Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sterling behavior from NBA Owner

I wasn't particularly shocked to hear the racist statements leave the mouth of NBA owner Sterling. These billionaire sports team owners are rarely pillars of society. And the fact that his team is made up mostly of African-Americans is unlikely to change his ways. He has made his fortune taking bribes as a judge and keeping minorities out of his real estate.

The NAACP awarding him a lifetime achievemant award is embarrassing. Just goes to show what donating tens of thousands will do for you.

But what sort of a punishment does he deserve? For his crooked real-estate dealings, he is breaking the law and deserves jail time. It is illegal to discriminate against races in housing. He gets away with this by bribing the system and using lawyers to stall proceedings. I'd love to see the justice department come down hard on him.

But making racist comments in a private conversation is not illegal. As Evelyn Beatrice Hall said of Voltaire: "I may disapprove of what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it."

So rather than fining or kicking him out of the league, let's have him join more of his own peers by making him marry Marge Schott.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dear PM Advisor. Apr. 28, 2014

Dear PM Advisor

I had a real weird experience last week. I'm a consultant for a pharmaceutical company and I am managing a project where my client is outsourcing its packaging to a contract manufacturing organization (CMO). I am just taking over this project. I had a few calls with the CMO but wanted to plan the project with them face-to-face. 

I met with their director of quality who was extremely rude to me from the first moment. He said he had no respect for me because I wasn't a full-time employee of the pharma company. He told me the pharma company needs the CMO more than they need my client. He accused me of trying to intimidate him while trying to push his agenda down my throat. The meeting degenerated to a stand-off with me saying: "Well, my first impression of you was correct." (He threw me under the bus after my first phone conversation) and him saying: "Same applies to me!"

I've never been treated like that in 30 years of experience in the pharma world. I felt like walking out. How would you handle this situation? 

Flabbergasted in Philadelphia

Dear Flabbergasted,

Wow! First of all, sorry about your experience. That was indeed unfortunate and unprofessional. I'd love to know how you solved it.

Is it possible that you did anything before this meeting to antagonize this CMO before your arrival? It sounds like you did nothing to intimidate him during the meeting so you may have done so during that earlier call. Throwing you under the bus makes it sound like you were called out for some kind of bad behavior on your part. Perhaps you need to ask someone else who was at that phone call what their impression was.

The other possibility is that the director is a jerk. There are indeed people like that in the world and they often gravitate to positions of responsibility where they can force people to put up with their bad behavior. I've met a few jerky quality and regulatory people.

But the CMO needs your client and it's important you tell your client the attitude of the CMO. The CMO needs to get straight the customer/provider relationship.

As to what you should have done, there's nothing like a few deep breaths to defuse a tense situation like this. Allow the other person to speak first. If they refuse, speak first but use the diplomatic approach:

  1. Make a statement both of you agree with and get him to at least nod his head: "We both want to hand over this work to your CMO, right?"
  2. Show how there is an obstacle in the way of reaching this mutually agreed upon goal: Planning the project.
  3. Ask him what he thinks is the best way to proceed.
  4. Work together to remove the obstacle
And make sure he understands that, as project manager, you will be the person he has to deal with and that's easier if you develop some sort of working relationship. 

Good luck,

PM advisor.

Send your questions to

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Clive Bundy gets Blown away

Charles M. Blow is The New York Times's visual Op-Ed columnist

What a great op-ed by Charles Blow about Cliven Bundy, the racist western  rancher! I'll reprint it here in its entirety for reference later. Here is the original link to the NY Times article.

