A Change in Venue

Much has changed recently, with new house for the family, new school for the girl, and now I have a new job. I have moved over to the Live.com Search team, doing basically the same work I did before, but for another team. It really is a welcome change. I have been working basically at the same job, inside MSN for seven years now, and after that long, you just start second guessing everything that you do. New people come in, with grand plans, and you know exactly how and why they will fail. No one likes to hear that, and for that you suffer under ridicule and scorn. Of course these grand and bright folks never stay, and so the management changes almost constantly, a true example of the Seagull management style the we all love (swooping, shit all over everything, swoop back out).

I think for me what really killed the joy at MSN was that the technical work of creating any kind of innovative work was repolacesd with a common publishing system for web pages, and the org has been changing slowly into a publishing house. Some folks love that, it is their life’s dream to do work on that line. I am not one of those people. I am a geek. I like nerdy, esoteric problems to solve. That was eliminated a while ago and most of my daily routine was babysitting paperwork,

We will see in the long run how much better Search is, but already I am back with a large number of the people that I have worked with in the past, and the problems are difficult and worth solving. Having real competition (Google) drives folks to work their hardest, and that should prove to be interesting.

I also like the fact that our new buildings are the latest floor design for Microsoft, and the are really geared towards collaboration. There are formal and informal meeting spaces everywhere. Half the walls are whiteboards, everyone is in individual offices, and the offices are smaller than before, so folks can’t be doubled up. It is a great combination of collaboration and privacy that I like and find productive. It is also one of the reasons that I wanted to work at Microsoft in the first place.

I was working at an engineering firm when I got  copy of the book Rapid Development, which is a great book on managing projects. It’s pretty thick as well, and about halfway in, it talks about creating a productive workspace, and since it was written by a guy from Microsoft, it described the typical Microsoft work layout. No cubes, collaborate together, retreat alone to drive individual contributions, etc. I loved the idea, and shortly went after a temp position at MS to see if that was really the case, and for the most part is was, the company has been running out of space in the older buildings (they are building like mad) and the new buildings are laid out much more efficiently.

It’s not for everyone, but I find it pretty slick.