I watched most of the 20th anniversary Blizzard video, about the history of the company, and the story leading to them becoming the Blizzard of today. I enjoyed it.
I wonder what it’s like working for a creative company of that magnitude.
I recall fondly that 12 years ago I was the consulting lead for a small web development firm, nestled amidst a larger advertising firm. We had good-looking graphic designers, crusty creatives, coders who swore HTML should be edited by hand, sleazy sales reps and even a gorgeous latin-born rep who had an affair with the owner. I really enjoyed that work place. Being around creative people and the creative process is remarkably different to the environment of my current job in a staid but R&D-heavy IT vendor.
At least once a week, a designer or creative would want feedback on a layout, bottle label, ad campaign, script or web mockup. We’d chat about it. Talk about how our eye is drawn favourably or not across the design, the emotional response if we could name it, and so on. I enjoyed that.
Example. Look at this fantastic piece of art from Blizzard. If you’ve never had any training in the appreciation of creative works, let me point out just a few tiny elements. Look at the way motion is implied through wind, rather than action. What do you think when you notice her toes? It’s clever. Your response, that you have any kind of response, is part of the artist’s intent. The vulnerable toes are a masterful display of creativity.
I’ve been searching for a new role at work – one with a bigger team responsibility – for some time now. It’s a frustrating, slow, process. I’ve looked outside my company too, even though I’ve invested five years with them so far, on the hope it might save me another year of waiting and hoping for a good opportunity within.
Then today I had a call from a creative company. Still in IT. Still an absolutely massive multinational. I got through their first culling; my resume passed to a recruiter, who spent some time talking to me.
I’ve met and spoke to a lot of recruiters recently, but knowing this was for Google has excited me more than I’d anticipated. It’s the first time it’s been in my interest to tell a recruiter that I have a gamer website that gets 4M hits a year. I even told him I’d once been a professional musician and started paid programming when I was about 13.
Normally in IT professional services, that kind of detail would be a death knell, and kept a secret.
Even if I don’t progress much further through what must be one of the most competitive recruitment processes for geeks (who wouldn’t want to work at Google?), just this reminder has been valuable.
I really miss being in a truly innovative and creative company, and this time, it’s something I’m going to remember. By creative, I don’t mean in the simple dimension of art, of course, and by innovative I don’t mean they release new products. I mean they care about innovation from the ground up, they’re intolerant of stupid processes, they listen, are a learning organisation and appreciate systems thinking. Perhaps the term ‘thoughtful’ company is descriptive.
If it doesn’t work out with Google, I’ll still do OK. I’m secure and well paid where I am, plus there is a Australian outsourcer who are intending on interviewing me this week too, so in time, I’ll get an upgrade to my job slot.
During a recent 1:1 with my manager, I told him I’m extremely goal-driven. I’m an achiever. I get bored on holiday. I need to get things done to feel right about myself, explained to him I wasn’t busy enough, and asked for more projects.
Since I realistically have another 15 years of needing to work, to provide for my family, I want to move towards roles where I can be around creative people, in a culture of achievement and of intolerance of bad systems. No stupid people would be great too. In that kind of environment, mixing my interests, I think the years will roll by with more smiles, and less vendor trash.