Today assignment – Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your world view. Imagine you’re told it will be canceled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force. How does that make you feel?
“There’s been a change in plans.”
Sometimes the look on someone’s face tells the story before the words leave their mouth. Jean’s stoic look told me nothing. I was totally unprepared for what she said next.
“I need you and Alice to go to Frankfort next week. Bill’s team needs your help writing use cases.”
Jean was my manager and she was referring to a project I was working on in Frankfort Kentucky. There was a bit of a power struggle going on between our team, who were responsible for product and software development, and Bill’s team, who were responsible for explaining how the current system worked. The elusive use case was our preferred method of defining system requirements, but not Bill’s. His team was making a royal mess out of them and the developers had no clue what they were being asked to do.
“What about my class?” Jean must have forgotten that Alice and I were attending a class next week in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Surely once she realized her mistake, she would change her mind.
“I’m pulling you and Alice out. This is more important. Lou will go.”
I could not believe what I was hearing. A few weeks ago, Jean enrolled Alice, myself, and another co-worker named Lou in a Requirements Management class. It was a great opportunity and I was excited to go. So how could she pull us out of a class that only a few weeks ago she insisted we attend?
At first I was perplexed. Alice and I were already working with Bill and his team. They struggled because the concept was entirely new but it’s not like the problem had suddenly gotten worse. Nothing warranting us changing our plans, that is. I feared that maybe Jean had some ulterior motive. Was she trying to punish me for some reason? Jean and I got along OK but our personalities did not click. Could this be personal?
Perplexity and fear was soon replaced by anger. Not because I was missing a class but because I really wanted to go to Virginia Beach. I had never been to “The Beach” as they called it, and being a misplaced California native, any opportunity to be near the ocean was a golden opportunity indeed. I imagined walking along the sandy shore at sunset, listening to the waves crash against the shore. I could almost smell the salty air and feel the warm breeze against my skin. Instead of the smell of salty air, however, I would smell the sickly sweet aroma of fermentation from the nearby whiskey distillery. My hotel room would not overlook the ocean but the parking lot at the Hampton Inn. It seemed to me that use cases were a true reflection of life and mine was heading down the rainy day path.
In the end, Alice and I traveled to Frankfort, and just as I thought, Bill’s team was not the least bit interested in changing their ways. We were interlopers, and not particularity welcome. Our week in Kentucky was a dismal failure. In the mean time, Lou attended the class and had a great time. With the best of intentions, he videoed his sunset walk on the beach and sent me a copy. It was every bit as wonderful as I had imagined.