Tuesday, July 26, 2016

M, M, and P

These three letters stand for "Mission, Mastery, and Passion."

I was motivated to scribe this quick blog based upon a conversation with an engineer in the Seattle area awhile back. He had lived through stints at Amazon, Microsoft, and other technology companies, including sole proprietorship's.  I asked him why he chose his latest career turn and he uttered that the job satisfied his three criteria - Mission, Mastery, and Passion. I won't break down the specifics of his explication of that 3-tuple, but here's the generic interpretation I derived.

In fact, this MMP triple has a fractal quality.  It can be used to describe a person's role, a group, or an entire company. And in the the process of this exploration I hopefully won't sound like a poor imitation of a Seth Godin blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/.

To begin with "Mission," the essential question to ask oneself is 'do I believe in the goals or business imperatives of the specific company?' In retrospect it's easy to arm-chair quarterback this one, especially during the go-go days of the dot com businesses http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2010/technology/1003/gallery.dot_com_busts/, but I do believe that technologists have a reasonable acumen in this space. .

And at a personal level regarding mission, I work on software in the hardware industry. If Marc Andreessen has correctly characterized that 'software is eating the world', http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111903480904576512250915629460 then I would ask 'upon what hardware and firmware will this software run?'  And I do believe in contemporary mission statements, such as https://newsroom.intel.com/editorials/brian-krzanich-our-strategy-and-the-future-of-intel/.

Assuming you are OK with the mission, the next question to explore is "Mastery." In this case the question is simple, namely 'Is there head-room to learn in this role?' To be effective in the technology world, you have to continue to re-train and learn https://www.exceptionnotfound.net/learn-or-die-warding-off-my-coding-careers-eventual-obsolescence/ http://www.wsj.com/video/a-new-approach-to-business-learn-or-die/4A64AA70-9D61-4DC4-83EE-5426384F0198.html. In fact, the best advice I received during my Masters in Computer Science from UW occurred in Ricahrd Ladner's http://www.cs.washington.edu/people/faculty/ladner algorithms class. He said something to the effect of 'I cannot teach you everything about this topic, but what I can do is teach you how to research and learn on your own.' Given the nature of my employ and its mission statement listed above, I definitely have opportunities to learn each day in my present role.

And finally there is "Passion." This is a topic I treated earlier in http://vzimmer.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-technical-career-path.html, and this aspect of the employ cannot be understated. If you don't 'believe' and have fervor to perform your job, you are unlikely to be successful. You have to believe in what you're doing entails a mission and have a personal stake in the endeavors. It's not 'the company' or 'the job', it is integrally 'you.'

But also head the advice of others, too https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol40no5/pdf/v40i5a06p.pdf

With that passion in hand you should also be authentic in your role and truly strive to achieve, or 'do something,' as the author of https://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Monkeys-Obscene-Fortune-Failure/dp/0062458191 notes in his question "To be someone or to do something, which would I choose?" In the act of 'doing something' you will hone your skills, expand your network, and support the progress of the business.

So with that I encourage you to explore your own MMP list. I recently met a junior engineer who seemed despondent about his job. I interviewed him using the MMP rubric and discovered that he had the two M's covered but not the P.  I told him to work on the P, else evolving from a junior to a senior role could be a tough journey.