Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Snippets - the week in review 11 May 08

Gordon Smith has been in Sydney and has turned his camera on Manly where he has been staying. For those who do not know Sydney, Manly is a beachside suburb across the harbour from the CBD.

This photo, Pacific Vew, shows the view from Gordon's hotel. It is a pretty typical scene of most of NSW's beachside resorts.

The tragedy in Burma has been a major story on the Australian news during the week. I haven't wanted to write about it because there is little that I could say that would be fresh. However, I was struck by the tone of some of the comments from Government, NGOs and the media.

Don't get me wrong. I have no truck for the reclusive Burmese regime. However, I could not help feeling that part of the fury was due to the failure of the Burmese Government to accept the perceived self-evident right of outside bodies to intervene in Burma.

Ken Parish had an interesting post, Zimbabwe and Burma - international salvation?, exploring some of the issues associated with international intervention. I found the attacks on the post in comments equally interesting. Without arguing a case either way, I think that it pays us in some of these areas to try to think through (as Ken has tried to do) some the principles that should apply.

My congratulations to Legal Eagle on her forthcoming child and on the establishment with scepticlawyer of a combined blog under the scepticlawyer title. I have added the new blog to my favourites, there is some good stuff there, but suspect nevertheless that I am going to miss Legal Soapbox. It's just been an old friend.

Over on Belshaw sans words, I have continued the aviation series. As part of this, I have been revisiting the story of East West Airlines. It is a fascinating story that would form the base for a very good novel. I had forgotten so much - there are floods that at one point threatened to close the airline, constant commercial battles to survive, amazing mercy flights, Australia's first cloud-seeding, crashes and constant improvisation.

I realised as I was going through the material that I needed to pause, to get some of my dates and stories right so that I could really set the right context. So I am going to at least start my next series - the World Wool Built - while I do a little more thinking on the aviation side. This will also give me some more posts on the two specific New England blogs

The wool story is itself a fascinating one, now sadly in the process of being forgotten. This is a world of commercial empires, of big houses, of social manners and of conquest and wealth. Again my focus will be on New England as part of my continuing attempt to capture this slice of Australian life.

This has been a busy week at a professional level as I struggle with the roll-out phase of a new project. I say struggle advisedly. I cannot write about the details here - that would not be appropriate. However, the core challenge is to find the best way to operate in a matrix structure in which project approaches have been superimposed on a conventional function based organisation. This can lead to conflict between project requirements on one side, formal decision making and reporting requirements on the other.

I have been taking notes because the case raises a number of interesting management issues that, suitably disguised, could form the base for a number of posts. I have also been forced to re-evaluate (again!) my role as a professional as I try to resolve tensions between my role as project manager and the formal position I have presently been allocated in a vertical hierarchy.

This is not easy because I take my role as a professional very seriously. If I press too hard on an issue I may be seen as a loose cannon in vertical terms, thus threatening the project. On the other hand, failure to push may also threaten the project. This leads to a complicated balancing act. Here I try to use what I see as core professional principles to provide a guide.

This has also been another nostalgia week in part because of the birthday of the new Parliament House. I explored this in yesterday's Saturday Morning Musings - Australia's old Parliament House, trying to bring that past world alive just a little.

And so begins a new week. This will be another busy one.

On Monday I have two major sessions on different projects that will chew up the whole day. Then during the week I have to write some functional specs on a new tool to automate a particular process. I must also start preparation of work books for a series of state wide workshops due to be held end May, early June. I am also meant to be preparing some drafting instructions so that lawyers can start preparation of contracts, although this one may be deferred for other reasons.

On top of all this, I do want to do some personal blogging, research and writing! Ah well. As the darklings would say, fun, fun, fun. Time to do some other things.

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