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I was hired by a company to develop a product a year ago, I have worked on this product exclusively during the last year and the intention was to move up to a managerial role with two more people as subordinates.

Last year, the company had also acquired another company whose product competes with mine. I learned this while on the job.

I have indirectly learned that the decision has already been made that I would need to throw away all that I have done during the last year and my job would become following instructions from the people at the other company, developing their product. Their product is objectively precarious from a technical point of view.

I was planning to explain my vision for the department this week, but I feel it will be for nothing. Ultimately it is just me competing against a company, and the company also gets more support from senior management, such as investment, new hires and so on. Also, the decision has already been made.

How should I react to this? I was planning to request a change to another department which I feel would value my skills more.

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7 Answers 7

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There are three things going on here.

First off, it sounds like you've heard some rumors that your existing project will stop development. Don't be a rumor monger, and instead get some direct information about what's going on.

Secondly, don't let yourself be a victim of the sunken cost fallacy. I know that it can feel really de-valuing when all your work gets thrown out, but it's important to realize that all of that work is in the past, and already done. Nothing that happens today can undo what has happened in the past. From a business perspective, it's common for businesses to change plans, revise goals, or cancel projects. Why do they do this? Because the cost/benefit to the business of going down the current route is worse than a different route. It's not personal, it's business.

And lastly, I'd challenge you to shift your perspective: find your value not in what you have already accomplished for the business, but in what you can accomplish into the future. If you approach your senior management team with a forward-looking, value-oriented perspective, then you'll find a place of leadership and responsibility no matter which department you're in.

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  • 2
    Thank you for your comment, you provide a very useful perspective.
    – Esteb
    May 6 at 22:21
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    It's not impossible that your product has features that the other product team would like to incorporate into theirs. You may be a key resource. May 6 at 22:26
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    My dad worked as an electrical engineer planning large scale construction projects, like power plants. Meaning that he would spend weeks to write up proposals for a ~20% chance of winning the contract since they had 4 competitors on average, but he still had to give every proposal, every client 100%. The bottom line of wisdom passed down was "Get comfortable knowing around 80% of the work you do is for dust bin." So if you can salvage even some 10-20% of your project or work in features, you're good. I'm an electrical engineer.
    – Mookuh
    May 7 at 6:28
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    @Mookuh my dad was a nuclear missile launch officer, so I'm very thankful he had to throw away 100% of his work May 9 at 2:18
  • I just want to add/highlight that OP has managed to create a more robust product this year. This last year experience is very important to successful contribute on the future of the product (with OP's code or other's) both from technical standpoint and product value.
    – llrs
    May 10 at 9:01
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Did you get paid during the time you were working on this product? If so, your work was rewarded according to what you agreed to. You have no complaint here!

That being said, it can be a bit demoralizing to see your shiny new product pushed aside but that's the nature of the business.

Was your time spent all wasted in spite of being paid? Hardly! I am sure you learned a LOT through that process and now you can apply that learning to improve this merged-in product.

Company events like mergers and acquisitions are always a time of flux and change. But those who embrace them and find the many opportunities that they present will almost always prosper over the long term.

In other words, stop worrying about your past work and focus on making a rewarding spot for yourself in the new organization.

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  • My concerns are that my role would change more to a technical support to the customers in the local area with little influence in the roadmap of the product.
    – Esteb
    May 7 at 12:55
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Move forward with a positive attitude or move on

This is extremely common in software, and you might as well get used to it now. You only spent one year on the old product, so count yourelf lucky. There are people who spend 20 years on a product that gets eliminated and immediately sunsetted. They learn to move on or they quit.

Here's what you don't want to be: the person who is bent out of shape their product got axed and spends the next 15 years complaining about how "their" product was better.

It isn't personal, it's just business. In this case, use your domain knowledge about the old product to do well with the new.

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It happens. Happened to me multiple times. I closed down the projects cleanly, basically so the next guy could pick it up if they ever changed their mind. Then went in to the next project. I got paid for the work, that’s it.

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All options are open

It is human to mourne about the cancelation of your project, but it does not help you at all. You have valuable experience and you should make that experience working for you.

Treat all options as equivalent and

Try and get a meaningfull role in the competing project

Approuch them in a positive way: say what you appreciete about their sollution. Ask why and how questions find out where they still strugle, then suggest sollutions. If some of your suggestions are appreciated, you are on track for a meaningfull future.

Find another position within the company

When a company is reorganizing, there are always opportunities (for instance because some people don't appreciate the new situation and leave). Ofthen there is an internal job fair. Go for it.

Find another company

You have a credible explanation why you quit your current employer. You are in an excelent position to convince a new employer.

Do all this in paralel

Then see what works best and choose without regrets.

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Nothing is cast into stone until you go ahead with your own presentation/plans. There's no guarantee and things could go either way - your way or the other. But you owe it to yourself (and your team/subordinates) to at least give it your best shot.

What you don't want is to then have regret and say one day "I wished I did that pitch even though it might not change the outcome". My philosophy in life is "anything worth doing is worth doing well" and we often cannot look past the decisions we make. Even if it doesn't turn out the way you expect, just like it was mentioned by someone - maybe a feature in the product could get incorporated and you're a key person? Maybe they saw how passionate you were and invited you to be a technical lead for another project, or something else?

The truth is, there's no way of knowing until you give it a try and more importantly - give it your best shot. You will at least have a great story to tell to your next job interview if this one doesn't turn out well!

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You are right to be concerned and need an immediate clarification meeting with management. From the hints in your question I'd say that somebody doesn't want your expertise and track record spoiling their pet project. It may be that management don't know you're already doing what the new boys are, but it's very strange that nobody has asked for your input in an evaluation.

If the management plan is to switch to development 'B' with you as a gopher, then that's a prima facie demotion from architect and lead developer. The chances of anything like that working out are slim as you will be using your experience and knowledge to say to the 'B' "there's a much better way to do this" and "That won't cover such-and-such case". ie. A culture clash.

However, you're getting a drip feed of possibly contaminated information so first thing is clarity. It looks like you need to get your system 'A' selling points sorted out and ready to take on 'B'. You might have to express this in simple sound-bytes for vague managers.

A sneaky gambit if it's already been decided is (before you bail) to say "And will you be taking the good bits from both and merging the projects?" Who objects to such a 'sensible' suggestion tells you a lot about them.

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