Lately, there has been a lot of talk on how we, as an industry, are placing too much emphasis on new and exciting innovations. The people who are adept to create these new inventions are often portrayed as smarter than average and often receive praise from society. While they are granted a lot of status and prestige for their creations, the people who are left to maintain them are usually overlooked.
However, if you look carefully, you will notice that there are many people who silently slog through the muddy and boring tasks to keep the lights on. These are the people who have accepted all the menial and boring tasks thrown at them and never complain, whether it is fixing critical bugs in the middle of the night or handling extended refactoring on parts that nobody wants to touch. The truth is, they are the ones who allow us to focus on innovating new products because we can rely on them to maintain a strong foundation and keep the boring-but-necessary stuff out of our hands.
From my observation, these people tend to be invisible in the organization, and although they receive less attention, they are one of the most important gears that keep the big business machine running and the paychecks rolling. If you think of an organization as a house, these are the people who help with maintenance and do the dirty work. They keep the house clean by taking out the trash and doing the laundry so that others can continuously work on adding exciting new features without worry.
As the organization grows, we will need more and more of these ‘housekeepers’. Not just because we will have a larger and more expansive house that requires more maintenance, but because we will need their strong support to create more ambitious projects and fix larger problems with greater roots. The things that we say are ‘nice to have’ but are too lazy to do right now will eventually become ‘fix now or lose millions tomorrow’ and it is the people with tenacity and endurance who are willing to take them on.
Let’s hire more of these people into the organization and give them more visibility and well-deserved recognition. Think of this as adding more layers on the foundation so that we are stronger collectively. Our house requires immense stability in order to handle more weight from tougher issues and to uphold larger customers. We are already good at attracting the visionary and the passionate but let’s not forget about the persevering ones too. A good house is built upon a solid foundation, first and foremost, after all.
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