Six seconds: a project managers tale
My day started out pretty nicely. The rain had finally gone on its merry way back to where it usually is this season. Hopefully those of you feeling the heat of the drought got some of it and are rejoicing as much as we are to get our sunshine and warmth back.
My first appointment of the day was a visit to my favorite pokeoligist Cecilia Hong, a most amazing acupuncturist on Napa Street. She's been helping me get rid of knots in my neck and shoulders that have accumulated from years of excessive shrugging.
Why all the shrugging you ask? Well working in the software and media business for well more than a decade, shrugging became a coping mechanism while watching managers attempt to achieve different results by following the same methods year after year. A shrug was often followed by a puzzled “Why am I here again?” expression on my face. If you suffer from shrug knots, go get poked.
My day continued like a dreamy project manager cliche - within scope, on-time and under-budget. My little puppy Sally was growing up so fast and today she was scheduled to get the last shot of her puppyhood. We arrived at Arroyo Veterinary Clinic and I had to work hard to keep Sally from pulling me inside. She just adores the folks at Arroyo.
Word to the wise, if your vet offers puppy socialization classes on-site, definitely take them up on that. Sally thinks Arroyo is a playground, happily greeting everyone there and once inside, she is so anxious to get to the back laboratory area that she stares at the door waiting for it to open. I'm not sure what cracked out treats Arroyo uses to achieve this level of exuberance, but I am thankful.
Ten minutes later, we're done. As I approach my car, fumbling for my keys, I realize I had left them inside the vet’s office. I think. Surely, I didn't lock them in the car? I tentatively peered through the windshield and over the steering wheel, I see my keys dangling in the ignition of my locked automobile.
This is what project managers refer to as a change of plans. I muttered some obscenities to myself and began to weigh my options. In the business world this is called an adjustment to plan and typically requires a trade-off. I could break the window but that would be expensive, extreme and just a little nutso. I could call AAA, which wouldn't cost me much except for the time I spend waiting for a truck. Being the resourceful project manager that I am, I decided to go the route that would cost me the least and take the least amount of time. It would require specific tools and a certain skill set.
The nice folks at Arroyo were kind enough to offer to play with Sally while I sought the right tools to solve my dilemma. So I set out, determined to get my project back on track. I walked next door to Plain Jane's Consignments and consulted with none other than Jane herself. After a brief, targeted and professional consultation, Jane handed me a wire coat hanger and some needle nosed pliers.
Back at the parking lot, a small crowd of Arroyo customers and Plain Jane Consignment customers gathered to watch the intricate process that was about to unfold. It took me about two minutes to bend the coat hanger into straight long wire with a 45-degree hook on the end. I inserted the wire between the glass and the molding and six seconds later, I popped the lock. Six seconds. I heard one lady exclaim, "You musta grown up in the city." I proudly retrieved my dog and returned the pliers I had borrowed, beaming from my real world MacGyver moment that put my day back in order and my project back on track. The world was safe again.
Whenever a project goes off track, it is always good practice to review what went wrong and how best to avoid similar obstacles in the future. So I sat down with my project team, made up of my dog Sally and me, to perform a retrospective of the day. It was enlightening and I think Sally and I both grew from the experience. We learned that if you suffer, go get poked. If you get a puppy, high quality treats work wonders. We also learned that distractions can lead to mistakes and that “Mommy Dearest” was wrong - wire hangers have a place. We learned that not everything goes as planned and that adaptation is vital to success. Lastly I learned that if the software business dries up and the photography venture doesn't pan out as expected, I could be one heckuvah car thief. Six seconds! Booyah!