Showing posts with label J. Paul Getty Principle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label J. Paul Getty Principle. Show all posts

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hiring someone to do YOUR job

TheHackerCIO got pinged for a job. That happens all the time. But this one was puzzling. And the puzzle illustrates a principle that I live by. The J. Paul Getty principle. The principle has already been discussed, here (at point # 5) and is in the FAQ.

The J Paul Getty Principle is, in his shortest formulation:
"If you have a business, make sure that you’re the one who’s running it."
And I've explained before how this applies to outsourcing: you can't outsource technology to an external company if you're in a technology-defined business. It's your core business, so you have to be the one running it. QED.

But the principle has wider application.

And the puzzling email is a perfect example.

TheHackerCIO likes to do interviews from time to time. It's one technique he uses to stay current on technology -- but thats a topic for another day.

At one such interview, many months ago, he went for the position of "VP of Engineering" for a major, successful, revenue-positive, profit-positive!!! startup. Wow. A profitable startup that never needed to raise capital! Wow.

The immediate task was to assess the backend, and reengineer it. It's commonly required, as startups tend to put forth a system more tuned toward rapid-development than handling the scale-up load.

This startup, however made an enormous mistake. They "passed" on TheHackerCIO. It's only to be expected, I suppose, that from time to time he might not be chosen as "the one." But he was happy for the exchange and for what he learned from them, so he stayed in touch with their chief engineer -- an awesome developer he hopes to one day raid for his own boutique.

Now the plot has been developed so that you can see why the headhunter's email was so puzzling. The best way to see it is by reading TheHackerCIO's reply to said Headhunter, reproduced below minus the specific names, followed by the headhunter's reply:

========================================================================On 12/10/13 11:28 AM, James Rothering wrote:
Hi <<Headhunter Name>>:

I've already interviewed at <Company Name>>, actually. We discussed the VP Engineering role, but they decided to go with someone else. Too bad they missed out on the best, isn't it?

I don't think they'd be willing to pay CTO rates for an Architect, but thank you for asking.

By the way, have you checked out my technology blog?

And yes, I Am TheHackerCIO. 


There you have it. They hired someone who needs to hire someone to assess and re-engineer the middle/backend tier.

If you happen to know of anyone for this I would appreciate the referral. I think it is a critical role so hopefully they will pay what they need to. If I can find someone.

I haven't read it yet but will today.

<Headhunter Signature Name>>
========================================================================So, as you can see, this "VP of Engineering" needs to have an engineer who can do his job of assessing and re-engineering the server! Wow! That's a fireable offense in my book. If he isn't up to the job, he needs to fire himself and get a replacement into the works. Ex post haste. Headhunter is right that this is a "critical" role. So critical it can't be done by anyone other than the one specifically hired to do it. So naturally, TheHackerCIO pinged his contact, the chief engineer mentioned before, to find out what the problem was and what kind of insanity was going on. The emails below, again with particulars expunged, show the interchange:========================================================================

On 12/11/13 09:46AM, James Rothering wrote:
Hi <<Name>>:

I just got "pinged" by a headhunter for an Architect who "can assess and reengineer the backend" for <<Company Name>>. I hate to say it, but why isn't your new VP Engineering capable of doing this? Sounds to me like he isn't much of an Engineer or CTO if he can't take the lead on assessing and reengineering the backend. 

Hope that all is otherwise well. By the way, did you like my blog? (



Hey James,

That's funny you got pinged again! 

I actually don't work at <<Company Name>> anymore, so I'm not necessarily privy to everything going on there!

But I do agree that <<CTO's Name>> ought to be leading the charge on the re-architecting. I don't know what the job description says, but last I heard, he was more looking for a lead Dev to execute on his directives. I suspect he's too busy trying to hire people and manage contractors for time to actually code. 

Your site is good - I have been checking it out here and there. Keep it up!


<<Signature Name>>
So, I don't know what's going on at this company. Perhaps the headhunter hasn't been properly told what is needed. But there's a better than even chance, based upon my dismal experience, that this is an accurate reflection of what is desired. The bottom line is:  If you need someone to re-engineer the system for you, then you are not an engineer, nor a VP of Engineering. If you're too busy to code, fire yourself, and hire someone competent. If you have a business, make sure that you’re the one who’s running it.And ...If you're a VP Engineering, make sure that you're the one engineering. I Remain,