I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

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

Browse by Tags

Tagged Content List
  • Blog Post: Bogeyman buddy—DevOps

    Tell average naïve developers that their team is embracing DevOps , and panic will fill their eyes. Their hearts will race, their muscles will tense, and their resumes will reinvigorate. DevOps is the bogeyman to unfamiliar developers. The thought of being on call 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year...
  • Blog Post: Being big

    In March, I sang the praises of Staying small , as each team focuses solely on its added value, and we share more as One Microsoft. If you agree that to go fast you must be small (which I do and you should), then shouldn’t Microsoft be much smaller? According to the 2013 Fortune 500, we have roughly...
  • Blog Post: Winning among friends

    There are plenty of ways to lose. People can be unlucky, unskilled, or unprepared. People can simply be overmatched. However, it takes a special kind of talent to lose in spite of having all the luck, skill, and preparation. These special losers have more than enough capability to overwhelm the competition...
  • Blog Post: Evil assumptions

    You work on big, important projects that involve many moving parts and many different teams. You work hard to deliver your piece on time and with high quality. No one can claim that you’re the one who held things up. No, it’s always those clueless, slow, self-centered, self-righteous, uncooperative...
  • 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: It’s not going to be okay

    Eric Aside This month I cover a touchy subject—getting a 4 or 5 review rating. Please know that all opinions expressed in this column (and every Hard Code column) are my own and do not represent Microsoft in any official or unofficial capacity. Also know that plenty of employees improve their...
  • Blog Post: PM: Secret weapon or wasted headcount?

    Microsoft is one of the few software companies that uses program managers (PMs). PMs, developers, and testers form the infamous engineering triad. Together they prioritize and cost features, triage bugs, and make design decisions. Now that highly agile services teams are rethinking the test role, should...
  • Blog Post: Permanently high plateau

    A friend asked me recently about one of his reports. He had a few concerns going into annual review calibration. His employee was a smart, strong, consistent contributor, well beyond entry level and independence (see Level up for reference), but he had plateaued. My friend was concerned that his employee...
  • Blog Post: Hired helpers

    There are never enough resources to complete our ambitious plans, so Microsoft is constantly hiring help—vendors and contingent staff (CSG). Full-time employees (FTEs) are hired too, but the relationship is different—at least it’s supposed to be. Ever since the $97 million December...
  • Blog Post: Master of your domain

    If you had to choose between hiring an outstanding candidate with only related domain knowledge and a solid candidate with specific domain knowledge, who would you select? At Microsoft, we generally select the outstanding candidate, figuring a talented employee can quickly learn a domain. That is, unless...
  • Blog Post: A change would do you good

    Few Microsoft engineers change positions between mid-May and mid-August—they don’t want a role change to adversely impact their annual performance ratings, which lock around mid-August. Of course, managers shouldn’t allow position changes to unduly impact ratings. Then again, eating...
  • 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: Test don’t get no respect

    I love Microsoft®. We’ve been together happily for many years. If you’ve been in a healthy long-term relationship, then you know what this means—there are things about Microsoft that make me curse, stomp, and spit. I’ve learned to tolerate them, but they still make me cringe...
  • Blog Post: You're no bargain either

    “Can I talk to you about Bozo? He gets on people’s nerves. His communication style causes trouble. He’s bringing the whole team down. He’s a freaking clown.” If you’re a manager, you’ve probably heard this before. Every team seems to have its share of Bozos....
  • Blog Post: Individual leadership

    Want to create a noxious gas? Combine ambitious yet clueless engineers, a flat functional organizational structure, and the upcoming midyear career discussions. Soon toxic fumes will emanate from individual contributors (ICs) in response to impotent explanations of upward mobility by overwhelmed managers...
  • 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: Level up

    If you’re not a Microsoft® engineer and you’re not interested in finding a new reason to bash Microsoft, save yourself some time and skip this column. If you want to know how to build your skills and systematically grow your career as an engineer at Microsoft, read on. I’ve been...
  • Blog Post: The new guy

    “Hey, you’re the new guy!” Marvelous. You’ve transformed from a useful, relevant, sought-after authority to a roadside attraction. Whoever you were before, whatever value you used to embody, whatever accomplishments you might have achieved, now amount to nothing more than marketing hype. Your new co...
  • 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: I'm listening

    It's Midyear Career Discussion time at Microsoft. Perhaps you just finished, but more than likely you're still trying to squeeze yours in. How'd it go? How will it go? For you? For your manager? Well, that depends. It depends a bit on your prior performance and your manager's prior performance. It...
  • Blog Post: Opportunity in a gorilla suit

    It's annual review time at Microsoft. We differentiate pay between high, average, and low performers in the same roles. Thus, it's time to calibrate those who've made the most of their opportunities in the past year with those in the mainstream of solid engineers and those who haven't quite kept pace...
  • 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...
Page 1 of 2 (29 items) 12