Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Will The Real Clint Eastwood Please Report For Duty?

I vaguely remember, in a previous life, working on a project that was in full swing.  I remember getting up at 6 and checking my e-mail and responding to various things, trying to get ready for the day's meetings.  I remember taking a break around 7:30 for breakfast (a 30-minute program, Tivo'd down to about 20 minutes).  I remember working straight through until 8 or 8:30. 
I was working on one project.  I was working from home, generally in my pajamas.  I was able to get a healthy lunch (assuming that I had procured healthy food) by putting the phone down for a moment or by stretching my headset over to the refrigerator.  And the bright side was that at 8:30 I was home.  I could cast off the trappings of my workday (so basically the headset and the computer) and walk over to the sofa and my work was done.
Lately, though, I've found myself working on two projects.  One of them is mine, meaning that I was assigned to it and I am, by and large, responsible for the stuff associated with it.  This project is not a good project--it's not especially well-managed (not necessarily a reflection on the project manager, but on the project management conventions of the organization) and its product is, perhaps, not the best possible solution to the problem.  It kicks up a fair amount of dust, but I could just about ride through it, imagining myself to be, say, Clint Eastwood in an old spaghetti Western, making the best of a bad situation.
The other project is Not Mine.  And I'm working on it because it is "too big to fail."  The perception of the project, whether it's true or not, is that it's a big mess.  I honestly think it's not going so badly, but the "deliverables" that our organization thinks make a project healthy are all missing, so all the managers who fancy themselves doctors think the patient is sick or dying.  This causes immense stress on the project team, all of whom are overworked and underpaid, and now doing their jobs under a spotlight that would make anyone sweat.  My best case scenario in this project is to be Robert DiNiro in Brazil.  I can swoop in and keep the wolves away from the door with my skilled use of bureaucratic language, but it's largely an existential protest against the injustice of our situation rather than a long-term solution.
The problem is that I'm not sure one person can be Clint Eastwood AND Robert DiNiro.  I'm pretty sure that's going to cause some kind of multiple personality disorder.  Either project would be a large workload, but at the moment the two of them together are eating me alive.  Which is another movie entirely....  Hostel, maybe.

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