Last week I saw the last email sent by a colleague who was let go by the company as part of the reduction program announced recently. I can't forward his email, and despite his joke in the email saying he's part of the 'winners' list who will get 6 months of advanced salary payment, I can see lots of disappointments in his other words.
His name sounds familiar, so I decided to google him. The result: author and co-author of many patents, several IETF RFCs, many Internet drafts, and speaker in International events, member of International forums, to name a few of his achievements in 5 minutes googling.
I can't stop asking myself: why can a good technical person get fired?
In a company that really focuses on new innovation?
In a company that relies on engineering excellence?
Can someone really stays technical in career?
Is it true that no one is indispensable?
After couple of days thinking, there are three reasons that I can come up of why even a good technical person can be let go by the company.
First, many companies appreciate what we did in the past, but I bet they can keep only those who can contribute for today's business and support the companies' future vision. It means even I did something spectacular in the past it may not be enough for the company today, especially if I am considered obsolete.
Second, as I mentioned in my other post it's really difficult to justify and evaluate a technical person. Sales person has a target number associated with her, if she can achieve or even go beyond that it means she's successful. How about a technical person? From the number of patents? From the feedback from the customers? From the number of initiatives?
Third, no matter how valuable I am I may still be out of the team if I'm not a team player. Unless someone has reached the top notch level, gained respectable reputation in the industry, and has become legend, no individual can survive by working alone. It's about making connection.
I may be wrong. I may be too naive.
You are more than welcome to share your thoughts here.