I started the draft of today’s post before I set off this morning – Sundays are always a late start with the first bus only leaving at 09:58 – little did I know how accurate this title would turn out to be but you will need to read almost to the end to find out why!
Let us start at the beginning – Dog’s walk. I rarely take my camera out at this time of year for Dog’s walks – usually we are walking in the dark anyway; this morning I missed a treat of a Dawn. Initially I could see the mist lying in the Strath (valley) below with just a few treetop ‘islands’ peeping above it. The sun as it came up above the mist bathed a path of pink across the mist – so soft and pretty; by the time we arrived home we were at a lower level and the sun was a bright orange disc glowing through the mist and lighting up the windows of a cottage up the brae beside us which appeared like a Halloween pumpkin with big square glowing eyes.
Dog had a nice walk this morning – inadvertently much longer than usual since we couldn’t get through a locked gate and there was a small pack of dogs behind us so we had to press on; this was a good thing because without doing that he would not have met the foal – who was very interested in Dog. Dog has been meeting ponies and horses for most of his life and he is a little scared of their snorting but apart from that he is very gentle around them and they seem very curious about him.
I caught the bus and knew before she even arrived at the stop she was not a well decker – guess which of the fleet it was? did you guess temperamental 99? the gears are still not changing when they should meaning that up a hill she almost grinds to a halt – I could see the expletives in a think bubble above the driver’s head! She did make it through the day but I am predicting another full blown wheel stamp coming up this week. Just time for a quick shop for lunch and a Sunday paper as a treat and then I continued on to Barnhill Rock Garden. It was a mild day with a soft blue sky and that low hazy sunshine (tee shirt weather for me!)
Followed by a meander along the beach to The Ferry … bear in mind my habit of beachcombing for pretty pebbles and sea glass – and we will return to that later on!
I popped around the corner of the castle to the harbour and got the biggest treat – I have been trying to get close enough to curlew for a photo opportunity for weeks – and this is what I saw digging around in the oooze at the harbour floor
I had another treat when I got back to the bus station too. Every Sunday a group of people catch the bus into Dundee to go play Bingo. Over the past few months the chit chat at the bus station has started to include me and last week one of them asked whether I worked on a Sunday.
Today’s discussion stated with me being asked if I worked for the bus company and having explained what I did and what I want to do next it got to exchanging names, sharing pooch stories, etc. One of the group asked me before getting off the bus this morning If I wasn’t going to wish him luck and I said he needed more Positive Mental Attitude. This afternoon he asked again would I think of him and bring him luck for next week. So when he got off the bus I dropped a wee white quartz pebble in his hand – never for one minute thinking that it would be eaten!
I thought he had kissed it and then asked had I found it on the floor? It was only an hour later when I was waiting for another bus after the supermarket and he passed me and told me he had thought it was a sweetie and popped it in his mouth and nearly broken his teeth!
I could have killed somebody I hardly know – that wouldn’t have been lucky for either of us! All because that little white pebble was deceptive.
Being serious for a minute
Now I said I would share what had been on my mind about how my working style hasn’t been working for me – and it has a deception link too.
By education I am an engineer; I have worked in aerospace and in water/wastewater engineering roles. But I am also qualified as an executive level secretary – and throughout my daughters growing up years I earned my living from secretarial and administrative positions. Putting these two roles together has given me skills as a project manager – and that is a role I really enjoy taking. My last two positions have been project based in different public sector organisations … so I should have been well suited?
The problem is that as a project manager I start with the endpoint – by definition a project has a time limit and usually a budgetary limit too. So working backwards from the end of the project allows us to set a criticial path – task A must be completed before task B can start which can run concurrently with task C but that stretches the resources. This critical path is the key to successful project management and meeting deadlines and budgets.
Unfortunately the public sector has got into the habit of increasingly relying on short term funding (project funding or grants) to develop new services. They recruit someone to the project; the difference been that the organisation will do its best to get another tranche of short term money and use that to continue the same project – RESULT? The Public Sector struggles with the concept of a critical path and an actually end point to the project; organisations have got so used to it stretching on and extending fixed term contracts that no matter how good the ‘project manager’ the process becomes inefficient – a sort of “tomorrow will do” approach.
As a recent example – I had struggled to get two key staff to commit their project timescale for several connected tasks. Having achieved this and presented the Critical Path to the Board, the key staff were asked how certain they were that they could meet the critical path – one of them hesitated only briefly before saying “well actually we might have to do something else in that slot and another task when we should be doing that” … I could have wept!
I am not comfortable with this and so I end up in an environment where I am swimming against the tide. I like to work in project style and will undoubtedly continue to do so – but not in large public sector organisations. This has been really helpful to me in moving me closer to where I want to be; I guess I really knew it all along but had not actually got as far as organising the thought into an action!