Please Be Quiet
I’ve noticed lately that more companies are putting up signs in hallways and cube farms requesting that people avoid having conversations in these areas. While having a nice quiet work environment makes sense to me as a developer, doesn’t this completely void having people work beside each other? The ad hoc/hallway/water cooler/coffe machine conversations or ones overheard when cube mates are chatting about a new feature are one of the primary benefits of having people work in small open environments.
I haven’t done any sort of scientific study but it seems that these sort of “please be quiet” signs are more prevalent at larger companies. These are the same ones that are trying to mimic the small startup with agile development processes or open work spaces to compete in a fast moving SaaS marketplace. Imitating the actions without understanding the purpose or allowing old school corporate policies to overrule are surefire ways to tank the initiative.
A parallel to the “please be quiet” sign is allowing corporate IT to dictate the architecture of the SaaS offering based on a corporate standard that works for the ERP system. Running Oracle ERP on a 16-way system might be the vendor recommended, preferred approach but for scaling a SaaS offering this is a quick way to run up the costs and ensure lower availability. We often use the analogy of goldfish and thoroughbreds for comparing small, cheap 1U servers with large, expensive multi-processor boxes with lots of memory. The goldfish (small, cheap servers) are inexpensive to purchase and replaceable while the thoroughbred (large servers) are expensive to purchase/maintain and cause big impacts when they go down.
The take away to all of this is that if your part of a corporate initiative to run an internal startup or deliver a Software as a Service from inside a larger organization, don’t allow corporate policies to prevent your success. The differences in approaches, architectures, organizations, and offices have a purpose and should not be discounted as non-critical to the success of your initiative.