Monday, January 31, 2011

And so....

My project got delayed, which was simultaneously a bit of a bummer and a bit of a relief. I can say without doubt that from the point I had entered the project 2 months ago, we had really turned that ship around and rebuilt confidence in my team. I did what I was brought in to do: Keep everyone from quitting, and get us somehow across the finish line. I got us there.

But there are other teams than mine, and not all of them were QUITE as ready to go. Notably the hospital billing team, who were having a hard time proving that they were 100% sure whether all of the charges were ready to go to the right buckets. They weren't helped at all by a database tool they had built to track their testing progress that seemed to actually EAT their results on a regular basis. Every single status report included some variant on "well, this isn't QUITE right because the database..." This tool was supposed to help them, but became their downfall.

I'm not sure exactly WHEN we will go live: Option 1 is a mere 3 week delay, which again is fine for MY team, but may not be enough to solve the other issues. Option 2 is to go live the day I take the family to Disneyworld. I already told them: If that's the date you pick, I will be happy to get you right up to golive, then swoop in during week two with a fresh set of eyes. There is no version of that story in which I cancel our trip to Disney, FYI.

So it's all very exciting. I was at a gala this weekend and ran into a physician who was grateful for the delay: He is transferring to another hospital and this delay means he doesn't need to touch this new system before he's safely at a new site.

It's just work...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Driving tonight:

Isaac: Dad, I wish I had a disguise of you.

Me: A what?
Isaac: A disguise... OF YOU.

Me: So you could look like me?

Isaac: Yes. A full suit. For a four year old, like me.

Me: And what would you do, while you were disguised as me?

Isaac: (Long pause....) DANCE.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An odd day of work

Today I ran into one of my direct reports in the hall and was asking him some questions about his status... and he said "you know what's strange? I actually had a dream about you last night". Really? Not a bad one I hope!

"Well, you were trying to kill me". WHAT?

"I was in a hospital bed with my arm being prepped for surgery. You walked in with your green checked coat and a container of nitrous oxide. You were trying to force the gas down my throat, and it was because I hadn't finished my build for the project. I woke up and my arm was asleep which I suppose explains the arm surgery thing..."

I was speechless... then assured him that I had no plans to kill him, and that I was actually really happy with his team's progress.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another Dream

I was called in to help investigate a prison break: It's England, and there was a special prison built for WW2 War Criminals. Being civilized, they decided to let them live out normal lives in isolation, so it's a walled village surrounded by another town. Inside the village there are houses and streets and shops. Very drab and gray, but a typical village.

The criminals are all old German men, and one has escaped. As I'm walking through the facility, I see that the way of keeping them contained was by having elaborite rules for everything. For instance, the roads are covered with white arrows, numbers, and line markers, and there are various signs around pertaining to each of the road markings. On one corner is a nine-sided stop sign with the number 7 in the middle.

Next to it is an engraved stone tablet outlining the meaning of the different stop sign codes. The 9 sided sign is a 'multi stop', and the number indicates what you're expected to do there. In this case, a 7 Stop means you are expected to slow and veer left.

It occurs to me that there aren't really any GATES in this prison, and someone could likely walk or drive right out, if it were allowed, but the rules and signs make it impossible for you to actually GET out by following the signs.

Clearly what has happened is that one of the prisoners has decided to break the rules.

And I woke up.

Tough Guy

Isaac is in a pretty defiant place right now, and he's been harumphing a lot, shoving, and talking back. I also think I saw him shake down a kid for lunch money, and I've noticed a few unaccounted for miles on my car and cigarette butts in the ashtray. Today at swim lessons, he was ignoring the teacher a few times and got time outs sitting on the edge of the pool. I told him this was NOT a good thing, and he said "I LIKE it on the side of the pool. I WANT to be there".

Later, when Pamela told him he needed better "listening ears" because he had got into trouble at the pool, he crossed his arms and demanded to know "WHO TOLD YOU ABOUT THAT?"

That said, he's still pretty cute, and there is still nice stuff happening.

