Hardest part…

Sitting here at the tire place with nothing but time on my hands reminds me how much I despise sitting around just waiting for things to happen. Aside from the unhappy series of events that led me here this morning, the last 36 hours have mostly been about waiting; waiting for people to do things they said they would do a week ago; waiting for hundreds of pages of handouts to churn out of the printer; and for the other shoe to inevitably drop.

Now that I have plenty of things that need done, I’m waiting again this morning and my schedule is purely in the hands of other people once again. Of course sitting here watching the torrential rain gives me a chance to think about the 20 cases of paper products sitting in the back of the truck and wonder just how well the “watertight” bedcover will actually perform. Any results less good than “wow its really dry back here” will tend to ruin my next six days.

I’ve still got a laundry list of things I need to get done today and the clock is running. The later in the morning it gets, the faster it seems to run. I suppose I’ll feel a bit better when I get the dogs to the kennel this afternoon. In the meantime I need to get serious about making everything else ready to be on the road for a while. In order to even get to that point, though, they need to get these damned tires on the truck and get me back up and moving. Sitting here while time’s wasting is making me crazy.

Event planner…

Work in the bureaucracy long enough and you’re bound to pick up tips and tricks that will help you navigate out there in the deep waters. If I can impart any small bit of advice at the moment is it this: If anyone ever talks about needing you as part of a team planning a conference, kick them in the junk. Repeatedly. And then run away. No good can come from this project. It is evil and accursed; very truly an unclean thing.

The schedule will never be final, speakers will drop out at the last minute, senior leaders will decide to change their entire theme two days before the thing starts, and others will just ignore your request to get their material in advance. You, of course, will get the blame for those things that go horribly wrong, while others will get the credit for what goes right. It’s the definition of a no-win situation where you will have responsibility for everything, but authority over nothing. Your default response to everything in life will be to sigh heavily and rub the bridge of your nose in a futile effort to make the headache go away.

If you do ever have the misfortune of finding yourself in this position, just get use to the fact that everything will go wrong. It’s like Murphy’s Law on steroids with a side order of PCP. And your reward for a job well done? You get an invitation back to do it all over again for the next conference.

*Sigh* Has anyone seen my ibuprofen? Or my Pepto? Or my coffee?

I wonder…

Sometimes I just have to stop and wonder why I’m putting as much emphasis as I do on certain things. Sure, I mean there’s the pride of a job well done and all, but I’m forced to wonder exactly what part of the universe would come crashing down on my head if I gave it a rest for a while.

For all my protestations of not giving a &?$@, I tend to put a premium on getting things done right. Right now I would really love to put that away for just a while and take things as they come without feeling the overwhelming desire to fix them in some way. The rest of the world seems to get along ok with halfassing everything. Why shouldn’t I get the same opportunity? What’s the worst that could happen if I really did find a way to turn that switch off? I mean, hell, they can’t shoot me and no one has ever been drawn and quartered for being a slacker.

It’s a happy fantasy, but I know that’s not going to happen. It’s not the way I’m wired. And as much as I’d like to toss in the towel and say the hell with everything I’m not sure I’d even know how to do that and make it stick. So instead of doing what I want to do and making a big bloody stink, I’ll drift off to sleep, get up with the 4:30 alarm, and do it all over again tomorrow. I’ll screw on my best British stiff upper lip and keep it that way until I retire, hit that PowerBall jackpot, or someone finally drives my blood pressure into stroke territory.

Climate…

Note: Before you continue, please take a moment and review my “Disclaimer” page. Posts like this one are the reason the disclaimer has its own page.

Every organization, regardless of size, has a “climate.” Defined another way, climate is the general attitude that pervades the workplace. We’ve all worked for organizations that were working well at one point or another – where good things just seemed to happen. The opposite is also true: It’s the reverse-Midas effect… where everything you touch turns to shit. That’s a long way of saying that there are certain indicators of general organizational health… and that people are usually well-served by paying attention to those indicators.

