TCLP 2008-06-25 3rd Anniversary Show (Comment Line 240-949-2638)

This is a feature cast.

The hacker word of the week this week is deep space.

The feature is a mild rant about what I am calling the Three Year Itch, a phenomenon I have observed in my professional life related to the typical duration of each of my successive jobs and how it seems to be biasing me towards voluntarily splitting my career up on that particular interval.

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Grab the detailed show notes with time offsets and additional links either as PDF or OPML.

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2 Replies to “TCLP 2008-06-25 3rd Anniversary Show (Comment Line 240-949-2638)”

  1. awsome podcast! Here some (glib) comments to the points you bring up:

    – Three Year Itch: how about management failure, when your current organization can’t offer you something more challenging? That leaves you (and anybody else) with only one option: looking elsewhere. Which creates no management experience that would be helpful, which reinforces the management failure. Etc…

    – Three Year Itch: self-fulfilling prophecy? You invest the date with meaning, so the meaning must be true, so it’s time to go looking. Could also be somewhere near the peak of the statistical distribution (time in the job) x (count of people).

    – risk of boredom: self-complacency? You’ve already dealt with the easy stuff in your job/environment, everything that remains is “hard”. How about kaizen?

    – missing opportunities: grow up 😉 Really, economics has “opportunity costs”, you miss something for every choice you make.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts and efforts. I’m stunned by how articulate you are.

  2. First, thank you, I am glad you enjoy the podcast and I am flattered that you think I am so articulate.

    As to the management failure, that’s an excellent point. I do try, when considering leaving an organization, to give management the benefit of my questions and concerns. Your implication here is correct is that there is an opportunity to help the organization do better. The majority of organizations I left, the business failed in some way; this opportunity for the organization only applied to my first job. In that instance, I absolutely communicated the cause of my dissatisfaction and the sum total of my boss’ response was that the company didn’t feel getting into developing software for the internet was worth the risk. That was in 1997 so it was a fair view given no one new what was coming next.

    Self fulfilling prophecy? Sure, that’s an easy answer. But what leads me to that point, that’s why I wrote out and recorded my thoughts. If I understand why I started to feel that way in the first place, then I can defy the cyclic aspect.

    I have certainly tackled a lot of hard challenges. I have never shied away from them. The long litany of tools, APIs, specifications, languages and libraries that litter the appendix to my resume speak to my enthusiasm for tackling the hard stuff. However, that has to be tempered by what each project really needs in terms of new technologies. I am a big believer in kaizen but there are only so many hours outside of work to pursue unrelated interests and opportunities for improvement and only so much that can be done at work that is fair to my employer and practical.

    I believe I did qualify my thoughts about missed opportunities as being easily dismissed, that I have experienced enough to recognize these as opportunity costs well outweighed by the benefits of more secure, predictable employment. And beyond that, the “lightning in a bottle” effect at some startups is not something you can plan for. I know enough to realize no matter where you work, you need a well thought out plan and the discipline and will to execute on it every single day. If the market goes nuts and you become a stock option millionaire, it is like winning the lottery–no guarantee. What I was trying to communicate was purely an emotional wistfulness, not any realistic expectation that landing the right job at the right startup would yield instane fame and riches.

    I suspect you get that, though. I rather think your comment is probably more informed by just how common that “lottery” mindset seems to be.

    Thanks for the feedback!

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