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.