Mini-Microsoft Cutting Room Floor

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Gutz. I haz dem - New comment on What's up with Microsoft India?.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "What's up with Microsoft India?":

Whatever happened to

...Please keep it productive and insightful. Low quality or off-topic (or just attacking) comments will either be bounced to The Cutting Room Floor or thrown into the bit bucket. Additionally, if all you're here to do is rag on Microsoft while extolling your love for fill in the blank... this isn't the place. Mini....

Mini - Looks like you are driving your own agenda on this blog - and some folks tell me that you're not posting all the stuff that folks are putting up. let's see if you have the guts to post this and take some of the medicine you are so freely dishing out.

(??? Who the heck do you hang out with having such conversations?)


  • mini: can u please post it at minimsft. seems like u have disabled new anon. comments :(

    A lot of folks have been writing here about their experiences at IDC and if taken in the right spirits, these suggestions can be pretty useful to IDC in the long run. Especially since IDC is still in its starting years and there are bound to be some mistakes in this rush to grow. So more important than mistakes is that we recognize them, face them and fix them ASAP. If nurtured in a right way, IDC can only benefit Microsoft and India.

    About myself:
    I am a SDE at IDC, have been here for quite some time now and have seen IDC growing from three digits to four digits. When I was in my college I was in awe of Microsoft (and few other similar companies) and it used to be a dream to work in organizations which have so much influence on the society as a whole. The mere thought of building products that are used by almost everyone having a computer and working with folks who are the best in the India/world and are obsessed with technology was enough for motivating me to work hard in my college days. Well joining here was a disappointment to say at least.

    Though I expected that the work being done in IDC won't be state of the art and I wasn't expecting myself to work on the next big thing in the industry, I was actually hoping to find people who are more passionate toward technology, far less interested in office politics and little more courageous to take the blame when things don't go well. I was also hoping that far more value would be given to devs/PMs/tests at the lowest end of the chain(<= level 63). This is because, its these people who are are the majority here at IDC(and everywhere else), doing most of the works and one day would be the future of IDC(in case IDC has one). But none of that I have seen here. Few individuals might be, but many people are just not interested in technology. If you try to talk some new things happening in technology space you are bound to get that "What the F***" stares. On the other hand if one is discussing the office politics or real estate in Hyderabad, you might end up having even the biggest conference halls full. This problem I guess is the result of the fact that most people in India are in IT because its the only field where the jobs are. This is also the reason that most people here want to be managers and not ICs because they don't have any interest in technology.

    One thing that is in very bad state here is the culture here at IDC. Everybody from VPs to the guy at the lowest level has this urge to send the unnecessary praise mails to as wider audience as they can. This is because these praises are what counts more than the actual work in the final reviews. There is nothing wrong in this if done in a good way but what has happened is that people have started concentrating more on praise mails rather than their actual work. Better visibility through outlook has taken precedence over better work with VS/automation/project planning. I have even heard people asking to send praise mails to their managers for the trivial work they have done. Prior to joining MS I had often heard MS is a marketing company. But I didn't expect that internally also this would be so true. Here for promotions also one has to market his/her self. WTF and what a waste of energy.

    Focus on people:
    When I joined IDC, one thing I liked was the culture to take everyone's opinion about the trivial of the matters. This still happens, the only difference is that people now take opinions but then take decision based on their own predetermined viewpoints. The case in point here is the building 3. This is the most tasteless building I have ever seen in whole Microsoft (Redmond included). Just take the case of absence of cabins. Everyone in Redmond have cabins, then why are there no cabins here at IDC for < 63 level ? I am sure cabins would be serving some purpose for folks at Redmond. Why the same purpose doesn't apply on the opposite side of world is a mystery to me. Creating software is a creative process and it needs thought process, concentration, solitude to do something creative. How one can do something creative in the noisy environment remains a puzzle to me. Also if these cabins doesn't serve any purpose, then why every one form Level >= 63 to VP's level have cabins ? If these big guys think that they don't server any purpose, they should lead by example and sit in open spaces like all other do. OK, forget even about cabins, the building 3 doesn't even have windows seats. Instead they have that stupid lane which anyway is of no use other than to discuss office politics. And to top it all when people complained about it, some big guy sent a mail that building is very tastefully made and people will start liking it with time. WTF. Given enough time, people get use to rest room also. So does that mean building 4 might have only rest rooms ? If admins are sitting in their quite cabins(i have heard about few sitting in cabins) and the one doing the real work sitting outside in the noisy environment, something tells me that some decision maker has Myopia and he should get glasses to correct his/her vision about people.

