Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hippy Dippy

This was not the post I meant to write-I meant to write all about how I was settling in after 1 year of the Beverly experiment (official as of 10/1/10). But I don't have time to write that. I do have enough time to write this up-which I suppose does tell you something about how I'm settling after a year.

I got up at 6:30 this morning so that I could go meet my project team for my IT Project Management class in town. It was not ideal-we could only meet for 1.5 hours and the trip into town and back takes me 3 hours. But there are 5 of us this term and we badly needed to meet. This was the only period of time this week in which we could all be there so even though it was inconvenient and not at all enough time to discuss all we had to talk about into town I went. The team project for this class is to find an IT project that needs to be done and write up the project plan for whatever the project is-we don't have to implement it we just have to write up a document that we could hand to someone else who could then "make it so." The specifications are general enough so that if, for example, the project involves a web portal we don't need to design the portal-just list "Hire somebody to develop a portal" on the list of to-dos.

We were meeting so that the team member who had a project for us could explain what the project. He explained. We peppered him with questions. I would not call myself an experienced IT project manager. But I have done an implementation or two and the biggest project I've managed was the implementation of a document management system. And this project was a small scale DMS.

I love our DMS. It is my baby. I'm the person at our company who insisted that we needed one and as I mentioned above I oversaw it's roll out (and I have the scars to prove it!) Consequently, I think I can say I know something about the kind of project we were supposed to plan and what would make it work well. The list of requirements listed by the guy who's project this was set off several alarm bells in my head. Apparently I wasn't the only one.

After the meeting I spent about 1.5 hours on the phone with another team mate. We had worked together before and we were used to batting ideas back and forth over the phone. During this time we came up with several better project ideas than the one presented to us. It was a fascinating conversation. It would have bored most of you silly. During the discussion I mentioned how the Client (the people who want to implement this document management system) were being rather "Hippy Dippy" (without going into too much detail, they want the users to be able to file things however they please without imposing standards on them.) Normally, the phrase "Hippy Dippy" applies to me-my politics are far left, my apartment is a mess, I write and hang out with creative-writer types of people, I don't wear makeup, I dress comfortably and have a fondness for the Beatles.

However, apparently my love of free-flowing creativity apparently stops at the door labeled IT Project Management (If not there then certainly at the door marked Document Management Implementation-I was calling our DMS the "File Nazi"-and I meant it as a compliment until I was told that perhaps that nomenclature might not go down well with some people.) When I'm in project manager mode I want my terms defined. I want my deliverables defined ("What is the business need?") I need people to do the math (not-me I'm terrible at it). I need a few definite principles to which I can put my back. There must be rules or I cannot give you anything. But just as important, these rules need to apply to not just me, but whoever is using the...whatever the project is that we have just implemented. IT project implementation does not just involve installing a shiny new piece of software on everyone's desktop-they have to use it. They have to use it according to the rules under which it was designed or it will have no value. Somebody has to explain this to them. And if they design work arounds to avoid using it then the project will fail and I will have no sympathy for them.

It's funny, I was recently thinking that I cannot be anything other than Cantabridgienne-whether I was at work or at play. I've just had an illustration of this being untrue-I am not a free thinking Hippy when I'm in IT Project mode. Furthermore, a friend of mine and I were just discussing our various selves (to simplify-sometimes you're on *your* turf and things that would bug you in other situations do not worry you at all)and although I thought about it, I couldn't quite define the differences between my various selves (Work Self, Sugar Mags Self, UMB Self etc.) So I was pleasantly surprised to have one aspect of my personality illustrated. It's not the same as knowing what is my home turf-the one area where I have the confidence to state my opinions and follow through on my own ideas without digesting my own stomach-but it's a start.

And it's more than I knew a year ago about myself.

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