It appears that Cliven Bundy, the 68-year-old rancher and freeloader, doesn’t reject only the federal government; he rejects history.
Bundy decided this week to tell us all what he knows “about the Negro.”
Mr. Bundy was quoted by The New York Times as saying:
“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
In an attempt to clarify his comments, Bundy was on “The Peter Schiff Show,” and he made matters worse: “I’m wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were slaves, when they was able to have their family structure together, and the chickens and a garden, and the people had something to do?”
The Mount Kilimanjaro-size amounts of ignorance and offense packed into those two statements boggles the mind.
Soon after Bundy’s views on slavery and “the Negro” came to light, the conservative supporters he had accrued began to scurry and others pounced.
But I refuse to let Bundy’s fantasies about slavery and projections about “Negroes” be given over to predictable political squabbling. The legacy of slavery must be liberated from political commentary.
Casual, careless and incorrect references to slavery, much like blithe references to Nazi Germany, do violence to the memory of those who endured it, or were lost to it, and to their descendants.
There is no modern-day comparison in this country to the horrors of slavery. None! Leave it alone. Remember, honor and respect. That’s all.
How could slaves have been “happier,” when more than 12 million were put in shackles, loaded like logs into the bowels of ships and sailed toward shores unknown, away from their world and into their hell?
How could they have been “happier” to be greased up and sold off, mother from child, with no one registering their anguish?
Sojourner Truth, in her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, lamented: “I have borne 13 children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me!”
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History estimates that nearly two-thirds of slaves lived in nuclear households. However, those families could be broken up on a whim, and many slaves were bred like animals, were raped at will and could marry only if allowed.
How could they have been “happier” to meet the lash, to feel the flaying of flesh, to have it heal in dreadful scars only to be ripped open again until one had, as Sethe, the main character in Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” put it, a tree on one’s back?
It was not only the lash but also the noose and being chased down and ripped apart by dogs, and all manner of terrors. When the human imagination sets itself on cruelty there are no limits to its designs.
Americans have been trying to justify slavery since its inception, to make the most wrong of wrongs right, to no avail.
Robert E. Lee wrote in 1856: “The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things.”
Others used religion as a justification, quoting verses and patting themselves on the back for saving the souls of the so-called savage.
But as Frederick Douglass pointed out, “The slave auctioneer’s bell and the churchgoing bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heartbroken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master.”
Religion didn’t elevate enslavers; trying to justify slavery reduced religion.
“Happier”? How, Mr. Bundy, could you even utter such absurdity?
The very soil of this country cries out for us to never forget what happened here, for the irreducible record of the horrors of slavery to never be reduced.
Romantic revisionism of this most ghastly enterprise cannot stand. It must be met, vigilantly and unequivocally, with the strongest rebuttal. Slaves dishonored in life must not have their memories disfigured by revisionist history.
America committed this great sin, its original sin, and there will be no absolution by alteration. America must live with the memory of what its forefathers — even its founding fathers — did. It must sit with this history, the unvarnished truth of it, until it has reconciled with it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

PMO Creation - Week 10

This week our Wednesday PMO meeting was another quick one. I hate to waste the time of my team. We talked about our progress against the plan.
We are doing the work we had planned but quite a bit slower than we had originally planned. But we were making progress and were ready to share some of this progress with the steering committee on Friday.

During the steering committee we reprioritized some of our projects, added a new high-priority one, discussed the various change control systems and showed off our templates for status reports and project dashboard.

We liked the status report template but made a few changes to make it specific to the PMO Commercial Projects. It was based on our old Professional Services Report. 

We also liked the dashboard but suggested the following improvements: 
  • Add it as a tab to our prioritization sheet so we can have the first column automatically populated in the correct order.
  • Add variance for budget and schedule
  • Link the projects to their actual status report so we can get details rather than just the tab that has to be populated by the PMs . 

The big things were the staffing of resources against prioritized projects and change control. These generated a lot of discussion and I'd like to give you the benefit of our brainpower.

We added resources to the columns we had in place before the meeting, figured out what % of time each resource was working on ongoing operations and started adding how much time they should be spending working on each project. We found out that we didn't have enough information so we asked the team to take it back to their offices after the meeting and fill it out for each person.

We also found it useful to add a column that determined how many hours of work we should expect this week per project based on the percentages quoted to the right. This gave us a good reality check.

