Tag Archives: project management

Fail Faster!!!

One of my mottos is “Fail Faster”!

I stole it from a very good business book called “Weird Ideas That Work”. The book is about creativity and how to utilize it in business.

Over the course of the last few days I realized I was failing. I felt I had two choices – continue to do what I was doing – which was getting me nowhere – or admit failure and move on.

I admitted failure and moved on.

Then I did what any good project manager does I reviewed the projects to see what worked, didn’t work, and what lessons I had learned.

The novella I’d been working on for the last three months was not progressing. It didn’t flow and although I thought the concept was brilliant it was looking more and more like I wasn’t the person to write it. The journey the characters were on didn’t resonate with me and the story was turning dark in a way that made me uncomfortable. There are times when discomfort is good – it can mean that you are on to something digging out parts of yourself buried so deep that they haven’t seen the light of day.

But this wasn’t good discomfort. I kept making fundamental errors about the characters because I kept trying to make them safe and they wanted to be dangerous. They wanted to walk on a dark side that I’m not sure I have. I can imagine it but I don’t think I could become it enough for the story to resonate with truth.

So, I put it away.

I may come back to it. I don’t know. I’ve moved on.

In a day and a half I have already done more with this new novella than I’d accomplished over the last two weeks with the old one. The theme is lighter, the pace quicker, and it is missing the psychological edge of the other. Best of all, I am happy.

What I’ve learned?

Just because I can dream it it doesn’t mean I can write it. When I hit on something I really like I write in a different way and the ideas come as I need them. I don’t spend hours agonizing to put words on paper or finding things to do other than write.

If you find yourself unhappy, trying to accomplish something that makes a visit to the dentist seem like a day in Cancun, then you are not doing the right thing. I’ve wallowed in failure. I’m sure many of you have. I was stuck in a job that was not a good fit and although I got things done I never felt like a success. Each day was a struggle, every day a failure, the only success I found was in surviving it.

Failure has become a bad word in our society – but failure is a part of us. If we succeeded at everything life would be boring there would be nothing to achieve because achievement would be meaningless.

Admit failure.

Look at it honestly and dispassionately. Discover the why of it and understand what when wrong. Then go and do something else – something glorious and new.

~ Tess

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Getting Back to Work

One of the most difficult things, after a vacation, is getting back to work.

When you work at home I think that it is almost harder. Harder to find the motivation. Harder to put those “good” habits back into place. After all, you just spent several days not working in the same space that you work.  

Today is a new beginning.

And like always I am starting from scratch. There are more things on my plate then there were before the holidays started and I have less time to do them. So this morning – I slept late – had a leisurely breakfast – listened to the news – and am only now sitting up in my office working.

So much for getting up early and exercising.

I know what motivates me – in a general sense – but I’ve always been an A-minus type personality. Not as driven as a true A, but not anywhere as easy going as a B. I need to have a plan. Although I’m more than willing for the plan to change, grow, modify as new information emerges. But I need a road map to start the journey with.

The next few days I will be preparing for the coming year. And I admit to being terrified. Talk about putting myself out on a limb. Placing my faith in my writing and the hope that eventually the money will come and I will be solvent again.

So I’ll start where I always start.

Get out the post-it notes and start throwing the ideas on the wall. Stare at them, add, subtract, and by New Years Day I’ll have a plan. I started doing this several years ago as a way of understanding what motivated me.

I’m motivated by the need to be autonomous, solvent, and have a close knit circle of friends. And that I wanted to write for a living – which would give me control over the shape of my days and keep me out of the corporate world. I always thought I would be happier working in my own space…and I am. It isn’t that I don’t like people – I do – but the constant social demands of an office wore me down leaving me with little energy for my own life.  

This process has taken me this far. I am home, I am writing, but I am not anywhere near solvent. Now it is time to put the lessons learned in the last year down on paper. What worked, what didn’t, reviewing the projects that succeeded and failed to find out how to make the next year better.

Here is to a year of adventure – of reaching for the impossible and making it real.

~ Tess Anderson

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Simplification Gone Wrong!

I just got back from my yearly physical – mostly blood work – and had the same conversation with the gal at the front desk that I had a few weeks ago at my Neurologists.

I have a new insurance card – it doesn’t show the co-pays.

Some bright boy at my insurance company decided that they would save money by printing up cards that didn’t have the co-pays – because co-pays change – and by doing this they are saving me money. I even got a nice letter with my new card telling what a benifit this would be to me. Now I have Providence insurance, I go to a Providence clinic where everyone is directly employed by… you guessed it Providence. So… how is this saving money?

Think about this for a moment.

  1. The front desk staff must spend time looking up co-pays if they are unknown or the patient doesn’t know.
  2. If staff or patient gets it wrong – think of all the lovely mail that will be generated not billing you until you finally get a bill.

So is this better?

I don’t think so. I think that one department had a Six Sigma moment – they had a directive to simplify and cut costs. I’m sure those cards are expensive when you take all of them into account – but in simplifying one part of the business they’ve increased costs in another.

How often do we get new cards anyway?  

I was getting them once a year – for each reenrollment – and surprise surprise in the three years I’ve been on Providence the co-pay has never changed. New cards are being generated all the time as people change jobs, employers switch providers, individuals change healthcare options, have children, get married, are divorced… there is a constant flux of reasons why this happens – so why not just update the cards when it’s needed? There’s a thought… I would have the same card I had three years ago.  

A decision in a vacuum is never a good decision.

Too often we take a microcosm and think that it is a macrocosm. The card printing department made a decision that affected so many more people. None of us operate in a closed system – what we do, how we run our businesses and our lives impacts the world around us.

I’ve watched – twice now – as millions of dollars and thousands of man hours have been poured into software development that it turned out no one wanted. No one talked to the end user. In this case – the end user is not me. The end user is the person behind the counter who is charging me my co-pay. Did anyone ask them if they felt this was a good idea? That it would save them time and money? I doubt it.

I’ll get off my soapbox now – but let me know if you’ve seen the same thing. The “bright” idea that cost more than it saved or the project in a black box that failed to deliver.

~ Tess

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