I remember a
distant time when I used Mondays for planning purposes. In that
golden age I spent the morning working on my plans, visited with my
various colleagues, and got ahead of the situation. Sometimes we
even took some moments for levity before things went spiraling out of
Ah, those halcyon
days of youth, all of four weeks ago.
Today got consumed
not with useful work but with sitting in meetings watching yet
another train wreck play out. People got amped up with heroics this
weekend; always a bad way to start out the beginning of the
work week. I got drawn into it as well. I didn’t do well, honestly,
since the first I heard of it involved taking my best analyst and
sitting him doing a procedure job best suited to a temporary
technical resource. The conversations went downhill from there.
I spent the time
between meetings working on a variety of little process pieces which
fell though the cracks over the last few months. Some of it I’m
happy with. Some of it will need reworking tomorrow or the next day
as time allows. Quite a bit of it I didn’t get a chance to explore
to any depth at all, but getting it moving seems more important than
getting it all right at the moment.
The lines between
activity, transformation, and work always seem a bit unclear. They
become even more unclear as life, politics, and that annoying thing
called relationship management meander into the puzzle. Once you
start layering on the complexities caused by technical
troubleshooting, the reinforcement of bad or maladaptive behaviors by
organizational foolishness, and the desire to maintain the status quo
it becomes almost impossible to sort out which is what.
All that said,
though, the blurry terms I allude to above do help me to organize my
day. Each category provides me with a bucket into which to
initially lump the activity headed towards my team.
example, includes all those actions we undertake for the sole purpose
of creating the appearance of motion. A classic example, one I’m
sure most people can relate to, is the overly detailed work breakdown
structure masquerading as a project plan. Yes, its possible to
create incredibly complicated WBSs for nearly any activity. However,
people rarely follow such detailed plans. Instead they build a
simple critical path, execute it, then move on with their lives. The
act of creating the plan is activity; it may be activity in response
to a corporate mandate but its still time spent creating an illusion
of motion rather than doing something.
transformation involves seemingly fruitless time spent working with
others to get them involved, interested in, and eventually a part of
a completely different way of working. Transformation, or at least
the work of it, involves as much transformation of yourself as it
does others. You have to let go of your conception of what should be
and instead become it…a strange way of saying, I suppose, that you
have to believe in and create the environment you want to live in.
Your own actions, though, cannot change the world. You have to get
others to believe as well, a particularly thankless task which often
ends in disaster.
Finally we get to
work, one of my favorite subjects. It always seems so simple at
first. You do X and get Y result. Unfortunately most tasks in the
IT world don’t fall into that simple pattern. In fact, if you spend
a little time looking at it, you can find five work patterns (or
queues), making the measurement of work particularly
problematic. Or just down right annoying, when you want to
distinguish say reactive work from activity undertaken to meet an
assigned but not meaningful deadline.
managed to help the team organize for the week before getting dragged
down into chaos and activity. We have the usual list of tasks on our
plate, none of them save the world important but some valuable
enough to mean something. If I’ve done my job the team will be up to
it’s eyebrows in work before Tuesday morning comes; if not we’ll get
bogged down again in activity.
More later. I
have some thoughts on transformation to chase down.