Saturday, April 16, 2011

Production Jitters

Is there anything more to do? One asks himself as the project goes live next week. It’s a question that haunts me as one is eventually responsible if things go wrong. But what is there to do? The application has been tested since last year. One estimates that the application has been tested for nearly 9 to 10 months. In one form or the other, the numerous components have gone through some form of testing. These cover the two main programs plus the ‘pipes’ that link it together. More over, two days of live production trials were conducted in the site via pilot runs. So one wonders if there is anything left to do. As always, the mistake is thinking that everything rests upon one’s shoulders. It’s the ego centric feeling of being the hero and, thereby, responsible for everything.

Perhaps it’s the last minute jitters that affect everyone. It’s a feeling that makes one think if one has tested everything, if all angles have been checked and so on. Murphy’s Law will strike as the business leader said. But it’s the ‘unknown unknowns’ that one cannot be prepared for. As Donald Rumsfeld said during the Iraq invasion, ‘stuff happens’ so one cannot really anticipate all events. One can only test those new features and areas which have changed. The quandary is that one is in a position that can be called to task. But in the back of one’s mind is a possible alibi. The alibi to end all alibis – that one is new at the job! One’s been here for only 2 years and one cannot expect to lead such a country specific project. In fact, one comes from Asia - a region as far away as one could imagine in terms of distance and culture.

Unfortunately, this is the game. The situation has come about that defense ramparts are manned by obsolete assumptions, guarded by the weakest tools in the shed. So one needs to outsource the battle to mercenaries who don’t care about one’s welfare but in how much money can be squeezed. But the mercenaries are nice people – good, law abiding, God fearing people who speak good English. It’s a game of chicken between retiring principals, mercenaries and crusading Asians. The other day, a checklist was made to go over all the things to be delivered. The list of tasks is significant once everything is listed in black and white. It was an exercise that allowed the leaders to gain perspective and get back control. The Asian anomaly has sputtered and reached an exhausted state. There’s nothing left so the carpetbaggers come to take charge.

Nevertheless, it was the true goal. To lead when appropriate and recede back into the shadows when needed – like a guerilla tactic when engaging the enemy. It’s like the term ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ a reference to the subtle tactics encouraged in Asian classics like Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’. One cannot help but recall these relics of Eastern strategy. One always needs a frame work for the politicking and behind the scenes maneuvering that one has to master to get things done. In fact, one has brought the project to a level where there’s no choice but for the real principals to step up. The current role is to retreat into the background and allow others to take charge. Everyone has a stake – they have ‘skin in the game’. In this sport, tactics range from Asian strategizing to Southern diplomacy.

Yesterday I missed the lecture I wanted to attend in the library. It was about civil rights. But the schedule changed and I spent the time browsing DVDs and books. I ended up borrowing 2 books on civil rights and 10 DVDs on various subjects. The library seminars are part of the campaign to have people reading Sue Monk Kidd’s ‘The Secret Life of Bees.’  I watched the movie and listened to her lecture. I hope to listen to her book after I finish ‘No Country for Old Men’.  Sue Monk Kidd talked at length about the Southern Gothic Novel. As explained to her by an eastern book critic, the Southern Novel contains distinct elements. I don’t remember all but I seem to recall the following: civil war, slavery, Christian religion, conflict among the characters especially one’s own kin and civil rights. It’s an interesting perspective in understanding the South.

This weekend is the Toastmaster conference. I felt a bit weak this morning and had doubts on attending. I drank an energizer drink, aspirin, multi-vitamins, Ibuprofen, Gatorade, ascorbic acid and Omega 3 supplements. In the afternoon I felt a little better but still have loads to do: follow up the remaining things to be done, perform more tests, and go to the library to get my reserved books, swim in the pool, attend the table topics contest and, finally, watch a movie in the evening. I think that doing a lot of stuff will keep my mind from churning and keep me from having anxiety. I just hope that one’s body can take it after sleeping less these past days. I guess I still have valid reasons to keep this schedule. Otherwise, going home and resting would seem like a retiring lifestyle. Perhaps that’s best after all.

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