I was talking with a colleague from my HP days about our strategy sessions that started bright and early with breakfast in a quaint city at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Our strategy sessions continued through the day with absolutely fascinating conversations driving along the redwood-lined Summit Road (eventually leading to a cheese and baguette picnic at a local winery). It was the second in a series of these great strategy days where we got out of the office and did the hard stuff (not the back-to-back meetings, escalations, recriminations or defense calls of the big corporate world) but the actual hard stuff of thinking out our future direction and exploring it from all aspects (reframing). Even to this day, both the colleague and myself look back with envy at those days, which I affectionately call the Camelot Days, much in the way President Kennedy’s days were called Camelot. And there was the Round Table of King Arthur….
They say you have to stop and smell the roses and this applies here. Often we get caught up in all the negativity and jumping monkeys in our jobs, work groups and organizations. But when you reach a level (plateau is the wrong word) when your work environment and your personal impression of the time has reached what some would describe as your groove, or athletes describe as your second wind. It is time to take a bit of time and revel in that moment. How can you recognize that moment in time? Oh no, often you
r realize it three months later and you miss the moment. Or you think you are at it, just to realize that life got just a little bit better two weeks later when your team got recognition for that big release. You also can’t spend all your time analyzing your situation, so the key is to somehow recognize Camelot soon after you are at it, but before the inevitable Shiva the God of Destruction shows up to change the environment.
Why It is Important
Let’s face it, your professional career will last 3 or 4 decades of your life
. You will go through a lot of churn, destruction and creation in your career. Nowadays, with social media’s preponderance, you may be blogging or tweeting about your work career as you live it. But it’s the hidden text between those tweets or blogs that are really important to understand for yourself. Why things happened to you and your career in that order with those people intersecting at those places are really important to ponder and connect. Is there really a life stream or path that you are on? Is there some form of predestination? Or do lucky things happen to people who invest in themselves and through a process of acquiring skills, experiences, friends, colleagues and passionate interest in things, that they happen to be at the end of that call or email with an offer they cant refuse. Recognizing Camelot is important because when you do, you have created an internal model, philosophy and pathway or roadmap for yourself. You have reached a milestone on that segment of your career/life.
But Wait, Is It All Downhill from Here?
Good question. We have all heard about
Camelot in both historical references. Whether you are stubborn and don’t heed the warnings about your situation, or a lone gunman out of the blue destroys your Camelot, the seeds of those changes are sown well before you reach Camelot. You know the line when someone asks you about your greatest weakness, and you answer how your greatest strength has a soft underbelly. Great judo move during the interview. But in your life and career, when you realize you are in Camelot and celebrate, also spend an hour to tease out those seeds that you have sown that will come to bite your ass later.
My Camelot and the Aftermath
Back to my Camelot. After enjoying a few strategy sessions (and some nice Santa Cruz Pinot Noir) we and our organization were at the top of our game. But yes, I did understand the concept of Shiva and the seeds that were already sown. I know that the bubble must pop and it was just a matter of time (and management changes) where the implicit assumption of our outsourcing services architecture would be at risk. Camelot for me was a solution architecture that was way ahead of its time. The architecture was called Radix by our business sponsor—which means the source or origin of something. That architecture, being ahead of its
time was the origin Building that architecture (and underlying process model) and deploying it across multiple operations centers was successful in a world where the organization wanted a highly centralized and controlled environment. Poof, that reality disappeared a few quarters later when the management team wanted the value of centralization (cost reduction) way before the fruits were reaped. The staffing was cut before we could achieve the ratio needed (results/cost) could make the model self-sustaining. Shiva had arrived and through the destruction had created the opportunity for the next wave.
Realizing Camelot and understanding the subsequent destruction is extremely important in realizing where your career is going. Career and promotions were the subject of my previous blog.