Ramble On

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Thing About Projects

"...A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal."

Speaking professionally, and about my day job to be specific, 2017 has started with a transition for me, making it a very busy time.  It's easy to predict that I'll spend the year juggling a few priorities, especially with the brewery preparing to open in the spring.  For now, I'm planning to do what I've always done when faced with busy times - I'll just hunker down and try to keep moving forward.

I've just completed nearly five years as a construction executive at the Intelligence Community Campus-Bethesda, which we knew as "ICC-B."  Basically a redevelopment project, this effort used a campus design approach to transform a group of six buildings built from the 1940's through the 1980's into a modern office complex.  The early rendering of the design is shown in the graphic at the start of this post; while the final result is slightly modified, and the work on the campus grounds has yet to start, this perspective is pretty similar to what a pedestrian passing by the front of the campus will see.

Now, five years - in my career, that is a pretty significant amount of time to be committed to one project.  My enlistment was only six years, and my stint at one of the large architecture/engineering (A/E) firms was six and a half, but even with those tenures I transferred between efforts every year and a half or so.  I found that I still enjoyed working on the ICC-B project right up to my last day early this month.

There is still design and construction to finish at the project, three or four major efforts that my colleagues are going to see through to completion.  But with two thirds of the occupancy complete, and with tenants in every major building component of the project, it was clearly time for me to move on, and turn it over to other professionals to carry the torch.

In military and intelligence circles, there are traditions for times like these.  The company observed the transition phase by commissioning a "challenge coin," shown in the photo above, and there was a signed memento as well.  As I took my leave, I sent some emails and texts - and received some, including this one, from one of the government leads I worked with:

"...it was great working with you.  The [Program Management Office] wouldn't have been nearly as successful without your time, energy and insight.  We accomplished so much and I learned so much during that period.  Good luck in your future endeavors..."    

To say I learned a lot is an understatement - as I like to say, "I'm an economist, not an engineer."  Even with more than 20 years in the field, working on A/E projects, I'm still learning about the real estate and facilities field.  Every project, even our brewery, has its challenges, and I am not ashamed to say that there's a lot I don't know.

We can't be afraid of moving on.  We're on a journey - there are so many metaphors about the road ahead - we just need to remember to take each step one at a time.  It's the only way to get somewhere.

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