total use

 Geek, Reflection  Comments Off on total use
Jul 272013

I’ve been seriously busy for the last month. I started a new job four weeks ago, and it’s requiring every bit of my skill, knowledge and experience. It’s exciting. The last time I did this, I built a house. That project demanded all of my drive and project management, decisiveness and heart. Now, I’m doing something professionally that requires all my knowledge, sensitivity, fearlessness, and humor.

Four weeks ago, I became the lead software architect for a company that is in the middle of a turnaround. There are a lot of assets, products with solid customer bases and capability. However, growth has been flat for several years, while competitors are flourishing in an expanding market. Most of upper management has been changed in the last seven months. We are now doing something remarkable and fun to bring all this capability to a new type of customer, using state-of-the-art web technologies.

The personal challenges are daunting. I haven’t coded in Java in years, there are entrenched ways of looking at things in this company that need to change, and I’m a little out of date on what can be done with the latest open source software products and frameworks. Plus I’m a new guy, I’ve only had a few weeks to meet dozens of new people, assess their capabilities, assess the massive store of technologies and products we are working with.

But I’ve done this before. I have a pretty good understanding of the customers and what they do with our products, what kind of capabilities they need. I’m good at seeing and communicating the overall picture, and this company is full of talented, intelligent and resourceful people who want to do the right thing, want to make it happen. There is a very cool idea here, and it’s happening.

I’m experiencing a feeling that is distantly familiar. It’s like the last few months of house building, when it’s all coming together. It’s like after a run or a bike ride or yoga, where my body feels fully alive, and my mind is clear. This is what we do, as engineers. Software starts to do something new, we see data moving in new and different ways, user interfaces look better and better. Everything is juicy, there is an undercurrent of excitement. As the pieces of the architecture become clearer, and as issues get resolved, my co-workers and I are getting glimpses of what we are creating, how it may fulfill needs in ways we cannot imagine.

Today, we demonstrated our first functioning software. We’re smiling at each other, going home on a Friday afternoon feeling excited at our progress. Indeed we should. I’ve only been here five weeks, and my team of seven engineers are beginning to pull in the same direction to deliver something that our customers will love. Hard to beat the feeling of accomplishment.

I’m well-used indeed. Such a great feeling, to bring it all.