The Orkneys. Bright blue skies, empty beaches, white sand, clear water, temperatures in the 40s. Fahrenheit.
The Orkneys. Bright blue skies, empty beaches, white sand, clear water, temperatures in the 40s. Fahrenheit.
I am going on holiday, and may not blog for a couple of weeks.
This means that there will be a lot of comments in the meantime saying “interesting” and “nice” which link you through to Ford or Honda dealerships. Would you buy a used car from those sites? I’d much rather have comments offering you dodgy lesbian sex sites, but unfortunately one cannot choose one’s spammers.
I’m caught up in a doctrinal war at work.
In the red corner we have someone who is intensely delivery-focussed. (Forgive the jargon, it’s late and I don’t have the energy to translate). He likes to get in there, get stuck in, tackle the problem head on and just sort the fuckers out. He’s good at it. It’s a bull in a china-shop approach, but if what you want is empty shelves then it works.
In the blue corner we have someone who is equally focussed on delivering results. However his approach is much more measured. He plans. He analyses the problem and works out how much time and effort is needed to deal with it. He discusses the options with the people involved to get their agreement. He looks at the risks and takes the same approach of planning, analysis, discussion, and so on fractally, until the thing is done. This way not only are your shelves empty, but someone else did the heavy lifting and the china is neatly stacked and sorted too.
And then in the middle there’s me. I was born a Red girl (ever the Scarlet woman) but experience has shown me the benefits of the Way of Blue. As the RAF so elegantly put it, poor planning leads to piss-poor execution.
On Wednesday I realised that this is a doctrinal issue; a matter of world-view and belief, that there really is no point in putting Mr Blue’s arguments to Mr Red or indeed putting my own azure viewpoints myself. Mr Red simply won’t countenance the unnecessary over complexity of what I propose, any more than I can accept the risky, dangerous, scarletness of how he wants me to work.
This leaves me with a problem. Do I do my work the Red way, in the belief that I will fail and the knowledge that my name is written all over it? Or do I fight Mr Red tooth and nail, even though he is my boss and ultimately what he says goes? Or, rat-like, do I leave the ship?
When I typed that I brought myself up short. The answer seemed pretty obvious. Look for a nice turquoise or aquamarine project to work on and stop banging my head against a red brick wall. So what’s stopping me?
The problem is I really like Mr Red; he’s fun to work for. We work well together when we do work together (he’s not just red, he’s invisible). He’s funny, supportive, energetic, helpful, positive, determined, optimistic, enthusiastic. The perfect boss in very many ways. Except for this foolish adherence to the Way of Red. (Mr Blue on the other hand is a dour bugger, and can be hard work to work for, but that’s another story). If I did leave the ship and scuttle off somewhere else in the harbour then I’d miss out on a lot of good things, including trust, by not working for Mr Red.
Interestingly, one thing I said on Wednesday brought him up short completely. I said “I don’t think I can fly by the seat of my pants for 6 months; I don’t think I can handle the adreneline”. There was an audible crashing of mental gears (we were on the phone – perish the thought we’d actually meet to talk these things through) and then he said “then I’d have to look at restructuring the team”.
He did soften that immediately, but I do find it interesting that we are both aware that the that task and the tool might not be best suited to each other.
Sorry about the over-flow of metaphors. It’s been a colourful week.
Had a meeting with Mr Red today. He pointed out that we are both itching to be able to turn round to the other and say “I told you so”. So we’ve each put down a fiver on it which we’ll drink when we know who was right, probably on an appropriate Friday in September. It is going to be an interesting summer. He seemed quite confused that I don’t view work as an extreme sport.
“You’re so im-mat-chure” was the deepest insult my teenage peers could sling at anyone and we were desperate to grow up, so when did the tables get reversed?
I confused a colleague yesterday about something, and she checked my age with elegant delicacy. It turns out she thought I was a good decade younger than in fact I am. I cannot pretend I didn’t feel a little smug. Mind you, it probably has more to do with her own inexperience than anything else and of course the one advantage of superfluous avoirdupois is that excess oestrogen’s good for the skin. (I am sure the medics who read this will put me right if I’ve got that wrong).
But on the other hand, what about that extra decade of experience? Where did that go? I have learned so much, done so much, felt so much, grown so much in the last ten years. What about that?
Perhaps the reason she thinks I am so much younger than I am (and the reason I’ve pulled the one I’ve pulled) is that I can behave – well – rather immaturely. I flirt. I giggle. I swear like a trooper. (Make that a fucking trooper). I kick back. I tease my colleagues. I make jokes in meetings. I laugh. I don’t flick ink-pellets across the office though; there are limits, you understand.
Surely at some point all this becomes inappropriate, mutton behaving like lamb?
When does immaturity become a good thing? At what point is growing up bad?
