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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

War and Peace

This has nothing to do with the theme of this blog, such as it is.

Or does it?

This weekend I took up a challenge issued by my former roommate: to read Tolstoy's War and Peace. It wasn't an aggressive challenge, just an off-hand remark that he could never talk about his favorite book with anyone because he was always the only person to have read it. "Challenge accepted," I told him over beers in Chelsea (NYC). "It wasn't really a challenge," he said. "I accept anyway," I said. Perhaps I was looking for an excuse.

One Big Ass Book
Everyone knows (even those who haven't read it) that this is great literature. Many claim it to be THE GREATEST NOVEL EVER WRITTEN. It has a 4.08 rating on Good Reads, which is truly remarkable given there have been 115,000 reviews. I'll reserve judgment until I get a little deeper into it (I'm on page 78 of 1273 as of this morning).

I can't help think that it actually has more in common with ERP projects than might be obvious. For one, it is certainly a sprawling epic. It will take a long time to complete, but by the end it might seem to have flown by. The cast of characters is enormous, and their motivations are not always crystal clear; from occasion they might change their minds or work at counter-purposes (not that such things EVER happen in IT projects). While certainly I do not suggest that IT projects are wars in the Napoleonic sense (only in the very rarest of cases), one can draw many parallels: battles are fought, often for reasons difficult to recall after the fact, treaties and alliances are forged, and there are often casualties along the way. Finally, the only way to finish the project / book is to take things one day / page at a time, and if you spend all your time fretting about every decision (or the size of the book, as the case may be), you are guaranteed never to finish.

I'll be curious to see if I gain any grand insights from this endeavor. Even if I don't, at least I'll be able to brag about finishing War and Peace, and my friend will finally have someone to debate.


<< Home