Thoughts on Leaving T-Mobile

Yesterday my boss gave me the official word and emailed my separation packet details, today at 1 pm I turned off and closed the lid to my work computer. I did so with many emotions – excitement, pride, relief, anxiety and some sadness.

I am filled with excitement because I will now have the wonderful opportunity to take my knowledge and skills and use them to help companies that need and value them. There are so many companies struggling to survive in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. The class I teach, which I am now branding “The VUCA MBA” (formerly known as “The Agile MBA” or “Agile Mindset”), has proven itself to be incredibly valuable to those who experience it. I am so excited to have the chance to present it to so many more people.

I am filled with pride at the accomplishments I was part of at T-Mobile. As a primary architect of our transformational strategy and framework, I worked on the largest and fastest transition from project and scope based funding to product and capacity funding, at least the largest I am aware of (approximately one billion dollar spend in seven months). This “uncarrier” type move of better aligned financial incentives and laid a solid groundwork for the rest of the agile transformation to proceed.

I am also deeply proud of the fact that I had well over 200 people at T-Mobile experience my “agile mindset” training directly via live classes and hundreds, if not thousands, more through the recordings of these sessions which will always (I hope) be available inside T-Mobile.

I am proud that I got a chance to mentor and consult with many leaders and teams within T-Mobile. I believe that my contributions and advice (along with the class) has touched the lives of many people positively. The Chief Digital Officer, Marcus East, brought me in to help T-Mobile’s digital transformation. It was an absolute thrill to get the chance to work with him again. I am honored that he sought my counsel and allowed me to influence game-changing initiatives.

I am proud of my team. Because of the fact we accomplished the largest and fastest transition from project and scope to product and capacity, I was able to convince some of the best agile coaches in the world to join our effort, including two of my former mentors, Kyle Aretae and Tom Meloche. It was an honor to assemble and lead such a crew. I believe that when we build something we should do so in a way that outlasts us. This coaching team will certainly outlast me and continue to provide value.

I feel relieved. Organizational change is really difficult. While there are things that can be done to minimize the disruption and corresponding pain, there are times when these things are a simple reality. And many folks are not so keen on change. Therefore, the role of a change agent, which I have played for so many years, can make one year seem like many more. I have the relief that I can lay this particular burden down.

And this leaves the other two emotions, anxiety and sadness. I’d be foolish to not admit a tinge of anxiety on my end, given the state of the employment market today, but my anxiety is more for my former colleagues at T-Mobile, both those who are leaving and those left behind. Agile Coaching is unique in that experienced coaches know we all come to a company (even as FTEs) with expiration dates. Most people do not have such expectations. There are many long-tenured people who lost (or will soon lose) their jobs. The transition will be particularly difficult for these people. I founded, and for over five years, ran a nonprofit, The Job Hackers, dedicated to helping people who are unemployed. I encourage folks to reach out to The Job Hackers if it can help and to reach out to me personally if I can ever be of service.

I am anxious for those left behind. Their work will become more difficult, at least in the short run as the effects of the recent layoffs become clearer. And those who I worked with to transition T-Mobile to more agility will have to accomplish this very critical and difficult effort with fewer helpers. Nevertheless, there is a solid group of people who will pick up the standard and push forward. Since the layoffs were publicly announced to be spread over five weeks, I also suspect people might be anxious about their futures until this time period has passed.

Lastly, there is the emotion of sadness. Life is made up of a series of entries and exits. People come and go in our lives. At T-Mobile there were so many great people who I consider my friends. There are some that I will keep in touch with always, some from time to time and, even though neither of us would have it this way, some that I will likely never come in contact with again. I certainly hope our paths cross again, but regardless, I wish the very best to all of you and want you to know to never hesitate to call on me if I can be of service.

0 thoughts on “Thoughts on Leaving T-Mobile”

  1. Larry, I am shocked and saddened to read your post – one that reflects how so many must be feeling. As agile coaches, we used to say to be successful, we might work ourselves out of a job – in the sense that people could learn to embrace agile mindsets, principles and values without us nearby, a constant gentle reminder. Corporations make broad decisions based less on people, more on outputs, and little or no consideration for the disruption, the instability these changes cause. You have done so much for so many – and I don’t think that I can repay the favor to you – you have inspired, educated and mentored so many of us, that I am compelled to say thank you, and I am deeply sorry to read the news. I hope you can move onward to more impacts and outcomes – and I hope to have the good fortune to interact with you again! If there is ever a chance that I have some connection you seek, please give me the satisfaction of extending an introduction or recommendation for you.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Change is hard and making it stick is much more hard.. we probably didn’t engage too much while at T-Mobile but I got what you were saying.. and teaching.

  3. You offered a great service at T-Mobile and I’m one of the lucky one to have learned from you and benefited from your expertise. Keep shining!

  4. Well presented, Larry.
    If I may, I would suggest another emotion to this great article.
    I went through this a couple of months before you, and I recognize the emotional milestones you consider above as elements of the stages of loss that I lived through. The operative phrase is “lived through”. The sadness phase you describe was deep for me because I was so tuned to making a difference in the T-Mobile environment I helped to create through the glory days of beating the odds as we climbed from failing 4th to 1st in the hearts of our customers… and our employees. The culture was spectacular. Being a Boomer, I fall to the bottom of the thousands of people managers wading through a tough job market, to find the chance of contributing like that again.

    However, I have been chatting with CHAT-GPT, and AI tells me my education and tenure are better suited to a different model in the era of Gen X and Gen Z. The newer generations need me in a different capacity. AI is helping me redirect my energy, write my books, become much more physical and real-time in the world around me, and it is making a huge difference to my core.

    My next novel is almost ready for the printer, My consultancy is nearly ready, my pets know me by name, and I’m well known in my circles for the dinners I create. As I look around me now, my emotions are centered on “Expectant”. My future is fresh, healthy, and has a mind of its own.

    There is life after the job.

  5. Larry, it was a pleasure working with you at T-mobile, I thoroughly enjoyed your Agile Mindset Series, especially the hands on exercises and your ability to challenge the teams to think outside of T-mobiles long standing SDLC methodologies, I too was impacted by the layoffs, as chance would have it, I had just celebrated my 25th T-Mobile anniversary on the day when it was announced there would be 5k layoffs, and like you I was impacted. So now, after several decades of managing system experiences, which included millions of dollars in business value portfolios, The reality is that, I like many others impacted, we will likely be forced to start over with less pay in an ever changing competitive market. Thanks for allowing me to share my appreciation and fears with your audience, I really enjoyed your thought-provoking response to the layoffs. Its was truly a pleasure working with you, best of luck, fate favors the prepared mind…

  6. Hi Larry –
    I never got the pleasure to cross paths at T-Mobile, but wanted to express my sincere appreciation of you writing this message, I absolutely love this article, the message is just what I needed to hear. After 17 years, I’m feeling a bit lost after living the Magenta life for so long.

    I wish you only the best for an even brighter future. Looking forward to what’s next for me.

  7. Would work with you again any time, Larry. I hope our impact to the zeitgeist, vision and methods persists in some ways. And you got the re-envisioned MBA right on the money!

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