Examining the ongoing challenges of delivering high-quality, value-added ERP services in Higher Education.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sometimes the Small Stuff Matters

There is a whole cottage industry built around not sweating “the small stuff” but while the stress-relieving spirit is admirable, I am here to make a case for how the small stuff can bite you when it comes to project management and vacations.

Earlier this year, my wife and I enjoyed an amazing eleven-night vacation in Europe (sans little one, who stayed with his grandparents!) The trip involved multiple airplanes and trains, four hotels, three currencies, two foreign languages, and one surprise visit to the ballet. To mute the complexity, I planned (and budgeted, at least in theory) the trip meticulously: confirmation numbers, maps, tickets, passes, menus, train timetables, and tentative daily itineraries organized into a slim binder. Thanks to (or in spite of) the planning, our trip proved a refreshing romp through London, Switzerland, and Paris. We captured nearly 1,500 photographs and videos – and therein lay one crucial missed detail...

You see, we used four devices to capture our memories: an iPhone (for real-time upload to Facebook), a Canon Elph (my wife’s primary tool), a Canon DSLR (big, bulky, and powerful), and a Flip Video camcorder. The problem: the iPhone tagged every photo with the precise local time; the DSLR still thought it was in Cambridge; and the Elph had failed to adjust for daylight savings time. Sounds like nothing, but what a nightmare for editing and scrubbing!

Our trip ended more than two months ago and I finally found time to process the pictures this weekend; this delayed task has sent ripples through the entire network diagram, putting me behind schedule on paying it forward with reviews on TripAdvisor, preventing my wife from beginning her scrapbook, and keeping me from mounting an 8x10 image of Alpine splendor on my office wall. Such a simple thing—how many TV shows and movies did I watch in my youth that contained a line about “let’s synchronize our watches?”

Lesson learned: “synchronize digital clocks” will definitely be in the project schedule for our next vacation. And I am sure there must be a bigger lesson here for all the other projects in my life!


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