After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going. This is the fifty fourth letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.
10/11/02 – Changes at Dell – Oh Well
Dear Sooner Plantians,
I hope each of you had a good week. I hope Ronnie LeForce is doing well. — I haven’t had an update since the week of his accident. I suppose you guys are glad that the weather has finally cooled off. I suppose that many of you are gone on overhauls, but since I haven’t heard about that, I suppose that maybe that I’m just supposin’ too much. I suppose.
Well. As you can see by the subject of this e-mail, this has been a week of changes. I don’t know if you noticed, but some time ago, I had gotten a new manager (about 6 months ago). You may have noticed that I had stopped referring to my manager as “he” and had started to refer to her as “she”.
Well… I did that because my manager was no longer a “he”, she was a “she”, because she was a different person than the “he” I had been talking about prior to the arrival of the “she” manager. — Which explains everything I’m sure.
Well. (I’m replacing “Anyway” with “Well” just for a change — I thought since I was replacing “he”s with “she”s, — Why not).
Well. This week, they (as in I/T at Dell), did a little bit of downsizing and shuffling of teams around. I’m still here. — As you can tell by the fact that I still have a Dell e-mail address.
And I will have a new manager starting next Monday. (Really next Tuesday, since I’ll be gone all day Monday teaching High School Teachers how to leave a lasting impression on their students with extra-ordinarily exciting PowerPoint Presentations).
Well. My manager will change from a “she” to a “he”. He’s a real nice guy.
Actually, I had talked to Gene Day about him a few months ago. He’s the guy that sits down at the other end of the row of cubicles where I sit. I had told Gene that I thought I would start harassing him in the same “kind, considerate, and friendly manner that I used to “harass” Gene.
I had finally settled on a guy that used to work in a Nuclear Power Plant as an Auxiliary Operator that was the head of the training department. But for some reason he left the company a few months later to go into “Emergency Planning”.
Which I’m sure had nothing to do with anything I had done. — Well….. Actually, he did tell me that he got tears in his eyes when he was reading the “Power Plant Man” poem, and it made him miss the dirty dangerous environment where he used to spend his waking moments contemplating the meaning and benefits of life and electricity.
One thing they did that was interesting in our new “shuffle” of the teams, is this: Our present team is made up of developers (like me), support people, project managers, and logistics people. This would could be described as a pretty “cross-functional” team. Well. Our new teams are going to be broken down into “Functional” teams.
I am going to be on a development team. All the Project managers will be on another team, and so on. This struck me as odd, since at Sooner we had gone through this great effort to cross-functionalize, in order to break down the barriers.
They had done the same sort of thing at Dell some time back. Well. Evidently, if you can break the barriers down in other ways, it is more beneficial to have “functional” teams that don’t have the barriers that normal “functional” groups have. So the functional teams all work together even though they are different.
Hmmmm.. Interesting thought huh? You mean that you could have an “electrician” group and a “mechanic” group, and still not have functional barriers that impede performance? — Of course you can. It depends on what type of management you have. — One that wants to be controlling, or one that is productive and efficient.
Just one more thought for the week. — Empowerment.. You have to have it, or forget it.
Well. After this week, I won’t be on the CIA team anymore. I’ll still be working on the same projects. Actually, this Monday they gave me a new project to work on and asked me if I could have it done by the end of the month. I gave it back to them on Tuesday by noon and had it completed. — I got big “Kudos” for that. (That means “Atta Boys”). Don’t worry, I remember. One “Oops” and all the “Atta Boys” are immediately forgotten.
Have a good week, and write, I’ll write later,
Your friendly Dell Programmer,
Kevin James Breazile
Kevin J. Breazile
CIA: Customer Experience, Integrated Services Model, and Ariba
—When the Mission seems Impossible, call the CIA!–
Dell Computer Corporation