Island Hopping or just a regular day in the IT

By | January 30, 2016

Let me answer THE question raised in my previous post Grandma’s Cookies by inviting you to spend a typical day with me in the office, in a fast forward mode, of course. Don´t worry, I will skip the uninteresting details and do my best to keep your attention.

Let me grab my morning coffee first, bear with me, the meeting marathon is just about to begin. In a few minutes I will attend a project meeting together with the business department to understand the new requirements towards IT related to the launch of a new product. My gut feeling tells me that this will not be an easy ride, the project will require lot of effort and we better deliver a well thought-out solution.

Two hours later I attend a discussion full of tension, where the people from operational department and the end users, complain about the flaws and troubles of the existing software. My task is to keep calm and assure them that we will find quick solutions (so called workarounds) and future improvements to help them in their everyday work. I do not have any solutions ready and I know that I will not have time today (or the next days), but I prefer to keep this little negligible detail for myself.

During my coffee break I meet the colleagues from the testing department asking me for test support on a project delivered recently by our team. Of course, it touches a totally different area, nothing related to my previous meetings. It does not matter, the long years training in this business pays off and my brain is able to switch between topics pretty fast.

My phone rings in the middle of the conversation and I need to leave due to an urgent matter, a production problem, several provisioning orders are blocked and the customers are waiting for the service they ordered. You can imagine the panic, at this moment all eyes are on you, waiting for you to solve the problem. I must say, time flies on such days.

Luckily, the highlight of the day has arrived, it is lunch time! Time for biological and mental digestion, time that I take to clear my mind and to recharge my batteries.

I’ve got two more meetings to go and then I am done for today. Of course I have tons of mails to check and my TODO list (the action points I gathered during my last meetings) is also not getting shorter! Both activities require peaceful, quiet time, without any disturbing and without distraction. This is wishful thinking.

As I arrive to my desk (which I haven’t seen very often today), my calendar desperately signals me that the next meeting is about to start in fourteen minutes. Just enough time for me to answer the most important emails (which are, by the way, not the most urgent ones).

The rest of the unanswered mails have to wait as I have a really important meeting to discuss the concept of replacing an existing software with a brand new state of the art technology. This is not an easy topic to digest, especially when you do not see the benefit of it. During the meeting, I keep asking myself if this project will fail the same  way as  the most of similar big, expansive and complex migration and transformation projects. Such projects are purely IT initiatives and they rarely find any sponsors and fans in the business departments. Tons of books and scientific articles have been written, all trying to explain and solve this problem by defining recipes how to prevent such projects from heading towards a dead end. However, you cannot control human behavior with strict formulas, thus I am always skeptical about such recipes.

On the way to my last meeting of the day, I rush to take a cup of coffee with me. Entering the meeting room and holding an empty cup in my hand without any liquid inside, I realize that tiredness has taken over my brain. Good thing that it is the last mile, bad thing is that attending a team meeting without coffee will require double effort not to fall asleep and stay at least halfway concentrated. Not to mention the background noise in my head due to screaming emails and tasks which I have neglected the whole day.

As the final strike, when I finally arrive to my desk and plan to spend the last hour working on today’s backlog, a colleague comes to me asking me to check and analyze a production issue, which naturally cannot wait. He was hunting me the whole day and now, that he found me, I just cannot refuse.


Paradise Island

Such days are like island hopping.

Not because of the relaxing and pleasant art of a holiday, but because of the continuously changing landscape. This could become pretty much tiring and stressful, if it get’s out of control. Think about the Greek Islands, they are all different in their nature, environment  and culture. One moment you are in the middle of the dark forest trying to find the sunny beach to get some clarity, the next moment you are climbing high mountains to reach the top, hoping for the panoramic view to reveal the big picture to you. You hope to get answers to all those questions tumbling in you head by gaining an overview and seeing the big picture. You are desperately searching for the sense, the meaning of all what is happening to you and around you.

In stead of taking the time to explore and maybe enjoy the nature, you must leave and jump to the next Island. This could be fully populated, loud and overloaded with touristic attractions and party areas. This is not the place to retire, it is time to socialize and to have fun. If you have something to say, be as loud as you can. Sometimes you need to be loud enough to prove your point and influence decisions.

Hopping to the next island, you encounter a cozy place having a magical landscape and friendly people with amazing experience, gurus with special talents, mastering their profession. You can be thankful to meet them, as you can learn a lot from them.

You are overwhelmed to be on the paradise island, but suddenly a strong wind grabs you and takes you away to another place, a dense jungle full of hidden dangers and surprises. It sounds like  a thrilling adventure, having the time of your life, but after some time it can become really exhausting, driving you to the limit. Your survival skills are a must, your only goal is to get through the day, fighting through the jungle. It is actually not the nature you fight against, but the fictional, artificial enemies created by humans. Snakes could have been your friends, but it is too late for that now. The once virgin, pure, wild jungle is now full of intrigues, mental wars and conflicts of interests. Only the strongest survive.

There are two types of people on this planet: the ones who love island hopping and the ones who hate it.

Some prefer the hectic and adventure, the constant dynamic, moving from one place to another, but some people like to stay in one place, having time to enjoy and explore the scenery in its full splendor. Both has it’s advantages and disadvantages. The more you hop, the less time you have to explore but the more you hop, the more you get to see and experience.

Looking back, I would say that I am rather the island hopper than the „stay in one place“ person. Diversity attracts me, I tend to switch the scenery, being scared of the „monotony“ of one place. During my life, I have lived in several countries (and I am sure I haven’t reached the final destination yet), most of my holidays were tours, round trips, and I have worked mostly for companies where the ability to deal with many different topics at the same time was crucial.

Does this make me a superficial person? Will this ever change, will I become a „stay in one place“ individual with time?

Whatever happens, no matter which way we choose we need to adapt and make the best out of it, while it lasts. The next wind will come for sure to take us to the next island, maybe better or worse, anyway different. Changes change us.

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