A recent breakfast conversation with my best friend, John, sent me digging in my drafts folder. I was convinced that this idea must exist in my notes. Well, not quite. I have a couple of ideas that come close, but, as the circus carney would add, “No cigar.”
The posts I have that come close, are related to math, or, as my other best friend (I figure I can have one per continent) David would say, maths. I don’t know why the British say maths instead of math. Maybe one of my favorite bloggers, Ellen Hawley can explain that some time. Since I’m dropping names all over the place, I might as well include Joey.
Joey? What does Joey have to do with any of this? Well, Joey had a post where someone commented that geometry isn’t important (I lost that URL). I found a draft rant about how important Geometry is in life, when I was searching. Go ahead, don’t agree with me about Geometry. That might be all the encouragement I need to finish that post. What you don’t want to know can hurt you.
I know, almost 200 words and I haven’t gotten to the point yet.
John and I were talking about the things people can’t do. Not all people, maybe not you, but you know, people. Those people. No names, but let’s let everybody who knows me and John off the hook; the subject of discussion was an unknown (to you) third-party. I’m not sure this information will help you, but John and I have been talking about this for years and, in general, we don’t see the situation getting better.
I should also mention that we’re not sure we have the complete set of things people can’t do. John and I have been known to work on subjects like this forever. We may come back in a few weeks and add a fourth thing to this list, did I mention that there are three things? No? Well, there are. There are three things people don’t do well. Who are John and I to decide? Well, you might ask that, but we wouldn’t care. This is what we do. We solve these problems, whether or not the world recognizes their importance. OK, 350+ words, let’s move on:
Thing One – People don’t know how to divide and conquer. Specifically, as it relates to a systems project (on which John and I worked for years together) or a legal process (the actual subject at breakfast), people don’t know how to divide a large project into small manageable chunks. When I built the ramp to our front porch, I poured the concrete supports. I installed the support stringers. I applied the decking and then I installed the railing system. Those four tasks were four weekend’s worth of activity. Four chunks. If you don’t divide things into chunks, you run the risk of suffering a series of Chicken Little moments.
Thing Two – People don’t understand time frames. Last summer, the City of Hartford hired a contractor to build a baseball stadium. Home of the Hartford Yard Goats in the spring of 2016! Now, contractors understand chunks just fine. Build a foundation. Install structural steel. Build the interior spaces. Build the stands. Erect the lighting, and so on and so forth. What they didn’t seem to understand is that the Yard Goats were scheduled to play the Richmond Flying Squirrels on April 7th. Last Thursday. The contractor knew what all the chunks were. He knew how to do all the chunks. He seemed to overlook how long the chunks would take and which chunks depended on other chunks. The stadium is scheduled to be “substantially complete” by May 17th – Go Yard Goats
Thing Three – The monetary value of resources. This one is difficult to grasp, because we’re conditioned to think that fixed costs are, you know, fixed. In fact, they taught me in business school that, ultimately, all costs are variable. A safe example of this is when a town decides to maintain their sports fields themselves rather than hire someone. Statements like: “we have the staff and we already own the equipment” will be made and people in the room will think: “this is good, we’re saving money.” Well, you’re only saving money if you need those people and that equipment for other things and if those people and that equipment would otherwise be idle on the days the ball fields have to be mowed. And, if owning the equipment and paying the people over time is cheaper than paying Joe’s Football Field Mowing to do the job.
If we ever decide to add a fourth thing, I’ll bring it to your attention. For now, consider these three things. Do they make sense? Are you good that them? If not, are you bothered by the fact? Do you care?
Breaking news: A friend just posted this update about the ballpark.