I trust this finds everyone well. We have all the usual worldwide things going on: disasters, wars etc and then in the valley we have huge funding events happening e.g. Color getting $41M. I was thinking ’bout some lessons lived and learned whilst reflecting on past lives and a couple of items came out of the “wet-ware” subconscious: 1) Do The Right Thing 2) Make Decisions Like Your Paycheck Is Irrelevant. (style note: after all these years of Mac programming and working at Apple I still use object style capitalization). Whilst these item do not appear to be tech worthy or money making – someone said I should teach a Tech Psychology 101 class.
Do The Right Thing
A very successful person in the tech industry who at this point I consider close to iconoclastic said, “Just Do The Right Thing.” I am not going to get into the metaphysical aspects of Right/Wrong here suffice to say what this person was making a comment on was have a clear conscience and do not be biased as to the correct technical and business decision. In the long run you will benefit and you can always look back and know that what you did as a technical professional was well and just. This was coming during a very complicated and involved several people with agendas. For those who are not in the tech industry you would be amazed at how emotional coders, architects and program directors are with respect to some of these decisions. Then I think that nowadays they are very close to rockstars so what not be emotional? That said when you have a difficult decision to make “Do The Right Thing.”
Make Decisions Like Your PayCheck Is Irrelevant
Once again someone well known in the industry was walking with me at a conference trade show and due to the level of their success and the amount of well tech power they possessed I used this time to ask questions. I asked them what is consistent in your success? Without missing a beat this person said, “Work like your paycheck doesn’t matter.” Of course your probably saying if this person is that successful they can afford it. Well dear readers they were not talking about money they were talking about reputation. Money is temporary. Reputation lasts a long time – possibly until the big sleep. It took me a while to truly get my head around this because well time is money and money is time. Yet the more I pondered this statement the more it made sense (and cents). Time went on and I started espousing some of these tenets. Eventually I came upon a situation where I knew one of my colleagues was going into a meeting that could change the face of I/O connectors (think USB and FireWire wars) and I told him say what you know and operate like you do not need a paycheck. He came out of the meeting and said you know I will always operate in that manner. It completely freed me from figuring out what to do in high pressure situations.
Responsibility For The Responsible!
First and foremost one thing I do wish is I could have met the person who espoused this statement. I actually came very close when I was in The Valley circa 93′. Yet that is a story for another time and place. The two previous items roll up into this tenets. For those that are changing the world via technology we have the power to create and destroy. For some this is the game because well they have made millions and billions, just as the artist who can create to destroy which is part of the art. Yet even though we create technologies that change the very social fabric of humanity we are still dealing with the human form on a daily basis (caveat emptor for better or worse) and as such we have decisions that will live with us. Conflict is a given. It is going to happen. Humans adore war. Many a people in the tech industry have destroyed many an art – books could be written on the amount of code and product that hit the trash and <delete>. Part and parcel of this is the aspect of doing what your told instead of being responsible and doing the right thing. Software is the most scalable industry period. There may never be another industry as scalable (smart grid maybe but not yet). The multi-cast nature of changing entire groups of people via one application or a widget is phenomenal not to mention the monetary reward. As I am fond of saying – Idea2Bank as fast as possible yet this comes with some aspect of Responsibility For The Responsible. There are those that can and those that cannot its a very stratifying industry.
At the end of the day do what you know – say what you think – create the software you know is true. Software only knows brutal honesty – either it works or it doesnt and you should be a reflection of that creation.
Go Big Or Go Home!
2 comments on “A Couple of Lessons – Responsibility For The Responsible”
Having been fired for what I knew to be true, not what I was told to do I can confirm that I live without regret and have not attempted to undo, or worse, relive that moment to make it different. Do the right think couldn’t be a simpler or more powerful directive. Responsibility for the responsible helps one separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were. Great post.
Yes good one. I can certainly affirm them to be some very basic tenets of life. Could change the keywords and would apply everywhere. It confirms my suspicion that creating software is just not another job but comes with a lot of world changing responsibility. Who knows maybe the path to nirvana or eternal universal peace may be unlocked by some meagre but beautifully written software some day!!