I have a new daughter, by the way: We have been working on relaxation exercises for bed and also a little Melatonin. It makes bedtime a lot less stressful, and it comes around to the next day with her being in a much better mood in general. She told us "Every morning I sit down next to Jenny on the bus and say 'today's going to be a good day', and you know what? Every day IS a good day!". The wonders of a good night of rest and a dad home in the house.

After last weekend's cousin invasion, we're still sort of recovering and we are feeling things SLOWLY come back under our control. There is still a big bin of unmatched socks which I am so scared of that I purchased two new packages of socks at Target today just so I could defer the pile.

Work is work. On Friday I ran out for some takeout asian food, and ran into my Dad at the shop, so I had them dump the food out of the carton and onto a plate and joined him for lunch. It was an impromptu moment and I was so happy to have been able to grab it. This would not have happened in Cleveland.

Being home has many perks, not least evening cuddles with Pamela watching shows (which I understand people DO these days - watch shows). We're almost caught up to realtime on Glee, which is a wildly inconsistent mess, but a lot of fun nonetheless. I'm not the biggest fan of Rachel, but would watch a show with Brittney any day. She's just such a delightfully loopy character... and man she can dance.

And that's the update.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The strangest thing of the year

In the past year, I have picked up a skill: Letting people go who work for me. I have had to fire people from projects in Cleveland and now my Minneapolis gig too. I've had people quit. And I've had to learn that it's not a failure on my part when someone is not right for the job and needs to go.

In Cleveland, I had to fire 3 people from the team who were simply not performing. It was very hard for me, given my desire to see the best in everyone. But when a person takes an emergency leave because his wife has taken ill, and then shows pictures in the office of the fishing vacation he took from that weekend, then there is a problem.

I knew coming into this gig in Minneapolis that there were problems. Within 3 weeks I had taken two leads and "helped them" demote themselves: This was good - they were FTEs who were promoted past their comfort levels and were going home crying every day from stress. I helped them find roles on the team that were more to their speed and brought in leaders.

On another team, I had a very bad contractor lead, and I had to can him straight out: I worked with him for 4 weeks, coaching him, but he never rose the the challenge, and when he left me holding the bag during a crisis, I decided "I'm doing his dang job already, I might as well stop paying for two of us to do it". So he's gone.

I had one consultant who couldn't take the pace of the project and requested to be removed, so she's out next week. Another saw her pull that off, and has asked the same of her company. One is good, one not so much, so it's hard, but it's not personal. These people were run hard and beaten down before I got in there. The fact I've only had 2 go so far is actually pretty good.

Then i had some new contractors start: Nice enough people, but after 2 weeks, we can tell they don't know what they need to know, so they're out too.

I'm like Eric the Red. And we're 45 days from golive. But I am still happy. And I have learned this skill. It's not one I knew I needed, but I'm happy to have it.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Year!

In this new year, I am looking forward to watching Bella and Isaac grow, with me home with them every night. I will read Harry Potter 4 to Bella, and probably number 5 too. I'm looking forward to being a good partner to Pamela, and having lots of evenings out together to re-kindle our friendship. I'm looking forward to a fun family vacation at Disney this spring, paid for in full in advance by the spoils of my days in Cleveland.

I'm looking forward to being a better friend to those who I haven't had a lot of time to see in my year(s) on the road. This includes seeing more movies with the neighborhood guys, having more whiskey tastings with the Avengers, more lunches with my former work buddies, and more dinners all around.

I'm looking forward to a successful rollout on my current project, and more work beyond that. I'm looking forward to new sales and revenue with my company, who I still love even though they sent me to Cleveland... because they also got me OUT of Cleveland.

I'm looking forward to getting back into language learning, and possibly visiting Japan later this year. I'm looking forward to using my new iMac in the production of music, and finally getting that album of retro-80's songs put together with Caesar and Paul.

I'm looking forward to buying an iPad2 when it comes out. It's just going to happen, ok?

Looking back, 2010 was not an easy year. It was the straw that broke the camel's back, and we need to do some back surgery this year. But I think we're going to come through this just fine. I'm looking forward to 2011. I really am.

(And of course, I'm looking forward to more blog updates too!)