I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

An opinion column for developers.Brutally honest, no pulled punches.
Posts
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    I messed up

    • 2 Comments
    Ever make a bad mistake? One that makes you feel like there’s a hollow in your chest—you know you’ve messed up badly. Maybe you were even trying to do the right thing, but it just ended up wrong unintentionally. This happens to me regularly...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Culture clash

    • 1 Comments
    Culture is management’s boogeyman—a monster that can’t be controlled, an immoveable object that can’t be overcome. If you ever want to see managers become whiny, petulant infants, ask them to challenge an issue ingrained in the...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Level up

    • 9 Comments
    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...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Coordinated agility

    • 3 Comments
    I’ve been using Scrum for seven years and writing about it for the last six. Scrum’s concept is fantastic—multidiscipline, self-directed teams, iterating on short scenarios (stories), in small batches from start to finish, within short, fixed-length,...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    The new guy

    • 10 Comments
    “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...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    I’m deeply committed

    • 8 Comments
    It’s mid-year career discussion time at Microsoft®. I could rant about the HR tools we use, but that’s like complaining about prostate exams—too inflated a target. Instead, what gushes out at me at this time of year are BOGUS commitments. You’ve heard...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Are we functional?

    • 2 Comments
    When Steven Sinofsky and Jon DeVaan took on joint management of Windows® 7, they made several significant changes to the entire organization. Two profound changes were creating a single centralized plan and switching to a functional organizational structure...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    One to one and many to many

    • 5 Comments
    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...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Don't panic

    • 6 Comments
    In my last column, " Spontaneous combustion of rancid management ," I talked about how managers should restrain themselves from randomizing their employees. But what if you are on the receiving end? As an employee, how do you best respond to a random...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Spontaneous combustion of rancid management

    • 4 Comments
    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...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Hire's remorse

    • 1 Comments
    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...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Right on schedule

    • 0 Comments
    My older son can now drive. This adds two new worries to my life—how ancient I feel and thoughts of my son in a ditch somewhere. To mitigate the second worry, my wife and I enforce a curfew and insist my son call if he's running late. The other night...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    20 years together

    • 2 Comments
    Eric Aside It's my 20th Wedding Anniversary. My wife and I are celebrating in the San Francisco Bay area, where we first started living together a few blinks of an eye ago. We'll watch a ball game, see some sites, and visit Tesla Motors to check out a...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    The VP-geebees

    • 0 Comments
    It's the end of the fiscal year. Most engineers associate this time with performance review season, but for principal-level engineers and higher it's also executive review season. Time to waste weeks of your life writing slides for executive presentations...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    I hardly recognize you

    • 6 Comments
    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...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    It starts with shipping

    • 4 Comments
    Call me "old school" but I believe in shipping. Trying isn't enough. Getting close isn't enough. Good ideas aren't enough. You've got to ship. It used to be that interviews started with, "What have you shipped?" If you hadn't shipped recently, "Why...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Your World. Easier

    • 6 Comments
    During difficult economic times like these, people tend to whine less about common complaints that now seem trite. Mostly, I'm relieved not to hear how much e-mail is in Ingrid's Inbox, how Brian broke the build again, and how Suresh's service schedule...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    I'm listening

    • 5 Comments
    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...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Green fields are full of maggots

    • 7 Comments
    As I said in Nailing the nominals , the two keys to successful big projects (100K+ LOC) are thinking ahead and defining done. Thinking ahead is about design and planning. Defining done is about setting a quality bar and sticking to it. Yet many big projects...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Sustained engineering idiocy

    • 5 Comments
    Plumbing channels waste water into a series of larger and larger pipes till it is expelled. That's because sewage flows downstream, which explains the quality of goods that test, operations, and sustained engineering teams receive. After all, they are...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    De-optimization

    • 2 Comments
    Why? Why! Why do managers make stupid decisions that cause devastating churn and tawdry results? And it's not just managers, though they are particularly proficient at promoting poor performance—architects, leads, and individual contributors flood the...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    NIHilism and other innovation poison

    • 15 Comments
    Is innovation the act of creating something new (as the dictionary claims) or is it building upon the work of others? To me this is a fundamental question that Microsoft as a company and as a culture has gotten horribly wrong. We deal with the consequences...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Nailing the nominals

    • 9 Comments
    People are always looking for that amazing breakthrough technology or process that solves all their problems—enhances their love life, trims their waist, and improves the productivity of their development team. That's why process manias like Agile and...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    I would estimate

    • 6 Comments
    When I'm discussing challenges with fellow engineers, the first topic that comes up isn't estimation—it's career and people challenges. That's why those issues are so rampant in these rants. However, "How do you generate task estimates?" is always among...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    My experiment worked! (Prototyping)

    • 3 Comments
    It's summertime. Time to sit out in the sun and daydream, perhaps on a vacation or a weekend afternoon. When your mind is relaxed at times like these, you often think of beautiful new ideas. You further develop those ideas and then, when the time is right...
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