Change Control:

Our CEO was asking why we needed a lot of different systems to monitor changes. Why didn't every change go through the steering committee. Here were the different systems:

  1. Track-it were requests for IT support that people could assign resources to for things like fixing people's computers, but this also generated new project requests.
  2. Quality Change control for our ongoing operations, especially when they resulted in changes to customer or regulatory requirements.
  3. Professional Services Project Change Notices. These are used when our consultants are working under one statement of Work and our customer asks us to do something additional. We track these under PCNs to ensure we get paid for the extra work when the project is over.
  4. Project Change Control. This is what we were instituting to deal with changes to these internal projects on our Commercial Services side of the house. 
Since Professional Services don't steal resources from a limited pool, we have always kept this side of the house separate from the PMO. The PMO is all about prioritizing projects within the limited resource pool and investment dollars the Commercial Services side operates under. When Professional Services gets a new project, they hire more people and each hour spent on the project generates profit because it is consulting. When Commercial Services gets a new project, the limited resources get more work to do and we have to spend as little of the money we have as possible with a hope to generate earnings when the project is complete. 

So the PCN system wasn't going to work for the PMO. 
The Track-it system needed to operate outside the PMO to fix IT bugs but, when a new project was generated, that project would need to be approved and prioritized within the steering committee. People's time spent on dealing with IT tickets would have to be taken from the time they have available to work on ongoing operations.
The Quality Change Control System, similarly, would operate in parallel, occasionally generating projects which would appear in front of the steering committee. 

The meeting was a success that ended in 90 minutes. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nice graphic showing income disparity

The Times graphic department did another great job, showing a lot of data in a clever way. How have American's incomes increased (or decreased) over thirty years by percentile compared with other countries. I'll let the graphic speak for itself:

Pretty cool, huh. If you want to read the article, click here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dear PM Advisor. Apr 21, 2014

Dear PM Advisor,

I'm having difficulty with a particular team member who wants to keep adding features and improvements to the product. This keeps adding time to the project. He says he is doing his job by adding quality to the product. He is the Quality Director. What do I say to that? 

Stymied in Syracuse.

Dear Stymied,

Give him the definition of Quality. The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements. If you received x amount of money and y amount of time to fulfill z amount of requirements, it is not within his purview to add to this list.

It appears that he is changing the grade of the product. There is a key distinction between quality and grade. An i-phone is a higher grade than a flip phone when it comes to making calls. But a flip phone that never fails to make calls is a higher quality product than an i-phone that has a few glitches in this function.

Make sure the Quality Director is not adding features or gold-plating the product. You signed up for x, y and z and he lacks the authority to unilaterally increase any of these project constraints simply because he wants to increase the grade of the product.

Good luck,

PM advisor.

Send your questions to

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Eighty-fourth excerpt from 'Twelve Towers'

