Greener Pastures

Jimmy Maher, profiling Infocom grandmaster Steve Meretzky, who excelled in producing one of the most complex forms of content — Interactive Fiction:

Steve Meretzky was a boundless fount of creative energy which couldn’t be contained by even his official projects for Infocom, many and varied as they were, and spilled over into daily life around the office in the form of elaborate themed parties, games that ranged from a multiplayer networked version of Boggle played over the DEC minicomputer to intense Diplomacy campaigns, and endless practical jokes.

How can a company get hold of such a dream employee? Easy enough:

But there was still another trait that made Meretzky the dream employee of any manager of creative types: he was literally just happy to be at Infocom, thrilled to be out of a career in construction management and happy to work on whatever project needed him.

QED, again. Sure, there is no shortage of people who left jobs they don’t like and found their true calling, but still there are way too many people stuck in the wrong companies, or at the wrong positions, or at wrong teams.

How to tell wrong from right? If you’re their superior: Ask them, and don’t be afraid of them leaving for greener pastures. They’ll leave a vacancy behind that will be filled by a better fit. This only works, of course, when a critical mass of managers starts caring for their employees’ happiness — and bear the consequences, bad and good alike.