You’re an Experiment

I’m on the management side of the labor divide and yet I’ve never held a position my parents would consider a permanent job. To work these days is effectively to be employed at will.

I once had a senior executive tell me that my team was an experiment. To prove the value of development staff, we had to replace an outsource, maintain their legacy applications, and deliver a challenging new project. If we failed, next year’s budget would go to re-establishing the outsource.

We faced a hard date, skeptical clients and a steep learning curve but we had an honest leader, the means to succeed and a way of measuring it. All we had to do was execute.

I never felt more control over my fate.

Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in Your Work and LifeA family friend works for Doctors Without Borders. His labor benefits society in ways that will outlive him. In the balancing act that is my life — privileged by world if not New York standards — I’ve deferred, if not entirely foregone legacy. My job is about significance and achievement. Significance comes in providing for my family, not only a biological imperative but a profound joy.

Achievement rests in approaching each year as if it were an experiment. What accomplishment justifies my continued employment? What one thing should I do to materially advance the interests of my employer, our customers and/or my team? It’s the chart of that course that makes me show up in the morning and it’s sightings along the way that allow me to sleep at night.

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About Ken Judy

I am an executive manager, software developer, father and husband trying to do more good than harm. I am an agile practitioner. I say this fully aware I say nothing. Sold as a tool to solve problems, agile is more a set of principles that encourage us to confront problems. Broad adoption of the jargon has not resulted in wide embrace of these principles. I strive to create material and human good by respecting co-workers, telling truth to employers, improving my skills, and caring for the people affected by the software I help build.