          Once they were out of sight of Dale, Gwilym and Grainne held a hasty discussion. “The roads are no longer safe,” said Gwilym. “That Dale might tell him which way we went after all. He is scared of the knight. We have to hope we have at least a day before Palomides hears where we are. By then, we need to be off these main roads and traveling along open country to Glastonbury. We should be safe once we arrive there.”
          “These carts won’t be much good in the open country. Too many hills, valleys and rivers. Do you know the country here?” asked Grainne.
          “I know the main roads. They cut through forests on our way here. I don’t know if there are secondary tracks through them.”
          “I know the forests. If you can get us to the forests, I can keep us safe,” said Grainne.
          A few hours later they saw a track leading off the main road that showed promise of being more than just a farmer’s drive. They took this and then began an odyssey of tracking their way back and forth across the countryside, through farms and hamlets, around rivers and forests, up and down hills, fording small streams, backtracking around the occasional steep valleys but always heading generally west.
          Whenever they approached a settlement or even a farm, Gwilym would hide under covers in the back of the cart. His face was on the coin and he didn’t want to attract attention to their group. The sight of a beautiful woman alone in a cart attracted different attention and Bleddyn would sometimes have to stand and draw his bow to discourage the lewd advances.
          They traveled this way for a week, making slow progress toward their destination. Then they reached the edge of a great forest, one that was known to all as a dangerous place, pierced by only one Roman road from east to west and another from north to south. There were other trails reputed to be stalked by bandits. It would take two days to pass through the forest using the main roads. People spent the night at the crossroads where there was a small settlement and a contingent of the king’s soldiers. This was the place Gwilym had stayed on his trip from Huish to Airmyn.
          “Palomides may wait for us there,” said Gwilym to Grainne.
          “That’s good,” said Grainne.
          “Then we can take the Roman road almost to the crossroads, skirt around it and return to the road later.”
          Gwilym thought about this and but was concerned about the logic. “But that’s only if he knows we must come this way. He doesn’t know our destination. No. Thinking about it more, I think he’ll place some trusted henchman there while he continues patrolling the roads to find us.”
          “No-one has seen you since Edithvale. How will he find us?”
          “At Edithvale they saw who I was traveling with. He’ll be spreading the word about you, the boys and the two carts. He probably went down the road that Dale pointed until he reached a settlement and asked there. He would have found out we didn’t come through. Then he would have gone back to the fork and done the same thing down the other road. We didn’t pass through any settlement before we went off the road. If he’s a good tracker he would have gone back to the fork and started making circles on his horse, stopping at every farm and asking about us. Eventually he would have come to places that had seen us and figured out our direction.”
          “Where is he now then?”
          Gwilym thought hard for a while in silence. “He may have figured out by now which direction we are traveling and that we must pass through this forest. The forest is the neck of the bottle. We either go through it on the road or around it. It will be easy for him to post a few sentries at some points around it looking for us to skirt it and one at the crossroads to catch us there. He hates to stand still so he will be patrolling the roads and outskirts.”
          “Then we are in danger here. We can only be safe taking one of the old tracks through it.”
          “That’s dangerous. They’re a haven for bandits.”
          Grainne pointed at the trees. “That’s an oak forest. I can protect us there.”
          “Do you know any paths wide enough for these carts?”

          Grainne looked at the carts. “With a little work, probably. Follow me, Bleddyn!” she yelled behind her and crossed the last bit of open field and plunged the horses into the dark. 

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What kind of leader allows his passengers to drown?

While nautical leadership doesn't have to mean going down with your ship, at a minimum, it means ensuring that your passengers and crew are safe before you leave a sinking ship.
Captain Lee Jun-seok ordered hundreds of passengers to remain in their seats while the ferry sunk, meanwhile slinking off himself along with his crew. Here is is, third from the right, making it safely onto a coast guard vessel while hundreds of teenaged passengers are drowning behind him.

We can put him in the same boat, (pun intended) with Concordia captain Francesco Schettino, who slammed his ship into the rocks, drowning 32 passengers while he fled to safety.
Who did the right thing most recently? How about Sully, who made two trips through his sinking plane to ensure there were no passengers aboard before getting out onto the wing? This was after making an unprecedented no-engine landing on the Hudson River. That's the kind of leadership we need in captains.
What's the common link here? We can't say Navy guys stink and Air Force guys don't though there are plenty who would fight over that statement. Nationalities don't matter. Maybe it's the fact that the two ship captains knew they messed up and tried to escape while Sully was still in rescue mode.

Friday, April 18, 2014

PMO Creation - Week 9

We held our first official Steering Committee meeting this Friday with good results. Below was the Agenda:

  1. Cancel Complete Projects
  2. Add New Projects
  3. Reprioritize Existing Projects
  4. Change Control
  5. Resourcing
  6. Complete Executive Briefing
Most of the team was there. I was only missing Medical and part of Operations. 

Sarah had pasted the latest Priority List on the walls with numbered Post-its next to each project title ready to be moved. 

