In my previous job, I was an LMS Administrator (among other things).
I spent a LOT of time with that LMS.
Creating programs, configuring the LMS to support those programs, negotiating with my organization and the vendor for customizations, occasionally going into the code myself to make things work for my organization.
The more work I put into something, the more ownership I feel.
The more ownership I feel, the less inclined I am to want to change or let go of the thing that I had worked so hard on.
When they started talking about replacing that LMS, I started to get defensive.
I thought about all the work that I would have to do. I would have to re-do.
I found it hard to come up with new solutions.
I even found it hard to come up with solutions to new problems if they threatened the thing I spent so much of my time and energy and heart working on.
I see the same dynamic within organizations who have a long-standing legacy system in their environment.
An engineer or system administrator, who is fully engaged in their work and with their organization, spends a lot of time and energy creating a solution that works for the organization for a long time.
An upgrade or a new implementation or new business strategy threatens that work.
And suddenly, a customization that makes it more difficult to upgrade the system or change a process becomes a sacred cow.
If that engineer is the only person in an organization with any technical understanding of the system, it’s hard for the business to help that engineer come up with new solutions.
If the engineer feels TOO threatened, information becomes harder to get. The organization will get less help. The wagons get circled.
I don’t blame the engineer at all.
What the engineer doesn’t see is that he or she is at risk. Despite all the hard work and love and attention put into the work, the engineer risks becoming obsolete to the organization. Being seen as the “block to progress”. And, gradually, getting pushed out.
It’s a risk we run when we focus our career on a particular technology vs skills that can work across technologies and contexts.
It’s a risk we run when we put our heart and soul into a project.
Wanting to cling to that thing well past the time for it to be released.
I don’t want to become obsolete.
The engineers I know don’t want to become obsolete either.
If we want to keep the people who bring their heart and soul into their work, we need to value them.
We need to appreciate what they created and how they helped bring value at that time.
We need to recognize and help them through this natural desire to cling to their babies.
And we need to help them let go.