Is it really just that simple? Thinking longer term about how things actually get done at work (a major software/consulting house is where I have my day job), it all comes down to who controls the biggest pots of money.
I suppose that should be obvious – it’s a for-profit company, and anyway money is what makes the world light up (who pays the electric bills!) whether at work or elsewhere. But a conversation today drove home a little bit more about how businesses actually work.
A senior co-worker was mentioning a project idea they had had, that was never explored due to lack of complete funding. They secured half of the money needed to fund, but even with all of their pull due to their position and overall brilliance and reputation, couldn’t find the measly other half of the funding needed. It was an obvious idea, one that was really exciting technically, likely to become something highly useful, etc. etc. And it’s not that the whole organization was low on funds: plenty of other projects found the way forward.
It’s not even that (some of) the right people weren’t contacted. It’s more how the pots of money get allocated, and which people in the pot control lines value what kind of products. It’s just frustrating that sometimes excellent ideas – whether technical or organizational (or I suppose sales/marketing, although I really don’t understand those suits) – can’t get traction just because of organizational structure.
Wow. OK, at this point I’m realizing this point is really boring and obvious to anyone good at managing businesses, and really painful and obvious with anyone who has great technical ideas but doesn’t happen to be brilliant at convincing CEOs to invest in them. I guess the real points in my high tech industry muse are that:
- It’s frustrating to have great ideas for new stuff, but not have the money to make it happen in big business
- Communication skills are key for anyone in the high tech industry, unless you happen to be both brilliant and have acolytes who will do your bidding
I suppose that’s some of why I like working in open source so much, especially at the ASF – merit is based primarily on technical skill, and projects grow by developers frying their own fish, and adding useful technical things immaterial of the immediately obvious gain.