I have an irritating ex-boss who runs marathons which more than proves we are members of entirely different species. She told me today about a mutual colleague who’d told his wife she was “becoming a very beautiful middle aged women”. Now, I like that as a compliment. I like it when people think I’m beautiful, I prefer the maturity of men who can appreciate a woman over 30 and maybe our mutual colleague just likes MILFs and is glad he’s married to one.
I was bemused by Marathon Woman’s horror and couldn’t get her to consider that “middle aged” might be a statement not a judgement. I find being middle aged rather useful, not to mention subversively powerful.
So how come being immature was the worst thing we could be when we were teenagers, and now it’s a compliment?
I was dodging puddles on my way home this evening when I smelt the the almost overpowering scent of elderflowers. This is not what they mean when they advertise “Fresh Bubbling Elderflower Water” is it?
Maybe I’ve just been lucky or maybe I’ve been unobservant, but I didn’t know that there were so many ways to feel anger.
I knew that there were many ways to feel happy; there’s the backwash of an endorphin rush generated by laughing for ages with friends about something very silly indeed; there is the animal feeling of well-being which comes from just enough of the right sort of exercise; there is the whooping feeling of joy when something longed-for actually happens, like good exam results. There is the feeling of emotions easing and relaxing when you spend a really enjoyable time doing nothing in the sunshine.
What I hadn’t known is that there are many ways to feel anger.
I had no idea there were so many ways to feel anger, but I guess the thesaurus should have warned me:
In the last six months? All of the above.
Here’s a silly thing I picked up from Charlotte. You type your web name into a search engine with the word “needs”. “Aphra needs” is nearly but not quite a googlewhack:
Aphra needs temporary work space. If you know of any, please call Claire Scheinbart at 737-5274
But somehow, I don’t think aphra needs our help.
Aphra needs to be the center, which makes sense in a decentered world.
There’s not much there, so I removed the double quotes and discover that it takes a lot to keep me in the style to which I have become accustomed:
APHRA depends in funding on international and regional organizations and …
Or perhaps we might want to plan a public function, such as a fund-raising event for Aphra which, we hear, needs a sizeable contribution
I rather like the sexiness of this one:
Read the poetry of Aphra Behn. … who, by all Means wou’d needs see her undress’d, for other Reasons more than a bare Compliment; which she perform’d with …
In reality, there’s not much I need right now, except a cup of tea and Patricia Hewitt too develop an illness too complex to be treated privately, preferably one which requires undignified and invasive treatment, painful investigations and where the national centre of excellence is a rather run-down teaching hospital. I want her illness to be really, really obscure too, so that the students all have too trail past and be asked too demonstrate that they understand the least savoury aspects of it in a public ward.
Just a thought.
You can take the Health Secretary out of Andersens, but you can’t take Andersens out of the Health Secretary.
From the Guardian:
Mr Straw denied reports that officials shredded documents on the troubled NHS IT programme to stop them becoming public.
Mr Heath protested at “the decision of the Office of Government Commerce to destroy the gateway review documents on the cost of ID cards and other misdirected and mismanaged IT schemes”.
Mr Straw said: “My understanding is that these gateway reviews have not been destroyed.”
He said the Freedom of Information Act provided for a “whole series of exemptions” allowing the release of documents to be refused to “ensure the proper functioning of government”.
(If my sarcasm assumes too much prior knowledge, forgive me. Ms Hewitt used to be Research Director for Accenture, the consulting firm spawned by Arther Andersens. Andersens is most famous for shredding tonnes of evidence when one of their largest clients, Enron, collapsed taking Andersens down with them.)
Every now and again something turns up in the search terms used to find this blog that is so succinct, so perfect, so concise that I’m flattered that it somehow summarises what I’ve said here.
Today someone found me using two words which really do sum it all up.
I had such fun yesterday.
I spent it on a training course which included elements of role-play. We were there to improve our facilitation skills and when I explained this to the one I explain these things to he said “oh, chairing meetings”. Mmmm. Not quite. Meetings are for sharing information among people who meet regularly. Workshops – in theory at least – produce “jointly-owned” “outputs” or “work-products”, the hole being greater than some of the parts an’ all that. Facilitation is more like being a referee – you aren’t part of the match but you make sure the match happens and that there is no kicking, no biting, no gouging. You also get to record the score. Not the best analogy I’ve ever written, but I like it for the suppressed violence it implies.
There were seven of us, and we took it in turns to facilitate various mini-workshops. One of my team-mates was there, and he was briefed to be incredibly talkative but know nothing at all. That was fun to facilitate. Of course it was fun. Yes.
Then I got to be the stroppy one, twice. First time round I had to make sure that my (rather irrelevant) point got made, talking over people if necessary. That was a very therapeutic experience. Second time round I didn’t care what happened so long as no-one gave me any more work to do. Being completely irresponsible and giving the nod to stuff that was clearly crap was pretty therapeutic as well.
I wish there were more days that I could go to work and be paid to behave really really badly.