    Technical leadership:
    Technical leadership at IDC is another big issue which is almost non existent here. You ask anyone of these leaders to give one technical talk and I am pretty sure all will need weeks of preparation. On the other hand I have heard Ray Ozzie still designing few things on his own. Also where is the layer of ICs that is to be technical backbone of the company ? They are non existent because its impossible to work as IC here since all growth is in people management domain. Nobody gives a damn about those interested in technology. This is MS, not Coca Cola, its a leader of the software industry, people here should be leaders in their respective technology domains. We need leaders who are have done amazing things(having worked on NT4 is not amazing), are still doing amazing things, can inspire others through their actions, their abilities and not though their titles. If we really want leaders who can give big inspiring talks, we can hire some political or spiritual leaders, both are abundant in India. Also on the people front, I haven't seen these leaders having pulse chats with random people. One very nice thing that use to happen in one of my old company was that directors used to call random people into his cabin and have informal meeting. And the person had to give the list of at lest 3 issues bothering him/her. Director would keep on asking until he gets 3 issues. What used to happen was that he was always aware of the pulse of his team, the biggest pain points of individual/team. This was the information they used for improvement rather than the polls that we use here internally. Also these polls are conducted yearly and their corrective actions are take even later so they miss the little issues bothering people throughout the year. Here at IDC, the interaction is only with the immediate managers and since managers are involved most of these discussion are just about the office politics or status updates or promotions. Although skip level thing is there but how many uses them ? I haven't seen any of directors having discussion with people to find their issues or team issues. They are always status report meetings , which is I think is very unfortunate and misses the point.

    What can be done:
    One good hope here is that the quality of people hired at IDC is good(i would disagree with what others have said here). They might not be terribly interested in technology but they are still smart and given the right environment, they can do great things. We have to develop the environment where technology is discussed, technical people are respected, where being technically strong is the best way for get respect/growth. They have the abilities to do great things, its just that they have their priorities messed up and are now stuck in endless politics. Given a fair chance of earning growth/respect, a lot of people will opt to learn technology rather than the politics, to become ICs rather than leads, write code rather than mails and learn C# rather than XL. Bring on more leaders who are technically strong, are passionate about technology, who can become role models for younger ones. I think most won't mind even having few non - Indians in the leadership position as long as they are ones who have done amazing things and are passionate about technology. Also have a better percentage of people with experience. If we have people who have worked in different environments, have done few varied experiences, that can only help IDC. Also don't let people quit IDC just because of work. Relocate them to different teams of their liking even if it means bending few unnecessary rules. The persons leaving because of work quality, in most probability, will be good guys.

    Why I am still here:
    Because there is a hope that things will change for better inside IDC though I would say that limits of my patience are about to be tested soon. But until then I am an optimistic. About IDC, about myself.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 7, 2008 at 12:17 PM  

  • Why don't you publish with your real name? The biggest problem with prudes like you is that you get off with cynicism and character assassination but are not willing to or may be do not have the balls to come up front and offer constructive criticism. This the sole reason that people like you just sit back and comment on all the things that are going "wrong" but will not offer any suggestions to make them right other than the ones that come off as satirical suggestions.
    I do work for MS and in a group where state of affairs are not even close to what you think. I would suggest that you do your homework before throwing accusations left-right-center.
    If you were so fed up with the way the company is working and blah blah blah... why don't you just quit and join another company. I'm sure with your kind of ethics, you would not have any issues working for any company as long as you are getting the moolah.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 8, 2008 at 11:13 PM  

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