Aug 11 2012

Thinking of Penguins

Published by at 2:06 am
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Yet another sleepless night thinking about something and needing to put it to “paper” so I can rest my brain.

Yet another super successful end of sprint for the high profile project I’ve been working on for the last 8 months and yet… something feels lacking. I’m working on THE premier project of THE leading company that’s at the forefront of developing THE premier holistic solution for Environmental Health Safety & Sustainability, which is one of THE key passions in my life and one of THE key problems of the 21st century and yet… something feels lacking. Something I had in the past, something I don’t really feel I have today in my work.

I was asked by my boss today, “Why? What was different about back then?

Thanks Phil, good way to get my brain going…

 

Just as I was about to fall asleep tonight it hit me:
Because I’m not managing, not leading, leading, not empowering change. None of those things.

I miss the days of leading a development team (albeit small). I miss leading SCRUM.  I miss the days of working with subject matter experts directly, talking about the applied science of what we were trying to build and co-authoring requirements with them and the product owner. I miss the day of working with sales and solution engineers, developing long term strategies for a product, establishing estimates, and committing to a road map with my team’s support. I miss the days of reporting to (for the internet name protected) A.B. and being his instrument of change. We did amazing things back then, only 3-4 years ago. I lead all kinds of internal change initiatives. To this day I’m still the owner of artifacts from those days. I authored documents and lead the charge on ideas which are only now coming to fruit in the project I’m now a development team member of. I was taking managerial and leadership training courses on a regular basis internally and externally to the company. As I was wrapping up (finally) my degree at the time, I switched my major to be focused on business administration to support my new chosen carrier path.  I went through internal talent scoping 3 times in a row. I was evaluated as a DI or “Inspirational Pattern” and told that I was one of few people in the company who matched that pattern, those being senior leadership including Jerrie. Everything was sunshine and roses. I was on the path.

A path I’m no longer on today. What do I have to show for it? Yes I’m a contributing member of that development team and I enjoy the project I’m on, but I’m not leading change. That is what I’m built for. That’s what my brain is wired to do. Change management is in my blood. On top of all of that, I’ve too drained every day doing this high profile project I don’t have the energy to lead HILYMI like I used to, it’s fallen after 6 years from a 25-man guild of 100 or so people to a lowly 10 man guild with only about 15-20 active people. Leading 15-20 people is not the same challenge and/or doesn’t seem to have the same reward for me as organizing a larger organization. Furthermore, all my brain power is going toward expanding and honing my development skills while my managerial, organizational, change management, project management, etc skills are falling by the wayside.

I feel like I’ve taken at least 1 if not 2 steps backward in my career from where I was and no one ever explained to me what even happened. Was I not ready? Did I do something to tick someone off? I’ve never been good at politics (too honest and upfront). I frankly have no idea what could have happened over the course of the last absolutely crazy 4 years of my career. All while not being told anything other than “good job” and high remarks on everything I’ve ever done and delivered. “One of the top 3 performers under <name omitted>“, I was told. I don’t know anymore. I haven’t had time to even think much about all this in the last 8-9 months, but today all these thoughts are coming to the forefront of my mind. I was initially so jazzed about this new project I’m on, I doubt I even went into much detail with my last boss about all this, probably a little, but not much. Not like the bomb I dropped on my new boss today.

Maybe I need to focus more on the things I can do within my own team to lead little bits of change within the team. Maybe I should engage with Ted to see what little things I can do with our Sharepoint which will improve something. Maybe I need to work with my P.O. more and volunteer extra time to help work out the backlog. That’s a positive change, adding clarity where the dev team has been asking for more. I want to make a difference. Not like “I build code” kind of different or even “I build code that writes code” kind of difference. Something, I don’t know. I want to do all kinds of things that are completely unrelated to development, but I’ve been to focused on the day to day task at hand on a very aggressive agile project, that I haven’t had the time other than retros to feel like I can even communicate my ideas for change. Maybe that’s why I like retros so much. Maybe I don’t have time to help lead change, but I can at least communicate and inspire others to hear thoughts on it, to rally around my ideas.

I’m rambling at this point, but what I do know is this: I’m a good developer, but I’m a great leader. I have the potential within me to be a world class leader. I know it. I feel it. I want to pursue that dream. Maybe I should listen to the Heart of Change or some other work by Kotter again. I need his inspiration.

P.S. If this plugin I installed works correctly, this should publish an update on my Facebook status.

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Jun 28 2010

Been a crazy month

Published by at 6:43 pm
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So there goes my posting 3 times a week blown right out of the water. 🙁 Missed 2 whole weeks of blogging due to my vacation.

