2015-04-09

R&D in Malaysia? Like Freedom in China?

I read a comment that it was socially irresponsible of GrabTaxi (a Malaysia-originated startup) to locate its new R&D centre outside of Malaysia. This is what came to mind.
I think it's quite socially responsible of the company to avoid backwater talent pools when building a brain team - there simply isn't the right sort of raw material or logistical lubricant to bring that raw material into Malaysia.

It would be socially irresponsible to pump money into Malaysia just to try and save Malaysia, at the expense of failing at the organisational mission to excel in R&D. As the latter is the core mission here, failing at that would be a true indicator of social irresponsibility, given that the benefits of excelling in R&D would impact citizens and economies beyond the shores of Malaysia.

Sure, we have lots of cheap programmers here. But science? I can't remember the last time I was surrounded by a crowd creative enough to deliver that. No way jose.

2015-04-05

Coaching Engineers on Management

(paraphrased, from a real email attempt)

Hello chaps, here are more inexperienced candidates for our consideration. This is not necessarily a bad thing. For what it's worth, if you think candidates aren't worth X salary... by all means consider offering them:

  • less than X
  • a very narrow scope
  • short-term contracts
  • internships
Let them learn at their own pace without too much responsibility. More hands on deck means there's less time for you to have to deal with menial stuff.

Try to get into the mindset of running a team... i.e. growing an organisation of people.

"Ways of work," which are sometimes called "processes," may be briefly implemented with the following algorithm:

  1. design
  2. test
  3. document
  4. delegate
  5. monitor

You get to do more smart stuff at (1-2) because you have the privilege of being leaders (by virtue of experience level). These are where technical learning happens. (Talent is "scaling up.")

Then there's (3-5) which may be tedious, but which are definitely worth your while in the long-run... this is more soft-skilling and where organisational learning happens. Doing this enables scalability, which ensures that you get to reap more of (1-2) for yourselves. (Talent is "scaling out.")

At some point, the limits of an organisation may curb your (1-2) no matter how much (3-5) you do, and that's when you know it's time to:

(a) pivot the organisation
(b) settle for less learning
(c) switch organisations.

[ Of course, all of this presumes that we have an innate interest in learning things. :)]

Let's keep the conversations open, about team structure and hiring strategy.

The effective management of our talent pipeline is critical to the success of the organisation that we are all a part of. And it should have an extremely high priority.