There’s this concept, in Kaizen, of the andon - a visual indicator that let’s you know status. A classic example is a line halfway down the side of a parts bin; when the line becomes visible, it’s time to pull more parts. Another is [the famous pull cord](http://itrevolution.com/kata/_ that any Toyota manufacturing line employee can yank to stop the entire assembly line, if they see a problem. I have an andon in my life, she’s called my wife.
For years, I’ve worked as a Product Manager - the liaison between tech and business, in the industries I was in. I’d spend my day helping the businesspeople translate their goals into actionable plans, and then work with the engineers to figure out how to meet those goals. I never built a thing, although I was in teams that did amazing stuff. Here, let me have another professional explain my job to you:
You can guess I loved it, right?
Now, at my last job, we were light on engineers, and so I did a little light HTML and PHP work1. One evening, my wife and I were having a late evening cocktail in the backyard2, and, suddenly, she was my andon: she said “when you’ve been coding, you come home happy. When you’ve been doing product management, you come home frustrated. What can we do about this?”
Obviously, I married well. So she supported me while I quit my job; took a nice long vacation, because I was working 70+ hour weeks on the regular; and then started a 12-week intensive coding academy at a place called Codesmith.
It’s been an amazing journey, really accepting that I don’t know what I’m doing, day after day – and figuring out how to do things.
Unfortunately, we needed an andon in another part of our lives. Our son started going to a very adorable, sweet daycare when he was quite little2. At the time we started him there, we said “this place will be perfect until he’s 3; then he’ll need more enrichment.” Well, he turned 3, and we didn’t have our eye on the ball: his school was still fine, but now he needed more.
Eventually, the need became obvious — like an empty parts bin, with no andon to show that it needed to be refilled. Fortunately, our son was able to pull the andon cord himself, complaining about the pressure of his day care2. So we caught up, and now my son is getting ready to move to a new school.
So there’s a lot of moving on. None of it, however, is from this blog. If there’s something I’ve learned in the sixteen months since I last posted here, it’s that I need to learn to take care of myself, and put my mental health, my physical health, and my life first. Writing is a big part of my mental health and my life.
Hopefully you’ll see more of me here. Heck, hopefully I will see more of me here. My andon got pulled, production stopped, and now it’s restarted. I’ve learned a lesson about self-care, and the line should operate more smoothly from here on out.