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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

In between days

I hope you had a great Christmas.

I have had a really good break.  Today, I am technically working, though with my client being on holiday and with only a skeleton staff, and my account team ditto, it has been really slow.  I have managed to complete all that I can, and even spent some time on a case I am developing to gain a Consultancy stripe.  It is tedious stuff, but by slowing working through each section, I am nearly there (the tool tells me I am 93% completed), though the final section I have to complete are two examples of how I have used the Method, and that is with a capital M, and that is something that right now I am struggling to reach, even with a vivid imagination.  Hence why I am writing this - a bit of light relief.

So, Christmas went well, although my mum was pretty ill and did not attend the day.  She became ill the day after she came back from Spain, and yet again we have discussed, not in her company obviously, but behind her back, why they bother coming back.  They nearly always get ill, on three of the last five years their journey home has been troubled by bad weather, one year requiring them to fly to Birmingham and get the train down south from there.  Anyhow, we took her round a plate of her favourite bits, and she has survived sufficiently to get back to Spain, to spend new year in Benidorm.  I know, it paints a picture, but they tell me it is lovely out of season.  They have definitely not seen the TV show.

We are not sure what we are doing for New Year, there being too much illness around, but to be honest I set my sights ridiculously low, so that it is not hard to at least meet, if not exceed them.

Brad and Angelina and their associated Maggots came down for the A&E yearly "between Christmas and New Year family drinks day", as it is catchingly called.  During their visit, Brad and LO gave me some good life advice.

Having spent the last two years as the "Year of the Career", and failing in any noticeable way to move my career on, when I discussed the need for this to really really be my Year of the Career, both Brad and LO gently and kindly suggested that if I keep on doing what I am doing, then I will keep on getting what I had gotten, so maybe I should pick something else. 

So, without wanting to declare, of have, any daft and unattainable New Year Resolutions, something of which I am with Bad Man that they are mostly pointless, I do want to do something about my health, both eating well, drinking less and doing more exercise.  Standard stuff I know.

Anyway, what I am planning to do is have 2015 as the Year of Me.  The theory, or plan, will be to concentrate on me, and letting things around me career-wise just happen.  That is not to say that I will be doing nothing, but rather that I will focus and concentrate on getting me good, and doing the needful on any career aspects. i.e. if I do something different, then I may achieve something different.

As with every experiment I have declared on this blog, I will of course keep you updated with any meaningful progress, whether good or bad.

I hope you have had a good break, and enjoy your New Year. 

Speak again next year.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas and New Year to you all.

I hope Santa brings you all you want.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Not so well

I was off work sick on Friday, having succumbed heavily to another cold or virus or whatever the hell it was, this one with a very heavy cough and tight chest, as I think it is described.  Quick trip to the quacks and I am now on a course of antibiotics, which should hopefully clear everything up.

Not to sound too much of a wuss, but I am just really run down at the moment.  Sleeping badly and previously having taken around four weeks to shake off the previous illness, only to get something else straight afterwards.

The cure is, or course, rest, and Friday's sick day definitely helped on that front.  Just need to finish the course of antibiotics, and keep well fed and watered, and sleep as much as possible, and I will be back to normal in no time, at least in time for Christmas.

Today I am back in the work saddle trying to close down all those threads that need closing down.  Our big proposal is one of those, although both me and my colleague are fed up with the changes, and are struggling to nail the latest scope change.  We were give the revised baselines on Thursday, or so we thought, and so were madly re-working the considerable number of elements that hang off the baseline decision, only to find the client had been a bit slapdash with his emails (I am beginning to sense he is not a man for detail, and while that means we need to get him to write everything down, even that strategy is not succeeding just at the moment), having sent us a note saying it was 500 plus a further 100, only to correct that when I wrote back just to confirm this new baseline, that he meant 350 plus a further 100.  Now, dear reader, some of you may be IT literate, and some less so, but I do strongly believe that anyone can see the difference between 600 and 450.  Indeed, even my nine year old son, aka Maggot 2, would be able to identify the differences in those two pictures.

So, Monday morning, we are now re-working again, or re-re-working, the various documents that hang off the baseline decision.

I think maybe you can see why we are losing interest in the whole thing.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Is it something I said?

My work life has been dominated, for the last month or so at level 7, and for the last week at level 11, by a specific proposal we are putting to our client.  This proposal has an element of Cloud in it, so we are ticking all the right boxes with respect to being "on message" with our strategy.  We learnt last Friday, however, that there were some boxes we were not ticking.  It turns out that there is a requirement for every Cloud solution to go through a Cloud Review Board call.  Talk about learning on the job.  This translated in to hasty arrangements made to book a slot, and some time spent completing a checklist and a deck* of slides.  This on top of a mid-week "oh blast" moment when I realised I had been focussing on the commercial end of the deal, and ignoring the technical end, and was up at 4am writing a detailed solution document.  I do not believe that anyone is looking forward to Christmas more than me.

