I have a very highly developed sense of denial
There’s nothing quite like the parental relationship
I can remember, so vividly, a few embarrassing moments of my childhood caused by my parents. Embarrassing for me, hilarious for them. I think we all have these memories. It’s just part of life that, when you’re a teen at least, parents just know exactly how to rub you the wrong way. Before puberty, parents can still get away with stuff, but then you hit that dreaded point and everything changes. I could be so charming when I wanted something, but boy could the situation change if I didn’t get my way.
Urgh, you’re so, like… lame
In your teens, the urge is to get as far away from your parents as possible. So when the opportunity to head overseas on an exchange came up - to quite possibly the furthest point I could possibly go - I was over the moon. The chance to learn a new language, experience a new culture and visit Europe were all bonuses. They really should have pitched it as a parent escape. That’s not to say I didn’t have parental influence while I was away: they provided very nicely a stream of cash to fund my lavish lifestyle. Thank you very much, keep it coming! Parents, as it turns out, have their uses.
Upon return to New Zealand, I chose to study at a University away from my home town. It wasn’t so much the distance for the relocation, as the choice of degree. Nonetheless, to be four and a half hours from “home” was also reassuring to know. I could get up to all sorts of shennaigans without mum or dad ever coming knocking. Brilliant.
A turn of the tide
Now in my thirties - and I’m pretty sure well clear of puberty - something has
changed. My relationship with my parents has always been good, but now it’s something quite different. If you’d said to me in my twenties that I would be living on the same property as my parents in the near future, I probably would have scoffed and dismissed it as a mad suggestion. Now that I’m here though, I can’t imagine it any other way.
Before you go thinking I’m like Howard from The Big Bang Theory, I live on the same property, but in my own house. I do have my own space, as do my parents. I think that’s the trick - all adults need their own space. Seeing mum and dad every day though is just awesome. Many nights during the week I’ll head over to their house, raid the pantry (hangover from puberty), perhaps share dinner together, have a glass of wine or cider, share a few funny stories, solve one of dad’s computer problems and relax watching the TV. We’ve fallen into a bit of a routine, but I often come home at the end of night having had a great laugh with my folks - this is something I treasure. I often wonder what it would be like if my sister could also be with us.
It’s a generational thing
My grandmother was also living on the same property up until a few months ago, but with age and ailment, things were getting complex. Although she now lives in a home, she’s still very much on my mind. It seems though, there is a natural point when it becomes too difficult to live together with family, but it seems that can come much later in life. She is 84… that’s a pretty good run considering she lived with us for over 10 years!
But I really neeeeeeed a car
In New Zealand, I think we’re culturally inclined to want our independence and separation from parents at a young age. It’s our right, for example, to get a driver’s licence at just 15 years old. Or at least that was the case up until recently. We all get cars very young so that we can, at the very least, go out late at night and drive our parents crazy. Again, I was indulged with a car that meant I could drive to school and be out and about. I wonder, though, how much richer our family relationships could be?
Europe knows best
Take the Europeans. It’s common knowledge how close Italian families are. Grandmothers rule the roost, men live at home well into their forties, men kiss each other the cheeks (and they’re not gay). Most European nations, though, value and cherish family relationships. There are frequent gatherings and large extended families. Arguments are had, but at the end of the day family is family. You get over your issues. Here in NZ, though, we all have this enormous personal space that you dare not invade. Keep your distance, pal, you’re in my zone. I’ve seen this apply to families too.
Having experienced both european and kiwi culture, I can say I prefer the first. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but when you lose it you really do miss it. We’ve just sent a young man off to Denmark on exchange and I’m sure he’s going to be a bit shocked by how close families are. Well, perhaps that’s not fair, but it was something that all of us exchange students noticed way back in the nineties.
Let’s just say, I really value having a close relationship with parents. When I hear about others and their estrangement from their families, I feel a sense of sadness and pity for them. I try not to judge, because all families are different and some have much bigger challenges than others. But, at the end of the day, there really is no connection quite like that of mum and dad.
The trick to progress is getting into Action
As a procrastinator, there’s always a compelling reason to avoid whatever you’re currently supposed to be doing. Often that means I have a very clean house but many unfinished assignments and work. It’s great for my house guests, but not so great for my professional reputation.
Are we there yet?
Over the years I have worked with a number of project managers, all of whom seem to be very good at seeing things through. They plan, plan, plan and then nag the hell out of you to ensure things get completed on time. As much of a pain as they can be, they are absolutely necessary for people like me who often lose enthusiasm once the initial buzz of a new project wears off.
I’m a more casual kind of guy
I’m absolutely not the type of person who enjoys project management. Gantt charts are so formal and restrictive, not to mention difficult to do in the first place. No-one ever really knows up front everything that needs to be done on a project. Half way through a project you might realise that you’ve overlooked some seriously big portions of work or totally underestimated what’s required. There goes your plan. I guess, though, having some plan up front helps to shape the work you’re going to complete and is a great way to get everything you know at the time down on paper.
People don’t like change, … damnit.
When Agile software development came along I was thrilled. Finally, here was a way of thinking that seemed to rise above all the challenges of your stock-standard waterfall approach. Executives and management seem to love the waterfall approach because there are nice tight deadlines and people can be held accountable. Despite many examples - some very costly - I still see this line of thinking in project management. I had a hell of a time convincing management that Agile was the way to go, and even after it was adopted there was still a passive-aggressive resistance to full implementation. It was like they wanted it to fail.
