Grunts remain undisgruntled in 2006!

by Rick Jelliffe

Elliotte Rusty Harold has a review over at IBM DeveloperWorks XML in 2006 which is worth even a quick skim, because he identifies very clearly the split between grassroots technologies (good in his view) and pointy-haired-boss-imposed technologies (bad.)

The money quote:
Ten years ago, the grunt programmers and network admins were installing Web servers on surplus PCs reformatted with Linux while the CEOs and CTOs played golf with salespeople and mandated corporate-wide Exchange Server deployments. Those same low-level techies made XML a success by throwing out decades of legacy binary gook and replacing it with off-the-shelf, open source parsers. Today, these people are quietly installing REST, Atom, and RELAX NG.

This is a slightly romantic view, of course. C*Os don't only spend their time arranging pointy-haired golf deals, but they are also the ones pushing for adoption of Open Standards (though, perhaps the push to Open Standards is as a result of golfing with IBM sales people rather than MS sales people!). And low-level techies are sometimes the most conservative of people; they may play the field early in their careers and strive to find the most fabulous technology to best handle a job, but sooner or later they fall in love, settle down, and don't want a divorce.


2007-01-18 05:41:29
They are aware. IT is the most conservative of all departments. They too want to take weekends off, sleep with employees, do the wild thang and take home bigger dollars. They too want to socialize and mesmerize. So time spent massaging a new server or plug in application is not what they have in mind on Friday night.

Open source does win where performance is credibly better and reasonably the same cost to manage. Same as other products. Where you can make that point and where your company does not have a thick layer of purchase approval personnel (three signatures for any purchase over $100), you can make those changes; otherwise, you are irritating the platypus.

The pointy haired boss screws over a company not because of this or that choice of technologies. They screw over a company because of the layers and layers and layers of insulating peers they put in for making decisions. They spreadsheet the company to death in paroxysms of analysis paralysis, and last and most deadly, they destroy the morale of those who worked all of those weekends to create value through fear of them demonstrated by bringing in the come-latelies who scoop all the profits off the table and then vanish into their next jobs leaving their resumes free of the carnage they create behind them.

If you really want to understand what is driving the economics of innovation in 2007, you need to study venture capitalist and private equity investment strategies. It is analogous to studying the effects of vampire bats on a dairy herd.

There is an article at Wired the Elliotte points out about the failures of Yahoo's Terry Semel worth reading. Note the presence of the committees of committees. As soon as you see the titles "Industry Managers" and their analogs on the doors of the new hires, you're dead. Hold on to your stock options, but put your resume on the street. The value of the company is about to go up (burning the furniture creates heat) but the value of your products is about to plunge.