Before Easter, on a visit from the States, Andrew (the CEO) restructured the engineering team by moving two of the senior engineers into product management roles. The aim of this restructure for the business is to bring a dedicated focus into building successful products to the product development part of the company. Andrew has discussed some of his reasoning behind the change in "Organizing for Innovation (Part 1) – Why?"
While talking about the proposed change and how it would affect my team as well as myself, my wife Helen reminded me of a book I'd read many years ago. Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Johnson talks about how change affects people. Presented in the form of a parable, it features "Sniff & Scurry" and "Hem & Haw" whose cheese one day disappears. As Haw goes through the process of finding "new cheese", he provides insights into how to handle change in a series of "writings on the wall". The following one
Enjoy Change! – Savor the adventures and enjoy the taste of new cheese!
got me thinking about what opportunities the restructure would bring.
Opportunities for the team
On of the problems we've struggled with in engineering as we adopted XP was the availability of a "client" who was also trying to plan new products. This change has effectively removed this bottleneck and allowed us to focus on ensuring we delivering value to our clients with each release.
In addition, as our acknowledged guru Adrian has now moved out of direct development, like a tree falling in the forest, it has cleared the area to allow the other engineers to shine. One of these, Andy, has already seen the opportunities for him as he discusses in his article "Big Changes at Ephox".
Opportunities for Me
When I started at Ephox, I had basic management skills and so focussed on building up those skills to meet the new challenge of engineering management. In the meantime, I let my technical skills get blunt. In recent months I had reached a state of balance with my management skills so I had been looking to resharpen my technical skills. This change has provided me the focus on what skills I need to work on as I dive into the development vacuum caused by less resources.
In addition, it has provided the additional management challenges of building up the engineering resources again, managing the requests for the limited resources from 6 different people and maintaining the mental well being of my team as they meet the challenge of less senior colleagues.
Change happens, it's how we react to change that determines how it affects us. With the exception of change for change sake, change brings opportunities. The challenge is to recognise this, identify the opportunities, and "savour the adventure" they present.