In the start-up world, you have a clear goal – your product. It either works or you’re out of a job. It is also easier for your manager to see your progress, the work you do, and how it advances (or not) the final product. Not only that, but most people who join a young start-up also believe in the product they are creating. So it is relatively easy to put your time and passion to your work.
For people working in big corporations, things are more complicated.
Big corporations usually don’t have one big product (and if they do, they are doomed to die). They have a suit of product, which alone may not seem the best, but together create an “ecosystem” that is easy to connect; where the components know how to interact without requiring tons of configuration; where products are bundled into solutions which sold to customers.
So you are not working for a specific product – you are working for the corporation’s vision, which may make sense, but is sometimes hard to grasp. Your product may not be the best of it’s kind. But this is OK because it doesn’t need to be the best – it just needs to be good enough so that adding it to a bundle makes the customers happy.
The company’s vision may also contain other products that must work together with yours, and if you only look through the “single product” eyes, it is very hard to understand why they need to interact. But from the full solution perspective, it not only makes sense, but it’s the correct thing to do.
It is also a lot harder to understand what value your product gives, since your product is usually not sold alone, but inside a big bundle of product. And maybe the customers are buying the bundle because they want another component, and not the one you developed.
When your manager gives you a review, it is harder to prove the value you created. You may have done many things, all of them very important, even necessary. But did you create value for the company? Did your product succeed? Sometimes this is even not important!
And after six month of working on your product the company decides that it must change track and you are moved to another product. So people learn to detach themselves from specific products. This is a natural act of psychological self-defense. There is less passion and more pain-old-work.
But is this bad? I don’t know… Passion is a good thing, but it doesn’t put bread in the table. And at the end, we are all in the business of making money – and this is nothing to be ashamed of.
Disclaimer I’ve never worked in a start-up,and I do work in a big corporation. Nonetheless, I have many friends and acquaintances who work both at start-ups and at big corporations. And I also read a lot. Maybe all I’m saying is BS, but this is my opinion, right?