Avoiding the Status Quo

While attending a conference this week, I met alot of people, during sessions at lunch and after parties. A consistent theme emerged a few days into the week, which somewhat caught me off guard, not so much that is completely surprised me, but rather made me renew my appreciate for the environment we’ve created at Billhighway.

During the course of conversation, on numerous occasions, talks circled back to “how the team back at the ranch just doesn’t do things that way” or “we’ve got a bunch of guys that dont want to change.” Obviously, each shop is different, with varying degrees of complexity, standardization and business requirements, however a fair amount of people I met, had no expectation of using any of the new stuff they are learning back at their jobs!?

While some attendees had their registration paid by by their employers, most likely with good intentions, the fact of the matter appears to be, that they aren’t in any position to influence change within their organization(s), and to me thats just a waste of everyones time (and money.)

Sure, theres always going to be the early adopters, cutting edge vs. mainstream, those willing to take risks and those that wait for the first service pack, or version increase before they hop onboard with anything new. Thats not the issue at hand, atleast with the folks I spoke with. I found myself repeatedly saying “that must be tough” or “sounds like you need to update your resume.” What I was left with, was people willing and able to push the envelope, learning and adapting to new techniques, but organizations not being willing to justify the risk, change or complacency to adopt farily well known, value-adding tools/techniques, like Team Foundation Sever, Virtualization and Agile.

Now, I’ve been around long enough to see this from both an employee and employers perspective, there certainly isnt a one-size fits all model for your environment. Customers, quality and support will always heavily influence your ability to innovate. To me, probably the single biggest reason I joined Billhighway, was the polar opposite of the mindset above. At Billhighway, we’re very selective recruiting, seeking the top 10% of folks in their field, those with a passion for technology and an expectation to make a difference.

I found myself not relating to several of the attendees, as some were attending as a training formality, whereas I tend to absorb as much information as possible, then look for outlets to use it, whether internally or sharing within the community. Many people I met were “glass half empty” folks, naturally pessimistic, with a whoa is me mindset, and “we can’t do that because…” – that just doesn’t fly at Billhighway. We tend to perceive problems as challenges, a do-whatever-it-takes mindset, always looking to advance, if not improve a process.

So, lesson learned? Despite the doom and gloom of the economy in your area, there are shops out there looking for bright, energetic developers who want to continually learn new tools and techniques and be challenged on a daily basis, vs. report to a slug who is counting down the hours before they can leave for the day. My suggestion to you is network! Attend user groups, conferences and community events, its here where you’ll find the type of company (or those working for companies) that are influencing change, and most likely hiring! Remember, don’t be afraid to take some risks, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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