[thechat] No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Jack Timmons jorachim at gmail.com
Tue Apr 7 09:03:25 CDT 2009

On Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 7:47 AM, Matt Warden <mwarden at gmail.com> wrote:

> I've found that if I'm patient, the topic eventually comes
> up, and people tend to remember that I had an objection 6 months ago
> and they ask me to elaborate. By that time, no one remembers how their
> ego was invested, and people tend to listen better.

I've done that a few times myself, although in some situations I bring the
topic back up again. It's a bad idea and honestly something I shouldn't do,
I just have to slowly train myself out of it. I'm getting there.

> The above picture you paint is terrible, and I agree that I don't know
> how you could ever make progress in an environment like that using the
> method I'm suggesting. My question, I guess, is with things so bad,
> why did you decide to fight the good fight and try to change
> everything rather than just leaving and going somewhere else?

Because it's a personality defect where I continue to do my best as long as
I see an avenue. I care about my work a lot. The coding and design I do hold
almost as much value to me as my own children, since it's my creation and
something I put my time and thought into doing. The last business I worked
at was the same: The employer wanted to listen to his friends and family
about how websites should be done, and the only experience out of the whole
lot was setting up a Yahoo! store. I eventually left there, once I decided
there was absolutely nothing I could do. If I can help a company break
through the canopy of years of politics and back-biting and improve, at the
very least, the department I work in, then it's worth it to me. If they let
me go, that's fine. Following this philosophy, the only time I've been let
go was because I actually did better than expected and was no longer needed.

> I have to wonder whether you might have been happier if you spent those
> years at a better-functioning company.

Possibly, but I also enjoy a good challenge, and usually more than one
challenge at a time. Besides, I live in an area where very few actually hire
for PHP developers, or web developers of any type. Finding a
better-functioning company around here that wants to put the money into an
IT/Web Developer/Design guy is nearly impossible. I'd move, but since I'm no
longer in my single days, when I could move all I own in my Explorer at a
moment's notice, I'd have to make sure the area fits a family, etc, etc.

> At some point, though, I asked
> myself whether I want to be fighting at my job all day, possibly
> risking my job and at least retarding my career advancement, just to
> push what I think is right to people who don't want to hear it. I have
> seen a marked difference since I stopped doing this.

I dn't fight them all day by any means. If they really want something done a
certain way, and they still tell me so after I pitch my approach, then
that's what I'm being paid for. But that also means I'll be more than likely
to move to a better paying job. I'm currently content because I get to enjoy
being the manager of a small web development team, and I get to guide the
course of all our work through the waters of standards- and oo- based coding
and design. I've gotten the higher-ups to accept the process of "you tell us
what functionality and general look you want, we'll create a solution, and
go from there". It's very ideal for me, and the only way it could get better
is if I worked with people more experienced than me I could learn from.

Ultimately, it just makes me feel more secure in beliving that if I try and
push and do what I can to improve the places I'm at, they'll all turn out
better in the end. Do I stand and push against the mountain all day? Hardly.
I'll throw my rock at it. If it moves, great. If it doesn't, I'm sure
there's more of a trail to follow to get where I want to go.

> The ironic thing, perhaps, is that since upper management *is*
> motivated to find the right answers, I have slowly made my way to the
> list of people who gets invited to meetings that are possibly above my
> pay grade because I "always have something smart to say", etc. I think
> there are ways to effect the change you're looking for, and perhaps
> the more passive way can work in *some* situations and be a lot less
> painful. And, if it doesn't work, then you're just left with the
> simple decision of whether you're ok with that. If you're not, make
> sure you explain why in your exit interview.

I whole-heartedly agree.

> Interesting discussion, nonetheless. Thanks for explaining your viewpoint,
> John

It's nice to hear another developer's approach to life in the work area, and
I always enjoy new ways to look at things.


Do you lay out plans and file them by design flaw? When you're asked about
them, do you get giddy and fetch said plans, laying them out like Patton?

-Jack Timmons
Twitter: @codeacula

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