This past week, I traveled for work for this first time with my new company. The trip was to be a high-level 2017 planning session of sorts that included many VPs and Directors of Engineering, Program/Project Management, Product Marketing, and Product Management. While we did our annual Global Product Management team event week only a month ago in Charleston, this event was more focused in scope and was not meant to be any sort of team building exercise. Now we were in Austin, Texas, and this time decisions needed to be made.
Without being overly transparent, I’ll just say that Blackbaud went through a pretty significant restructuring of the R&D and Product Management organizations at the beginning of the year. The idea was to structure teams more along terms of target client size and vertical but also on growth stages within Blackbaud. The product that I help build is the market leading CRM, while the team in Austin manages one of the markets strongest email marketing and advocacy solutions. Both the products are currently in a state of growth and transition from legacy platforms to next generations.
We flew into Austin on Monday and ventured into an area that I’m still not sure how to accurately describe. A newer neighborhood of Austin called The Domain was where the office was, but also an area with many new hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and beautiful new condos. The Domain was not near the airport nor near downtown Austin and the infamous 6th Street. It was about 25-45 minutes from each depending on traffic. It almost seemed to be some experimental sub-community that was a Texas attempt at metropolitan lifestyle. Because The Domain had everything we needed within a walkable distance, no one needed to rent cars and never needed to (even if we had time) venture outside the community.
The office in Austin was a nice, modern, typical tech company environment with high ceilings, weird art, and life-sized Lego pieces everywhere. I heard the office described as being “very Austin”. Our large group spent almost the entirety of our three days in one large conference room. The days consisted of nine hours in that room and the nights consisted of barhopping all around The Domain. Sleep was not particularly involved.
Towards the end of the second day and the beginning of the third day, it did seem that we made some great progress. We were forced to prioritized, forced to be pragmatic. However, just as I felt us reaching the peak of this exercise, the larger group was released and a much more focused group of the most senior stakeholders went into a smaller meeting room to make decisions, I assume. The rest of us were shown around the office and went out for lunch before we left for the airport. It was quite an anticlimactic ending to the very involved three day affair. I, like many of the other employees that was not invited to the final discussion, wondered and gossiped the entire way home about what, if anything, will change due to the long three days. I’m sure I don’t speak solely for myself when I say that in the coming weeks, we’ll be eagerly waiting to learn the results of the decisions that were made at The Domain.