WTF #4: Illusory Superiority

WTF #4: Illusory Superiority

Illusory superiorty, a.k.a. full of ourselves. This is the only conclusion I can come up with to explain the surprise that all of us felt when FluxCorp decided to shutter our satellite design centre and to layoff my entire design team, save myself (who’s being transferred out-of-country). Last August, our team was re-org’d into a new division. We all thought it was a positive move. The new division’s goals were better aligned with the products we were working on and both our new manager and new director are old guards in this product line. Although we knew that our building lease was soon coming to an end and that an office move was likely in order to save money, we felt confident we would move along with everyone else to the new site. After all, why wouldn’t we? We are “wonderful” designers. We have a good reputation with the people we worked with. We are working on something that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the corporation. So why would they jeopardize all that money by tinkering with us? We even had an office pool going tracking our confidence level of whether layoffs would accompany the office move. We all gave layoffs a very low likelihood.

Fast forward four months and our team found ourselves being dismantled. Much were discussed in the aftermath. Perhaps we lacked political clout being the new team in the division. Perhaps all this talk about “geoefficiency” blinded the upper management from the details of this office closure. It apparently didn’t matter that it put so much potential revenue on the line. Or perhaps it did and the corporation thought the risk was worth the reward. Perhaps we unknowingly pissed someone off and they were out to “get us”. But at the end of the day, no matter how much all this didn’t make sense to us, to our colleagues, or to whomever, one thing was abundantly clear — we thought too much of ourselves. We thought we were virtually irreplaceable at this very point in time. We were wrong.

It’s a lesson well learned, one that has me adding another two notches to my cynicism index, one that I will carry to my new job in Shanghai, and one that will force me to constantly look behind my back.

What The Flux is a semi-regular weekendish feature on that follows the follies and jollies of an engineer in industry, yours truly.


Welcome to the “business” side of engineering. All of us get blind-sided like this at some point. It’s not your fault — your job was to immerse yourself into the technology so you could develop it. Their job was to run the business. A real disillusioning part of engineering — that they don’t warn you about in school — is that a management decision can quickly wipe out not only your project but your livelihood as well.

Find out if the company has any future plans for the technology, and if they are keeping ownership of it. See if you can get any of it into the public domain. If the company is abandoning this technology, and you are still confident that it is viable, now is the time to take it over.

Duh, the mainland that matters, Flux!

Sorry, should have said USA. I forget I’m such a self centered American sometimes. I’m too busy shooting a gun, eating a big mac and burning coal simultaneously to remember that things exist outside of my bubble 😉

I knew you meant the US. I was being tongue-in-cheek. Maybe should’ve added a smiley. Still, will jobs flow back to the US? Maybe…some of it like some of the call-center jobs flowed back. But overall, I still see a net flow of job outwards in the short term.

Also, don’t you complain incessantly about your president being a Kenyan?

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