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I'm a senior developer and as well as the "coding up software" and "mentoring others" I get involved in a lot of meetings about future direction, how we will carry out the latest strategy, etc.

My problem is that we seem to have a pattern where our architects and lead software people seem to be making decisions about what "new technology" we should work towards, based on things that are current "Buzzwords" in the market, or things they have gaps in their resume but think will be marketable (for themselves) in the future, to take to interviews for other jobs and so on. Rather than what is actually the most appropriate solution for our company.

"Implemented an architectural shift and eventual rollout to 10000 employees of the XYZ software" speaks volumes -- except XYZ wasn't actually the right solution for this company. They are thinking more about what they need to gain/show experience with, rather than the needs of the company.

Should I just suck it up? Bring it up to anyone within the company? Something else?

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    In my experience, the people making these decisions rarely admit (even to themselves seemingly) that they are doing so based on trends or marketing their skills. Yet we see an industry full of people using technologies they don't need (and making things more complicated, ensuring job security). You aren't going to make much headway unless you have the trust of a person with the power to influence such decisions. – Chan-Ho Suh Aug 18 at 4:18
  • I suspect OPs objection to this (as of course there are many stupid management decisions that can and will be made....) is that it's "wrong" morally to benefit their own resume rather than doing what's the right choice for the company - in a similar way to how it's wrong to go with a particular vendor (for example) based on personal relationship or kickbacks, rather than because that vendor has the best proposal for the company. Am I close OP? – seventyeightist Aug 18 at 18:34
  • And, btw, most companies have strong "conflict of interest" or "bribery" policies about contract /purchasing / etc situations where the employee decides what course of action to take based on personal benefit rather than acting in the company's interest... where there's a quantifiable personal benefit (e.g. high value gifts received in return for awarding the contract or even just the appearance of that). Interesting that a more abstract benefit like "resume coverage" isn't being seen in the same terms - perhaps the conflict of interest angle is one OP could pursue? – seventyeightist Aug 18 at 19:57
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Should I just suck it up? Bring it up to anyone within the company? Something else?

You could bring it up constructively. I suggest that you:

  1. Assume good faith

  2. Make the arguments about the matter, not the people.

  3. Choose your battles

1. Assume good faith

Unless you have very concrete evidence, don't assume that your leads and architects making the wrong decision on purpose. Most likely you don't know for sure and it could be that the people involved genuinely think the decisions they are making are the right ones. And there even might be the chance, that they ARE the right decisions, you just don't see it. Insinuating bad intent isn't going to help you and will most likely look bad on you.

2. Make the arguments about the matter, not the people.

If you are going to challenge the decisions made, make sure to argue about the technical situation and not the people. "In this specific situation a monolithic application is better than micro-services" can more easily be argued about and is less charged than "X is only pushing for micro-services because it looks good on her CV" or "X doesn't understand architecture". Prepare a valid argument and propose an alternative solution on what you think would be superior alternative.

3. Choose your battles

After decisions have been made, it is often hard to change them. Especially if you are outranked and not invited to the meetings. Be really sure that you want to go this route, before you put a lot of effort into it. At most of the software companies that I know of, there is a multitude of bad decisions and you cannot fight all of them!

Does the potential gain you would have from this outweigh risking wasting your time and making your leads and architects unhappy? Do you have support from other seniors and/or your manager or are you standing alone? Is your team impacted by the decisions than others? Will it look bad on you if the decisions turn out to be bad, and you didn't say anything? Don't just start an argument you will lose, even if you feel you are right.

  • Assuming good faith is important for another reason: If they're arguing in bad faith, you can't prove that, and a person who's fine with arguing in bad faith is also likely to be fine with lying about it. Unfortunately, I've never actually had this approach work... so while I think this answer is excellent, when I get into step 2 and start having to think about step 3, I also make sure my LinkedIn profile is up to date and stop immediately saying "no thanks" to recruiter emails. – kungphu Aug 18 at 11:02
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    I don't necessarily think that bad technical decisions are reason enough to leave. If the company is willing to pay decent money for you to execute a bad plan, and you learn some new and sought after technology in the process, why not do your best job and make sure that you raised your concerns early. – Helena Aug 18 at 11:37
  • Sure, I'm not suggesting anyone torpedo their own projects over planning disagreements. But I've been in positions, more than once (including at my last job), where constant bad technical decisions I argued against crippled both products and timelines. It's one thing if you actually get to learn something new and still deliver a working product, but that's not really a given. OP is talking about other people choosing their own desired tech; if that doesn't align with his interests or career goals, it's entirely possible it's both bad for the client and bad for the people working on it. – kungphu Aug 18 at 11:44
  • @kungphu Agreed, if your work doesn't align with your career goals you start looking for a new job. I was just warning against quitting, just because you don't agree with the strategy. I have made the mistake in my career of taking bad strategy decisions personally, instead of accepting that in that situation I was paid to execute a strategy, not to follow it. I don't believe there is a company out where I am agreeing with all tech decisions. – Helena Aug 18 at 11:53
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except XYZ wasn't actually the right solution for this company

This gets into politics. To (possibly) change the culture, that allows for the 'wrong' solutions, you need to be in a position where you're highly respected by your peers and have influence over management. Having a tude that you don't trust your co-workers and that they are intentionally harming the company is probably not going to work for you. Avoid assigning malicious intent to co-workers who have actually solved a company problem and delivered a project successfully according to the rules and culture of the organization. If management trust that your co-workers have the right motives you should too.

I also don't think it's really about "buzzwords". Some "buzzwords" would be the right solution while others are not. Same with old technologies. There's also the theory that you need to fail sometimes to find the best solutions. Trial and error.

Anyhow, you voiced your concerns in meetings with higher ups. Other options:

  1. Lead by example and doing projects the way you think is best and proving you were right with technical comparisons and/or answering technical questions during presentations and whatnot.
  2. Go for promotion so you have more influence.
  3. Move to a company with a culture more to your liking.

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