September 3, 2014

Snorkeling at Work

It all started subtly; my boss — Michelle — sent me just a few emails over last couple of days. Then my weekly status got no bullet pointed reply. And suddenly it happened: she stopped by my desk asked: are you drowning?.


We’ve been 22 days from launch for the last two weeks on my current project. It’s a rolling average — I half joke to the CFO when he makes fun of the static Days Until Launch printout high on my cubicle. But I know it’s not really funny. It’s an acknowledgement of a failure.

Not failure with a capital F mind you, we’re doing some pretty cool things here. However, September 3rd came and went, and I didn’t even check if the DNS configuration is ready. That’s never a good sign.


If military generals and project managers hanged out together somewhere drinking cognac (or Dr Pepper), I’d stand by the window staring into the distance and mutter to no one in particular:

No productivity app survives encounter with a project

Even with my legendary collection of productivity apps[ I failed to dissect, organize and categorize this project with enough detail to predict the showstoppers screaming at me from the email inbox. It’s there where they meet up each morning and then again at the end of the day, damn hooligans .

Did I fail the  ? or did they fail me? I didn’t stick with any long enough to know — and that should give you the answer of who’s to blame.


I’ve learned my lesson, that’s for sure.

If I ever get to do this type of project again, I’ll avoid some (now) obvious dumb mistakes.

However, I feel there’s a hole in my logic: why would I do this project again? When we push this live to production — and we will — I expect be working on the actual result of the project, not going somewhere where I get to do it again.

Maybe that’s the mistake. Perhaps the flawless project execution only happens when you repeat enough times a similar type of project that you are able foresee every issue — a Groundhog Day plot applied to a gantt chart.

The real lesson still escapes me. I’m equal parts tired, frustrated, and determined to see this through. But it’s difficult to have perspective when your head is underwater — even with a mask and a snorkel.

But not to worry, we are launching September 25th… only 22 days away.

Essay Productivity Work

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