Old school management thinking should just die already
After six months or so, things began to settle down and all-of-a-sudden we were starting to see results. It was so frustrating for me to face such resistance to something that was so obviously better than what we were already doing. The resistance we felt was that good old “I don’t like change” argument, or worse “I want control”. Isn’t it funny how much people want control over others. Managers wanting to restrict and manage you as if you were a machine. Ludicrous.
Please don’t make me
Now that I’m away from software development, I’m left with a gap in my personal toolkit for managing my productivity and tasks. Discussions with my peers often come back to using something like Microsoft Project. You could go on a project management course. Er, I don’t think so. I’d rather shoot myself than use that app or go through the formality of project management training. I think my biggest reason for not wanting to use these tools is that they are profoundly complex. To get the best out of them you really have to master a convoluted methodology, and then expect others (who haven’t done the training) to understand. The minute you have to start explaining to someone how to interpret or understand something that you’ve done, I would say you’ve failed. It should be simple enough to serve everyone’s needs without being dumb. Traditional project management is far too complex, so I’m not even considering it.
Yin and yang
Good project management involves two key things: a tool to help you identify and track work items, and a simple methodology that can be easily understood and implemented by all users. Both are essential if you really want effective project management. Agile achieves this. But what about non-software project management?
A good start
There are many schools of thoughts. David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a world renowned methodology for getting into action. He leverages your inbox and calendar as they key tools of the trade. I tried this for a while, but if you’re like me and use Microsoft Outlook at work, you probably get so many emails throughout the day that you lose track of things. I tried using Outlook tasks, but found these fell well short when it came to simplicity. They also fell functionally short - they simply can’t do what I need them to.
Jackpot! The answer lies here….
Making Ideas Happen (Scott Belsky) is the answer to this creative’s nightmare. His book describes the challenges that creatives face when trying to manage multiple projects, be they work or personal. His proposal that everything we do in life is essentially a project is convincing. The book is very easy to read and provides a new and exciting project management methodology called Action Method. Importantly, it comes along with a suite of tools including iOS and Android apps, an online version and numerous printed materials all designed to fully support the methodology.
The online version of the tool is free to use (with some limitations) and the mobile tools offer unlimited use. The premium online edition offers some benefits for a very reasonable price. I’ve managed to rally some support in our organisation for trialling this methodology and the toolset. It’s so easy to implement and the focus is on action, action, action. If you’re struggling with task and project management, then give this a shot. It’s simplicity is superb!
Robert Murdoch, you’re a hypocrite!
This’ll be short and sweet this morning. I realise that I haven’t written anything decent for a while, and I plan to remedy that. But for now, this has been festering in my mind since I read it in the news yesterday. Apparently Mr Murdoch not only begun tweeting, he has decided that Google is the king of piracy. For goodness sakes…. get your hands off Google, you moron! Google is good, Murdoch bad.
Along with the other rantings of an old man…
Understand more than all allege! Google great company doing many exciting things. Only one complaint, and it’s important.
Followed quickly by…
Just been to google search for mission impossible. Wow, several sites offering free links. I rest my case.
You idiot. It wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to discover that most of those links take you into the world wide labyrith. Finding a real link can be pretty challenging, and if you’re dumb enough to use file sharing tools, then you’re just as likely to pick up a virus and destroy all your information anyway. I steer clear of this stuff for that very reason. But no…. he sees a link and assumes that its a valid download.
When can I watch new release film at home?
When will the movie world recognise that people are quite comfortable watching movies at home? I have a 50” plasma television and in-wall surround speakers and a leather couch. I’m quite happy at home, thank you very much. Until they shift their thinking and start to release straight to home devices, of course there will be piracy. If they’d had the foresight to embrace rather than lament the online world, then perhaps right now they’d be sitting pretty instead of backing stupid bills like SOPA or PIPA! Apple showed true leadership when they steered the music community towards digital downloads. And they proved a point - people will pay if the quality is right.
Why Rupert Murdoch is an antique (apart from the fact he’s almost literally antique)
There were a few other tweets (twits, in this case) he’s posted acknowledging that he doesn’t understand. Oh boo hoo. Poor old man, doesn’t get it. Then why the hell is he tweeting!? I’m cynical in the extreme when it comes to this man.
- He’s lambasted digital media for a long time. Why is he now embracing something like Twitter? My parents are 20 years younger than this old kodger and they hardly get Facebook let alone Twitter. And they’re not dummies either: both have started and run very successful businesses (no media empire, sure), but I wouldn’t expect them to be fully up to speed with anything in the digital world.
- When it comes to business practice, I don’t think Rupert Murdoch has a leg to stand on when it comes to commenting on others. The News of the World was probably just the tip of the iceberg.
- The shift to digital is undeniable. His attempt at digital was poorly executed with MySpace. Epic fail. He’s got no knowledge or people capable or respected enough to have a valid opinion in this world. Give up already, admit defeat, do the world a favour.
- He has no integrity. None. I’m sorry, but that clip of him before the commission in England where he opened with “This is the most humble day of my life” was nothing short of absurd. If you have to say it, you twit, then it’s anything BUT humble.
Rant done. Grrrrrr. Now for my morning coffee… (maybe a diazepam to chill me out).
People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don’t realise how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world.
I love humanity; but I hate people.