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And no one sings me lullabyes
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Riding the hill down

What comes as a surprise to few people, the House of Representatives couldn't get off their fat asses and get a deal done. So I'm stuck with two metaphors and one life lesson.

I'm an old style Cleveland Browns fan, but the new Browns seem to have brought the playing style of the old Browns back to life. When I was a younger man, the Browns' nickname was the "Kardiac Kids." It was a combination of some of the players names and the fact that they would wait to bring the A-game until the two minute warning. For a while this worked spectacularly. Those were very exciting games. Seriously, on the edge of your seat, yelling at the TV, blood pressure inducing, cathartic experiences. Right up until Red Right 88. If you don't know, that's the play that killed our dreams, which was then smashed during The Drive. But what it's come down to today is the Browns come on very strong in the first half, only to lose a lot of ground in the second half, but then rally near the end to either win or lose the game narrowly. Most often these past few years those games have gone into the "loss" category. So this is the lesson to be learned from this: bring your A-game the whole damn time. Don't wait until the last minute to pull the ball across the line, or make a field goal, to win the game by 1 or 2. Eventually that strategy fails. And then it keeps on failing.

My day job is very concerned with deadlines, many of which are outside my own control and driven by our client. I've been involved on many big projects, all of which have had deadline extensions. But here's the thing that drives me crazy with team work dynamics. For me, okay, the customer has given us more time, I don't want to take it. By the time the extension comes down we've already aligned all the resources (sure, it's a burden on most of them), all the cats have been wrangled, and our ducks are marching in formation. Then suddenly we get two more weeks (or extra months) and instead of saying, "okay, maybe we could use an extra day or two, but let's keep the heat on since we have all the resources dedicated, let's take the ball over the line. With the extra time we can polish it if needed." Instead what normally happens is the team goes their merry way and the work gets put on the shelf until it's crunch time again. Which then makes it twice as hard to gather all the team back together. And I don't think the end product is ever as good as it could have been. But here's the thing, with the extension we should have no problem meeting it. After all, we were on track to make the first deadline (which would have been a struggle, but still). Instead we've come very, very close to missing deadlines (and in fact have been saved by some further extensions of the deadlines). So if we could have just kept going as we were to meet the first deadline, we could have saved ourselves all the heartache and stress. Believe me, studying ahead this past semester saved my ass more than once (ie. I'm trying not to wait until the last minute). I keep this thought because eventually you run out of extensions, especially if you start expecting them.

When you're on a roller coaster, the roughest ride is in the last car. It's also the fasted ride. The front car you get the horrendous sights of going down the hill and seeing things coming at you, but you don't reach full speed until that last car goes over the top of the hill. Having ridden many roller coasters before the advent of all these new safety harnesses I can tell you the most fun you can have is to be able to raise your arms and shout like an idiot as you go over the hill. As you raise up out of the seat, it's tempting to grab the bar in front of you. Resist, keep your hands up and scream louder. Because once you're going down the hill, there's no getting off the coaster until it stops.

Wooohooooooo!

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