  1. We cancelled a couple of projects that were not really projects, just deliverables within other projects. 
  2. Then our CEO asked us to add a couple of projects that stemmed from new customer orders. We figured out the priority of these by holding the post-it next to the top projects and asking: "Is this more important than this one...this one...etc."
  3. Then we looked over the list and decided that a couple of projects needed their priorities adjusted. But not as many as I expected. I'm used to more fluidity at this early stage.
  4. Mike showed off our Change Control System. We made some suggestions for improving it and he took notes.
  5. Sarah showed off the resourcing spreadsheet. This is almost ready to go. Sarah will update this with a few changes and send it out to the team to fill out for all their people.
  6. I completed the Executive Briefing and everyone felt like the time was well spent. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Simple invention to reduce hockey injuries

I love simple ideas with a big impact. Here's one that strives to reduce debilitating injuries in hockey caused by people slamming or being slammed into the boards without warning. Tom Smith invented a simple warning line that paints the last 40 inches of a hockey rink bright orange to give a player warning that a solid object is close.
Having suffered two severe spinal injuries himself, he now walks with crutches but wants to prevent future children from the paralysis and injuries that are all too common in this sport.

His 'Look-Up Line' costs $550 to install in a rink, 1000 times less than his own medical bills for six months.

June 6th, USA Hockey will vote on a measure to require this in all rinks. Let's hope it passes.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dear PM Advisor - April 14, 2014

Dear PM Advisor,

What's the point of breaking projects up into many life cycle phases? It seems to add bureaucracy and stall projects. 

Streamlined in Atlanta

Dear Streamlined,

Let's look at the extreme ends of your argument to find the right amount of phases.

If there were no phases at all, that would mean that every project that was thought of would be planned and executed and enter the operating environment, regardless of how good or bad an idea it was. Too may bad ideas would enter the operating environment.

If there were seventeen phases, you would spend all your time fulfilling the requirements to pass that gate and projects would take forever.

So there must be some happy medium. I have found five phases to work well.

  1. In the first phase, an idea is presented to management for consideration. Spend half an hour documenting your idea and, if it sounds good, you are awarded a sponsor and a couple more people to examine the idea further.
  2. Phase Two has 2 - 3 people examining this idea and looking at options. Maybe spend 8 hours total seeing if it's still a good idea. If it is, assign another 3 - 5 folks to narrow it down the options.
  3. Phase Three narrows down the options to one and figures out how to complete it. This might take a few weeks on a large project and up to 200 hours of effort.
  4. Phase Four plans the whole project with the full team. Twelve people for 2 - 4 days of effort plus some time polishing it all up.
  5. Phase Five executes the project.

Using this phased approach over time will make projects work more efficiently as you get better over time.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

Send your questions to

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Color-blind leadership in Detroit

When Deb Hughes saw her neighbors beating a man to death for accidentally running over a boy with his pickup, she reacted with bravery. She pushed past the crowd and covered the man with her body, threatening to shoot the next person to kick the victim.

Read this article to see how Steve Utash, after accidentally hitting the boy and stopping to help was pounced on by a group of young black men who punched and kicked him into a coma. Deb Hughes saw no color that day, just a man being killed and her nursing instincts drove her to protect him.

I'm happy about her display of leadership but I'm wondering where the outrage of Al Shapton and Jesse Jackson is. If a group of white men had been beating a black man to death, you can be assured they would have been protesting that day.

Sometimes the real heroes are the unknown ones like Deb Hughes.

