Of course, there are advantages to matching the "official" build environment, and in a team environment there are also advantages to sharing tools and processes across the team.
I order my own supplies, customize my office as I see fit, schedule my own trips and meetings, and select my own training courses. Consequently, the lower ranks are filled with managers who either have no interest in advancing up the management chain which is fine or else are below-average in their management skills which is not.
Some of these products even survived after the personality cult left for the Next Big Thing. My NASA coworkers made all sorts of derogatory comments about my choice. For the most part, I determine what I work on and when I will get it done.
Some employees are bad apples, and some leaders make poor decisions which their employees may or may not support.
It might be something that millions of people use every single day, that even your non-technical friends and family understand. Everywhere you turn, the projects people are working on are likely to be used by thousands or millions of people. Or it might have 8 books written about it.
None of these managers were as good as my best manager at NASA. I can eat on campus or off, reheat something from home in the kitchen or scavenge leftovers from meetings.
For example, I can still get a great review score even if my manager is terrible. The other two-three were "nngh" -- no significant impact on my life one way or another. When the media goes wild with knee-jerk reactions for or against something Microsoft did, often the employees responsible for the decision are caught off-guard by the disproportionate public attention.
At NASA, most managers and even some scientists had no real understanding of software or software development. I personally know several large teams in which almost all the employees have families, or in which the team is unusually diverse for a software company — e. Many successful Microsoft products have come into existence only through the actions of such personality cults.
Also, the Seattle area is known for being somewhat isolating — lots of young, ambitious professionals with no time for making friends. Usually, the cult just moves on to the Next Big Thing, losing or gaining a few members at each transfer. If anything, Microsoft seems to have the opposite problem, in which employees sometimes design or cut a feature or product without fully appreciating the huge impact their decision can have outside the company.
I joined Microsoft at the beginning of the antitrust litigation against the company. But like children, these employees also need to be grounded in reality and exposed to ideas that can be disruptive or even disturbing. There are no timecards to fill out, no requisition forms, no authorizations or permission slips.
Managers In contrast, most of the middle management should be tossed. Microsoft has certainly had its share of useless products and project failures, but by and large it continues to focus on software that matters.
For new employees, vacation time has been cut from three weeks to two, and new parents have to take their parental leave within 6 months instead of Microsoft gives software developers a lot of personal freedom over both the work and the work environment.
Everyone at Microsoft "gets" software — the managers, the administrative assistants, the vice presidentsRead this essay on Personality in the Workplace.
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