Management tour of duty

Greetings, all!  My apologies again for
doing such a bad job of keeping you up to date.  I
have been absorbed with my duties as interim development manager for our team, and
have not had much time to delve into the various technical things going on in the
areas I’m still nominally dev lead for.  (Fortunately,
I have great sub-leads that I can delegate most things to.)

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My stint as interim dev manager has been an interesting one.  I’ve
learned more about how decisions get made, how offices get assigned, and how things
work at the divisional level.  I even
got a tour of the vault where we have all the secrets of bug-free software and cold
fusion.  (They wouldn’t, however, let
me see Bill Gates’s rumored 30-foot replica of the Great Pyramid made of solid gold
bars – I guess you have to make Vice President before you get to see that…)


My current challenge is trying to bring Whidbey coding to a close, balancing the pressures
of feature requests, bug fixing, resources, and time pressure.  We
are also embarking on some incredibly cool long-term efforts, which of course have
to be balanced with more short-term needs.  It’s
kind of funny, because with all the money we have in the bank you’d think it wouldn’t
be a problem for each team to get a few extra people here & there whenever a need
arose.  However, having all that money
doesn’t mean we don’t need to be efficient and profitable (since all shareholders,
which many employees also are, want to see the stock go up).


Recruiting has been interesting.  I’ve
long done interviewing for Microsoft, and am pretty familiar with it.  But
trying to fill multiple open spots within a team is a real challenge.  I
have one position, development
lead for source control integration and SourceSafe
, that oversees some really
interesting areas but I haven’t yet been able to fill.  It’s
a real paradox that when I write a blog entry that has anything to do with source
code control, I get tons of comments & feedback, but when I post a job looking
for world-class candidates to lead development of this area, I don’t hear much back
– and this when tech jobs in the US are said to be disappearing by the thousands every
yet.  I consider myself fairly well-read
and current on economic and technical trends, but I cannot figure out this contradiction!  If
you’re qualified for and interested in this position, send
me e-mail


One interesting thing has been that of “politics”, which someone at a dev manager
is supposed to deal with a lot.  Interestingly,
there really hasn’t been any of the political stuff I expected – there’s no one person
that you need to be afraid of or suck up to.  Instead,
I’ve found that it’s simply a challenge getting multiple organizations to agree on
anything, especially when they are driven by different pressures.  Then
when you add that certain individuals are stubborn (or downright annoying), that’s
when you start to get frustrated and feel like things are “political”.  But
I’ve found that if you argue your case loudly & long enough, you can actually
make things change.  So I’ve actually
found this process-intensive and technically-hands-off position more of an interesting
challenge than I expected.


Thanks for stopping by! -Chris


Disclaimer: There is some intended humor in
the above blog entry.  There is really
no vault with the secrets of bug-free software or cold fusion, and there’s no 30-foot
solid gold pyramid.

Comments (7)

  1. Ed says:

    Apparently, they took you to the wrong vault 🙂

  2. David Levine says:

    That’s cuz it’s not a pyramid, it’s a solid gold cube…you mean you missed it? wow! too bad…

    PS: Yes Virginia, there really is bug free software….

  3. Mark Levison says:

    A couple of thoughts on the problem for hiring a VSS dev lead.

    1) SourceSafe isn’t a well liked product in the development community and without the promise that you would leading its rewrite from scratch, I can’t imagine that many really good people would interested. Why not just but Eric Sink’s company?

    2) Perhaps many of the really good dev leads who want to live in Seattle already do. Perhaps MSFT should consider dev sites in Canada (Ottawa?) and elsewhere.

  4. Phil says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that VSS is not well liked. It does what it was intended to do, which is enough for me. The problem is if you compare it to SourceGear’s products, VSS looks like 19th century technology.

    As far as hiring a dev lead for VSS, I agree that it is hard to find tools developer leads in general. Except for tools companies, most dev leads are assigned to work on products, not support tools. So it is hard to find the leads that know (in-dpeth) about CVS systems. If I stumble across someone who knows about this, I’ll let you know…

  5. Chris Flaat says:

    OK, who invited the hecklers?? SourceSafe may have its detractors, but it’s still a great product that many people use. And fixing problems that users have continues to be a high priority for us.
    As for setting up shop in Canada, if we’re going to go to Canada we might as go someplace with good fishing — maybe a big campus on the shores of Lake of the Woods by Morson, Ontario? Or a place close to Whistler/Blackcomb, like Vancouver. What is there about Ottawa that I can use to convince BillG to open up a new subsidiary there?

  6. Darrell Scott says:

    No, no, no… wrong coast!! Set up in Nova Scotia!

    There’s excellent fishing – my father-in-law often catches his quota of salmon during the fishing season. The local brew is good and the people are friendly. There’d also be some great inspiration for new product codenames: what about Windows "Shag Harbour"? 🙂

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