Posted by: hagengreen | May 2, 2010

Back to the Blog; Change is in the Air

After nearly a month away from my passion for writing, I’m back! There has been a lot going on lately, both personally and at work. Let’s start with work so we can get it out of the way. From this point on I have no further excuses for my absence from this space. Keep me honest!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m a part of the Office team at Microsoft that just finished its 3-year cycle for the 2010 release. Now that we’re done, the organization is in the midst of realigning for the next version by going through a relatively major shuffle. At a high level, this reorg is like playing musical chairs with 6,000 people (but with a caveat that there’s enough room for everyone to find a seat). With so many people and a diverse workforce, there’s a tidal wave of change almost everywhere you look. Each person has their own unique story behind their decision. 90% or more of folks take one of two mainstream options: they stay with the same manager (who may stay or move within the org) or they find another product, technology, or challenging role within Office. The other minority either leave the org or leave the company – with reasons I bet are more varied and interesting than those who stay. Okay then, Hagen, what are YOU doing? Glad you asked. I’m taking the path less traveled. In the past two releases I’ve stuck around with great people and exciting opportunities. But my time has come to add breadth and diversity to my own experience. I haven’t just decided to change teams, I’m also changing roles. I’m moving from a test leadership to a program manager position. I don’t think it’s possible to shake it up more than this. But I have well-understood motivations and a clear picture of my long term ambitions. This isn’t off the hip.

Before I left for vacation (that part’s coming soon, promise), I had to tell my boss where I wanted to be in the new organization. The music stopped for me, and I was being asked to pick a chair. When I explained I wanted to pursue opportunities elsewhere, I essentially wrote myself out of Office. In literal terms, I had about 60 days to land elsewhere in the company. I was a free agent on a hunt. Risky? Maybe. But it was intentional. The timing wasn’t perfect. Vacation didn’t help either.

I interviewed with three teams in three unique business units throughout the company – each team has a very different business landscape, customer base, and product. As of this last Friday evening, I had three offers on the table. Yes, a best case scenario, but it also means I need to say no to 2 of the 3. I’ve struggled to come to a conclusion on where my ‘yes’ goes. I scribbled a ton of notes from my many hours of discussions with dev, test, and PM senior managers. I re-read all of those comments to see if one team stands out. I’ve tried to peg numerical values to different categories (e.g., People, Challenge, Customer Connection, Manager, etc.) to rate each team. No clear winner either. I took a long bike ride today (yeah!! more on that later) to think more freely about this decision and came up with a very simple decision guideline: what product or technology is near and dear to my heart that is an integral part of my life? Another way to look at it is to ask: how many times in life do I get a chance to work directly on something that I’m truly passionate about? Well, my friends, I have found such a job. I just need to say the magic word: ‘yes’. I look forward to sharing further details in a future post.

Work aside, some pretty exciting personal events have been transpiring. First up is Mexico! Jaime and I spent a full 7 days in Cabo San Lucas. It was very relaxing. We were spoiled with an upgraded 2-room executive suite which was a happy surprise. The atmosphere was very relaxing and the food was incredible. Ever seen prawns the size of credit cards? Yes, and they tasted even better than they looked. Get this: even Jaime caught a liking for shrimp. (And that’s coming from someone who used to hate seafood!) Otherwise we didn’t do much else in Cabo. My bummed wrist didn’t help motivate us, either. Well, we did a lot of walking around the downtown area. We went through parts of the town normally saturated with locals which was a change of pace. We did a little shopping and ended up buying a festive serving tray for $35. That’s after bargaining down from nearly $50. I still felt it was too expensive and walked away twice before Jaime went back and told the guy we’d take it. At least he did a really good job wrapping it up for the long trip back in the luggage bag.

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While in Mexico we met up with some friends of ours: Shana and Dave. We did the nearly-religious happy hour margarita daily at 4pm, hung out at the pool, and went out to dinner and dancing. After Dave and Shana flew back home, we bumped into Molly and her boyfriend; Molly is an old friend of Jaime’s from college. We hung out with them all night until past 2am on a Tuesday. Even Cabo Wabo was crazy (and still going as we left) on a Tuesday night. I’ve learned there’s never a dull night at Cabo Wabo. Another random fact I learned about Cabo: it houses the World’s Smallest Bar. A quick drink has never been easier.

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Here are some pics of the lobby of our resort.

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Some of our other friends…

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Clearly you cannot forget the beach!

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Last topic before I sign off for the evening: the arm. “Ahhh, that dreaded arm,” you say? Yes. And here I make a promise to myself and you this is the last time I’m going to write about it on this blog. And for good reason… there won’t be further news to report. 🙂

I had a doc appt last Thursday as a 6 week follow up from surgery. They took navicular X-Rays and showed me the original vs now shots. It’s remarkable how the bone has healed. There was one piece of the bone that splintered off from the accident (somehow I didn’t notice that in the original X-Rays), but it’s now pulled back in and healed over. While the bone isn’t 100% ready-to-rumble, it is superficially healed. Since I have a screw in there, it offers stability to an otherwise still-healing bone. Ever since the surgery, I haven’t been using my hand. Well, I lie. I did some typing and very light activities (like tying my shoes) in the 5th week. But little else. So when the doctor told me I can start using my hand for regular everyday activities, I was shocked. I took advantage of that moment to probe: hey doc, how about swimming? Yes, that’s fine. Great, wow, that’s wonderful. So I took a far out stab… So, doc, when do you think I can get back on the bike? Right now. What?!?! I nearly fell off my chair. You say I can ride today? No way. Yes way. I was shocked. Jaime and I bet earlier that morning. My bet was 1.5 weeks, hers was 3 weeks. I technically won, but we were both waaay off. That night I put my hands on the handlebars of the bike that tossed me into this mess in the first place. No, it wasn’t going to work. My wrist and hand were too weak. I told Jaime I thought my doc was being too aggressive. But I was determined. I can’t remember the time a doc told me something and I didn’t think it was reasonable. Heck, it’s usually the other way around! I was determined to get back on the bike. So I strengthened my hand and wrist of the next few days by remembering to use it. (When you don’t use one hand for 2 months you forget to use it.) I also took Saturday to fix up the bike: I bought a beefy V-brake to replace the front cantilevers because it’s stronger and easier to pull the lever to engage the brakes. Then I switched the brake lever from the traditional left-hand-side over to the right. I don’t ride a rear brake on the fixie, so the switch was easy. Now I have a bike with a stronger brake that I can pull with my right hand. Turns out that with my brace on (which the doc recommended with the bike), I can do just fine in the drops. No pain! I went out for 2 hours today. It was slow going at first, but I built up nicely by the end. You can say I’m officially back in the saddle!

Have yourself a great first week in May. Until next time.

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