Friday, April 11, 2014

PMO Creation - Week 8

Great week! We finally prioritized all our projects. Here's how we did it:
Sarah collected all the project names from the functional managers. They knew that if their project was not listed, it would not be worked on next week. She categorized them into five groups:
  1. New Product Development: We invest money in the hopes that some customer will buy the product or service when we're done.
  2. Customer Order: Some customer has promised to buy the product or service when it's finished and may even be paying for the development.
  3. Process Improvement: Invest to improve the current processes, reducing cost and increasing profits that way. 
  4. Regulatory Mandate: Make this investment because we're told to by some regulatory agency. Do it or we cannot stay in a particular business. 
  5. Facilities/Infrastructure: Invest in real estate, buildings or electronics to get into new or more  business. 
Sarah wrote these on large flip-chart pages and pasted these on the walls of the room we were using. Then the steering committee arrived. I had representatives from IT, Marketing, Ops, IT QA, and QA. Finance was unavailable but we had a quorum.
Once we had reached agreement on where each project fit in the categories, we prioritized within each. Armed with post-its bearing numbers from 1 - 20, I facilitated the team deciding which Process Improvement project was most important to company business. 
Lots of interesting discussions developed. "What constitutes company importance?" Was it time to complete, investment, number or types of resources, how many other projects are affected by this one? All mattered but, through discussion, we were able to achieve a forced ranking of every project within each category.
Then the tough job arrived. We now had five #1 projects. We had to decide which of these five was most important to the future of the company. Once that was picked we had four #1 and one #2 to pick from. This continued until one category was exhausted and then we had only four to choose from.
Lots more great discussions until all 45 projects were force ranked. 
Next up, we need to resource the top projects until we run out of resources. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chris Paul. Sports role model

There are not a lot of role models anymore in the NBA. But here is a notable exception:
Chris Paul puts his family first, married his high school sweetheart and planned his high school's 10th year reunion. Joining the player's union as a rookie, he is now the president and is dedicated to improving life for those who follow.

How did he develop his leadership style? Look at how he his parents raised him:
  • No earrings, tattoos or names shaved in his hair
  • No video games until weekends
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA
  • Know your black history
  • Visit historical sites on vacation
The day after he signed with Wake Forest, his 61 year-old grandfather and best friend was mugged and killed for his wallet. The next day, he scored 61 points, intentionally missing his last free throw so that his point score would be a tribute to his grandfather's years. Then he sat on the bench and broke down. 

He is building a basketball court in Winston-Salem and naming it after his grandfather. 

This is the kind of man I want my sons to look up to. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dear PM Advisor - April 7, 2014

Dear PM Advisor,

Does Risk always increase as project size increases? It seems that smaller projects expose me to more risks. 

Out in the open in Seattle

Dear Seattle,

Sometimes those small projects can be high visibility and definite career changers. Imagine planning the company Holiday Party or decorating the CEO's office. If you screw this up, you kiss your career at this company good-bye. But a large project with all kinds of complexity can fail spectacularly and the PM is promoted because 'She tried her best in tough circumstances.'

But the risk we are talking about is risk to the company's stock price, not your career. And the large, complex projects have a much higher effect on the stock price than the company picnic.

So pay more attention to risk on larger projects but watch yourself on these small, low profile projects as well.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

Send your questions to

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eighty-third excerpt from 'Twelve Towers'

