To say I’ve been out of touch for the last 9 months is an understatement. Tons of stuff going on – all of it crazy – chaotic – and usually leaving much around me unfinished while I grasp for straws.
The usual excuse at work is that it’s like drinking from a fire hose. Don’t know how accurate that analogy is – for me it’s been more like trying to learn a new language while traveling in a new country. I spent a massive amount of time at IBM, which while exposing me to how the big dogs run … exposed me to how IBM ran. Which is to say there’s a level of arrogance in us all. IBM – believed they were the only ones who knew how to run things and even though I did my best to absorb outside influences, you do eventually become engorged in their rather singularly focused methods and terminology.
Ego causes you to assume because you use similar terms – you’re talking the same language. The end result is that you become of the opinion you DO know what everyone is talking about. (Hey, one TLA <three letter anacronym> is the same as another right? 🙂 Yeah… sure it is.
In becoming now engorged in yet another mega-corp… which is equally certain they speak the same language and have the same processes as everyone else… you really begin to see the degree that each of the mega-corps have drunk their own Kool-Aid for a bit too long. I’m not saying either is bad, or wrong – actually they’re both incredibly efficient and capable. But the lessons learned from one, I’m begining to think – will never fully translate over to the other … or anywhere else for that matter. In both cases, the degree, the size of them – invokes a long standing tendancy to invoke the "If it ain’t broke…" rule and remain locked into their own beliefs.
Here’s an example. In a recent PM class, I was somewhat shocked no one (aside from IBMers who’d made the move to MS) had heard the term SPOC – a Single Point of Contact. It’s a very common term in a lot of places, IBM, SUN both used it extensively and it’s mentioned repleatedly in many Project Management courses you’ll find. But due to the nature of the need for speed – MS does have them on their projects (depends – in SCRUM type situations they’re not as clearly defined) but they just use another name for them.
Now, for me – this spoke volumes. After all, how can you run things without having that role clearly defined? Then I began to realise where the term tied in… and in the same way a 2nd year French student learns to conjugate verbs… I’m slowly learning to translate. But I wonder if it’s something that will haunt me throughout my career. Let’s face it – we’ve all long since learned to keep a straight face at the concept of a "Standard" in the IT industry. A Standard – is after all – whatever some committee usually made up for something based on biased views and they’ve determined it to be the correct way to run around building. Nine months from now – an equally prestigious embodiment will, out of necessity, update that standard… and deprecate the previous standard. This effectively means – a Standard is whatever we decide it is this week… and the "We" being whatever group was given the task, or appointed themselves the task, of determing that a skunk dipped in white paint can actually be called a cat under the correct circumstances.
As a result, I have learned that a Standard is a necessity, but not to set my watch, calendar dates, or rely on them as being the sole authority on anything. This is especially true of any project. Effectively, this is the core problem with mega-corps. They DO rely on them, and they DO enforce them throughout… until the next on comes along and in time, the Anacronyms become so numbing no one remembers what they actually stand for – or why they came into being. They just use them, and in doing so – they become a part of the venacular of the corporation. As times change and entropy ensues – these bits of venacular become more and more blurred until their original meaning even becomes uncertain, shifting with whatever their newfound repurposing determines them to be.
As a result – my level of confusion – lack of cohesion – and in gernal sanity and sense of time has gone south, apparently for the winter, ne’er to be seen again until I am fully ensorcelled into the fraternity of this new, and often confusing culture. It’s apparently pretty common since they keep telling me eventually I will become a part of the culture – as if this is a regular issue of life with new people.
But I’ve overlooked so many gems on the net – like the works of Johnathan Coultan, who’s "Thing A Week" blog – has produced some incredible, if not twisted music. Code Monkey, Skullcrusher Mtn, and Chiron Beta Prime. I won’t spoil them but suffice to say, that if people do not get into these – they’re even more twisted than he is.