George Letter

Dear Chris, Ian, Brian,

I’ve heard some rumors that we intend to hire a replacement for Brian. I think that would prove a disastrous mistake. We’ve made this mistake before with Andy Stanberry, Dexter Taylor, and to a lesser extent Brian.

Let me lay out some reasons why hiring an outside director fails.

  • That person needs to lead. We need a LEADER. Either they can begin leading right away, in which case they will lack the context to make correct decisions, and the developers will lose respect for them. Or they can spend weeks learning the context on which they must base their decisions. In the time it takes them to learn the context they won’t lead, and the developers will lose respect for them. The new Director needs to come out of the gates running.
  • That person needs to earn our respect. Someone brought in from outside has to work extremely hard for that, and walk a fine line between gaining our trust and exerting his authority. The development team would find it much easier to respect someone who has fought in the trenches with them, and understands the PAIN of on-duty.
  • That person needs to know our code. Anyone who doesn’t understand just how much technical debt and exactly what technical debt we have can’t make meaningful decisions about our code. I doubt a director we hire from outside will have lots of time to read all our code when we pack their schedules full of meetings.

I think that Brian had the best of intentions and that he had scathes of relevant experience he could share with us, but for the reasons above he couldn’t help us as effectively as he would have liked. This problem doesn’t have to do with Brian. Anyone we bring in from outside will have the above points apply to them and encounter the same difficulties.

I think that you should promote George Liao to as act as Director of Development. If not permanently, at least in the interim. Allow me to enumerate the numerous benefits you would see from this promotion.

  • George already has universal admiration within the development team. He has worked long nights to clean up after other people’s disasters. He has TRULY worked the on-duty rotation in a way that the other “senior” devs don’t understand.
  • George knows our code. He knows all the HAL codebases better than anyone. He has even learned enough about Backend code to gain my respect. Keeping in mind that he only started studying the backend code recently.
  • Right now among developers a sentiment exists that you don’t know people’s true value. Otherwise how could you place Melissa and Nazim on the same level as George? Promoting George would demonstrate that you reward loyalty. It would show people that a career path does exist at Sailthru, that we promote our own.
  • George listens very well. And he understands what he hears because he actually possesses the knowledge necessary to listen to a developer on technical issues. I feel like he can actually relate to me because he has experienced everything a developer here can experience.

I think George can lead. On the HAL team I witnessed that he acts as a natural leader. A leader that I want to follow, because he doesn’t put himself first. Out of anybody I know he embodies the idea of putting the team first. I believe our dev team would feel inspired by his leadership and that he has what it takes to make bold decisions without alienating developers.

Thank you for reading and please have an excellent day.