Nine months ago today, I embarked on a new adventure – I left consulting and came to work for a client. Ultimately this job means a relocation – from the Midwest to the East Coast – but for these past months I have been back in northeastern Wisconsin.
One week ago today, I had the privilege of leading a 5:30 AM meeting in one of the manufacturing facilities here to inform everyone that it was time to begin using the new computer system. The months and years of planning, designing, building, testing and training were over – we were “live” in the system.
The days, weeks and weekends leading up to that moment were long, the sleep minimal, the stress high. And yet, here we were – as I looked out across the room, I was amazed. A sea of project team members, managers, supervisors, leads & other super users were wearing their safety green t-shirts emblazoned with Go Live Support on the back – much like “Event Staff” or “Security” at a concert or sporting event. After a few last minute instructions, it was time for us to get out on the production floor and start transacting in the new system. From that moment on, the day was filled with supporting the business – there were some hiccups but before too long there were reports of “thumbs up” as people were doing their work – a supervisor came into the ‘war room’ to give us high fives as her team was running well. At various points throughout the day, when together with teammates, one of us would comment to the effect of “…this is surreal…are we really live?”
Late in the afternoon, I left the plant for a bit and returned to the main building to debrief with the rest of the project management group. Waiting for me on my desk was a cheery bouquet of flowers from my family – with a sentiment just perfect for the day. My throat ‘caught’ for a moment…even though I haven’t seen my family a lot while on the project, they have definitely been with me through the highs, the lows and everything in between.
In the early evening, long after arriving in the parking lot in the midst of a severe thunderstorm, I walked back to my rental – exhausted and proud. As a teammate and I paused in the middle of the parking lot to reflect on the 960 days since we started on this adventure, it was almost too much to comprehend.
On July 4th, the project team got together for a cookout & cricket – even the extreme heat couldn’t keep folks from smiling at the previous day. Later that night, some of us were back at the plant as 3rd shift started using the system. Storms were rolling in – while walking from building to building the sky was filled with fireworks and lightning – that was so appropriate.
The past week has been filled with more long hours and a few more issues to resolve as everyone continues to get comfortable operating in their new normal. Of course, this past week has been the hottest of the year & many hours have been spent in the hot warehouse and plants. Each day, the safety shoes have felt a bit heavier – I may have been walking around my office in my socks a couple of times.
In 15 years of consulting, by the time go live came sometimes I had already moved on to the next assignment and sometimes I was there as they flipped the proverbial switch. Last week, I was completely in the middle of it and couldn’t have been prouder to be with that team.
And now it is time…to begin looking ahead to what is next with work…my days ‘up north’ will be coming to and end as the local operations will no longer need the project team…we are already looking ahead to the next phase of the project.
And now it is time for me to focus on the “what is next” in life. After almost 13 years in Chicago, it is time to move on…new adventures await me in the Keystone state.
But for a bit, it is time to reflect, renew, remember…
It is time! has been a common phrase around here since the Packers won Super Bowl 45. A teammate and I would use it often in reference to project “stuff.” So as it was time to finally go live, we ordered rubber bracelets (in green & gold, course) for the entire team: Project X – July 2012 – Go Live – It Is Time!