Want to know how well your organization is really operating? Look to issues like the level of trust within the organization (i.e. can you rely on the guy sitting next to you to deliver in the clutch), how well the organization communicates vertically and horizontally, the level of job satisfaction of your personnel, and if you are able to retain good people once you have them. If you find you’re having problems in more than one of these areas, you guessed it… Your climate sucks.

If you want to actually put your house in order, the way to do that isn’t in simply pushing harder and expecting more… it’s in addressing the root cause of why these issues are cropping up in the first place. Sometimes it’s a structural problem that can be addressed with a shuffle of the org chart, other times it may be a manpower problem (and that doesn’t always mean needing more people). Sometimes it means finding the right people, losing the wrong ones, or some combination of the two. Other times it may mean giving your best performers the room they need to operate effectively. And as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes it means some people need to be reigned in more effectively. The solution can’t be to just ignore the issues or you’re going to break your people and break the organization.

I’ll not claim to be a great leader, as I tend to think most of what’s written about leadership is pure bunk. And while it will probably never be my strong point, I know enough about leadership and institutional dynamics to know when it isn’t being done right. All you have to do is watch how people act and listen to what they say when they think no one is listening. If you’re a leader, it will be eye opening… and if you’re a bad one, well, I guess it won’t make all that much difference anyway.

Lack of interest…

If you’ve been following along lately, you’ve probably noticed the drop off in posts. It’s not so much that there isn’t anything going on as it is that none of those things seems particularly blog-worthy. That’s saying something when the basic premise of the whole endeavor basically covers whatever random garbage pops into my head.

Mostly it’s been the daily stuff keeping me busy and none of that is too dramatic. Then there’s the work stuff… And that’s basically a never ending stream of drama. Most of that, though, will never make it here. Of course some of the next two weeks may prove to be material too good to pass up. There’s no telling until it happens, of course, but with so many people who make me crazy all in the same room epic ranting seems inevitable really.

Correction…

Not so very long ago I went on at length about the virtue of paper books and why I wouldn’t be in line to buy an e-reader. Funny thing about that pronouncement… I may have gotten it a bit wrong. It’s true that I didn’t get in line for an e-reader, but I did get in line for a device that comes with an e-reader… And I’m finding that I find it a disturbingly easy way to digest my fill of whatever books I happen to be interested in. I’ve been starting off slowly with some of the free public domain titles, but purchased my first $9.99 title last night and so far have enjoyed the flexibility of having a book on my iPad, iPhone or laptop. It’s a convenience at times when a paper book would prove to be inconvenient or simply an added and unnecessary weight.

One thing to understand is that I don’t think ebooks will ever fully replace the printed word for me. I still enjoy the way a book feels in my hands and the way they look on a shelf. It just might replace the collection of books that go on the road with me, though. The way I pack, anything to cut down on what ends up in my carry on is a good thing… And I think the Kindle app might just have won me over as a serious travel partner.

It’s not all sunshine and lollypops, of course. There is the issue of glare and poor visibility in direct sunlight that needs to be accounted for, but on balance I’m finding it to be a reasonable tradeoff between those inconveniences and easy of use/portability. The real test will be how it handles when it’s on the road… So I’ll have my verdict soon enough.

Posted from iPad.

A good sleep…

I’m starting to think that I would give up my right arm to get a really good night’s sleep. I honestly can’t remember when I had one last. I’m technically asleep, I suppose, but these last few weeks it has seemed anything but restful. If anything, I wake up more bleary eyed than the night before. Nothing has changed, my patterns are all the same as they were back in the glorious days when sleep was actually something to look forward to. If I’m going to be this tired all the time, I’d rather just stay awake. Then it would at least I could make the nights at least somewhat productive and I’d understand why I can barely keep my eyes open at three in the afternoon. All I’d really like at this point is one good night’s sleep… if only to keep me from getting more irritated at things in general than I am by default.

An Ambien or a few stiff drinks at bedtime would probably do the trick, but I don’t particularly want to go that route. Absent some other alternative, I suppose the next little while is going to be sleepy and grumpy. Five more and I’ll have a whole friggin’ set of dwarves.