A new Pandora station

It has been one of those weeks. It really has. My Pandora account now has a Pink Floyd station. That happened this week. I ended up moving away from listening to my go to Warren Zevon station this week. The musical stylings of Pink Floyd better matched my mood this week.

During a flight from Tampa to Denver, I ended up reading part of a Warren Zevon biography via the Amazon Kindle application. The writing was disjointed and otherwise intolerable. However, the content was very interesting. The author adopted an odd delivery mechanism where interviews with a number of people were shared in succession related to the same subject. It was interesting to read account after account, but it made the narrative disjointed. The reader was being held responsible to thread the needle. Maybe that was the intended effect. The content was very engaging.

Inflight to Tampa

The last few days have been more of a blur than anything else. I locked in on a couple of projects and time passed without my permission. It is amazing what locking in with a single minded purpose does to your days. Completing a major objective always generates a certain degree of excitement. Sometimes you have time to celebrate. Sometimes you do not. Those are the times where a flood of emotions from one thing end up comingled with the next thing. That situation is always interesting. Not every project is positive and uplifting. It is always hard to transition between the two.

Managing multiple projects at the same time is about switching gears. I have had to learn to put things down and pick them up. You cannot approach things with a blank slate. You have to be up to speed on every project and be able to seamlessly move between them. Solid project plans and documentation tend to make that easier. Sometimes that level of detail is easier to achieve than others.

John Paul loved the snow that dropped on Denver this weekend. I was a little worried that my flight to Tampa might be cancelled this week. John Paul was worried about sledding and snowmen. It is funny how different perspectives can be on the same snowstorm. I’m pretty sure at some point in the next few days a sled will be purchased. It seems to be the right move. We had tried to buy a sled at Target, but the seasonal display had changed to spring décor.

I spent all morning reading articles about how the snowstorm was causing Denver flights to be cancelled. The roads were pretty much clear by the time that it was time to drive to the airport. Denver maintenance crews seem to know how to manage inclement weather.

My last Southwest Airlines flight from Tampa to Denver had a terrible internet connection. It was 4 hours of unexpected isolation. It was frustrating. I ended up watching the Big Bang Theory, the last episode of Two and a Half Men, and some Odd Couple reboot. In terms of productivity, the flight was a terrible experience. I could not sleep, but I was so worn down that I could not bring myself to write.

That gap translated to a few days of lost focus. I worked on projects, but none of them were publishable online. That happens from time to time. I have been working diligently to produce a few words of publishable prose each day. 2015 has been a pretty good year for writing so far. I plan to get back on track this week.

I was surprised that Southwest Airlines does not offer live access to ABC or ESPN during the flight. The only reason I noticed was during an attempt to watch the Oscar’s. I had thought it would be fun to watch NPH. That plan did not work.

During my flight I watched a high school student reproduce math homework by hand on paper based on some photos on a smartphone. Cheating at schoolwork is at an entirely different level. Digital photography was relatively new when I went to school. I could have imagined somebody recreating a math assignment from a photocopy. The idea of sharing homework in real time via photos on a smartphone is relatively new. It must be hard to teach high school these days. Every assignment I grade online runs through a plagiarism detection tool. That makes it harder to cheat. I wish that meant that it prevented cheating, but it still happens a couple times each quarter.

On Vendor Management

I was going to write down a few thoughts about vendor management this morning. The results of that endeavor were mixed. This writing endeavor may need to happen again in the form of an academic literature review…

Contracting services from another company seems to be happening more and more. Most modern companies work with a number of vendors. Some of those contracts are larger than others. Some of the relationships require a little more work than others. A few of the contracts are so large that a company might designate an employee to engage in vendor management. I have tried to put together a few thoughts on this subject for some time. Most of my attempts have ended up in a false start. They have ended up in the digital equivalent of a crumpled up piece of paper. I might as well have just pressed the delete key.

