For the majority of my team, English is their second language. I sometimes find myself talking on conference calls to a wall of silence. I'm fairly certain that most of that is "CPU time" - i.e. time they spend parsing the last sentence I said, rather than time they're spending feeling blank or opinionless.
I don't know if they read this blog - if you do, guys, hello! Welcome to my thoughts.
Today we had a hard truth to face. The plan wasn't working. In this case, there's only really one thing you can do. You have to replan. You can't up the pressure or pretend that time will come from some magic place. You have to take a blank sheet and plan forwards from where you are now to some sort of end result. In some cases, that may mean changing the way that you plan to ensure some sort of success.
So, this afternoon had a few uncertainties to it, and the team were left wondering how I could possibly be saying positive things about the first week of the two weeks if the plan was failing. They were left to wonder whether I was being genuine when I was saying it was good news that we had discovered this. I say they were left to wonder, perhaps they didn't notice. Perhaps they don't have suspicious minds. Surely, when the team leader says "I'm glad you told me this bad news" it should mean that he's not glad, but he's just putting a false front on to pretend?
In fact, I am glad we had the discussion. I think adversity is something which can bind people together. I didn't particularly care if any person were more or less a part of the plan drifting off, since the person I know sits in the centre of the plan is me - the person who wrote a plan. If I make a plan that doesn't work, then I have to do something to fix it. It's the same as if I wrote a program that didn't work, I should be expected to fix it.
So, in the tail half of the day, with some thinking on my feet, I came up with an alternative plan, with the help of the people around me. The aims are unchanged, some of the details are still the same, but some things have shuffled to make room. Time will tell.
After pushing the planning for my team to its resting position, I then set about the failing project that is my home (or to quote a person masquerading as "Sergeant Pepper" in a prank phone call I once received - my "abode of residence"). I had decided to do three mini tasks tonight.
- Put up a floating shelf in the kitchen
- Attach a coat hook to the bathroom door
- Levitate the TV and DVD player in my room so that the cupboad behind them could be opened fully
Next, while my dinner was heating in the microwave, I whacked the coat hook up. If I couldn't do that, then I should sell my tools on ebay and become a hermit.
Then I had the distinct pleasure of putting up an LCD bracket for my TV and a flat bracket for the DVD player. I'll be honest, it was a lot of bloody hard work. If this had been a project plan, I should have tackled these tasks first because they were the hardest and highest risk. However, I did them after the easy stuff because I needed to get going first with some easy stuff and because I knew that I'd not want to do more after the TV things and I'd also not be able to stop it part way through.
I finished the job. My TV is now up in the air, the DVD player sits below it. There's a little shelf on which my broadband kit sits, and there's now floor space where once there wasn't. The top cupboard, behind the TV has now been rehinged so that it folds rather then opens, thus avoiding smashing into the TV. It doesn't shut properly, but it never did, this time it's on my terms.
I'm bloody knackered.