Rediscovering the Obvious

…stumbling in the footsteps of greatness

Archive for May, 2009

What’s next, and why?

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The time has come to take another big step towards my dreams and move into the next phase of my career. Understanding how this move is a natural extension of my current position requires an understanding of where I have been in the past and an appreciation of the context of each of those positions.  I can divide my life to this point into five major phases of learning and development: childhood, college, and career phases one through three. I spent my childhood learning about the world around me, about whom I am, and about what core values I hold. I do not believe these core values or understandings will ever truly change, meaning I will for better or worse be a small-town Midwestern guy for my entire life. I then studied for four years at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. I acquired a great deal of knowledge in my time there, but more importantly, I became aware of how to learn. I gained the perspectives that allow me to compare what I see at any given moment against my experiences, the experiences of others, a varied set of perspectives, and an extensive body of knowledge. This process granted me the ability to quickly and accurately categorize information and identify inconsistencies within that information.

Finally, I moved into my professional career. I invested seven years into SEP, Inc. on the north side of Indianapolis. I believe this time consisted of two different phases with a fuzzy boundary between them. First, I learned my craft. My first four years focused heavily on direct delivery of value as a developer. I observed leadership behaviors during this time, and I learned about more than technology, but my primary focus was becoming an expert developer and coder.  Second, I began to make the first steps into technical leadership roles. I became aware of the value of learning techniques from outside my role, and later from outside my industry. I started studying and evaluating different approaches towards accomplishing software delivery. I took responsibility for the design, flow, and implementation of software projects. I explored the “rules” imposed by various regulatory frameworks, and became inspired by recognition of the essence of flow buried deep inside. I examined the structures of people and projects around me, better understanding their behaviors. In short, I became aware of the non-coding aspects of the software engineering industry.  More importantly, I began reading a number of business and economics books, histories of capital and finance, current events in business and industry. I launched “Rediscovering the Obvious”.

After a time, the yearning to do something different took over, and I accepted an offer to try my hand at product development. My first short gig in that direction did not work out, but I learned a great deal and moved to my current role at I came in as a senior software developer, but James, then director of Inkubook, promoted me to a software architecture role a short while later. This time was incredibly exciting to me professionally. This opportunity allowed me to spend nearly two years deeply focused on product development in a role allowing me a great deal of input into every aspect of the product and the context in which we built it. The environment at Inkubook is incredibly empowering in a number of ways. The team’s leadership offers individuals a great deal of flexibility and empowerment in how they approach their work and development. My management has been incredibly supportive of my speaking engagements, allowing me to tell the story of Inkubook publicly and providing time in which to do so. They have supported the team’s desire to learn with a very steady book budget and a ready environment in which we discuss what we learn. The architects regularly exchange sources and ideas about any number of technology topics. Ideas are encouraged and respected regardless of who originates them, and each idea is given a chance to prove itself before a decision is made. I have not worked in any environment so supportive of learning, and the effects are visible in the obvious engagement shown by each of my peers. This passion to improve amplifies itself within the team, leading us to a team culture of continuous self-improvement by each member of the team.

Why am I leaving Inkubook? I can honestly say there is no place in Indianapolis I would rather write software, it is a great place to work and the people are incredible. However, I have long been very passionate about how people go about writing software and delivering systems. EMC has offered me a position allowing me a great deal of freedom in my personal life. I will share more about the nature of this position when I understand which aspects are confidential strategy and which are more public. However, I will happily share my excitement on what this means for my life. First, I will be spending a month in London getting to know my team and delivering on some initial contracts over there. Then, I will be free of geographical constraints with the single primary restriction of needing to be near an airport. This frees Marian, Elle, and I to explore the world and try living different places. Equally importantly, this nicely aligns my daytime responsibilities with my learning passions, making work feel less like work. Finally, I love to teach, and much of this role will be directly helping people learn in various forms. Overall, this feels like the next natural evolution of my career, and I look forward to embracing the opportunity.

Written by erwilleke

May 12th, 2009 at 9:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized