Future posts will be about Linux – but to address some recent comments …
April 30, 2007
Unexpected results with the Digg post. I don’t want to dwell on the post too much but there were some comments I wanted to address in a single post. To do that I’ll briefly dissect a few lines of my post:
What was able to drain the marrow of life from my body and leave only hollowed-out shell of the man who once occupied this space?
Six years ago I began working for Microsoft.
I’m not drawing a 100% causal relationship here. Meaning – all of the issues don’t stem from my job (certainly not – kids, home, life, etc – all played a significant role) and I’m not implying that had I worked somewhere else the same thing wouldn’t have happened. It is probably a personality fault in me that allowed this – but when searching for the trigger event this was the landmark event. Perhaps I shot my foot there. Not sure. I hope not.
I hope people also weigh the positive things I said too. If I didn’t want to be at MS I would quit.
But there is another side to Microsoft. The side that has held my hand, shielded my eyes and who I allowed to slowly lead me down this path.
Note here that I said “I allowed” – as in everything that has changed in my life changed because I allowed it to. I let myself get into projects and schedules and deadlines and politics when I could of, or should of, had the foresight or backbone to avoid them.
The side where you aren’t given time to be creative or perform research that does not address an immediate work item on your schedule.
Note “given time”. I’m not saying that Microsoft does not value creativity or research – I’m saying that I never had the privilege of working on a team where it was actively fostered in the rank-and-file. Yes – this it the nature of business. No – I don’t think I would have gotten more chances at many other employers. Again – I’m stating my experience.
Where you are discouraged from thinking about things other than what is right in front of you at that moment. Where you have 6 weeks to do 16 weeks of work.
These two are really related. In any software development project there are unrealistic goals and deadlines and political pressures. But in a large company with multi-thousand person development teams working on 2-4 year timelines the needs of the individual can get lost. As is so often the case in our industry deadlines are a product of marketing and sales needs – not honest estimates of the feature’s cost. Being asked for an estimate is often only a courtesy because the dates have already been decided upon by others. This is an industry problem.
Where months of hard work can be thrown away because the lawyers won’t let you ship it even though the customers are screaming for it (talk about getting punched in the gut).
This is true at any company but perhaps magnified at one such as Microsoft. This really isn’t about lawyers and more about feeling like “Why couldn’t you have just told us that upfront so we could have worked on something else?” It’s about knowing that you have wasted months of your time and that your customers still aren’t getting what they need. You don’t get that time back. Time is the most valuable resource any of us have.
I love my current job. My role is great. I work on a team of smart people who have a passion for what we are doing. As individuals, and as a team, we have our customer’s needs on our minds constantly. Almost every decision comes down to them. I would recommend this team to anyone who is considering a career at Microsoft.
But this isn’t my first role in MS (and I pray it won’t be my last!) – some previous ones were not nearly so enjoyable. Not every job is rainbows and butterflies. Not at any employer. Not every team is right for every person. Not every manager is the right fit for every employee. I was on a team that was not the right fit for me. I used the proper process to find a new role. But to deny that I was left felling burnt out and a bit like damaged goods would be disingenuous.
Several years of working on a team that is not a match for you becomes a grind. It wears you down.
Oh – and general comments:
I’ve apparently made a mistake in my usage of GRUB. I’ll look into that.
I have several typos that change the meanings of the phrases entirely. I will leave them as-is. But for the record my wife does not have a glandular problem. There are certainly typos in this post too.
While I did have comment moderation enabled I did not reject or fail to publish any.
I do not speak for my employer. This blog is about my personal thoughts and feelings.
I hope that those of you who suggest I could or should be fired are wrong.
I have disabled the Snap preview pages. I did not know they were on. It is a WordPress setting that was enabled (I think I did it while signing up).
I am still running XP at home. I intend to continue doing that for quite some time. It is important to my family to have a familiar experience.
I did not bash XP, Vista, etc – the move to Linux was, as I said, mostly symbolic. My OS does not define me. It will not change my life. I haven’t become suddenly more creative since installing Linux. This was about letting my curiosity explore something new (new to me, anyway), researching something and expressing myself creatively (this blog – whether you like it or not – that’s the intent).
This post was about me – not my employer. The fact that I let my career become such an overwhelming force in my life is my fault – not my employers.
I appreciate the comments. I may respond further in the comment section on some posts but future posts will be about what’s going on and not rehashing this further. My intent is to talk about my experience in moving to Linux – not about the politics of work.
And seriously – if you work at MS and are thinking “this guy should be fired!” – sleep on it. Microsoft needs more people like me – not fewer (sorry Mini – I just encouraged hiring). Microsoft needs more people who have woken up and realized that we can and must do better. That work/life balance is important – not just paying it lip-service – but actually realizing it in a healthy way. That giving people time to think about things other than their day-to-day tasks will improve every employee in the long run (which improves the company as a whole). And that Linux, and OSS in general, are something we all need to be looking at because you can bet that the Linux community is looking hard at each and every one of us.
It’s been a long day. Good night.