Thursday, June 03, 2004

Not Saving The World Unless You Are With Me


So I launch an idea on one of my intranet webpages  for a developer toolset in a certain area, months ago.

I can sense it does some internal rounds.

So the overall product manager of the developer tools division that would implement this idea sends me email out of the blue that a project for the idea is starting up, would I like to help steer it? Attached is a critique of the idea and why it is a so-so one, and why it only a minor solution to the bigger problems of development in this area.

I respond to the critique. In return my points are answered with more data that people in the target audience aren't really waiting for my idea anyway, and that it is not the best use of resources.

I then decline to help do the steering work, since I do not believe the manager is committed.

The response to that is that saying he is not committed is 'a tad unfair'.

I am sorry, but I am not going to spend time on a project that does not have enthousiastic buy-in from the product manager. Not if it needs to be a cut above previous efforts and would require exceptional performance of the organization to succeed.

I now both regret telling the manager he was not committed, and don't regret it. It was good of me to cut those ties, I don't need to get involved in a side-project where I see my idea slowly get bogged down in compromises because people didn't push hard enough to make a spectacular product that is a cut above the rest, ending up with the same product quality that all our developer tools end up with. I left developer tools; they were too ready, top to bottom, to compromise.

Yet here I am thinking that if I just got involved in the steering, maybe, just maybe, I could push the project towards what it needs to be, if only I were convincing enough in my reviews, creative enough in my solutions to problems people would bring up...

What, like I can move mountains? I can't let myself enter this crap-shoot of  what may end up rolling out of that process, of how a team I won't lead and can only advise will counter with point after  point why we need to make a product just like the ones we are trying to replace, because getting rid of the legacy deicions that led to the previous horrendour products is jut too hard...

I actually told a product manager point blank in email that he wasn't committed to an idea. I actually chose not to be involved in a mediocre product creation process. I have learned that I alone in a consulting capacity can not make a difference to a remote contracted team making an outsourced product. I have declined to be involved with mediocrity that isn't part of my job anyway.

I am not saving the world. Go me.