May 14th, 2006


Pedicures and Girlie Things and Spas, Oh My!

weather: mainly clear
outside: 11.5°C
mood: ...
I took my Mom and Mother-In-Law to the Fingers & Toes Spa today for pedicures.

It was the first time either of them had had a pedicure, so I thought it would be an interesting experience for them. Wild horses could not have dragged my mother into participating in such frivolous activities years ago. She's only recently melted enough from the eminent practicality that measures about 15 on Mohs' scale.

Fingers & Toes is a cute little place in Yaletown that a group of us girls at Work went to a month or so ago. We had actually booked an appointment for another place, but they screwed it up. As we were quietly seething about it, we saw Fingers & Toes out of the window and decided to troop on over and see what they could do.

We really liked them. The ladies are friendly and helpful, the prices are great, the studio is bright and neat and tidy. We brought our own snacks, wine, party stuffs. They took care of the six of us without prior notice and they did a great job, all things considered.

I brought my own CDs today - Forest Cello, the Tim Janis one, the Yoga one and the Zen one. They were pretty busy this time, but they still set up a CD player and speakers especially for us.

So, we chatted and relaxed the afternoon away while someone else gave us foot massages, cleaned up our feet, painted our toes.


Open Your Parable, It's Raining Out

weather: mainly sunny
outside: 16.4°C
mood: ...
The Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work by David Schmaltz.

David Schmaltz uses the John Godfrey Saxe poem of The Blind Men and the Elephant to illustrate the challenges of project management. Six blind men decide they want to know what an "elephant" is. They are lead to an elephant, they all stand around it and they're touching the different parts of an elephant, describing to the others what an "elephant" is like.

The one who is feeling the trunk says it's like a snake; the one touching the ear says it's like a fan; the one who is feeling the tusk says it's like a spear; the one who is touching a leg says it's like a tree trunk; the one touching the body says it's like a wall; the one touching the tail says it's like a rope. All of them are right, but what they don't realize is that they only have their own unique perspective.

Schmaltz likens this to project teams, where each of the roles has their own perspective of the whole. I think what he's getting at is that reason that projects fail is not because of the tradition excuses we give: customers demand too much; customers change their minds all the time; compressed schedules; budget cutting; people don't work hard enough; yadda yadda. I think Schmaltz is saying that it's not because of those things, rather it's because of the lack of a cohesive vision in the project goal(s). Project participants (especially the ones in leadership or decision-making roles) don't see the project from anyone else's point of view but their own and therefore don't understand why things fall apart when they do. Because they can't see why things fall apart, they can't see what should be done about it... or they try to fix it wrong which either makes no difference or ends up making things worse.

I could have just said all that and given the impression that I understood it all, loved it and went on my merry way. But the truth is, I didn't understand a thing. I had no idea where he was coming from, where he WAS at any given point, or where he was going with any of the stories. Well, okay, that's not quite true. In certain places, I did think that I was sorta starting to begin to get him... but then he continued talking and I was lost again. =\

I had read the preface. I suppose that was fair warning that it's not an instruction manual: don't expect it to tell you what to do, it's vague and all over the place, just like life is apt to be. Fine. I had an instructor who taught by telling stories too. I found it hard to follow sometimes because I'm engrossed in the stories and forget what the point was. But I did well with the stories and I thought that I should keep an open mind. Afterall, learning by someone else's examples is a valuable thing, which I have also had good experiences with, in the past.

I can't follow this book. I can't finish it. And this is, obviously, not because of the book. It looks like it was a good read for so many people. I have finally just had to give up and accept that I am, very simply, not within the group that is the target audience.

I suppose that somewhere along the line, there has to be a book I'm not totally crazy about. I feel bad because someone lent it to me very enthusiastically and as irrational as it may be, I felt like I was letting him down by ... not getting it.

[Update - Sunday, May 21, 2006]

So, after writing this, I tried reading it AGAIN. And gave up AGAIN. Twice. But ironically and amusingly enough, I finally did understand it. Not by reading the orginal text, but from reading articles, synopses and reviews ABOUT this book by various other people all over the internet. As pathetic as that is, at least I finally have the impression that I get it.

I think the story-telling style sometimes really doesn't work for me.