My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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This week's advice from Chad Fowler's book, My Job Went To India tells us to "remember who you work for" when doing your job.

Chad acknowledges that saying "make sure your goals and your work align with the goals of your business" is an easy task that's hard to accomplish. It's hard because working in IT for a major corporation, it's not always clear what those goals are and how you and your department fit into the overall scheme of things.

To remedy this, Chad says it's easy to ask your manager how you can help. When you help your manager, he helps his, and so on, all the way up the food chain. In doing that, you can be sure that your work is aligned with the goals of the business, and it doesn't hurt to keep the man happy "who holds the keys to your career (in your present company, at least)."

Of all the chapters thus far in the book, this was the least inspirational for me. That's not any fault of Chad's but more because of the fact that I've always worked at small companies. Therefore, I've always been fortunate enough to have close relationships with the people in power positions, and I've been much more of a mind reader because of it.

However, that doesn't mean I still can't ask what I can do to help us reach our goals, and what those goals are. So earlier this week, after reading the chapter, I was inspired to do just that. Try it out and see if it works for you, especially if you're at a larger company. Perhaps you can discuss longer term objectives over lunch.

You've got a related story? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

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This kind of hits home because I work at a 2000+ employee corporation. I'm not sure I totally understand his point, as I haven't read the chapter, but I do know that my goals don't align very will with my IT department. I am fairly idealistic when it comes to software and such, and I love open source. My company, on the other hand, doesn't bat an eye at spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on bloated "Enterprise" software. But I really like my job and I get paid well, so I just have to live with it. :\

I have talked to my managers about some of this stuff before, and how I think they could save money and be more efficient, but nobody else sees things the way I do, so I never seem to make any changes.

Posted by Jake Munson on Feb 01, 2008 at 01:32 PM UTC - 6 hrs

what happens if management are their own worst enemy?

Posted by barry.b on Feb 02, 2008 at 07:41 AM UTC - 6 hrs

@Jake - I'm not sure if philosophic goals such as OS vs. Proprietary need to align. After all, even though the software cost is often free with OS, there are other costs associated with it. The places I've worked use a variety of tools, but for the main things we often go with proprietary software (CF, MS SQL Server, Sharepoint, AD, Windows).

I think the main idea is to try and find out where you fit in, and be sure to do your best to hit the goals your company has set out.

@barry - What a sad story! I don't know what to do. If incompetence is extremely high and rearing its ugly head quite often, I'd probably get my resume out and resign as soon as possible. The other day, I told the people I work for that I need to work with others who pursue excellence. Reinventing the wheel may be acceptable in some cases, but for something like flash vs. homebrew plugin that users must install and get a security warning from some software they've probably never heard of, I think what we /should/ do is pretty obvious.

If it's not too prevalent, I may just forgive and ignore it, moving on to helping in some other capacity.

Posted by Sammy Larbi on Feb 03, 2008 at 11:02 AM UTC - 6 hrs

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