The Mythical Enlightened Employer

I was having a conversation with a fellow developer the other day and we we chatting about the lack of foresight of many firms regarding functional programming.  This naturally led to a discussion of how chaotic many workplaces are. This, of course, led to the old saw—if you don’t like where you’re working, look elsewhere.  I’ve heard this advice repeated often—if your current job isn’t doing it for you, look around.  There’s a dream job out there somewhere. 

I have to say that I’ve been writing software and working in IT for nearly 25 years and if there’s a place where things are truly at an enlightenment level north of CMM Level 1, I’ve yet to find it.  I use CMM Level 1 simply as shorthand for the level of controlled chaos which seems to prevail almost everywhere.  Perhaps they should change the name from CMM Level 1 to “Typical Workplace.”

The thing is, talking to my fellow software developers, the complaints about unrealistic deadlines, software death marches and so forth are so common that I really wonder if the “enlightened employer” actually exists.  I used to work for a firm that was once upon a time voted on of the best places to work in the country for IT and I knew several members of a team that worked 60 hour work weeks for a few months, at least, and were never compensated with either bonus pay or comp time—and the product still shipped late by the way. I’ve heard rumors about Google (I mean who hasn’t in the IT world?) but given the number of “Why I Chose To Leave Google” blog postings one begins to wonder if even that bastion of enlightened software development is just a myth too. 

I want to make a suggestion to those who feel that the pasture is greener on the other side of the fence.  Seriously consider if you can’t make the pasture greener under your own feet.  If you really cannot improve things in your own workplace (and certainly there are some truly benighted places in this world) then move on.  Otherwise, maybe you can transform your own company into the Mythical Enlightened Employer that we all seek.

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