How to cope with the absurd and frustrating?
Some people go insane, while others write it down to cope with the pain. I am writing this to describe the journey I am on right now, because usually people don't believe me when I tell them these stories.
Last year, I joined a new company. I was excited because it is a global company, and I had the chance to work at the "heart of the company," where the guy who invented the system was still working on the project. Let's call him Tom. Tom is a genius. He is old and knows everything, but he never goes to the office.
On my first day, I met my two colleagues. Let's call them John and Jax. They were both younger and had been working on the project from the beginning, at least on the current iteration. The first version was written for mainframes. This is why everyone thought Tom was a genius, but I'm skipping ahead.
I was sitting in the room with these two guys, waiting for my onboarding. John started talking. "We have some old PowerPoints, but they are mostly outdated, and we didn't have time to prepare anything."
I replied, "Okay, can you explain to me what we are working on here?"
John continued, "We are the most important project here at this company. All the data and everything to make this company run goes through our system."
I was thinking, "Wow, then we must have a lot of developers and teams, since we are global, and our production runs 24/7."
John continued, "You will join the platform team. We are building the most important parts here, but you will see that management will not give us enough time, so we have to work fast!"
I said, "Okay," thinking that was a strange turn of events.
Suddenly, Jax started talking. "We do a lot here because the other teams need three weeks to implement something easy. We only need three hours."
I didn't know what to say to this, so I just said, "Aha."
Jax continued, "You will also hear from management that we are hard to work with, but that's not true at all. We just tell people how it is."
John jumped in and said, "What Jax means is that we sometimes seem hard, but we just want to create the best software, and we need someone who can also implement things from the ground up."
I said, "I'm okay with a rougher environment. So, no problem."
They looked relieved and happy. I didn't know what this meant at the time.
So we continued talking about the software we were developing, or the platform we should build. Right when I joined, they were phasing out an old Java Applet client, and they were working on replacing it with a web app, which was in an MVP phase.
I got excited. MVP sounded to me like some new tech, and we could learn from old mistakes and make it better. I later would find out how wrong I was.
The software we should develop is a PDM/PLM. Basically, everything that is new and builds a product and manages its lifecycle. From managing the parts of the product to when a specific part will be phased out and a new one will replace it.
I have worked for e-commerce before, and we also have our own backoffice software for managing our products. Even though it is not the same, I understood the basic need for this system in such a large company.
They explained to me a little bit about the concept behind the system, and I will go into more detail about the concept in a later blog post.
Then they showed me the software. It almost had no colors, and from the first glance, it was just some inputs, and then when they clicked, a table appeared. Nothing was responsive, and the table looked like it had a fixed width. Elements were everywhere, and nothing was aligned correctly.
I didn't know what to say. I was promised the best PDM/PLM on the market, but it looked like a student put something together real quick.
Again, I didn't realize how wrong I was.
So the day ended with that mixed feeling of excitement because I could see a challenge in front of me, but also that voice in the back of my head saying, "Maybe this was a mistake?"
I was curious about what would happen the next day when we started to set up my Windows laptop...