Mr Red and Mr Blue and the Other Boot

Mr RedI’ve already blogged about the fact that I feel distinctly uneasy working without a Plan B.

Management texts define a Project as a complex one-off activity and a Process as a repeatable one. I have put it to Mr Red, who’s my boss, that no-one chez nous has previously done the work we’re are doing, that there are lots of places where it can go wrong and that therefore it qualifies as a Project. I won’t bore you with the scope of the thing, but I do tend to win “my roll-out is bigger than your roll-out” discussions with former colleagues at the Geek Reunion Ball.

Mr BlueAnyway, it isn’t being managed as a Project and we don’t have any contingency plans if things go wrong except “work out what to do at the time”. We are a bloody minded bunch so it’s an approach that will work, but it takes so much effort to make it up as I go along. I’d much rather implement a plan I made earlier. Maybe I just watched too much Blue Peter as a child.

I have been predicting doom and gloom like the dour Scottish one from Dad’s Army, and reminding my team that people always over-promise and under-deliver, and being told on a daily basis “Aphra, you are so cynical”. Well, cynical or not, I’m also right. Ner.

We are in fact only one week behind where I expected to be, which is a month behind where the rest of the team expected to be, all because other people over-promised and under-delivered and we believed them instead of tracking their status on a daily basis. I may be cynical, but Mr Red told me not to be anal, and now look at us.

All of that as it may be, I have spent the last 8 weeks waiting for Something to Go Wrong. Now that it has, I feel an enormous sense of relief. We have no choice now but to deal with reality. No more floating around in pretty-fluffy-cuckoo-land where people do what they say they do without being checked up on and software tests perfect the first time through.

I am thinking of having a motivational poster printed up saying:

People lie.


Software fails.


Deal with it.

3 responses to “Mr Red and Mr Blue and the Other Boot

  1. I would buy that poster!

    This has been a reality for me in the past, strangely in a situation where project work was transitioning into process work. When it eventually went wrong, it went wrong with knobs on. Blood on the table wrong. Three subsequent attempts at recovery wrong. Fingers pointed everywhere except at self wrong. CEOs jumping up and down wrong. True personalities revealed wrong. Stated company ethos not worth the paper its written on wrong. Careers ended by slow, painful strangulation wrong.

  2. Cooo, you’re starting to sound a tad like Gregory House 😉

  3. Shrink, I could BE Gregory House, if I was male, a medic and fictional. 😀

    Oooh, ouch, woodpigeon. That’s wrong.

    We are picking up the pieces after a Great Big Rollout. A Rollout so Big and Great that the highest heid yins have said “There Shalt Never Be A Great Big Rollout Like that Great Big Rollout ever again. Ever. Never. No Never.” The watchwords now are “currrency” and “evolutionary change”. (Actually, it’s more like intelligent design, but there are limits to how much of a smart-arse I’ll risk being at work).

    The thing was designed with no thought at all for support issues in BAU, and here we are supporting it.

    It’s not as bad as it could be, fortunately those of us who were bleating in the wilderness this time last year were listened to, and we do have the Words of the High Heid Yins to refer to when we start throwing our toys out of our prams.

    Some people seem to think that planning is for wimps. Call me a wimp but I can’t be doing with all this testosterone and adrenaline and drama when things go wrong.

    “Failing to plan is planning to fail”, and all that.

    It’s not as bad as it sounds, but we don’t have contingency plans in place, we are having to work out what to do on the fly. 😦

    Thanks both for reading and commenting.


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