Category Archives: musings

running the gauntlet to feed my creativity

I had a pretty productive week at work. Actually, work has been very productive these last few months. I have figured out what work flow is best for me and have delegated numerous tasks to my teammates to make us all productive. We have to keep up with the constant call of doing more with less and I’m trying my damn hardest to keep my team on top of our game.

What hit me kind of hard this week was the fact that I believe my job and the job of my teammates, fellow engineers, is turning into less about doing things better and more about just meeting deadlines and churning out more product. There are some great people that I work with and we have some amazing ideas on how to do things better. The problem is that we need time and resources to make these innovative ideas happen and the support and culture just isn’t there.

“As long as you get your work done, I’m fine with you working on that” we’re told. Realistically, I don’t have time to implement my ideas or get a group together to make it happen. So it never gets done and people either forget about it or in my case, they stay on my to-do list, which is my whiteboard where I write down all my ideas that I should make happen.

I really think I have a natural thirst to work on side projects in order to enhance what I work on and what I enjoy doing. I work with some who are happy with what they do and whenever the scary word of “change” starts to float around, these people freak out and are unhappy. I call these people obstacles and they are ones that drag down innovation. This is one of the many hurdles I deal with where I work.

The resistance to change will always be out there. I actually think that most people hate change while it is a few that are never happy with the status quo and are screaming for better ways of doing things.

I’ve only been at my company for a little over four years now and I’ve noticed this pattern on how to move up. Doing your job is only half the work. The other half is up to you. How you solve problems as an engineer and how you implement those solutions is what gets you noticed. I figured this out and it has helped me out in a big way.

But I’ve now noticed a problem with this thinking, a huge oversight actually. Why aren’t the results of the new changes being considered?

Where I work, I feel like people are playing this political game to make things happen. They pitch ideas and presentations to managers and change things for the “greater good”. (Hot Fuzz anyone?) The problem I’ve realized is that even though an idea sounds good it doesn’t mean we should carry them all out. What may need to happen is to monitor the results of this idea and judge its effectiveness accordingly.

“Just pitch an idea, implement it and get yourself promoted out of it” is a joke that goes around my office. This really frustrates me.

And then there are ideas that come from those above me. Some third line manager decided to roll out some initiative across his or her organization. The powerpoints are pretty and all but sometimes these ideas are just one extra layer of brush I have to chop through on top of all the work I’m currently doing. Meanwhile, they can put it down as an accomplishment they made happen at the end of the year.

I feel I get this game and could play it but that is just not who I am.

What I want to see are ideas that are sold to people, not ones that are pushed against a defensive workforce. I really believe that all it takes is for just a few people to adopt your idea and if it is truly special, it will spread naturally.

I don’t mind the execution and core base of my job, I really don’t. It’s the potential for other projects that get me excited and really get my mind working. It’s frustrating though these days because my creativity is stifled with all the layers of red tape, the natural resistance to new processes, and a culture that is set in their ways. I come off as a crackpot when I pitch this stuff to my peers.

It really has me down sometimes and if they can’t embrace it, maybe someone else is willing to listen.