I just read an article today by 37 Signals’ Jason Fried, Why I Run a Flat Company.
It really struck a chord with me because this idea of horizontal ambition does not seem to be widely practiced, or at least not talked about. When I started my first job in web development, starting as the person who hand edited the front page of csmonitor.com, I had this in my head and I still have it now. I have little desire to “rise up the ranks” as it were, to become a manager or anything higher than that. I don’t doubt that I could manage people if it were needed but… why? I look at managers around me and managers who I’ve had in the past, and I see people who are stuck in meetings all day and hardly get any time to do anything else. Even people who are supposed to be managers and programmers rarely have any time to actually program (and if they do, they don’t seem to be doing a whole lot of management).
I understand that some people like that; some people enjoy the money and power that comes with management and perhaps even the act of managing itself, whether it is a project or a small group of people. Things may change for me in the future, but as far as I can tell, I’m not one of those people, at least as far as life in the work force goes. I started at the Monitor knowing basic CSS and HTML and I thirsted for more knowledge, to learn more so I could do more and be better at my job. When I compare myself now, almost 4 years later, to the person I was back then, I am so proud at how much I’ve grown and I can only hope that in 4 more years I can say the same in a comparison to the person I am today.
I hope that more companies adopt this policy or at least just give it some more thought. I realize that some people want to progress vertically, to be promoted to higher positions in the company, but I think there are also a lot of people out there like me, and it’s nice to see a businessman actually acknowledge us!