Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fifty-eighth excerpt from 'Twelve Towers'

          The boys had a happy reunion with Fred when they awoke and questioned him all about his new life with Heilin. After they had broken their fast, Gwilym prepared the room for his planning session. He and Fred laid out all the sheets, quills, ink and pieces of leather. He posted the charter on one of the walls and prepared scrolls titled Scope and Requirements.
          The crew entered and Gwilym had them all introduce themselves to everyone with their name and the role they would play on the project. Gwilym introduced Fred to the crew. He was surprised to find that many had met him already.
          Gwilym led the team through the planning steps that were becoming familiar to him by now. He read them the charter and asked about any stakeholders he didn’t know about yet. He led the team through a session where they determined the requirements of the tower. Then he led them through the scoping session, documenting everything on the appropriate scrolls and posting them on the walls when completed.
          Then he led them through the Work Breakdown Structure and Activity Definition sessions, obtaining all the leather pieces containing the drawings of the activities to be completed. The ‘Remove shit from palace’ piece received much laughter along with some concern about the immensity of it. When the activities were doled out, no-one wanted to volunteer for this job so Gwilym took it himself.
          When they were sure that all the activities had been documented, they laid them out on the large bull-hide in the order that made the most sense. While some work could continue while the palace was being mucked out, it became clear that this activity would have to be completed before early activities like digging the foundation hole could be started. The men became dejected on reflecting that the real work wouldn’t even start this year.
          Gwilym then asked the people who had volunteered to lead each activity to estimate its duration. He left the cleaning the palace activities until last. All the men looked at him to see when the real tower building activities would start.
          “All right. Let’s see. The duration of this activity will be one day. Now, what does–”
          He was interrupted by the cries of incredulity from his team.
          “How can you–”
          “That’s not poss–”
          “Are you kidd–”
          He held up his hands and the shouting stopped. He had everyone’s attention now. “Let’s make a deal. I promise to complete my activity on time if you promise to meet the duration of yours. Is that fair?”
          They all laughed at this and swaggered about, sure that they didn’t need to try too hard to finish their activities on time.
          They all broke for dinner at this point, some of them questioning Gwilym on how he intended to clean it out in one day by himself. He gave nothing away.
          After dinner, Gwilym worked with the men to determine the cost of the project. Each activity now had a responsible man, the other resources needed to complete it and the duration. This allowed Gwilym to assign a cost in man days to it. Some had material costs involved so Gwilym asked the locals the price of timbers, etc. and added that to the labor hours. Then Gwilym aggregated these costs to each deliverable and then to the overall project. Due to the low daily rate of the men, he saw that he would complete the project under budget. Of course, that assumed nothing went wrong. Something always did, so Gwilym had a reserve in hand.
          The men were dismissed and Gwilym transcribed the schedule onto the calendar. Fred asked to be dismissed. “What are you up to, man?” Gwilym asked.
          “All will be clear tomorrow, Gwilym.” Fred touched his nose and walked out. He returned after dark again.

To read the entire first draft in one shot, click here:

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