Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Only Constant is Change

Man, it's been a week of changes.

Sometime last week I woke up, late, late at night, with the most profound feeling that it was time to get Christine into a new car. Not just a hunch: a real sense of urgency. I felt, with absolute certainty that I needed to take care of this, and soon, and if I didn't I would seriously regret it. Why? I dunno. Maybe the thing was gonna break down and cost me a bundle soon, but honestly I felt it was something ... worse. More dire. So I laid there forabout an hour, thinking about how to make it work, juggling numbers and budgets in my head, and concluded that yeah, we can do this.

And since I tend to follow my heart when it talks this loud, that meant we would do it as soon as was humanly possible. So Monday (President's Day -- I actually had the day off, and the kids did not) we went and got her crappy Chevy Venture minivan appraised, found out we actually had a small amount of equity in the damn thing, test drove several cars and finally wound up going for a 2006 Mazda5. Comfortably big without being enormous or monstrous, with plenty of room for her and the kids, low miles (less than 9500), lots of upgrades (moonroof, leather interior, really nice stereo, privacy glass all around), and way more fun to drive than the damn minivan. She's thrilled, and I feel like somehow I have avoided a disaster of some sort. So, definitely change for the better, there.

But then, there's the other changes afoot. The workplace is ... well, let's says it's been tossed into something of a chaotic state. Last week, the acquisition of our largish company by a somewhat larger multinational company was completed, and thus far we have little or no insight into their plans for us. We've been assured that we re important strategically and blah blah blah, but there's no real visibility into just what that means just yet. So, things have been a tad bit tense for lots of folks.

Then, yesterday, the bomb dropped: Our entire engineering management and architecture team (6 people in all, including my brother) resigned. Heading off to a new startup. Now, obviously, I knew a lot of this was coming, and accurately intuited the rest, so none of this was a big shock to me. However, lots of other folks were caught completely unaware and are very shaken up by this.

Then, to make matters worse, the upper level management are totally dropping the ball on managing the scenario -- not disseminating information well, letting rumor and cubicle conjecture do most of the communicating rather than directly addressing anyone about this. People are literally panicking, getting ready to clean out their desks, convinced that we will all be locked out of our offices come Monday morning.

I've spent a lot of time and energy trying to calm folks down, get as much accurate information out to my co-workers as I can, etc. And since I am related to one of the guys who is leaving and have been here longer than just about anyone who is left I get the sense that my attitude is carrying a bit more weight than some others. Maybe not. Hard to say. I just hate to see people scared, especially when I think they are being scared without reason. These morons at the top are taking a bad situation and making it infinitely worse by not talking to enough people about it. It's unreal. My team and I kind of layed into our manager (who is based up in RI) in hopes that some of the concerns about how ham-fisted the Big Wigs are being about this will get communicated and addressed sooner. We shall see.

It's been an interesting experience so far, though. There was a time when this would have sent me into something of a panicked frenzy, when the prospect of so much change and uncertainty would have coalesced into loads of negative energy, anger, and frustration.

Instead, I find I'm ... well, sort of amused by it.

Not by people's worries and fears -- I'm doing everything I can to help settle people down and to dispel the more paranoid and self-destructive rumors as they come along. And reminding folks all over the place that the main thing management needs to do right now is get people to commit to sticking around, and the best way to do that is with money, so this could actually result in something of a windfall for most of us. I hate to see people eating themselves up with worry over stuff like this, especially when so much of it could have been avoided by some intelligent and reasoned communication from the Corporate Powers That Be.

But most of all, I'm reminding folks just how good they are, and advising them that considering how soon this is happening after an acquisition, our entire management chain is very, very motivated to get this resolved quickly, if only to ensure that they still have jobs at the end of the month. Management desperation can certainly translate into career opportunity in situations like these.

However, I do find it amusing just how utterly clueless these corporate guys have proven themselves to be, how utterly amateurish. This whole situation could have been fixed months ago if they'd just adjusted their management approaches, but they refused. Now they're getting snapped in the ass as a result. The schaudenfreud is delicious. And I find I'm spending a lot of time planning my next move, and looking forward to the upcoming conversations with these jokers. Ever since I got wind of what was coming, I've just sort of wondered what they were going to do about it. I'm not worried about myself at all -- I know I'm good, and I know that if the worst case scenario were to occur I'd land on my feet, probably with a couple of months severance in my bank account as a result. But I was curious to see whether our execs would handle this with something resembling a clever strategy or if they would instead fumble their way through, making a series or typically disastrous errors as they tried to figure out how to get a handle on this. Clearly, they have opted for the latter outcome, and their ability to exceed even my lofty expectations of their ineptitude continues to astonish and amaze.

One nice thing to come out of this, though, was my own observation that training in Tang Soo Do has truly altered the way I have approached this series of changes, an observation that was confirmed (without prompting) by a friend yesterday. She said, while we were discussing this whole mess and how to proceed, that she really felt that my training in martial arts had made some clear observable changes in how I approach things these days. How, while I'd always been fiery and passionate about my work (well, about everything, really), my passions were now tempered, far more focused and controlled. Tools to be used to create solutions.

It was a kind and generous observation, and one I really do agree with. Just one more example of how Tang Soo Do has changed my life to throw on the pile. I keep encountering instances of these changes, theses effects, both large and small, that Tang Soo Do is having on my life, my outlook, my self-image, me. In essence, I'm getting the feeling that the pile is getting so high that the individual examples are becoming inconsequential. Just one more event that reiterates something that is becoming simple and apparent.

I'm not feeling individual changes anymore so much as ... changed.

Mood: Kind of torqued up, but good
Now Playing: Patty Griffin, "Children Running Through"

1 comment:

Mike said...

What was it like when six or so guys all of the sudden announced they were leaving? Did they come out of the room in slow motion as it exploded behind them or what?