Well, I’m back in the apartment. I would say “back home”, given that my wife and son live here but it still doesn’t feel quite like home. The house I worked on all weekend, the house where I brought my son home from the hospital and wrote my last book, still feels like home to me. Maybe someday I’ll feel the same about this place.
My view on my new job fits right in with the feeling of “almost but not quite home”. People are, for the most part, friendly enough. My team and I do good work. Heck, I even managed to assist the team working on bringing back up one of our major systems – that they wanted to do the work I had already scheduled for this week just made it easier to give them the victory.
Feelings of confusion and newness aside, though, we loaded this week with enough activity to drown a small horse. I have team members working on upgrading servers, building document sharing Sharepoint sites, coordinating the department support queue, and producing a cluster-frack load of documentation. That later falls mostly on my plate; I’d rather spend my “productive” time writing about what we will need to do in the future than mucking up things in the present.
I suspect the production of documents doesn’t help anything. Our organization sits squarely in the “rapport-based” category, even though its far too large to actually support direct one-to-one communication in any useful form. The people with power, authority, and/or influence have little use for clear process documentation. They would rather fly from one situation to another, trading favors and reinforcing influence networks. It feels a bit like working for the government, only without a clear chain of command or anyone willing to put their foot down long enough to get things done.
Though, frankly, that later comment’s not fair. People do put their feet down. All the time, in fact. The problem is we, collectively, do it on whatever hot button topic occupies our attention at the moment. Over the years the organization developed some rather remarkable incident response methods – some good, some not so good. However, the really important change from a chaotic small shop to a working process-based midsized shop will require more from us than just good incident control.
Now, if I were a capable man I would trade and trade and trade until I finally got enough markers pulled together to get a champion for process change. Were I a thoughtful man I might try to introduce artifacts and tools from various operational methods, seeing what I can get to stick and what I need to let go of for now. Were I a diligent man I might try to show how information-based capacity planning give us the ability to predict or even prevent operational problems.
My team will have a couple of good opportunities to do all three this week. Hopefully they can make some headway.