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The Weather Was Terrible. . .And Then It Started To Snow

May 14, 2015

I grew up in the Seattle area. Actually, I grew up in Olympia. Despite being the state capital and only about 40 miles south of Seattle, few people outside of Washington know where it is. Okay, truly, I grew up in Lacey. It’s a suburb of Olympia and even fewer people know where it is than can find Olympia. The point is that I grew up in the Puget Sound area of Western Washington. 

Wanna know a secret? It doesn’t rain as much in Seattle as people think. But, it still, it rains a lot. I grew up a hiking and camping in the Cascade Mountains. Even when it wasn’t raining, it was wet. Fog, clouds, rain, mist. 

Exactly the kind of weather I found myself in now. Except that now, I wasn’t in the rain forests of Western Washington. No. I was in the high desert of Utah’s Rocky Mountains. The forecast was for rain all weekend and the weather wasn’t disappointing. My old leather jacket quickly soaked all the through to the sweatshirt underneath. Our backpacks were wrapped in thick black plastic garbage bags, water dripping off everything in sight. 

And then, after a few minutes, the rain turned to snow.

I’ve worked on a lot of projects in my career. Most of them started with a project plan. A project plan is like a battle plan. It’s a roadmap of how the project should unfold. Or, at least how the project manager thinks the project should unfold. 

“The battle plan is the first casualty of contact with the enemy.”
                                          – Helmuth von Moltke, 19th-century head of the Prussian army

Like battle plans, once your project kicks off, the project plan is often the first to go off track. Like my hike in the rain, things can get bogged down. And then it might start to snow. 

A project plan depends on many different teams, all of which have their own schedules, their own plans. Typically my projects involve:

  • Telecom
  • Networks
  • Desktops
  • Circuits
  • Operations
  • Facilities
  • Security
  • Client Services

Generally my projects run 12-16 weeks. Three or four months might sound like a long time, but during that 100-120 day there might only be a few days of time to spare. Sometimes a delay of even a day can knock the entire project off it’s schedule. A day or two at the beginning is doable, by the end of the project, deadlines countdowns are measured in weekds, then days and finally are counted in hours. 

Anything that throws you off track is a potential schedule buster.

But, is the snow better or worse? 

The snow was coating the grass and each of the boys. However, it tended to collect on the outside of our clothes, too cold to melt. It landed lightly on the trail, but didn’t turn to mud. It didn’t pool. It didn’t create a muddly slipperly mess. 

Instead of making the situation worse, the snow helped. 

Project interruptions can be like that. Not everything that moves the project plan off track is a negative. Sometimes you just need a little snow. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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