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I'm Divergent, Are You?

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A few weeks ago, my 14 year-old organized a night with her friends to see the premiere of the new movie “Divergent”. Haven’t heard of it? Long story short, it’s about a girl who is faced with a choice on her 16th birthday – to stay with the ‘faction’ she was born into, or choose a new one to join – leaving her family behind forever. In the future, her city is post-war Chicago, and is segregated into groups called factions of like-minded people (selfless, brave, smart, peaceful and honest). Based on a mind-reading test thru a drug induced simulation, your choices are recorded and analyzed and a faction is recommended much like the sorting hat in Harry Potter. The majority of 16-year old candidates successfully complete the simulation and are recommended for one faction.

The main character, Tris, ‘fails’ the simulation and is determined to be multi-factioned – and labeled Divergent – not a good thing to be as the factioned leaders are afraid of the Divergent and work diligently to weed them out and either kill them or force them to join the ‘factionless’ who roam the streets without a home.

I have worked at Intel for 23 years. I started out in Finance and moved to Business Operations a few years ago. I am motivated and driven to solve very difficult problems. In fact, right now, my biggest challenge is deploying one capital equipment tracking solution for the 600+ product development labs at Intel worldwide enabling us to quickly see what equipment we have, which lab it’s in and if it’s in use or available to borrow. I am working with a team across multiple ‘factions’ or divisions of Intel and we are actively loading data to enable sharing and collaboration across groups.

Through this project, I have met many factioned employees. Employees who are loyal to their faction, their faction’s proprietary systems, budgets, objectives and targets. I talk to them about the bigger goal and objective, the cross-sharing of equipment, increasing utilization, decreasing costs, the notion that if we share it we don’t have to buy or rent it. I spend time reminding them that if they are able to ask another lab for equipment, they’ll get it quicker. It can take 12-16 weeks to receive new equipment in the lab -- if you borrow it, it may only take days to pick it up or ship it to another lab or site.

I have to tell you, it’s been a challenge. We sometimes are so loyal to our own faction that we occasionally have ‘tunnel vision’ within our teams. When a Business Group or Department at Intel wins, not just our group or business unit; we all win.  Yes – I am realistic. I know that our “factions” have bigger high level goals – to raise revenue on specific products, to sell 40M tablets, to supply certain parts to our customers. But in the end, we all work for the same company and our factions need to collaborate so we can enable each other – to be faster, better, cheaper.

Through conversations based on data analysis and through seeking out and leveraging our ‘divergent’ thinkers inside the company, we are slowly changing the factioned employees and leaders.  We have put our analysis in front of folks in the labs and in middle management.  We have an Executive Sponsor.  We are sharing our message via Blogs, Forums, Meetings and Face to Face Meetings.  We are passionate, tenacious and diligent. What started out as an idea between two people has now blossomed into a corporate sponsored program.  My guide throughout has been “Leading Change” by John P. Kotter and the notion of the first follower.  What have I learned?  That anyone can be a Leader and a catalyst for change. When you follow a solid process and involve the right people using the right data – you can lead change – from a small family business to a Fortune 500 Company like Intel.

At the end of the day, here’s where I stand: I am Divergent. I am Technology & Manufacturing Group, I am Finance, I am Platform Engineering Group, I am Business Operations. I am Mobile & Communications Group. I am Intel.