Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I woke up feeling under the weather. I am taking a vitamin B and CrMg regiment, but I skipped Sunday. Yesterday was not great as a result, and this morning I felt a cold coming on. So I slept in until the latest possible moment - which turned out to be 11am. I had lunch with some old friends at work, so I had to get there by noon. Thanks to the power of cars I in fact made it there at 12:05.

Now having arrived at noon, having a lazy lunch, what would be the next logical step? Yes, a slurpee run with a good friend who shares the same name as I. We did the International District to Seattle Center run (where the good 7-11 is), giving plenty of time to bitch about Amazon. Nothing more cathartic than complaining about things you can't control.

I made a big deal out of a program at my (current) work that seeks to identify good incoming MBAs and make sure they get properly cross trained. There is no parallel program for technical folks. This just cemented in my mind that the company is MBA-land and really is not a place to do good technical work. If I needed convincing that my move was good (I don't), this was perfect evidence that the company is firmly in the hands of MBAs. Another good example is the substandard PC notebooks that are furnished, and the low quality 19" LCD screens. I'd rather take my old 21" CRT.

That CRT met it's end one day while I was using it. I heard a pop and everything in front of me defocused. I freaked out for a moment and took off my glasses, before I realized it was my CRT going kaput. While the CRT was huge, heavy and very "thick", it had better rez and looked better than the LCD that replaced it. I have considered many times bringing my 23" Cinema Display to work, but then I wouldn't have it's awesome coolness to use at home. Now that prices fell I was considering buying one for work, then (large unnamed internet company) hired me, and they don't skimp on hardware, so problem solved.

I think another symptom of MBA land at my company is that our VP and Senior VPs don't have relationships with the individual contributors. We're talking about the people who make the company go and yet you don't even talk to them? Not to mention all the managers who informed me that managing upwards was a major skill to be learned. As far as I can see that skill involves hiding the truth just enough to not be lying but also meeting expectations.

That might seem a little harsh, and it probably is, however why wouldn't a company that depends heavily on technology want a good rapport between the top level who makes policy and decisions and those who pull the levers as it were. The idea that the techies and the management speak two different languages seems to be promoted mostly by those who want to take the job of translator. If the management of a high tech company can't take a little "CPU" and "RAM", then why did you hire them? And believe me, this is not a case of an IT department versus the business who doesn't know IT. This company exists because of tech, not in spite of it.

In the end, I think of myself as the invisible hand of the market. "We" did something wrong, and the ultimate punishment is your employees voting with their feet (ok, the OTHER ultimate punishment is failure). And yes, turnover is a form of failure - you haven't retained the best and the brightest and you've allowed huge treasure troves of knowledge to walk out the door. While NDAs protect you from your information leaving, it doesn't prevent people from using their talents elsewhere. I don't really feel sorry for the company, but I do feel sorry for my friends who will have to suffer this December because I'm not there.

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