Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Death of Loyalty

In modern American business, the idea of loyalty is pretty much dead.

In years past, there was a sense that employees owed a certain amount of loyalty to the firm and in turn they expected this loyalty to be rewarded by security, advancement and compensation.  Companies would invest in their people through training and development activities that made those employees more valuable in the long term.

This virtuous cycle seems to be pretty much dead today.

In today's reality, certainly in the quickly changing high tech sector where I live, there is very little expectation that the company will "take care of you."  Yes, the probably will provide training but usually that training is focused on short term goals.  There are very few companies in Silicon Valley today who make a sincere effort to develop their technical people and actively manage their careers.

I started my career in an "Old Fashioned" company that had all the traditional trappings of employee development.  Because of this, I benefited in the type of developmental planning and support so crucial to help junior technical people enter the workforce.  Later in my career I actually ran a large professional developmental program designed to create Architects from engineers.

Today, as I look around and consult with my peers, these programs are markedly absent.  I am aware of no major Silicon Valley companies actively developing Architects within their organizations. 

BTW, I would love to be wrong here.  Please let me know in the comments if you're aware of any company doing this kind of work.

So, if this type of development isn't being done by our employers, how are we going to develop ourselves and the next generation of architects?

I've come to the realization that we must do this ourselves.  It is only through community that we can address this problem.  This is one reason why I decided to start writing books.  Not that I think my books will move an industry but rather that I need to share my experiences and learning's.  If one person is helped by this then I feel the effort of putting ideas down on paper was useful.

I have also recently been trolling the Linkedin universe to see if this is a good place for this type of professional development.  As of what I see today, the signal to noise ratio is just too high there to be useful.  Linkedin, as a platform, is awesome for keeping tabs on what everyone is doing and I love it for that purpose.  However, as a learning tool, it's too uncontrolled and too open to be useful.  What's needed here is curation.  A hiking trail that says "start here and end there."

Again, to my knowledge such a thing does not exist.  I definitely welcome postings in the comments section telling me how incredibly wrong I am!

In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to think about how you are helping the Architects in your organization develop.  Mentoring and OJT are our only options right now and that requires effort for those of us already in the profession.

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