Anyway, all's well that ends well.  All reviews passed with mostly flying colours**, proposal ready for presentation, client meeting booked.  What could possibly go wrong.

Before I continue, I should just add that this deal is a big deal for us on the account, and for Starfleet in general, since our signings are thin this quarter, and this represents a healthy chunk of the quarterly target.  The fact that it is also Cloud shaped is the icing on the cake.  What does this all mean?  Well, it means that everyone and their dog, and their master, and their master's dog, are interested in the progress of the deal, and eagerly awaiting the chink-chink sound of a signing and money in the door, or at least on the spreadsheet.

Back to the story.  We presented to the client, and passed all the tests set us from the previous meeting.  Both sides talked of the need to sign this year, and as we were starting to get that warm glow that we are in the home straight, a couple of curved  balls*** were casually tossed our way, that they wanted two elements of scope included in the proposal, both of which were identified and agreed as OUT OF SCOPE TWO MONTHS AGO.

This requires some thinking, some re-engineering the solution and cost elements, and ultimately going back to the drawing board to, if not the start, at least half way.  And this, you will not be surprised to hear, means that we will need a fair chunk of time to understand the art of the possible, entering again new ground for which we will need to look all over Starfleet for help, advice or similar solutions to our problems.

The chance of signing this year is therefore all but zero.  There is a wisdom in our industry that the way to handle Starfleet is to delay a decision until the end of the month, quarter or year, play the game of "who blinks first", and most of the time, Starfleet will drop their trousers, and their price, just to secure the deal.  What is interesting in this case is that, firstly, we are not totally sure whether our client is playing this game, but if they are, then secondly, our leader is very clear that we will not be doing that.  He is more interested in getting it right than getting it signed this year, for which my colleague and I are very grateful, since it gives us a chance to craft something of quality, not something of speed.

I will let you know how it goes.

On the home front, not much going on this week, but away to Brad and Angelina's for the weekend, to celebrate Angelina's birthday.  Should be fun, and good to see everyone.

* not sure if its origin is American, but we all seem to talk about slide decks, or sometimes slide packs.  Assuredly, our organisation are dabbling with death by Powerpoint to dangerous levels

** One bit that was nice was that as we were finishing our Cloud presentation, I got a ping from an old chum

*** presumably a baseball analogy, so another Americanism

Monday, 8 December 2014

And . . . relaxed

Bit busy on Friday.  Proposal that we have nearly completed, super urgent coz we want it signed this year, was partly derailed Friday as we learnt that, since it had Cloud content, it needed to be reviewed and approved for released by the Cloud Know-all and Do-gooder camp.

This was unexpected, and as welcome as a . . . *

We have a review at 12pm today.  This may be a box ticked, or it may be a major curved ball.  Time will tell.  Then we have a local review at 2pm.  Again, this may be either a curved ball or a boxed ticked.

What I am doing between now and Wednesday lunchtime, when we have a date booked to take our client through the approved proposal, is wholly dependent on how these two reviews go. 

We had a great weekend.  Saturday was fairly routine.  I did manage to fix both the bikes, primarily Maggot 2's bike which has brake problems, and also managed to fixed the DVD player, with a fix found online, to basically remove the touch screen connection.  Seems to be holding up so far.  This meant we were full cinema experience for Strictly Saturday night, where we were joined by LO's parents and grand-mother, for what was a very noisy evening.

On Sunday, we went to London for a day's shopping, with our focal point being Liberty of London, subject of a documentary on TV.  We even managed to get our photo taken with one of the stars of the show - Omar, the assistant in the women's section who has just been offered a chance to design clothes for the store.  He was lovely, and Maggot 2, after initially running away from the embarrassment of it all, did finally join the photo.  Made his day, and he is taking in to school the photo for his show and tell session today.

This week, I may be clearing my desks for a move to another section of the team, or I may not, depending on priority calls and escalations and decisions made up in the ether.

Time will tell.

* insert favourite "fart in a space suit**" type saying here
** Thanks to Billy Connolly for that one

Monday, 1 December 2014

I didn't see that coming

Had a call from my boss, and the essence was "the pipeline of work for your team is still smaller than other teams, so we need to take another body from you". 

This will reduce the team to 2 UK bods and 1 Polish person.  I was asked whose removal would cause least impact to the account, and I suggested mine. 

Just before I suggested that, the thought formed in my head and my immediate internal conversation went along the lines of "might be amusing to suggest this in jest", however by the time the words were out, it did not seem such a bad idea.  Many people have said that redundancy was the best thing that ever happened to them, and while this is not redundancy as such, it is sort of redundancy from my team, and maybe it is not such a mad thought that being moved to somewhere else, albeit that somewhere else is severely malfunctional, might be just the kick up the jacksy I need.

I think it is time to book another session with my mentor to talk discuss options.