Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Change in office cultures

Its amazing how life can change. And change with a degree of difference, that it is almost tough to believe that the change has happened to you. I write with reference to the change in the culture of the new organization that I have just joined. This is the first time that I have moved out of the research and consulting world and joined the mainstream industry - the IT industry, to be specific.

The changes are manifold:

- The degree of pressure is different

- The stakeholders are radically different

- The end-user/client needs are different to the extent that it is taking me time to adjust to the new job with a new lens. Every project requires a lens that is something unique and different to what I have used in the past. And that way, its a phenomenal learning experience for me!

- The timings are different - people leave office at a sane hour i.e 530/6 pm - unlike my previous firm where 2 a.m, was more the norm than the exception. Thank GOD, I got out of that rat hole and have some sane timings going for me now. People who have not seen that world of 2 a.m. on a daily basis, will fail to appreciate the essence of leaving office early in the evening/on time/within the stipulations of the official working hours.

- The approach to work is different i.e. there is no quickfix system here. In this industry, (or, may be its in this firm that I am in), people take their time in defining the problem area, identifying possible alternatives to crack the problem, assess what might work best in the given scenario, and then finally go about implementing things(after long rounds of discussion). There is no rush to finish things in a jiffy, like it used to be in my earlier roles. I find this system of measured output - after evaluating different scenarios to be better

- Mode of discussion. This is a striking factor for me. There is so much of collective knowledge in my team & in many other teams, that people sit down to discuss things, analyse various perspectives, learn from each other, cross-question each other in the spirit of discussion & not so much in the spirit of pin-pointing inaccuracies. I have already learnt so much in my first few days here and am excited to be a part of the great learning curve in the years ahead.

- Duration of tenures is so much longer. In my new firm, people stick. There is no rush to change jobs every year; there also seems to be a fairly long-term view of things, in that, careers are shaped over a period of time and there is no quickfix method to jump levels, or change designations, in order to be more marketeable. Things seem to be measured here in terms of the content of work and level of contributions made. That, I think, has shaped many a career in the firm I am in. I have met quite a few people with tenures of 4 -5 years. And some really senior folks have been around for 10 years!Howzatt! And we are actually talking about the IT industry, which is traditionally regarded as one of the most unstable verticals for people's careers!

- Learning curve is steep. Like I mentioned above, in every project that people undertake, there seems to be a lot of thought, discussion and overall evaluation done, in terms of the full context. I have not seen too many half-measures as yet, and from the indications given in the induction programme itself, it appears that we need to do things right, even if it takes time. That is so different from the previous world that I was in, where, "anything" close to what the client needs is ok.And in hindsight, it appears that it was all quickfix! Nothing against what I did in the past - I did learn to work under extreme chaos in my last firm - but, the personal learning in my last job was close to NIL.

Well, that is a snapshot of what I feel about my new firm, and the differences I notice being on the client side of things now, rather than in the side of analyst firms/consulting houses, that I was earlier associated with. Not to disregard my previous stints, as I got my current job purely on the basis of what I built earlier - but I think, real learning happens in an industry. And it need not be the IT industry alone. It could be telecom, automobile, retail, banking or any other industry.Maybe, that is where the reality is - I will know in times to come. And I am hoping that this hypothesis is right!:)

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