So, I'm what they call a dev manager. It's the most interesting and powerful job in all of Microsoft. I fly air cover for the men and women who are on the ground grinding out the code that makes this company great, and makes the world go round.
Programmers are the bread and butter of the software manufacturing industry. Without programmers, there would not be a heck of a lot of code out there in the world. There would not be a lot of hackers, or spammers, or bugs either, but that's beside the point. Without this basic bread and butter, we have nothing.
My job is to service and lead these hard working folks. How do I do that? Well, every good team needs leadership that is driven by a solid vision, and mission. Around that, they wrap some strategy and tactics, and you have a well oiled fighting machine that's rarin and ready to go.
This week in the Webdata XML team, we had a all hands meeting. In that meeting, I got in front of our entire group, with my peers Jim and Charlie, and we talked about the agonizing process by which we had crafted the perfect vision and mission for our group going forward. We waxed poetic about the greatness of tools, the brightness of the future, the clarity of our vision... Oh yah, this clarity comes at a cost. We'll be making some cuts today to better align with our future.
Well, if there's on sight that's sure to scramble programmers faster than cockroaches in a dark room once the lights come on, it's the mere mention of the word "cut".
But, cut we must, and cut we did. Yes, there is collateral damage. Yes, I may be a brain dead leader who couldn't find my way out of a wet paper bag, and yes, it hurts like a bee sting on the back of your neck, but it's a necessary part of doing business, at least in a business that is dynamic.
The other bread and butter of the software business are the VCs. In my case, the VC comes in the form of my direct GM and VP chain up to Steve Ballmer. They pay the bills. They pay us a lot of money to create a future in which everything is bright and cheery and Microsoft is on top. They pay top dollar to ensure that at the end of the day, when they reach their hand back into their quiver, they have some killer arrows to draw from that are sure to hit the mark. They give us money, stock, soda, food, clothing, housing, education, planes, trains and automobiles. They expect us to deliver.
Our developers expect me to deliver a consistent message, to keep them away from feature creep, to keep their schedules sane. Our management expects me to keep the team happy, healthy and producing, to deliver quality code on time, and to make the company a lot of money by delighting customers.
Between these two pieces of bread, and butter, you find me, the dev manager. Comfortably sandwiched, providing the mayo pickles and lettuce that makes the sandwich whole. Together, we are a whole sandwich, not just separates. And that's what my job is all about.