Recently, I had a conversation with an acquaintance. The same conversation I have had at least five times in the past year.
Everyone's sick of their job. And... they are. so. sure. It's better somewhere else.
I don't judge others' professional choices. Everyone is walking a unique path in life with a lot of variables. I just want to dispel one of the myths that I hear absolutely everywhere. I can't stand it anymore.
Myth 1: Our Processes Are Way Behind the Curve
This is one of the most common grass-is-greener myths that I constantly hear. I'd just like to blow this one wide open.
Where do we get this assumption? I remember feeling it too, many times - that people in my role at other companies must be walking around in cooler clothes, smiling confidently in their larger offices while they whisk their software delivery through slick, documented, cutting edge internal processes. Meanwhile, I'm stuck with this crappy company that still has half of its data on a legacy system, overworked middle managers who spend hours in meetings arguing about the definition and the prioritization of everything, and organizational/policy changes every six months, swinging wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other. We're centralizing. No, we're specializing. Oh, guess what? We're centralizing again.
Wait, you're saying that's your company, too?
Well, if everyone's experiencing this, then where are all the cool kids?
I'm not saying that well developed, tightly executed processes don't exist. They do. I just don't think that the typical concept of process health is very realistic. Take people, for example - do we meet people and judge them, overally, by how 'functional' they are? The people that I know are very well developed in certain areas, and struggling in others. One might be a successful professional with infinite patience and generosity, but have an uncontrollable weight problem. Another might be attractive and very healthy mentally and physically - but has repeated financial difficulties. Often, we overlook these things in people as we make friends and professional connections, because we understand that human beings all have weakness in one or more areas.
Guess who runs companies?
This is my chief process theory: as long as people are imperfect, then what they make will be imperfect - probably to a higher degree, since our imperfections are compounded. As soon as we recognize that, then it's easier to see two things. First, that company with the perfect web site and dazzling advertisements might not be so perfect on the inside (actually, they might have a typo on their web site - keep looking)! Second, and most importantly - if you're focusing on the weaker processes at your company, you might miss the strong formal execution of everyday things that you take for granted. Sure, your software deployment might have a 75% production issue rate - and it's embarrassing. However, what is working? Do you get your paycheck on time? Do you receive timely system updates regulated by your IT department / system administrator? Does the open enrollment period for your benefits come every year at the same time from HR? These are processes, too, and not everyone can count on those things where they are.
Not convinced? You might have to change jobs to find out that your new organization has stellar QA and a 10% defect rate, but their release schedule is so slow to deliver that the market is light years ahead. Another company's shiny, hip product might be popular, but you'd have to go to work there to find out that they've been cutting corners for so long that the next version is about to break down in ways that no one has ever seen. Some things can't be explained - they have to be experienced. But I had to warn you. I can't stand it anymore.
See another myth busted in the next installment of Lessons Learned.
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