I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

An opinion column for developers.Brutally honest, no pulled punches.

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  • Blog Post: Permissible poaching—internal recruiting

    Review discussions are happening now, which means that the Microsoft internal transfer market is heating up. Some people want to move because they’ve stagnated. Some want to move because they need to find a better fit for their talents, temperament, or blood pressure. Regardless, now is a great...
  • Blog Post: Taking over

    There are many books and lecture series about creating high-performing teams that work well together, work hard for each other, and produce tremendous results. That’s nice. In real life, you, the manager, don’t get to create high-performing teams. You inherit low- to average-performing teams...
  • Blog Post: Out of calibration

    It’s calibration time at Microsoft. Time for managers to rank everyone in your peer group (same discipline, same career stage, same division) into five (and a half) ranges: the top 20 percent (and top 5 percent), the near top 20 percent, the middle 40 percent, the lower 13 percent, and the bottom...
  • Blog Post: Making the big time

    Review time is almost over. Maybe you got promoted. Maybe your head is filled with thoughts of making it to the big time—calling the shots, getting paid, and having everyone hang on your every word. For entry and independent ICs, that means being a senior or principal engineer (manager or architect...
  • Blog Post: One to one and many to many

    Does the prospect of a one-on-one with your manager make you energized or anxious? Are your morale events packed with peers or attended only by slackers and scandal spreaders? Chances are one-on-ones are at best bearable for you and morale events are rare, wasteful, or both. Wasting one-on-one time...
  • Blog Post: Spontaneous combustion of rancid management

    What's good for you isn't always good for your group. Obvious, right? You can call it local versus global optimization. You can get geek philosophical about it and say, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one." Or you can simply notice the difference you feel between zany ideas...
  • Blog Post: Hire's remorse

    Looking for that perfect candidate to fill a role? Good, that means you'll never steal a great candidate away from me. I love it when industrial-strength stupidity renders my competition comatose. You can't hire the perfect candidate, but please keep trying. Maybe after six months I'll even get your...
  • Blog Post: I hardly recognize you

    The annual engineering awards are being given out this week at the Microsoft Engineering Forum. Annual reviews will soon follow. These are great opportunities to recognize impactful work. It's too bad most managers are tragically ignorant of how to recognize their employees or truly why they should....
  • Blog Post: Things have got to change: Change management

    It's the political season in the United States, making "change" a happy word around here. Politicians fight over who better represents change. They proclaim themselves to be agents of change. Hysterical admirers jump up and down waving "Change" signs. Change. Change. Change. As if change is desirable...
  • Blog Post: September 1, 2005: “Go with the flow—Retention and turnover”

    I. M. Wright's "Hard Code" book excerpt Review season is here. As entertaining as that can be for managers and employees alike, it’s just a primer for what follows: musical product groups. The music starts when review numbers are released. A whole bunch of engineers get up out of their office chairs...
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