Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Climbing F6

With closure of our business unit in Arnhem, a new team is being assembled in the US to carry forward the development and marketing of the product.  This group held a planning summit yesterday to define the future product map and project plan, and asked me back to lead discussion of the programs that I was responsible for.

I’ve struggled with how to approach this event.  The new leadership comes from outside the company, and I don’t know how they regard their Dutch predecessors: is our experience a stepping-stone into their future or a mistake to be avoided?  Their organization and funding won’t be defined for another month: is presumptive engagement or consultative distance appropriate for me?

And, since I’m still between assignments, the organizational uncertainty blends into personal worries about the future.

book cover of 

The Ascent of F6 

A Tragedy in Two Acts 

by

W H Auden and 

Christopher IsherwoodThe British playwrights Auden and Isherwood wrote The Ascent of F6 in 1936.  It tells the story of Michael Ransom and his team of climbers, sent to remote Ostnia to conquer the fabled peak.  Instead, all are killed during the climb by demons that embody each man’s individual weakness.

I feel much the same at this juncture.  The professional challenges of finding my next position are making for a difficult climb, and I’m feeling the pressure of time before the storms finally close in. It’s all too easy to feel defensive about the past, slighted in the present, or isolated from the future.

It’s not clear what opportunities there might be for me: it’s work that I loved doing, but the new team has less scope and funding than the Dutch one did.  I don’t know if they would offer a position, or even if I want to ask for one.

In the end, it’s good to find that the meeting included very good people who identified the right issues facing the business.  Even though I was the only one among the 30 who had actually worked in Arnhem, they had found most of the people with product and market knowledge.

However, the agenda was overcrowded and we only discussed a fraction of the material I (and others) was asked to prepare. The discussion repeatedly circled familiar points, absent the data or experience that we had in the Netherlands.  It reminded me of how much knowledge and momentum was lost as a result of the decision.

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