what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

modern work


Went exploring yesterday afternoon on the hills above the house – accompanied by 2 more dogs which have attached themselves to me. The view from the upper part of the extensive strip of ground we have there are quite stunning. The picture above doesn't do the view I have justice. I struck over to the left side of a wooded copse which runs at the top of the main hill which screens the main range of mountains and was intrigued to hear an engine. When I topped the ridge I saw 2 tractors in the small valley down below each dragging a large tree trunk toward the far end of Sirnea. Following their tracks I quickly found myself in a real Shangrilai – the real old Romania of scattered summer cowshacks. I headed left down a deep dell in the general direction of Dambivici and was very soon into a settlement which I guessed was Tohani (or Cohanini??)– a village whose northern part I know. An old guy spreading manure onto the field from his cart confirmed this. Then a lovely walk following the contours which took me back to above the house. Google these various names on Google Earth and you will find quite a few superb photos taken by various Romanians.
Now that my spirits are reinvigorated, I’ve been drafting a note trying to pin down why I became disabled so quickly in my last project. I had noted 14 points – which is more a manifesto than an explanation! Starting a project is never easy - with doubts about what one can really contribute (and I've already mentioned that reading too much in this confused field is not good for your health!!) Going into new terrain every 2 years or so – another unknown country, another new flat, new team , new contractor, new EC structure, new beneficiary, new procedures and ways of doing things, having to prove one’s credentials again and again. Mercenaries grow old – what was once a delight becomes unbearable.
Basically I have been spoiled by the flexibility I enjoyed in my projects until 2008 The conditions in which I worked in places such as Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan demanded this – and the EC desk-officers basically trusted me to deliver. Now the project management ideology has become so strong that it is assumed that you can and should plan detailed activities a full year ahead – and that your every (scheduled) visit to the toilet has to be recorded and monitored. This is full-blown Fordism which is now mocked in the private sector which is assumed to have all the answers and skills. Some years ago I found an article Lost in the matrix which attacked the logframe approach to projects – and have uploaded it to my website

Now a bit of light relief. Todays Guardian carries a story about a shopkeeper being fined 1,000 pounds (and put under a curfew for a week!!!) for selling a goldfish to a 14 year old. April Fool's Day is actually tomorrow - I'm assuming this is an early bash. See for yourself here.

Finally I have to record the discovery at last of the title and author of a book I've been searching for since it was stolen from my office in Kyrgyzstan. I used it extensively in mini-seminars with the staff in my Tashkent and Bishkek offices. It's Peter's Honey's Improve your people skills

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