Saturday, October 08, 2005

Change of Job?

The biggest event for this week is probably the company's decision to switch become more product centric. The company started as a System Integrator, and slowly involved with Product Development by churning out quite a number of products. Now, they want to become more products centric by being value partner for 3rd party products, abandon their forte of System Integrator and Product Development behind. To me, it sounds like the company had turned from bad to worse. She had abandoned her stronghold and opts for some quick and easy short term business solution, which could potentially destine the company to its downfall in the near future. A whole bunch of companies can become a value partner for a 3rd party product, a handful could become System Integrator and very few would end up as Software House. By being just product centric, we are actually reversing our progress and do something which we have no competitive advantages, and competiting in the mass market where there are already many established players.

When the CEO made the decision to take on such direction for the company, he consulted a few seniors in the company to get feedback from the rest of the staffs. At first glance, the seniors (including me, though not too senior) sort of decided this is actually quite a bad news, as most of the staffs in the company are developers with strong programming background and it would sort of discourage them or affect team morale if they were asked to be product technical and consultant. My first response is, "If this is the company's direction, I would agree and resign. I am a developer who appreciates much of the skills I have, and product consultation is not something I neither am good at nor interested to do. Perhaps it is good for the company, but I do strongly believe there are better alternatives which the company is not bold or strategic enough to embark on." The first thing which crosses our mind is "Probably it is time to seek alternative job", and we kinda worry that the rest of the staffs might feel the same and affect the team's morale. But, we were wrong, almost 100% wrong.

We held a meeting with all our department's members, to seek their view and feedback on this change of tide. I don't want to be the first one to voice out my comment, as I don't want to have influence on others' decision (though at the same time I would like to do so, but it just isn't right for me to manipulate the situation). Tang is the first to voice out her comment, and the answer she provided is exactly as I expected it to be. Tang had become more business savvy and less technical over the years, thanks to the apprenticeship under CL Wong. So, she strongly agreed with the company's direction as she believes it is more important for the company to do whatever it takes to increase profit and recover from losses at this stage. Subsequently, all the team members agree with the new direction, with not even a single person objecting to it. I am the last to voice out, and I kinda disagree with the company decision. Wynn clause I as being extremely "negative", as I am not open minded with the new direction, unwilling to change and voice my intention to resign. The rest is pretty supportive and willing to learn (which is a good thing). I sense no objection at all, though there are some doubts and uncertainty. I still remember when I first joined the company, my manager asked me which projects would I like to be involved, I answered "Which ever the project which need me the most". During that time, I am extremely determined to support and contribute to the company, perhaps this is what others are doing except me. I think I understood the company's style and culture too well, sensing something would turn bad out of this, just like everything else.

I was thinking, are we (the seniors and me) the old hacks who are too stubborn to change, or we totally understand the situation and the hidden consequences. I really like to know if the rest really support the new decision, or are they afraid to voice up, or they do not have any preferences. Am I really that wrong on other's people thought? Actually, I was hoping Amir and Kenny would be someone who might object to it.

I will try to compile why I disagree with the new direction:

  • The company are becoming from bad to worst, abandoning our forte and venture into already crowded market by jumping into the product partnership bandwagon. We are actually trying to do something where almost everyone else is capable of, making us vulnerable, at the mercy of others and loosing our uniqueness and competitive edge.
  • In software industry, being a developer is the most flexible and open-ended job which pays quite well at the moment. Other job such as System & Network Administrator, Technical Support, Product Support and etc either suffer from lower pay and the lack of jobs, or being close-ended (the opportunity is limited in the niche market, but the pay could be quite good as there are not many skilled personnel around). Being a developer, there is abundance of jobs to choose from, always in demand and you could even do some freelancing or start your own business. The salary is not the best, but the possibility and opportunity is unlimited. Besides, only the good ones end up as developer.
  • I have loose faith in both the company's management and business strategy. The company is run by a salesman, thus he does not focus much on management and restructuring to increase productivity. He is neither knowledgeable in software development and what it takes to become a great software house, thus this is just a path he couldn't be possibly embark on. But I have to give him credit for being quite an excellent sales person, and probably he is more suited to become the Sales Director instead. In terms of business strategy, I am disappointed too many times. We are always sales driven which makes us lost focus, becoming Jack of all trades and master of none. We wanted to do too many things at one time, but still unable to give commitment and take risk. We never look or plan long term, as it always have been meeting the numbers before end of financial years, as someone's head is on the chopping block. We are desperate with no vision and plan, and hoping for one big sale to drop on our lap and save the day. This is the company's strategy.
  • I had always fixed my mind to become a developer, and have thought of becoming a developer for life as well. I preferences is always a Software House, if my current company is no longer one, then there are nothing left for me. Though I might not always need to work primarily as a developer, but I would still prefer to work in a Software House, perhaps taking other position such as Software Architect, Project Manager or Product Manager.
  • Lastly, I have given enough time for the company to improve, and I had contributed whatever I could to make it a better company. But the culture is so fixed, and the management just doesn't seem to be in sync with me. With the financial crisis (not a very bad crisis anyway, just that not good either) we are facing now, I am afraid the management does not have the open mind and margin for risk taking at this moment. They want a quick and cheap fix. Besides, I don't think I have much influential power on the management (I am just a young chap who talk too much).
  • I ask myself; shouldn't I stick with the company at this troubling moment and turn the table around? Yes, I should. There any many ways to turn the table around, but the path chosen is not the path which I have faith in. I can't work for the company if I don't believe in its course. If I can't make the company listen to me, I would need to find someone who would or prove it myself.

It seems like I had pretty much made up my decision, and the company had manifest to something which I am not very keen on. I am not saying the company's current direction is a total failure, there is still possibility of great prospect which might really restore the company growth, just that I have no faith and interest in it. I pray for her survival and health, as I don't want to see a company which I used to work for go down the drain as well.

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