10 Year Project

In 2011 I underwent a rather significant career change – from a medium sized organization to one with a very large scope of work. I was somewhat bored at the time, having completed pretty much all I wanted to at the time, and was hunting for an interesting project. I had a couple names, called around, and ended up taking a very interesting project that allowed me to work remotely for 6 months. I still recall sitting in my car, along a remote highway, just being happy to have 1 bar on my tethered cell phone.

The success on that activity opened some doors to an even larger project, one that was both transformational and made more than enough turns in the national media. I went very deep into that project, taking some gambles that both burned me and turned out well. I suffered a burnout in that period, and learned where that proverbial line is. I spent nearly 6 years on that project, in a direct fashion, before making a pitch for a tangent project.

I tend to get antsy when things are operational, I need to have very hard challenges and love to build teams to get through it. This new project was wilder than the first one, a group had tried for 2 years prior on a technical issue and wasn’t able to get over the hump. My team was able to solve that in a few weeks after having scoured the globe for options. It’s hard to describe the feeling of launching a global-first service, and having done so twice by this point, it’s a rush is like a drug.

I remained a consult on the national project during this time, and was moved around the organization to take on similar ‘impossible’ tasks. I butted heads more than once, but with some people, process, and tool changes, was able to find some success on those challenges. At various points I was asked to come back to the project core, but for a pile of reasons I wanted to do something else. Eventually, I had reached a point where that particular project had to close out, a new one established to replace it, and then this whole pandemic hit us hard.

I guess the tangent here is that our organization supported virtual teams (I’ve clearly supported it for years), while also requiring that management be physically on site. The larger support group also required on site work, typically due to the ‘grey hair effect’, where the older generation didn’t see how it could work otherwise. When the pandemic hit, the organization needed to rapidly pivot to support a fully remote workforce, and that caused a bunch of fires.

Sure enough, I eventually land back into the main project fire to both close out and start something new. And now we’re in the final phases of the original close out – taking up the month of December. I am happy that we are moving to something more modern and sustainable… there are issues of course, the grass is never greener, but it’s where we need to be. Yet I am also finding it bittersweet to close out such a large chapter of my life. I’ve made most of my career off the shoulders of that particular project, met a ton of great people, and delivered what felt like miracles.

It’s making for a very interesting month, at least in the mental space. I opened a major chapter 10 years ago, and this is where the next one is going to begin. Looking back as to where I started, I never would have guessed I’d end up here. What a run.

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