Saturday, April 16, 2022

A Small Update and a Few Links

Not much has changed in my work situation. My friend/new boss is trying very hard to get me credit for my work and I think is having some success. The work itself continues to be interesting, but there is too much of it and we don't have a junior person on the team (I am the most junior by title and my title includes "Senior") so I spent the equivalent of an entire work day on some time-consuming and essential work that definitely did not need someone senior doing it and kept me from getting to the strategic/planning things that do need my attention. But there was a deadline on the grunt work so I plowed through it. I did get about an hour yesterday to at least plan out the next few months' work.

Given the recent events, it was a bit funny to realize as I made dinner last night that I basically wrote a project plan for a complex project in an hour and it is a good one that meets our deadlines and is achievable. 

I could do that for the other projects that need it in maybe a little more time (I'd need an ~1 hour meeting with the other project's lead to figure out what they are trying to do and then another hour to make the plan and then maybe another 30 minute meeting to refine it).  I guess most of the other people on my new team don't know how to do this and so the assumption is that I'd have to be reassigned to the other projects in order to get me to make them a plan, but really I could just do it as a small side task if that's what was needed.

I wish I could figure out how to teach other people to do what I do when I'm planning a project. I've tried a few times but it is one of those things that is just obvious to me so it is hard to back up and explain how to do it. I think the best way may be just to write some plans together. I briefly had a direct report in my old role and was starting to train him on this but then he left for a different job.

I think the key is being able to see how the various tasks interrelate - what tasks does any given task depend on, where is there some slack to allow overlap and move things faster, where do you have to keep things running in serial or risk a project implosion, etc., etc. I don't know how to explain how to see that sort of thing. I just see it.

I also spent some time thinking about my options. I came up with four options:

1. Stay put and figure out a way to make a career path I'll like at my current company. This has the advantage of leaving me working with people I like, but a lot of potential pitfalls.

2. Conduct an immediate job search and jump to some place else. Right now, it would probably be easiest to jump to a program manager-type role, which would be fine (perhaps even great) at some companies but moves me further away from my goal of getting to be technical/creative again.

3. Stay put for awhile and work to build the skills/experiences I'd need to move to a senior role like I thought I was getting, but at a different company.

4. Stay put for awhile and work to build the skills/experiences I'd need to make a lateral move into a different industry (I have been wondering if I wouldn't mind being the person behind the scenes getting things done if I could tell myself the larger goals of the work were worth it - I think a job working to electrify everything might do that).

So far, I'm leaning towards staying put and seeing which of options 1, 3, or 4 appeals in a year or so. However, I suspect another major insult would make me angry enough to just quit and embark on option #2!

For me to stay put, though, we need to recalibrate some things at home. Work is going to be intense for another few months as I learn the new things that I need to learn and also keep the various projects I'm assigned to on track with the skeleton team we have. We're hopefully hiring a couple of new people soon, but hiring is hard right now so I can't count on that happening. Also, I am not the hiring manager for the jobs that are open so I have very little influence on how fast that hiring goes.

The problem is that Mr. Snarky also recently got a promotion and so we're both pretty busy at work and that makes keeping things running at home a little more challenging. Last time Mr. Snarky got a promotion, my job wasn't that intense and so I picked up some extra things on the home front for a few months. Neither of us can do this for the other person right now. The kids are being pretty awesome and becoming more independent as needed, but they can't do a lot of the things that need doing and so I need to carve out some time to make a new plan for the running of the household, too.

Enough about all of that. I promised a few links.  They are podcast heavy, because I haven't had time to read much but I listen to podcasts while I'm on my awesome new rowing machine.

David Roberts had two podcasts on great ideas for decreasing our fossil fuel usage quickly:

- Rob Harmon on how to scale up energy efficiency. I found this one fascinating and encouraging. Harmon talks about the incentive mismatch that makes it hard to get commercial buildings to become more energy efficient and a pretty cool idea for how to structure things to get past that mismatch.

- Zeynab Magavi and Audrey Schulman on how to replace natural gas heating with ground-source heat pumps. This is another clever idea that works with the incentives companies and people have instead of fighting against them.

Ezra Klein has been doing a great series of interviews about the war in Ukraine. I found his interview with Timothy Snyder particularly good, but the entire series is worth your time. He also had an interview with Margaret Atwood that was really interesting and looked at our current point in history from a different angle.

A job posting for a Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager made the internet laugh for a few days, and John Scalzi used it as a prompt for a fun short story.

This cracked me up:

Here's a rabbit:

And now I'd better get going on the weekend chores. Have a good weekend, everyone!


  1. Good luck with the work!

    I don't really get how other people are so bad at project planning either. Like, I'm always the one thinking about contingencies and timelines. How hard is it to backtrack from the end product? And yet I'm always telling administrators that we need to figure X, Y, or Z before some time even if the final deadline is later. It drives me crazy. How do they do their own academic research? I guess maybe their work gets done when it gets done? (I also feel like this is something most married women are in charge of at home, so we get a lot of practice.) And why are project managers compensated less than the developers they manage? (But if they're people middle managers on top of being project managers, they get compensated more...)

    My son is hoping to do gruntwork as a summer intern for DH's company, as that's something they need and it will hopefully help his college applications. All of my RAs are graduating or doing their own required summer internships this summer so I need to hire or I'm going to be doing my own grunt work. :/

  2. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Thank you for writing! Sounds busy and exhausting.


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