          “Hail, good sirrah!” Gwilym cried. “What village is this?”
          “This be Edithvale,” replied the villager. “Willim, be it?”
          “Gwilym, actually! Did my knight friend give you one of these coins?” He pulled out the coin Fred had given him and compared it to the villager’s.
          “That he did, yet he gave no feeling that he were a friend of yourn. He told me I’d get a gold coin if I gave word of you.”
          A horse galloped by, the rider staring at Gwilym as he left. Gwilym looked around and noticed other villagers mounting up.
          “It’s a long story. Join me on the cart and I’ll tell you.” The man clambered aboard. “You have me at a disadvantage,” Gwiylm said as he clasped the man’s hand helping him up and turning it into a handshake.               “You know my name and I don’t know yours.”
          “Name be Dale. Where be ye headed?” He was scrutinizing Gwilym, Grainne and both carts. Gwilym stood and stretched to his full height. Dale’s shoulders drooped. They drove the carts out through the other side of the village.
          “Dale, you want that gold coin and I don’t want that knight catching me. But he has me at a disadvantage. He only has to give one gold coin to the few people who point him my way. I can’t afford to give a gold coin to everyone who doesn’t.”
          Dale nodded.
          “Now, three villagers have already left on horseback to tell Palomides where I am. What do you suppose he’ll give to the second villager who tells him my whereabouts?”
          “Another gold piece.”
          Gwilym shook his head.
          Dale thought. “He should give the first one a gold piece. But the second one will tell him the same so he won’t give him anything.”
          “And what about the third and fourth?”
          Dale nodded and said, “Nothing.”
          “Right. The next person to get a gold piece from him will be the first one who tells him where I went after I left the village. I imagine there are already villagers who have figured that out and are vying with each other to be that person.”
          Dale nodded again with a sad expression.
          “But when Palomides comes to the next crossroads, there is one person who can tell him which way I went. And that, my friend, is where you will get two gold pieces. More gold than anyone else in town. Plus, you will get something even better. Peace of mind that you were the only villager who earned money without sending an ungodly Saracen to kill a pious Christian.”
          Dale’s expression cleared with a new hope. “How’s that, sirrah?”
          “What was your opinion of Palomides when he talked to the people of your village?”
          “He were dark and hairy, with one eyebrow and a huge nose. He smelled bad and talked funny.”
          “Did you trust him?”
          “I believed he would give the gold. He showed a handful from his purse.”
          “Yes,” said Gwilym. “But did you trust that he was looking for me for good intentions. Or did you suspect that he was up to no good?”
          “I had my doubts. But he was offering gold. I could buy a fine milk cow for a piece of real gold.”
          “And now that you’ve met me. Would you feel right about sending him after me?”
          “Don’t suppose so. But it were real gold.”
          “Aye,” said Gwilym. He fished around in his belt-pouch and held out a gold piece of his own. “When Palomides comes to the cross-roads, he will ask you which way I went. For the price of this gold, I ask you to tell him the wrong way. You can take Palomides’ gold also.”
          Dale smiled.
          “Do you know why Palomides is after me?”
          Dale shook his head.
          “I have a secret about Jesus that I found while traveling in the Holy Land.” The mention of this place elicited the usual awed expression Gwilym had seen in British villagers. “Palomides wants to use this secret to hurt Christians. He will torture my children in front of me to get this secret from me.”
          Dale looked glum.
          “So Dale. I ask you. When Palomides comes to the cross-roads and asks you which way I went and you feel the warmth of this gold piece in your pocket. Which way will you tell him?”
          Dale’s expression brightened and he replied, “The wrong way!”
          “Good man!” exclaimed Gwilym and clapped him on the shoulder. “How many days ago was Palomides in your village?”
          They spoke no more for the next hour until they reached a fork in the road. Dale stole the occasional glance at Grainne when he thought Gwilym was not looking. Twice he looked back at the children following in the other cart and smiled at them.
            Dale stepped down off the cart at the fork. Gwilym threw him the gold piece and the family traveled along the southern road. 

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

PMO Creation - Week 7

As often happens, work on actual projects gets in the way of creating the PMO. I was heads down all week getting my new project through a critical phase.

However, my team managed to set up two important PMO meetings:

First project prioritization session is set for next Thursday and the following Monday I will conduct a four hour Executive Briefing for them.

I'll keep you informed on progress.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Leader fired for political views

Not sure what happened to freedom of speech in this country. It seems there are a few sacred cows you can't speak out against. Mozilla's chief executive was fired because he donated $1,000 to support proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage.

Brendan Eich didn't ask his employees to vote with him, didn't discrimiate against homosexuals at Mozilla and he was supported by gay employees as an executive. He just donated money to support his own beliefs. When asked by gay groups to repudiate his donation he stood by his beliefs. And for that he was hounded out of his position.

It's a little sickening that the world has come to this but I take solace in the statements from a few gay rights leaders who are also offended by this behavior. According to a recent Times article: Andrew Sullivan, a prominent gay writer and an early, influential proponent of making same-sex marriage legal, expressed outrage over Mr. Eich’s departure on his popular blog, saying the Mozilla chief had been “scalped by some gay activists.”

“If this is the gay rights movement today — hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else — then count me out,” Mr. Sullivan wrote.
A number of gay rights advocates pointed out that their organizations did not seek Mr. Eich’s resignation. Evan Wolfson, a leading gay marriage advocate, said that this was a case of “a company deciding who best represents them and their values. There is no monolithic gay rights movement that called for this.”