Leaving on a Jet Plane

For most of my adult career, I have been a configuration manager. Configuration management is an engineering discipline primarily concerned with change (which might explain why Parable of the Sower is one of my favorite books), anticipating it, controlling it, tracking it. It requires a combination of technical skills (any good CMer needs to have a couple of scripting languages under his/her belt and know enough about coding to be able to troubleshoot why builds are failing) and non-technical skills (much of CM is about moving change requests from one person to another).

But really what I've liked about the role is that it tends to sit in the middle of everything. The CMer is responsible for the past, present and future of the system under development and to ensure that I get that information and manage its flow, I tend to make the role more about encouraging and supporting collaboration and knowledge flow than about a control-freakish need to lay down the law.

Over the last six years, the strictly-speaking CM part of my job has been pushed to the sidelines as I've also moved into related areas like continuous integration, software tooling, and software engineering processes. I've been a certified scrummaster for a while now and was helping roll out iterative processes with RUP for years before that. For me, it's still about helping teams communicate/collaborate and we've been calling this collection of support disciplines 'software enablement,' of which CM remains a significant part.

BowieMike asked the other day in a comment what exactly I'm doing out in Kansas. For the last few weeks, I've been here preparing them for installing or upgrading some Rational tools that help with CM and other development processes. It's a bit of an old-fashioned gig for me; most of the focus has been on getting ClearQuest up and running in a new environment. I feel a little like I'm returning to my roots.

Which is ironic because this is my last gig for my current employer.

Next week, I start for a new company. I'll be a product implementation coach for a company that provides agile project management tooling. That means that my job will be going around helping agile teams do scrum using a particular tool. There's actually still some work to do define what I'll really be doing, but I'm moving to an agile company that also likes tools. I'll get to keep playing with technology and also help people collaborate.

But I won't be doing CM any more. There'll be a little bit of defect management, but it's small enough that for the first time in nearly 20 years I don't think I could realistically call myself a configuration manager. I feel a little more nostalgic about that than I had expected, but I'm so very excited to start working again with people who I respect and who believe in sharing and collaboration, and in helping each other grow.

I guess you could say that at least I'm still an enabler.

In a good way.

Oh, and my new email address will be curmudgeon@-the company-.com. Is that cool or what?

1 thoughtful messages from friendly readers:

Bowie Mike said...

Now you'll have to decide whether or not to keep the same gmail account.

Job transition periods can be nice in a way. During the transition, your work to-do list is wiped out no matter what's on it, and you have no work responsibilities for a short time. And then the responsibilities slowly build up during the time that you can claim "new guy" status.

It's also a little uncomfortable that the institutional knowledge, subject matter and expertise that were so valuable to you on Friday, are suddenly not as important the following Monday. But at the same time, it’s exciting to be working in different areas.

Good luck.