A time to say thank you and see you later

pocket-watch

Those that know me well know that I rarely express my religious views with others. I’ve been taught not to discuss controversial views — religion, politics, beliefs — across the dinner table (let alone at work). It is my ethos.

Why then did I recently find myself quoting a Bible passage attributed to King Solomon to better place a question I was answering into context? I didn’t even realize I had done so at first — it took another colleague to let me know from where the quote came. It is quite amazing to think that my upbringing can still influence me 30 years on without my realization. (Or maybe this perhaps was another sign that I have attended too many funerals in my life, and as we get older there seems to be more and more of them.)

The passage I referenced was A Time for Everything, although I adapted the meaning to reference innovation. This wonderful passage is found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, and is often quoted at funerals. Tradition tells us that the book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon toward the end of his reign.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

In my own version of this very famous passage, I would add a simple verse:

“a time to Innovate and a time to Invent,

a time to collaborate and a time to compete,

a time to walk and a time to run,

a time to say thank you and see you later”

 

So why did I – usually averse to discussing controversial views – decide to shout “Share!” on this occasion?

Maybe it was simply about the pushing of boundaries. Take my team and me, for example: if we do not discuss controversial topics then life and work carry on and nothing changes. If we dare on the side of pushing boundaries and discuss the possibility of disruption, then interesting discussions can occur. Remember there was a time not long ago when few were talking about artificial intelligence, VR/AR, cybersecurity, Blockchain or RPA. And then, suddenly, these technologies became prevalent, leaving everyone to frantically scramble to keep up with the change. Being out of this loop would be commercial suicide for many companies. Perhaps this is why DXC has been unafraid to be out in front. They “Thrive on Change” and are willing to take their clients with them on this frightful journey.

Or perhaps I chose to adapt this passage because to innovate is a very wise and important thing for an organisation or an individual to do when going through change. If we do not innovate, through competition or collaboration, then we have a higher risk of not surviving. Every organisation, project or individual has their own lifecycle, similar to that referenced in A Time for Everything and each also has a cycle of innovation which runs within them. Every cycle is different for every organisation, project and individual. The vision and mindfulness of “how we are going to collaborate or become competitive?” is crucial for the lifecycle of a person, product or a project.

On a related note, competitiveness is wonderful — even within a team. If there is competitiveness without collaboration, however, that team cannot excel. They cannot work together, learn from each other or grow. Collaboration is also a great trait to have in a team. But without competition — the drive to go further faster and to push the boundaries of thinking and what we are capable of together — a team will not perform and deliver outstanding projects and products.

As a team learns, grows and develops in this way, it becomes able to do the next big thing. It is important for you as a leader to recognize when this has happened. When growing members your team are ready to take the lead, when they are performing and excelling — that’s when it is time for you to step aside, give them that lift up and let them have a go!

In time, a team learns to run without their leader, autonomously. They learn to be whatever they want to be, as long as they are willing to compete together and take the time to collaborate, walking slowly when required on the road to success. The trick is to trust when the next chapter comes along and jump into the change with both feet.

That’s certainly the case now on my team, and it’s why I am stepping aside for my own next chapter. I want to say a big, huge “Thank you” to DXC, and CSC before it, for the many memories, the experience, the friends and the knowledge; for allowing me to learn and grow; and for being my home for the last 6 years.

I say “see you later” with a smile on my face and a slight tear in my eye, as I leave our readers in the capable hands of Courtney Carr. To my friends I have made at DXC, please know that there will always be a little bit of DXC in my heart, and if you ever need help I will always be there. Know that there are many supporters out there in the world, sharing the “Thrive on Change” strategy and daring to do so every day.


Sarah James was ANZ lead for Authentic Leadership in DXC and an advocate for DXC’s Women in Leadership and STEM. Prior to leaving DXC in September 2017, Sarah founded the Empowering Future Leaders blog and was its primary author. With over 15 years of experience in the world of IT, Sarah’s specialty is spatial information and includes integration on projects as diverse as mapping volcanoes in Hawaii to delivering high-tech police vehicles.

Comments

  1. This is a wonderful article and a lovely way to say goodbye. Straight from the heart and mind🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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