Thursday, August 20, 2015

Stories about Amazon, compared to other tech companies, stoke debate on meritocratic "IT Culture"

I’ll pass on an article by Patrick Gray in Tech Republic, “Amazon’s depiction as a ‘bruising workplace’ stokes debate about IT culture”, link here.

The most telling quote from the article, from the perspective of my own experience, is “Anything, from adopting or having a child to suffering a major illness, may allow someone else who is not facing the same major life challenges to out-compete you in the workplace.” This sounds like a pyrrhic invitation to avoid these challenges (like having children).  That sounds bad for the "common good" and family responsibility (or illness) can't always be avoided. 
Indeed, this sort of culture hit its nadir in the late 1980s, as companies were besieged with hostile takeovers and mergers.  The laid-back culture of my own workplace in Dallas then (Chilton, now Experian after passing through TRW) in the early and middle part of the decade changed quickly around early 1987.  I remember the manager saying, “In this economy, those who don’t do their jobs won’t have jobs.”  There was a lot of unpaid overtime by salaried people. It was all about Ayn Rand's idea of absolute "personal responsibility".

This was an environment that encouraged, even exploited, an “introvert advantage” that has allowed different communities of people to drift apart, and contributed to a lot of tensions resurfacing today (including racial).  I really didn’t have to become aware of this until I “retired” at the end of 2001.

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