Perhaps unusually, I actually wanted FB to impress itself more strongly on Oculus post acquisition because, frankly, Oculus was a bit of a mess. Instead, Oculus was given an enormous amount of freedom for many years.
Personally, nobody ever told me what to do, even though I was willing to "shut up and soldier" if necessary -- they bought that capability! Conversely, I couldn't tell anyone what to do from my position; the important shots were always called when I wasn't around. Some of that was on me for not being willing to relocate to HQ, but a lot of it was built into early Oculus DNA.
I could only lead by example and argument, and the arguments only took on weight after years of evidence accumulated. I could have taken a more traditional management position, but I would have hated it, so that's also on me. The political dynamics never quite aligned with an optimal set of leadership personalities and beliefs where I would have had the best leverage, but there was progress, and I am reasonably happy and effective as a part time consultant today, seven years later.
Talking about "entitled workers" almost certainly derails the conversation. Perhaps a less charged framing that still captures some of the matter is the mixing of people who Really Care about their work with the Just A Job crowd. The wealth of the mega corps does allow most goals to be accomplished, at great expense, with Just A Job workers, but people that have experienced being embedded with Really Care workers are going to be appalled at the relative effectiveness.
The communication culture does tend a bit passive-aggressive for my taste, but I can see why it evolves that way in large organizations. I've only been officially dinged by HR once for insensitive language in a post, but a few people have reached out privately with some gentle suggestions about better communication.
All in all, not a perfect fairy tale outcome, but I still consider taking the acquisition offer as the correct thing for the company in hindsight.
I think the problem is actually deeper than that. I've spent much of my career avoiding megacorps, or even just corps, because I find them pretty frustrating. I have though worked at a couple of larger companies - one of them very large - as much to see what I could learn as anything else.
I sit somewhere on the spectrum between "Really Care" and "Just A Job", and it's varied quite a lot depending on what I'm doing and who I'm working with.
The problem with big companies is the "Really Care" gets beaten out of you: if you show any initiative whatsoever to try to get ahead of a situation or help another team you pretty quickly get shut down and told to stay in your lane.
Big companies tend to fragment and specialise responsibilities, if not actual skills.
Related to this hardly anyone has any decision-making power which means that any change requires a combinatorial explosion of interactions between individuals and teams to happen regardless of how competent or committed those individuals are.
It just favours mediocrity and coasting, along with a high tolerance for boredom, because there often isn't a viable alternative course of action for many employees no matter how good (or bad) those employees might be in another context working for another company. Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time, or have a conversation with the right person, to make something happen.
Another related issue: the vast majority of employees at big companies have no concept of the value of time, which manifests itself in all kinds of ways, but ultimately results in the performance of large quantities of BS/non-value adding work. If you're employed by a smaller company working in partnership with a larger company the asymmetry in understanding of time's value becomes particularly stark: you can often find yourself wondering why these people at the larger company feel so free to waste so much of your time asking you to do things that aren't valuable to the partnership or to the success of either company, or asking you to have the same conversation over and over again with different groups of people.
Back on point, the corporation has to "make do" with "Just A Job" workers because, in large part, the corporation creates them regardless of their initial state of motivation.
Joel on Software used to explain that rich entrepreneurs always sound passionate, but it is useless to try to emulate passion, because a big success can make someone passionate for anything. (...and I confirm – since we make 70k€ a month per cofounder, I became more passionate).
I remember reading an article about a Chinese cockroach farmer that incidentally described how his wife said the cockroaches were misunderstood. "Look how shiny they are!"
I imagine it helped the cockroaches' case that, by her standards, she was rich and successful.
my experience is the absolute reverse direction. money is so very numbing
People that have worse are "Just a Job" crowd that lack real programming skill. They would be quickly hit by ageism and their careers stuck very quickly on Senior Developer position because they do not care enough to be promoted into management.
i wonder who at FB has the cachet to tell such thing to John Carmack. Zuck probably had the poster of John Carmack on the internal mental wall while going to middle school.
These aren't discrete categories.
There are a lot of people who care about their work and also recognize that at the end of the day, it is a job, and the reality is that they can only play a role in shaping the outcome, not dictate it per their vision.
Also, depending on the job, the team, the project, and the product, people can go from one of those perspectives to the other. There are a lot of people whose current job/role situations aren't intrinsically motivating, but then find incredible motivation due to a change in project or role (I've experienced this multiple times).
> but people that have experienced being embedded with Really Care workers are going to be appalled at the relative effectiveness.
Unless you've experienced the Really Care type of team and situation, it's difficult to understand.
I don't mean any disrespect to the Just A Job people. There is nothing wrong with keeping your head down, getting your work done, and checking it at the door when you sign off at 5PM Monday through Friday. Frankly, that's the correct approach for most people.
However, there really are situations and teams where people won't stop until they can get the outcome as close to their vision as possible.
In my experience, this is far more likely to happen at small startups where members have reasonable equity to work with, as well as significant career upside for accomplishing the big tasks. Large companies like Google are so big that finding upside or even a niche to influence can seem impossible. Combine that with guaranteed high income and the motivation to do work that goes above and beyond gives way to a motivation to be associated with the right projects at the right time, regardless of your contribution.
When I look back, the happiest time of my career was when I was embedded among people who Really Care, trying to accomplish a goal that was likely to fail, working well over 40 hours a week (my choice), and not getting paid much. I've since moved to much higher compensation at bigger companies, but I'm often tempted to give it up to get back to a situation that sparks that kind of motivation and happiness again.
This spectrum of Really Care vs Just A Job isn't entirely accurate. A lot of projects are honestly just hard to "really care" about. The technical work is uninteresting or the mission itself isn't interesting. The monetary goal of success could be the most interesting aspect (i.e. your startup makes it big and you're rich), but the day to day could just not be that compelling.
Over enough time, you will naturally go from a Really Care person to a Just A Job person given the right project environment. The novelty of a job will wear off.
There's no nobility in trying to really care about everything you are paid to do.
I think people who Really Care are as much a product of the environment as they are responsible for creating the environment. I Really Care about what I work on, and I try very hard to make it the best option out there, giving it a huge portion of my creative energy and not just keeping my head down and turning a crank, but I also recognize that in the end, it's also just a job.
upd: I did generalize "I care so much" people as well; but I do consider myself one.
- Colleagues push back on providing status, while simultaneously asking for a long roadmap of your future requests.
- Promotions for your best people get blocked by peers because “Not enough time at level, and others will complain”
- Punishment is much higher for picking up a dropped ball “and not following process” than leaving the ball on the floor.
In the end, if you’re outnumbered too much, it’s a road to frustration rather than success.
At least in my experience, the Just A Job crowd are generally _very_ vocal about their view that this is Just A Job. Their worldview is not compatible with the worldview of people who Really Care. There is a very healthy middle ground of people who (in NON CAPITAL LETTERS) both really care and for whom this is just a job, but they don't _identify_ with those as their primary worldview.
That's, imo, an unreasonable requirement, but if you're super passionate about something, I can see why someone might see it.