We went on a big hiking, fishing, photo safari, camping trip for my birthday and since then we’ve been playing catch up. All the while the guild has not been doing well and I’ve been struggling to get us back on our feet. It’s been going ok, just not the sunshine and rainbows I had hoped for. Aric and Amanda ended up leaving on me which ended up being a pretty devastating blow to our raid force.

Anyhow the highlight of the month definitely was our trip and sadly so much happened including a 3 mile hike through the blue basin, catching 18 fish, and generally having an amazing time… I just am having a hard time with blogging about it all after our vacations. So one idea I had was that on future trips I would blog every night with the digital video camera and post those blog postings as video blogs when I get back. I think that approach would definitely keep things moving so that way I don’t so easily fall off the horse when I go on vacation. In general I’m going to try to include more videos in my blog. I’ve been getting a ton of high definition video in the last year since we got the video camera and I’d love to share them with everyone.

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Jun 09 2010

Sindragosa, Arthas Phase 1, 1.5

Published by at 5:17 pm
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I know I’m blogging a lot about WoW, but a lot of stuff is going on right now w/ the guild, so I feel I need to for my own sanity and record keeping. Will be blogging more in coming weeks about birthdays, vacation, more boating, and fishing.

Well, last night after 2 attempts, we downed Sindragosa. Honestly she felt… almost easy. First attempt 15%. Second attempt was flawless, smooth. Well executed on everyone’s part. Then we moved onto Lich King and again two attempts to get past phase 1. One for learning, discussion, then we got it down. Took a couple more attempts to get phase 1.5 smooth and take us into phase 2. The rest of the week the focus will be mastering phase 2.

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Jun 04 2010

Gnar, Sindragosa, Boating

Published by at 5:15 pm
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Well as predicted, Wednesday we one shot Sindragosa then since then we’ve been doing attempts on Sindragosa. This includes apparently tonight. Upon Ray and I long on, ready to do ToGC, we find out that we’re A. continuing attempts on Sindragosa and next week we are extending the lock out so that way if we don’t down her tonight we will down her on Tuesday and focus all next week on Lich King.

Kinda crazy, not usual fair for the guild, but I like it. I also like that other officers took charge a bit on the decision making on all this. My hope is that Gnar performs well. He’s only been back for a week now after being gone for close to two months.

OH, also our boat arrived yesterday. Tomorrow we plan to be out on the water trying out for the first time and I have a fly fishing class I’m going to. My goal is of course to improve my casting so will focus on that. Goal of boating is just getting used to the new boat and developing systems operating and using it with Kerrie.

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Jun 02 2010

9 of 12

Published by at 6:07 pm
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The guild is definitely back to performing again after last week’s cleaning of the roster. Last night we did 9 of 12 in about 3 hours. This was one shotting the first wing, one shotting the entire plague wing including Putricide, then the two shotting princes and queen in the blood wing which for about half the people was their first times. It was a great night. We had some healing learning curve on Dreamwalker, but they are going back in tonight and should down her and do attempt on Sindragosa.

My current hopes are that we should be doing Lich King next week.

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May 28 2010

Return of Gnarsokar

Published by at 10:59 pm
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So after the massive guild kick fest on Tuesday (which I blogged about on Wednesday), one shining light on the guild was finally the return of Gnarsokar to our raids!

After a grueling month and half of dealing with a semi-serious medical issue, my brother is back in tip-top shape. We did IceCrown Citadel Deathbringer through Putricide and not only did he do good, I think he played better that night than he had before he got sick. He and everyone else had a really great time. I think it was a good morale boost for the guild. I hope that next Tuesday goes as smoothly so we can keep up the good momentum.

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May 26 2010

Sometimes that is what it takes

Published by at 6:13 pm
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There comes a time in every leader’s carrier that they need to make a decision for the betterment of the company, that there needs to be large firing of employees. Sometimes that’s because you have a large division of “Eeyores” which are bringing the “Tiggers” down, sometimes it’s just a large group of individuals who are under-performing and affecting the high performer’s performance, and sometimes it’s just a cultural issue where you have a large group of people who have created a cultural subdivision in your organization that makes the culture what you don’t want it to be. It’s interesting that I had this conversation recently with one of my x-bosses about how to deal with people who persistently Eeyores and dragging down the organization. He gave me examples of new CEO’s or other change leaders who tried to change things through good leadership alone, but at some point you have to cut your losses and remove those who aren’t following your leadership.

So after months of work trying to lead cultural change from casual / unsustainable organization to a more performance based / sustainable / great organization, I finally gave up and removed those who were dragging behind and pulling down my change efforts. It wasn’t easy and there were some people that I had a hard time even authorizing their removal, but as discussed with my officers and our core members, it needed to happen. I still have a sense of regret from what had to be done, but I think some quick wins and success post this action will help us all get over the emotions that’s hanging on us after this large the wave of removals.

