25 April 2008

backwater, in-house development

Indien BackwatersMaybe I am too strict, or my expectations are far too high for the average company (which is likely the case). However, while staying with Herold I reached the conclusion that "backwater, in-house development" does not provide footing for IT innovation. Obviously this is true but the ironic part is, that management pretends that it's there. Listen to this:

Two years ago they came up with the idea of science Fridays. Every Friday the development department would be locked, so no one would disturb us and all developers would try out new stuff or study books. Well, it never happened. Last year the idea was still around, we would just start after this particular next release. And there is always some pressing next release to work on. The WTF of this paragraph is that two months ago I was asked by the boss of my boss if I used the science Friday time for some project. I had to laugh out loud.

Another idea was born at the beginning of last year: every month a member of the team would prepare some topic, e.g. new features in .NET 3, and present an overview. There was not a single one of these presentations, the monthly meetings were always full with lists of features to be put into the next release. The proposed topics, already outdated, are still in my boss' drawer, waiting for their time.

How about professional training? "Sorry, there is no budget for that. Sales revenue just increased by 5 percent last year. The company is in critical condition. We all have to work harder."

So I experiment with new technologies at home and try to bring in something new from time to time. But I was told that we do not need it, because we are no IT company and there is no point in spending time to stay up to date because it is not our main business. And anyway I am not supposed to spend "so" much work time on education and research. But I have to, because as Heinz Kabutz once said, we're in an industry with a knowledge half-life of at most 18 months. Keep in mind that half of what you knew 18 months ago is worthless today, so you need to keep learning new things.

Do you work under similar conditions? Tell me how you overcome them to stay a top notch developer.

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