasons for the management style that the COO of our company takes with the development team: "She asked me how to quantify or grade what a software developer or engineer does with regard to work.  I told her that's very difficult because I would have to know what her definition of 'work' was.  Do you count the time that I'm sitting with my lunch quietly, not moving, but mulling over how best to implement a client feature request?  Do you count the amount of research that may go into finding the root cause for a bug rather than just 'getting rid of the error message' since the user doesn't know the difference? Should I also count the time I take to document any code that I write in case someone else has to go through it later for use in a new or updated feature? Do you also count work as being when I'm at home thinking about a problem at work and then using the VPN to commit code because an idea just 'clicked' in my head that solves that problem?  I'm sure that it could be done, but it's very difficult.  She basically trusts us to do what needs to be done, to help and provide feedback to each other, and give us enough rope to hang ourselves with.  So far, she hasn't had to step in to modify our processes or really do much other than ask if we need anything to make our lives easier at work."

I'm not saying that this is the only way to drive innovative thought in a development team, but in our team, it works very well.  We have a lot of autonomy and our "checks and balances" system is each other.  It also keeps things moving at a pretty fast pace.

I've said this before, much to the astonishment of my fellow Linux zealots, but it bears repeating, I don't want Microsoft to fail this way.  I don't want Linux and OS X to rise to higher percentages of desktop market-share this way.  I want Linux and OS X (but especially Linux) to rise in popularity and market-share based on their own merit.  I want Microsoft to fail, not because it was late to the party and fails at managing its various teams, but because the other products out on the market are just that good.  I'd rather they failed because they ran out of ideas and just couldn't recover than to focus on litigation so much that they forgot to have ideas in the first place.

"But Brian! That blasphemy in the Linux and Open Source world!"

Yeah, that's right.  I want competition in the markets.  I want ideas to stand on merit and I want companies fighting for every consumer dollar in an innovation race as opposed to a patent litigation race.  If wanting my preferred platform to rise to that occasion and be the best because it has the best features, functionality, and interfaces as opposed to defaulting to the top because the previous company just happened to run itself into the ground is "blasphemous", then just send me to that particular hell now.  I'd rather go down having high standards than to accept a prize based on a "default" in the competition.

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