Positive Disruption

Many, many years ago, when I was but a young person, “disruption” was not a positive thing. If you were disruptive in class you’d get detention; if you were disruptive in public you’d get the consequences of that behavior. (Side note: I’m not the first person to do the “hey back in my day this wasn’t a thing but now it is”, as evidenced here.) So I’ll spare you the history lesson (as best as I can tell from personal experience I started hearing about “positive disruption” in the first dotcom era) and get to where we’re at, which is my job.

My job is all about minimizing the disruption at work. A team has a thing, a thing they need to do, it is not as smooth as it can be, my team makes it smooth. That’s the simplest description of how my team works and frankly how I do. Constant iteration and improvement, balanced only by the reality of resources.

When I first came to the ‘soft, I got a lot of raised brows from friends, family, and coworkers – “they reorg an awful lot” was the net of it. In my previous experience, “reorg” meant losing your job most of the time – or that you were in danger of losing it. Moving my eggs to the Microsoftian basket was considered by some in my peer group as a risky move. In my first sixteen months I had four managers and moved five times. I was never in danger of losing my job and in the transitions since (I’m on my fourth role here) reorgs have been fairly regular (about twice a year), and relatively minor (the impact to me was typically a skip level or skip-skip level) (and when it wasn’t I reevaluated as needed). This semi-regular disruption leads to an exercised muscle of constant career evaluation: “Do I want to be here?” “Do I want to do this?” It’s not a bad thing, but it can be a scary prospect for those who look at a role as an exercise in stability.

This is the time of year we see the most in terms of change; our annual review process is complete and we’re firmly in second quarter; teams have evaluated what they’ve promised and now (a quarter of the way into the year of promise or halfway through a semester) the rubber meets the road. As folks evaluate, “Do I want to be here? Do I want to do this?” they identify other opportunities and, should they be attractive enough, pursue them. This happened in my own team and I’m proud of and happy for the person who did – they had a list of what they wanted, and they got what they wanted. For me, it means I need to fill a gap.

I’m in excellent company. Right now my larger team is hiring, the organization is hiring; we’re hiring all sorts of disciplines and all sorts of levels. You cannot have that level of gap-and-fill without having an amount of disruption and yet, the show must go on: credit to Friedman that the business of business is business. Here we are then, doing all the things on one hand while simultaneously hiring and ramping in the other. It’s a frenetic time for all, from hiring managers to individual contributors working on the front lines of the product. It is unsettling for some and the twitchy adrenaline rush others need. In my case, it’s a function of recognizing the positive in the disruption. I find it helps to ask “Do I want to be here? Do I want to do this?”. Right now, that answer is positive.

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