My hope is that Friday we will make some good positive movement. We’ll see.

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May 07 2010

25man vs 10man

Published by at 8:45 am
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With recent news about Cataclysm’s revamped views on raiding (http://www.wowhead.com/guide=cataclysm&pve#general), there has been questions recently in the guild regarding whether we should continue forward as a 25 man raid guild of stay a small, focused 10 man raid guild.

While in some ways I say getting to 25 man size has been a bit drama inducing, once we get to the 25 man size, there will be significantly less drama than there has been recently. Fact is that much of the drama recently has been due to people not being able to get into raids, either due to only one 10 man running or the logistical nightmare of running dual 10 mans and failing at it.

In 25 mans, you get better loot distribution because generally you have one of every class at the raid. This means there is little to no chance of gear getting sharded and in turn progression is a lot smoother because weeks don’t go by where no one (or very few) get an upgrade. In 25 man, many people get upgrades because everyone can use something. Sure it makes loot distribution more complicated, but if you have a nice loot system like ours (which has turned out very nicely), then loot is distributed fairly with little to no drama.

Another thing too, if we just give up on the idea of doing 25 mans for cataclysm, then I would have been A. lying to all these people I’ve been recruiting recently that I plan on continuing to move the guild forward as a 25 man raid guild B. would be forced to say goodbye to many people who will not be happy in a guild that reserves itself to always being a 10 man guild and C. the guild would have to shrink a lot, to as little as 20-25 people (it’s around 88 right now) before we get to the point where there will be no drama.

Finally, I think that running a small group of 10 people, while that sounds fun… it’s pretty boring after a while. I’m sure that it’s fun for those who are progressing right now and pushing 10 man content with almost the same 10 people every week, but if you did that for an entire expansion… it would just get old. People would crave that 25 man content feeling. I know I would. My class isn’t built for 10 mans. I might as well reserve myself to always being shadow if we decide to give up on 25 mans or switch to Disc instead of Holy.

I feel we should stick with the plan to move to 25 man raiding. It’s definitely a major goal I’ve been striving for as a guild leader.

BLOG NEWS: On a side note, I’m going to try to blog at least Monday / Wednesday / Friday for now.

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May 05 2010

XNA Development Continues

Published by at 8:33 pm
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Game development on our new XNA Xbox 360 game has continued in recent weeks. We’ve been getting together after work on Wednesdays so that’s at least a dedicated day for development and whenever we have spare time in the evening during the week. We also of course brainstorm at lunch about it. So far we’ve re-assembled the team again and it’s got some good steam.

Victor Laurence aka “CyberVic” – Executive Producer / Lead Developer
Victor Hermenzie aka “Voctor” – Executive Creative Director
Kerin Dimeler-Laurence aka “PDXYarnHo” – 2D Vector Artist
Dave aka “DaveUK” – Soundtrack
Robin aka “Hat the Red”- Writer
Aric aka “Baldun” – Developer

Voctor is working on the Game Design Document and doing quite well. He already has all the skills laid out for the classes (something like 144 unique skills) and built out the 3 tech trees for each class in diagram form. I’ve been doing well development wise. Taken the game from a simple fly around and shoot other player ships game to a game where there is dynamic random “spawning’ asteroids that are destructible, enemy ships spawning and attacking nearest player ships with basic fly strait at you attack AI, a shield and hull indicator on the HUD, a current target name/shield/hull indicator on the hud, an experience system, a skill system with togglable active skill with cooldown indicated on the HUD, and finally a reworking of the basic flight / shooting engine with a speed boost system for player ships.

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Mar 01 2010

Cirticism

Published by at 7:40 pm
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One of the things I’ve never been good at is giving people tough love. I’ve always been good at coaching people, but when coaching doesn’t work and their performance does not increase, I have a hard time delivering bad news. This is an important topic, not only because it’s one of my areas of improvement as a manager, but for our guild it’s important that I toughen up when necessary. We have quite a few under performers in the guild and they need to step up to the plate. I made “player improvement” the #1 goal for HILYMI for the month of March with a close second goal of “managing the stress of wiping” which for those who aren’t MMO players reading my blog, basically it’s about managing the stress of failure.

In regards to player improvement, I need to remind myself about a course I took a while ago at IHS titled “Feedback for Accountability”. I think it will give me the tools necessary to help further coach people who are under performers and if necessary, prepare them, not necessarily for removal from the guild, but at least removal from progression raids.

In regards to stress management, I need to work on reminding people that:
1. Rarely does someone win at progression the first, second, or even 6th time encountering something.
2. It’s not failure, but rather a learning process.
3. Learn something from every attempt, improve, and conquer.
4. Focus and congratulate people on what things are working well.
5. Reward people with breaks after downing a boss that we’ve struggled on

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