Wednesday, August 20, 2014


The last few days in a job after 13 years gave me pause to think.

I have always held that when someone leaves their job to take up another position, there is far too much fuss made of them. When I worked in Dublin the tradition was to have a 'whip around' that is, pass the hat, then buy a gift or a gift card, or even have the company cut a check. Then, on their last day they would have an official presentation of the gift, a card signed by the entire company, or maybe just the entire department if it is a huge company. Then off to the local pub where there was usually an open bar for a couple of hours, subsidised by the company.

Here in Texas, and also in my experience in California, there is less fuss, but still farewell lunches and happy hours are the norm.

Why? why make a fuss about the person who is jumping ship and moving, one would assume, to bigger and better things? Why not make a fuss of those people who remain and continue to work to further the company's bottom line? I never could understand it.

I am used to people, and not just new employees, asking me questions and because I have been here for so long, I frequently have the answers, but if I don't, I will know who does or where to look. I hardly noticed. This week I noticed. Every time someone asked me something and I was able to give them the answer, they said "what will we do when you are gone!". And I noticed how often in a day it happened.

This caused me to stop and notice just how much folklore information I did have stored in my head. Yes, I have been documenting all the projects I have been responsible for. Yes, the code for all the utilities I developed to assist me in my testing and automating of my tests is checked in to source control. But, how do you document answers to questions. I guess if I had thought about it 10 years ago, I could have started a FAQ page. Every time someone asked me a question, however simple, I could have added it to my FAQ page. Perhaps it would have helped, but only if everyone was aware that it existed, and where it could be located. Of course once I left, it would slowly become obsolete as systems changed, but at least I would be leaving that information behind where it could be useful.

And so, when I walk out of the office for the last time, I will carry a wealth of knowledge in my head. Knowledge that, for the most part, will be of no value to me whatsoever, but will be a huge loss to the colleagues I leave behind. Perhaps in my next job I will keep a FAQ page, it will of course start with all of the questions that I will find myself asking in the first few weeks or months. But hopefully, it will eventually be where I store the knowledge that I will accumulate.