I've been the sole developer of a niche product for my company for nearly 6 years. I've grown quite attached to the project and I enjoy working on it. However, it was the decision of management to take the project out of my hands and move it under the wings of another team.

Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time letting go of the project. I'm sad to see it leave my hands since I've put so much time into it and enjoyed working on it, but it also allows me to work on new things. I've even caught myself being a bit hostile to the other team, which is poor on my part.

How can I convince myself to just let it go?

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    Sounds like it is time to start your next 6 year niche product :) – Nic Apr 3 '12 at 6:50
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    Maybe a symbolic 'handing over' would help you to anchor the 'letting go' to a fixed point in time. – Benjol Apr 3 '12 at 6:57
  • Without knowing more of the details, is it time to completely re-evaluate your career. Is this a good time/point to move onto something completely new. It would certainly force the "transition" and might be good for you too! – Paul Hadfield Apr 3 '12 at 7:29
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    This question would be a much better off on The Workplace, so you might want to help it into Beta - we are very close now. – Mark Booth Apr 3 '12 at 12:37

That's always a tough situation. You've worked hard on something, it's become a part of you, and something outside your control makes you move on. I've had to face the same challenge many times, it's an integral part of software development, perhaps moreso than other jobs because there's always the opportunity/temptation to keep improving software.

Chances are after six years you need to move on to improve yourself more than the project needs someone else to run it. Perhaps your management sees this about you more clearly than you can see yourself. It might be the case they're doing this because they feel it's in your best own interest. Hard to say all the way over here across the Intertubes.

Two pieces of philosophy to help you through the transition. Personally, I lean on the Serenity Prayer in times like this, it's just so appropriate:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Alternatively, Makers have a different spin that applies after six years of work. It's not meant for software, but:

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    Such a nice saying. Just a bit too large! But +1 for the good intent. – Kangkan Apr 3 '12 at 6:18

If the other team is capable of handling it well, then no worries. You can see the project doing well and you can be happy. Only if they screw it, will your hard work be in vein. So you can let go and move on.


Work life is like ladders. Every good step of yours will take it higher on the ladder. This means you will be away from the lower steps as you go up and will eventually have more number of steps below you. If you fall in love with one step, you won't be able to go up and might be someone stepping upward may have to step over you. This may hurt you or throw you out of the ladder.

The art of growing is to create something for the followers/team-members to take over (Effectively). This also need your effort to help grow your subordinates to be able to effectively take up your role, so that you can rise up and take a higher role. Do not have hard feeling about letting go a project. If you are a true leader, it will not go away, but you will be at an abstract level on top of this.

OOAD fits here too, it becomes abstract or generalization as you go up.

What you should focus is how effectively you can mentor the team that will take care of the project and ensuring that any future queries from them be resolved and also ensure that they need to bother you the least for specific things, but may take your advise on broader things.

This should make you feel stronger, in-control and efficient. This will also reflect your competence to the management in the most positive way.

Do not keep hard feeling or obsessions for the work you do and pass on. Lefe is all about achieving milestones. Sitting on a milestone does not take you further.


The best way to handle a situation like this is to make sure your attention is completely occupied by a new project. In other words, don't give yourself idle time to wonder how the new team is ruining your life's work. ;-)

If you find yourself having to communicate with the new team on fairly frequently (I imagine they might come to you with questions often) then you should set up a weekly meeting with them, and ask them to hold all questions until the meeting (except support emergencies, of course). That way they are encouraged to be self-sufficient and you aren't constantly required to think about the old project and what they are doing to your poor baby without your supervision. These meetings will probably get shorter and shorter until they won't have any questions for you, in which case you can take it off the calendar.

You've said you now have time to work on new things: get to work!

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