Friday, 13 July 2012

Break your shell or you will stay small

Your pain is the breaking of the shell
that encloses your understanding.
Khalil Gibran.

I loved this image when I first saw it. I stayed for a good couple of minutes just looking at it. Something inside me found a visual way to express itself. And then the words of Gibran just gave mass to it.
It is really painful to break your shell. You have been in that shell for a while, you are comfy, you know where the cracks are so you don't put too much weight on those areas. And then someone, something, somehow, tells you that this shell's got to go. Crabs, when they loose their shell, they go around to find a bigger shell and make that their new house.
Where will you find a new shell for your naked inner self?

As part of the QMO, we are Kanban-izing a Government company that has been in business for a long time, executing and delivering in a very heavy process way and with a lot of people that have been there since the early days. A lot of the systems, solutions and applications used, are their "babies". They had found a comfortable zone where they knew what was expected from them. The hierarchy was clear, they knew who they had to listen and obey. They were releasing applications, keeping lights on and they could see themselves busy for a long time in that system. Busy for a long time, means feeling secure that this job is mine till I retire and I will get the good pension plan I have been waiting for since I started working here.And then, a new CIO came on board. Unable to understand the workload, unable to justify the expenses, he asked for a better way to run the shop. He asked for that organization to grow. 
And that is when the shell started cracking open. Just like with any growing pain, there was a lot of pain with breaking this shell. Some people were let go and that brought a lot of insecurity to the ones that stayed. A lot of people didn't feel good to see their long time friends dealing with "job hunting", a problem they thought they would never need to face. On the same time, they had to pick up some of the work that was being done by the ones that left. On top of that, a team of contractors was hired to "Change the way things are being done". Without any doubt, the spirits were down.
And that is when a brand new team was created. My team, the QMO. We are all new to that company. We have no ropes to hang on to. We are the ray of light burning the eyes of someone just coming out of a long sleep.We want to make friends and take them on a journey where we know the direction but we can't pave the road for them. The road will be bumpy and curvy.
Just like them, we will grow too. We will move from one shell to another without even understanding when and how these shells were created around us. We will know we are doing a good job when we keep feeling the pain of growth. If we do not feel pain, we have created a shell that's got to be broken.

Today, on a retrospective, a senior developer challenged me with "We have tried before different things like Pair Programming and stuff, but our managers told us not to do it. You want us to be Agile, ok, just tell us what do you want us to do and we will do it!". Off course I couldn't start laying down the roadmap for him in that retrospective meeting. But that told me that even though he was hurt before, even though he is not happy with everything that is going on, he WANTS to do it. He tried before when he didn't have support for this. He will try again, but this time he will be supported.  All this shell cracking noise, is music to my ears! 

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