The hardest part about engaging in vendor management usually involves getting the right evidence to make solid evidence based decisions. Most of the relationships end up being all about the data and the outcomes. The process of how those data and outcomes becomes a secondary consideration. I really want to spend some time writing about vendor recovery and how to help turn the corner. That may be a topic that I commit some time to writing about toward the end of the month.

Right now my thoughts are a little fragmented. Yesterday wore me out. I ran my miles and am doing well physically, but emotionally I am tired. Yes — I’m still wearing the Fitbit Surge super fitness watch every day. Only a few people have asked about the watch throughout the last two weeks. Most of them thought it was a Samsung product. They wanted to know how I liked wearing a smartwatch. Throughout the last two weeks nobody has recognized the watch as a Fitbit product.

A digital dark age

Vint Cerf a Vice President at Google this week talked how a digital dark age could occur. It was an interesting argument. The argument sparked my interest in thinking about how permanent my weblog actually would be. I realized that even my most profound utterances could disappear. I backup the content, but most of it is not published within any lasting medium. I have thought about publishing each year in book format.

Gina Trapani was back on This Week in Google (TWIG) episode 287. It only took a couple of minutes to download the episode at the Denver International Airport. I’m hoping Gina does more episodes of TWIG. The broadcast combination of Gina and Jeff Jarvis just works.

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My hotel view

On Crisis Management

Crisis management has been at the forefront of my considerations. It has been something that I have been thinking about for several weeks…

Project managers are often brought in to manage various forms of crisis. Most project managers are not experts in risk management or crisis management. They get brought in based on availability. Building out a project plan to resolve a crisis might seem like a great idea. That plan has to fundamentally address the root cause of the problem or the plan will be predestined for failure. A crisis or two is bound to occur within the workplace. Some of them change the very nature of the business by putting it at risk and some of them are relatively harmless.

People sometimes try to turn an escalation into a full brown crisis. Some of those actions can be very self-serving. Escalations can be a very healthy part of how an organization handles business. Unfortunately, some work streams can become so inundated with escalations that the original method of doing business no longer works. That breakdown in process can have devastating effects on the employees and the quality of the work being done. Environments where everything is an escalation take on different types of cadences.

Working with an escalation manger is often a very interesting process. They typically work from the framework hear-listen-do (HLO). They have to figure out the problem. It could be a process that got very far off the tracks or a fundamentally broken part of an application.

Building out a plan to address a crisis presents an interesting challenge. The timeframes are usually compressed. Results are usually measured in interesting ways.

Here we go Tampa

A ton of nice restaurants are located in Tampa. A stranger during the flight to Tampa recommended a number of them including Shula’s, Charlie’s, and Bern’s. People tend to offer restaurant recommendations.  Some of them end up being fantastic and some of them are not.

Some of the new predictive analytic IVR response messages that tell you about your expected wait time are interesting. When they are wrong it can be highly frustrating. I spent 25 minutes waiting to speak with a travel specialist this weekend. It was an off-putting experience to keep hearing my expected wait time every 2 minutes for half an hour. I was probably more upset with amount of hold time vs. the technology.

Pancakes and a night at the DMNS

Today just might involve a family trip to the Denver Zoo. This week has been very Denver themed. That happens sometimes. It has been happening more and more. Yesterday, I picked up a couple tickets to the “Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids VIP Night” at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS).

Joni made some type of red velvet pancakes this morning. It seemed like a holiday themed gimmick. They were a decent change of pace vs. my usual organic whole wheat pancakes. I’m guessing red velvet pancakes will not be back in our household for about another year.

I have a serious block of time set aside on Sunday to work on a project. A truly serious block of time. On Sunday a 4 hour writing session may happen. That amount of sustained writing has not happened in a long time. Writing sessions like that just do not happen organically anymore. That amount of continuous work generally just does not happen. It does not happen on a schedule or from a spontaneous moment of inspiration. Life happens. Meetings, phone calls, and the pressure of competing challenges generally derail any attempt at a 4 hour writing session. Someday I may be able to devote an entire day to working on a project again. It feels like has been years since that has happened.