October 11, 2012

A large portion of my career has been spent fighting against organizational disarray. Over the years, I’ve become very accustomed to being dropped into an established culture with the intent and promise of doing everything I could to improve it in some way. Sometimes I was alone, and sometimes I was even accompanied by my closest friends and colleagues. While I’ve both succeeded and failed to varying degrees in both situations — and occasionally, even, at the same time — one thing has not changed: this is not an easy task. We were cucumbers, being dropped into jars with the intent to somehow, against the forces of nature, un-pickle pickles.

This was always as absurd in reality as it sounds metaphorically, but unfortunately, not always as obvious. Neil has written about this a couple times. This is actually the reason I’ve worked at 7 companies in 5 years. The problem is that the longer you stay around pickles, the more you get pickled yourself. You start getting accustomed to a weekly onslaught of production defects, and code that only occasionally works. You get used to managers that hide behind PMPs because they don’t actually encourage personal and professional growth. You get used to being surrounded by uninspiring pickles, and it’s starting to affect your outlook.

My friend, we have enough pickles. We have enough people who think engineers are a cost of doing business, and paid to code, not think. Find another jar — a better jar, with other cucumbers, and don’t lose your passion and ambition for what you do. Don’t get used to broken process, and don’t be okay with poor software quality. There are other cucumbers out there, and we can help. Find us. Just don’t get pickled.


John is a serial conversationalist who spends entirely too much time engulfed in problem domains he knows nothing about and has no earthly business trying to learn. He can occasionally be found at your local coffee shop writing algorithms and trying to think deep thoughts.