Why I'm leaving Sun and... what next?

Leaving Sun is possibly one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made. But I think it's time for me to start new things and, well, it's also time for Sun to start new things.

The Sun Java Center... and Sun Managers

I joined Sun in 2000, when Stu Stern was leading the Sun Java Center. This was a group of around 300 very talented people spread all around the world. Stu Stern (that left the Company a few years later) is one of the best leaders I've ever worked with. Leading very talented people is always a difficult task, but he did it, and made the Sun Java Center the best high-level, Java focused, consulting team in the World. Sun Java Center architects helped build many of the most important (and complex) software systems around. The Sun Java Center helped boost sales all around the World, too, so it was a great mixture of pre-sales and services group.

Working at the Sun Java Center was indeed fun, too. You got up in the mornings wishing to start working. Working at Sun then was a great experience.

The Sun Java Center lasted several years, but was finally destroyed by bad management, almost immediately after Stu left. Attempts to rebuild a similar group failed afterwards. A part of Sun Management was unable to make Sun again an interesting place to work at, at least for some of us, and lots of very talented people left the Company. That group of 300 people shrinked to around 50.

And, well, it's not just me saying that!!

"In spite of all that has happened, I still believe Sun Microsystems has been extremely fortunate in having one of the best and brightest cadres of employee talent anywhere. However, the bottom line is that it's all about quality leadership," Shoemaker said. "Perhaps there will still come a time when the leadership problem at Sun will be effectively and decisively addressed." John Shoemaker, ex-Sun employee

What next... for Sun?

Sun is again laying off people. It is time for Sun to lay off people, to try to gain again credibility in Wall Street. That's an intelligent and courageous (but predictable, too) move by Jonathan Schwartz.

The moment is also appropriate, the move will help reduce the impact of a bad (and imminent) 2006 fiscal year close.

The fact is that this is an inflection point for Sun. Different things may happen now:

  • Sun lays off bad management, and retains talented people.
  • Sun lays off bad management, but talented people leave anyway.
  • Sun retains bad management, and lays off talented people.
  • Sun retains bad management, and talented people leave anyway.

Although the first one is obviously the best for Sun it's difficult to know what will happen. I know many Sun employees have been waiting years for this reduction in force (if you're one of these then, please and for the best of Sun, leave Sun as soon as possible). But I also know that talented people is not comfortable at Sun. Many friends of mine are thinking of quitting. And I fully understand them (if you're one of these then, please and for the best of Sun, think of a future without bad management, try to act to get rid of it, and think of your stock options).

And why is it difficult to know what is going to happen?

Well, this is easy: because the lay-offs are going to be executed by... bad management!! :-D

Previous lay-offs at Sun have been performed very badly. I can tell because I've lived them. When doing a lay-off you have to be crystal clear. Management must clearly state what the results are going to be, who is affected and why. Employees must be well informed to continue to focus in their daily job, feeling safe and comfortable as much as possible. Two way communication is of main importance.

And, even more important, employee morale must be damaged as little as possible. After all it's the people that remain that will make the New Sun!

A distressing 80 percent of downsizers admit that the morale of their remaining employees has been mugged. These sullen, dispirited, hunkered-down folk, lest we forget, are the very people who are supposed to revitalize your enterprise and delight your customers. Ronald Henkoff in Fortune, January 10, 1994

If you happen to be a manager at Sun (and if you're not being layed off) then please proceed to read these Best Practices in Downsizing that you may find useful (so that no previous errors are repeated).

Anyway I wish Sun all the best. I have lots of friends there. Many talented people remain. I am confident that the correct decisions will be made. I cannot imagine a world without Sun.

What next... for me?

I've been travelling almost continuosly lately. If you follow this blog (and my previous one at Sun) you may have noticed that. It's difficult to maintain a private life and keep on travelling all the time. It's difficult to blog, to be with the people you love, to watch your favourite TV programs, to go to class, to learn new things, to do what you want, do to what you like.

An old friend of mine (in a previous life before Sun) told me there're three pillars in life: your private life, your professional life and what you earn. These three pillars define a unique plane that you must balance. My plane has been off balance for some time now, so I think is time now to bring some harmony between these three pillars.

I have very different and interesting offers, projects and ideas. New things to do, new challenges to face (shall I write a book? any ideas on that?). I will evaluate them all and try to choose the one that makes me happy again. My main objective now is to try hard to do what I love.

I will keep on blogging here, lots of different ideas and projects of mine are on their way. It's now time for me to enjoy myself again. It's time for me now to swing again.

So let's the dance start. Let's Swing!


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