Blog Slow! Project ahead

Tagged: Thoughts | Posted: Fri, Dec 21, 2007

Mulling over, with the help of some alcohol, the process of building websites.

It often seems that things that should be easy (or at least easier) are hard.

I have been around long enough to see enough projects come and go, with committees, steering groups - (A prize to anyone who can tell me What exactly a steering group is!), risk registers, away days, strategic plans and much more bureaucratic bullshit. To my mind, the point that makes my heart sink is the point when someone decides that something is important enough in the political climate of the prevailing organization to warrant the promotion from a loose collection of tasks and ideas, into a fully fledged project. Once that threshold has been crossed then the organization demands that the army of administrators and managers plan, meet and document the life out of passionate advocates for the original task.

I was struck recently when a friend relayed a phrase from her workplace “Do not mistake activity for productivity.” I’m sure we’ve all worked with people who tell all and sundry just how busy they are through all the hours of the day, but when one stops and thinks what has actually been produced or achieved the evaluation becomes pretty tricky.

I’ve been trying to work out why this happens. One idea is that there is a reluctance to put one’s head above the parapet in stating a professional opinion and then basing action upon that. It’s doubly difficult if one doesn’t have the knowledge about the subject to form a professional opinion. So a normal response is try to share the responsibility for making a decision under the camouflage of consultation and communication. These are two things that organizations often rate highly in theory, but wrestle with in practice.

Consultation is only as good as the questions you ask. If you ask rubbish questions, you’ll get rubbish answers. Similarly, I’d compare communication to going to the gym. In that same way that a full on all day session pumping iron and flogging oneself on a treadmill, might appear to do you good, it’ll never provide the benefit of regular, relaxed and steady effort.

If this is starting to ramble and sound vague, I think it’s because I’m trying to nail a particularly large jelly to the wall.