Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project in Trouble

One just came from a meeting where the business project leader said the project may be in trouble if it does not go live soon. Despite the fact that we are so close to going live. Sometimes one feels all the pressure is in one’s shoulders. But the issue is not in the computer system but in other areas that have increased in costs. For instance, additional cost in the print media and the new plastic envelopes needed for the reports. Previously these costs were shouldered by the contractor. Now it’s going to be paid by us. Clearly these are not issues on the information system side but more in the business planning and estimating because these are not areas related to the software. But one cannot help but feel troubled because one is the new guy around. There is always a feeling that one does not belong yet.

Increasing one’s paranoia is the vicious comments and feedback one reads in a CNN article on Japan tragedy. The writer wrote a beautiful and inspiring piece on the calmness and civility of the Japanese people in the face of multiple disasters. The comments started to be racist with all sorts of discussions on sources of power, nations, and race and so on. One can go crazy listening to the vitriol that comes out of people. One is not surprised at the anger and back biting that one hears in the politics of this country. In fact, one can become paranoid as these words can come out of anyone. Perhaps someone who works with you or sits beside you and whom one would think does not have thoughts of bigotry and hatred. The surrounding environment is enough to make you tense.

Problems at work and other experiences are a microcosm of the society at large. Reading about this heated exchange makes one wonder that the whole point of the tragedy is missed. Instead it becomes a useless debate on war crimes, racial prejudice and other historic episodes. One guesses that this is what democracy is all about. The freedom to spew garbage out of one’s mouth like saying things like the project is in trouble even if there’s no serious basis on saying these thing. I guess one should find out the context of his words. Perhaps he is saying that more testing is needed. One came out of the meeting thinking that one should shut down the project. If the context is that more testing is needed, then that would provide a better understanding of the situation. Hence, it’s more of concern that the project will fail if started early without adequate testing.

But one does not understand what is needed. The business leader should provide guidance if this option is taken. Suddenly one sees that everyone is actually protecting their ass. No one really cares except me; that‘s an old accusation one got long ago. Being a sentimental and na├»ve fool. I guess that was why the boss man did not like about me despite one’s good nature, modesty aside.  The person with the hero mentality. There is no place for someone with that sensibility in a cut-throat materialistic society. Perhaps the good honorable people left are the Japanese who suffer with dignity and civility despite the hardships they endure. I guess that’s the secret alluded to by Hemingway – to live with grace under pressure; living life stoically despite the inhumanity of it all.

Perhaps that’s a lesson to everyone. The tragedy forces us to live with calmness, dignity and civility despite the odds against you. Being in a troubled project is not the end of the world. One should move on and persevere despite the many challenges. Hence, accepting the torrent of stupid words from other folks is the normal challenge in a democracy. One should not lose one’s head and keep calm. This is a lesson that one never learns; often becoming reactive and shooting from the hip. It’s the Latin hot bloodedness that one inherits from the Spanish. Transcending this urge is also like getting out of the usual groove or mental habits.

The existing Japan tragedy makes one think of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’. ‘The Road’ is a terrifying view of how a society can go to hell with every man for himself. Seeing the tragedies such as the New Orleans flooding bring out the inhumanity of man. But it does not have to end this way. The Japanese attitude and manners is the noblest solution to any tragedy.  One cannot imagine a father and his son walking in a wasteland, trying to survive and get out of the way of bad people who like to eat you. It was a dismal story that seemed to end in a good note as the orphaned child was rescued by the good guys. The father was right and mother’s useless death was a waste. She did not have faith on her fellow man. Reading the vitriolic comments from the CNN article and the careless words of the business project leader is enough to lose one’s faith. But the Japanese provide an inspiration to a world gone mad.

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