by andre briggs

How the Magic Happens

Horace Dediu from the 47th minute of Episode #132 of The Critical Path:

If you’ve ever worked in a large company, you realize that your day to day isn’t spent in product development or even coding (if you’re a coder). Your day to day is spent trying to work out how to work with other people…to put it politely. The impolite way would be it’s spent in office politics.

This is why is so hard to explain to outsiders what it is that I actually do sometimes. Sure, everyone on my team designs and develops but at the core we are constantly persuading with varying degrees of success.

Most of the people who are in large companies will recognize that those who are successful…who gain in rank and position…who become career oriented…are primarily doing it because of their deep deep insight in the political organization, and that becomes overwhelming in terms on what “skill” is needed.

Horace describes the observable truth of “success” in a large corporation. Once you get to a certain level (as a software developer) you can no longer depend on your “raw talent”. You have to admit to yourself that you want power if your goal is to rise in an organization. Some people think that wanting power is wrong and are content with letting others decide their (and the product’s) fate. It’s survival of the fittest in corporate environments.

What intrigues me is can someone come on top of that and say “given the way humans behave can we organize them in a way that still allows great products to be built”?
That’s the magic of great organizations.

It’s an arduous journey to achieve this. So many organizations never reach their destination.