Jim Lyons Observations: Thoughts on Sabbaticals

by Jim Lyons | 1/29/15

I remember when I first started working in the tech industry nearly 35 years ago on the manufacturer side (I had been involved as a user before that). This was the early 1980’s, and I was intrigued by programs at Apple and Intel that offered their employees sabbaticals after a prescribed number (usually seven) years of service, giving them some unstructured time away to clear the head and explore new thoughts.

 I liked this idea of time to refresh and redirect, but my employer at the time, Hewlett-Packard, though known for being quite progressive with respect to employee programs (they invented the Beer Bust after all), never saw it fit to offer sabbaticals.

And maybe that was a good thing? I knew of a friend from one of the aforementioned firms who took his sabbatical and then came back to find he didn't have a job. This was part of the deal – internal job-hunting might well be part of the return process at the sabbatical’s end. (There was clearly some organizational refreshing accomplished by the sabbatical programs accomplished, too.)

Also, I got curious about a ministerial sabbatical program when I was on my church board of directors. (Beyond sabbaticals for clergy, of course they may be most well known in academia.) Just finding out where that word and concept came from was fascinating and in retrospect should have been somewhat obvious. Of course the idea of the “resting on the seventh day” is prominent in the beginning of the book of Genesis, and a more applied approach was crop rotation, known among ancient agriculturists to be a good idea — letting the land “rest” after a number of years of planting resulted in a higher yield and more prosperous times for all in the long run.

I worked continuously for HP from 1981 through 2005, and never had a real break other than typical vacation times. And when starting a second career after that, I followed some good advice to not let the “trail get cold.” While many colleagues would build in a three, six or even 12 month “cooling off period” before starting something new, it made sense to me that all my contacts and knowledge would be the freshest immediately after leaving corporate life, so in addition to getting some immediate consulting work, my first Jim Lyons Observations monthly musings appeared before the end of 2005, and I have been cranking them out ever since.

But now I'm taking a break. This will be my last one for a while. I finally decided it is time for that sabbatical, 34 years working in the tech industry. I'll continue to teach but that's far from a full-time endeavor (and not intended to be) and a couple of weeks in, so far I'm having a blast! I'm not worrying so much, if at all, about printer industry issues, but I am enjoying becoming engaged in some broader tech subjects and even community projects.

As luck would have it, I was asked by a colleague to attend a local city library planning meeting she was facilitating. And guess what? 3D printing came up as a vital part of the “maker space” concept under the purview of many in the meeting, including the library. So who knows? Maybe, as the saying goes, the apple won’t fall too far from the tree.

But for now, I thank my many readers over the years, and ask that you not forget about Jim Lyons Observations, even if we go dark for a bit. I made it from 2005 to 2015 putting out monthly posts, and intend to be back renewed, refreshed, and with some newfound interests! 

 Jim Lyons has been writing, analyzing and blogging about industry developments since 2006. In his monthly Observations column he comments on business and marketing developments in the printing and imaging industry, combining many years of experience with an ever-enthusiastic eye on the future. In the Jim Lyons Observations column on The Imaging Channel, highlights from that blog appear monthly. Lyons is also a faculty member at the University of Phoenix, teaching marketing and economics at its school of business, and is a regular contributor to both The Imaging Channel and Workflow. Follow him on Twitter @jflyons and read more of Jim Lyons Observations at http://www.jimlyonsobservations.com/.