Stranded by the tide, and the return of the water

Stranded by the tide
Stranded by the tide

…stranded by the tide…by federstern

Those of you who follow this blog regularly…yes, both of you….are well aware that I haven’t done much with the blog for a while.  In fact, I haven’t done anything in over two months.  Let’s just say, life’s been busy.

  • My older son, not yet 8 years old, has had an intestinal problem that, while temporary, is difficult and a lot to deal with.  He’s also had problems with kids and teachers at school socially, and self-esteem and confidence and just plain belief in himself have all taken massive hits.  We’re working through all of that and it sure isn’t easy.
  • My P.o.S. car died, necessitating finding a newer, cheap slightly less P.o.S. to run around in for a while, straining the family budgets.
  • I was enrolled in a Project Management Professional class, which concluded in November and I had the exam date set for December 9th
  • The usual Holiday time running around that will make anyone crazy.

So, there’s been a lot going on and, truth be told, I had lost a whole lot of enthusiasm with the blog.  It wasn’t scratching the itch anymore personally, and I was at something of a crossroads professionally – which was brought to a head by the PMP prep course.  You see, for all my affinity for Lean and Operational Excellence as the foundations for improving the workplace, and life, my experience with them has primarily been intellectual.  My professional day job resists Lean thinking significantly, and gives me little opportunity to practice.  The vast majority of my professional background is in project management and, as I contemplate career moves, I simply don’t have enough resume fodder to get where I want to go by using Lean as my primary driver.  This realization, more than anything else, led to my absence from the blogosphere for a while.

Truth be told, I had no idea where I was going with this thing, and although I didn’t want to give up, it seemed I had no ability to move from where I was.  I felt like a ship, stranded at low tide.

During this time, however, there were a number of positives occurring that began to set the stage for better things.  First and foremost, I was contacted by an acquaintance with an entrepreneurial opportunity.  While it is challenging to find the time to work on that endeavor, it’s remarkably interesting and, if the idea comes to fruition, it is potentially quite lucrative.  Being a part of concept development in the early phases of a start up endeavor is incredibly satisfying.  As a part of that opportunity, I created my own LLC.  I’m not exactly certain where that is going, (it will be some sort of speaking or writing of articles kind of thing), however, contemplating what I can do with it is also a great project.  Here’s my logo and banner:

 

I’m not a wizard with the graphics just yet, so cut me some slack as I work those things out.  Nonetheless, I think it’s going somewhere.  I have a URL reserved for it and will be building out that site in the weeks/months ahead.

 

By the way, I did pass the PMP exam and I am now a certified Project Management Professional (I’ll have to update my profile).  That designation appears to be opening doors already as I’ve had a couple good conversations with people in companies I am curious about already.  What I do, and when I do it, are still up in the air – but the future is looking brighter.  Additionally, just this past weekend, I was presented with a speaking opportunity out of the blue, which should give me a much-needed opportunity to help launch the LLC.

What all this reminds me of is that we very often don’t know where we’re going, or even how we got where we are, and when we hit these low times it tends to feel as if we’re going to be stuck there forever.  What is most important to remember when things get this way, however, is that sometimes the best thing we can possible do for ourselves is to simply endure.  Stay in the game, last as long as it takes, don’t back down and don’t get ahead.  Just simply stand there against the things that attempt to pull you apart and prove out that you can last longer than the troubles that surround you.  When you give up, you start down the long spiral ofnever feeling fulfilled.  When you endure, you keep yourself prepared for better things.

Because, eventually, the water will return.

The state of the blog (and the blogger). Or, how did I get here & what am I going to do now?!

ON THE PATH TO THE TRUTH

On the path to truth by Chryssalis on deviantart.com

March is the 2 year anniversary of this blog.  It has had a lot of ups and downs, gone through some periods where I did very few updates and considered killing the site altogether, but I am proud to say that I’m still here.  To be honest, I couldn’t image NOT writing this blog.  It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve undertaken and continues to be a terrific learning experience as well.

I started the blog about 1 year after my introduction to Lean via a GBMP training class, almost 1/2 finished with an MBA program and, of course, looking to the future and using the blog as a way to grow my network.  Two years later, I’ve finished the MBA and have had opportunities to interact with people from many different professions, in a way that is down-to-Earth and honest.

Looking back, a lot of those initial posts aren’t great, but they also aren’t nearly as bad as I thought they were, either.  I can point to a few distinct phases in the writings I did over the past couple years that help me remember what things were on my mind and what interested me, personally, professionally, or intellectually.  True to the blog’s title, I gave myself permission to meander a bit from subject to subject, and write down my thoughts as I experienced things from day to day.

I’ve discussed Lean a lot on this blog.  Lean, you could say, offered me some much-needed evidence that I wasn’t completely out of my mind.  What my Lean training showed me was that the things I experienced at work that frustrated me so greatly had been noticed by a great many other people who were passionately working to change them.  I attended the 2010 Northeast Shingo Prize conference and heard a talk given by Lesa Nichols on the concepts of mura and muri and the “people side” of lean, which put into my mind that the workplace itself can be, and should be, much more focused on the cares and concerns of the people doing the work.  As a result, I have discussed mura and muri on the blog several times since.

I’ve also written a great deal about project management and the dynamics of project teams, which I’ve built up quite a few observations on over the past 12 years or so working in Program Planning & Control.  More recently, I’ve been blogging about workplace change, management improvement, Lean and ROWE, in particular.  It’s fairly well understood that the typical workplace is broken.  The expectations placed on people to live with this broken system are tremendous and unfair.  The vast majority of workers are frustrated and hollow – which is no way to live a life.  ROWE offers some solutions, but while the concept is enormous, its practical applications across all possible environments is still in its infancy.

Once in a while I talk about family life, too, and I attempt to integrate some of what I’ve learned about project management and Lean into those discussions, too.  I find there’s a tremendous amount of insight into just how all these theoretical concepts and tools work when you apply them to something that really matters – like your own family and your household.  There’s nothing more salient to me than finding a way to apply what I believe should be the way to do things, intellectually, to the day-to-day concerns that we all have to deal with, emotionally.  That’s the true intersection of life and work, in my humble opinion.

There’s more to the Lean and ROWE discussion, however, than just those two concepts.  What I see for the blog as I look into the future, is more discussion of Operational Excellence, which includes but is not necessarily limited to Lean, and how those concepts can be applied to the larger concepts of virtual, flexible work.  Clearly the world is trending in that direction, with the rise of technology that is enabling greater mobility.  The tools and methods that make Lean work so well, however, will need to adapt to this changing workplace.

This changing workplace brings a number of challenges.  Management styles will need to adapt, as will working styles.  Security concerns are massive, too.  Nonetheless, it’s a space not explored in any great depth that I have seen, which appear to make it ripe for the picking.