Familiar Fire

A couple weeks ago I started a new job. Well, sort of new. It’s in a field I used to work, yet a different level of involvement. As much as there’s a natural sense of déjà vu when you pick up something after a couple years, there’s also the assumptions you have heading into it.

The good news is that there are still some familiar faces around, which really helps with any transition. I’ve always found the hardest part of change is people, so having established relationships before the move helps to a crazy degree. The second bit is that since I’ve maintained those relationships, I have some relative idea of the state of affairs within the group. There are (and will be) gaps in my understanding, yet both combined mean that I’ve been able to do in 2 weeks what normally would take 2 months.

The less good is the whole baggage still that comes with. I know this field, I know it really well. It was a launching pad for my career, the cause of a burnout, and some emotional scars that I don’t think will ever heal. That gives me a set of assumptions heading into this, and the danger that I fall into old bad habits. It’s an active task to repress those habits, which is terribly exhausting. It’s like giving a kid an ice cream cone and telling them not to eat it. Just drives you crazy.

While I do work in the IT industry, my general job description is more in like with enterprise architecture (EA). I am not aware of any school teaching this in a graduate sense, it’s more like a practice or approach to work. Most graduates I do hire come from some sort of engineering background, and then we train them in this model. EA being a work practice can be transplanted without too many hiccups, which certainly reflects my particular career path. It isn’t terribly useful in an operational sense (there’s ITSM for that), yet for planning and change… it really does an amazing job.

The ‘sales pitch’ for this job was just to address the vertical group, those that report directly to me. So setting up some strategic plans, addressing a couple wrinkles, and basically getting it on track for a modernization initiative underway. I am grossly simplifying, but the task itself was one I’ve done a few times, so it seemed like a nice temporary change of pace. I’ve had some side project ideas, and this seemed a good way to deliver those on top of smaller core obligations.

The reality is that the strategic plans are foundational to the organization’s existence. As in, do hundreds of people have jobs in 3 years or not? Further, the breadth of the strategy impacts a half dozen other similar services which are all asking the same question. And the modernization initiative underway has some serious gaps – things I’ve still got scars from. This ‘simple’ pitch is in reality both an immediate crisis to manage, and an existential one that crosses multiple streams.

I am purposefully avoiding detail. For one, it likely wouldn’t interest most people. Two, the type of work I do necessitates a level of discretion. Certainly one of the perks of having a common name that I can run this blog as I do.

That said, the closest analogy is that I was pitched the idea of being a GM of a relatively stable sports team. The reality is that I’ll need to run a task under the league commish to see how the sport even exists down the road. And given my history in sports team management, folks are expecting that this is both an impossible task, and one that I can still accomplish.

So yeah, feeling good in my level of understanding, very anxious to the challenge and expectations, and further optimistic as to the people I get to work with to get this done.

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