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Friday, April 28, 2006
Thoughts that i've been having
This is most probably going to be the most introspective post that i've done. Ever. I've gotta apologize for the randomized and disjointed thoughts, as i've been gathering all these through the last few days...

I've been reading a lot on blogs that are written by fellow colleagues across the company. For one reason or another, the recent posts from Rory, Scoble, Dare and the infamous Mini made me think quite a lot, from the viewpoint of an employee, an individual, and a dreamer.

Randy, perhaps knowing something isn't too right, sent me a link to this article that i've read a long while ago, which, somehow, got diggedd and reappear on the radar of a lot of folks. The common point that we both agreed is under the "Managers" section, somewhere around the fifth paragraph. This is not a reflection on my immediate management team, but just what i observed in this project.

Be it what most online folks might say, the company does have a lot of great employees. I do see some of them even in the building that i'm in! With that large of a population, we will have the good and the bad, really bad.

The trifactor relationship for the project made the decision making points even more excruciatingly painful. Using the car project as the background, on one hand, we're possibly getting a vehicle that we cant really use in a productive manner, on the other hand, we have a group that commits to 20-mins taxi rides on these vehicles.

Though my management team (including my ex-manager, and the newly-joined and former APOC start-up team member) helped to push the pain points into a bigger space of awareness, i just find that to even reach this stage as a project team is not productive at all to the company, nor our customers.

I hope that Andy, coming from an organization that is so focused on quailty and customer service, will help to inject such disciplines into these projects. I definitely see a very huge disconnect from the focus that i was educated to have in the Singapore office vs here.

The last few days were exceptionally tiring. We had a lot of meetings where we discussed what are the things that we might do in the next few meetings, and what the other group might do and on and on and on. I totally do not understand how this is going to help the company, nor improve the project. Perhaps i'm at a level too low to understand?

I had one of those meetings yesterday morning, with a "good old friend" of Randy, on what we're doing with the current system. Which is ironic, considering that he was part of the team that developed the current system. There were a lot of cross-exchanges that eventually resulted in nothing. The only other two outcomes from it were: 1) i was too frustrated to work from that point onward (10am), and went home; 2) another meeting was set at 4PM to discuss about this meeting, with basically the same group of people. OHHH man.. how things changed in a few hours. With Jason, Gary and Andy in this meeting, the atmosphere was totally different. WTH!

We had another one of those sessions today, with the car manufacturer group, where we told them what we really need on one of the issues. They listened very attentively and were opened to all kind of suggestions. This sounds great, except that the same exact meeting and the same information from this meeting were made many months ago. The only difference is now that it's a show stopper to going live with this system, and i have my management in the meeting.

Across these two examples of multiple sessions of basically the same meeting, i believed we used up a total of 100 man hours. . On the same topic, with no difference in outcome. That's 2.5 weeks of a headcount's work! Again, please explain to me how this helps us to serve our customers better.

My system has reached a point where it has become a critical gating factor to whether the company can respond quickly to whatever is happening in the technological world. Increasingly, as the company has more products that require a short timeline to release (think Windows Defender, think OneCare, think even Windows Update), this system will no longer have the usual period of time that we have now to process the "taxi rides".

As an employee, as someone that know how time-sensitive these things are, and trying not to overemphasize this, but if i can't help these products to release their software quickly to help improve our customers' experience and security, then i think i've failed. I think the system failed, and i think this project would have failed.

If i cant help to ensure that these files are checked with as much coverage as possible before they reach the customers, then i think i've failed. I think the system failed, and i think this project would have failed.

Some folks actually think that i'm trying to put the project on hostage, and that i am trying to do a bluff in a poker game. I'm not. I want a system that's good for all.. the company, the actual paying customers, the product groups, the management groups and the folks that actually use the tool. You'd think that this is a straightforward request, for a tool that simply works.. perhaps that's a Apple thing.

Why bother spending millions of dollars and tons of hours in meetings to do something that's not good enough? Citing it's a version 1.0 is no longer an acceptable excuse. The company's already losing lots of market share against a company that's in perpetual beta.

I actually had a chance to briefly tell that good friend about this situation. He used a similar incident, and some inputs from another common colleague that we had, and advised me to be tolerant and look forward. Be tolerant. I'm trying as much as possible to do so, but this is definitely affecting me.

For my high school friends, all i can say right now is that i'm getting back to the good old shaoqiang temperment niak niak niak. Post high school i dont think i have had temperment issues like this. Perhaps it's my body telling me that the environment is no longer conducive.

Have you done your POLL recently? I find that i couldnt even make more than a handful of points as being positive. It's definitely the one that stands out from the last 4 that i did. Just a reflection of my thought processes right now.

On Monday, we'll be having a 2hr 30 mins meeting, with multiple levels of management involved. Again, I really do not believe we will get anything good out of it, except a forced decision to go with it.

If we reach a stage where a decision is made / forced / coerced to allow the project to move on as it is now, where the main benefit is on a number of folks' review scores, then i think i no longer want to be part of this project, nor work with people like these.

By that time, i'd hope that the situation will allow me to stay within the company, and my management folks (and Legal) to allow me to move on. If a more difficult decision needs to be made, where the probable outcome is to go home, i think Sharon will support me in that decision.

We will have time to play with the twins then, especially when we'll be out of jobs for a few months back in Singapore. I seriously hope we wont reach that stage; as i look forward to meeting up with a good friend here in the near future. But I'm prepared.
posted by Jonathan at 11:04 AM | Permalink |