Saturday 30 June 2018

And THAT assignment is done and dusted

I have just sent off the last email and the work is done - hopefully I will now be able to get back to sleeping as normally as I ever do (not very), and after the next couple of weeks where I have one last assignment to do, I will be on holiday (flying Business Class, of course) in the UK on the boat, and for the time being acting like a retired person. How long THAT will last, I am not yet sure ...

The work since 9 April has been done at a frenetic pace, which has not been a bad thing, so much as a sleep-loss-inducing thing with the occasional stress upheaval. One thing it has meant though is no exercise to speak of and a reduced capacity to moderate tiredness eating ... It'll be back to fasting for a couple of days a week for the next few months, I think.

I am really pleased with the outputs of the work - I've prepared a Programme Management Plan (150-iah pages) for a large piece of work, and pulled together about 22 Workstream Briefs (about 300-ish pages).

But as is always the case in such endeavours, I didn't do it alone. I had a great deal of input from a group of people from the five agencies for whom the programme is being developed - I called that group my Virtual Programme Team (VPT) - they came to workshops that I ran, allowed me to run the workshops in a style somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, and put a great deal of thinking into scoping of the workstreams, what the risks are for the programme and what kind of skillsets are going to be required to get the work done.

As I pulled the Workstream Briefs together, the VPT reviewed them and provided comment and corrections, so I could finalise them. Then my trusty friend Sarah who I have worked with off and on, for 29 years, did a marvellous job of:
  • drawing up the pictures we sketched to show how each set of workstreams fitted into a particular project as part of the Programme
  • constructing the Programme Roadmap and made lots of changes to it progressively as our thinking about the Programme matured
    • which projects workstreams should sit within
    • what order workstreams should start in and with what time lags
  • putting together the spreadsheets (AAARRRGGGHHH!!!) showing the estimated costs for each workstream, then aggregated them up to Project level and then up to Programme level
  • formatting all of the documentation so it all looks fabulous and consistent throughout
  • doing a copy edit, and getting it all ready for a final print for checking (and that includes such things as inserting pages (marked as 'Page intentionally left blank') to make sure that the component documents started on the correct side of the page opening - who knew? ...
As well as working at her home, Sarah has also come and stayed with us for two separate weeks in June working on this stuff with me as I wrote, edited, swore, made cups of tea and left them to get cold, reheated them and left them to get cold ... and we worked together at our dining table. David let Sarah have his office chair and there we worked, barely stopping for lunch, and never stopping for morning or afternoon breaks.

To put it succinctly, it has been a mission! On the last night, Thursday, we were up until after midnight getting the final things done so it could go to the print firm, and be sent to a few people for them to reassure themselves they were happy for it to be distributed more widely.

Then Friday was spent making tweaks and a few cosmetic changes and repairing typos. Just as I was to get in the car and drive Sarah to Paraparaumu Airport late on Friday afternoon, we got the call that it could be sent out, so back inside to send the already prepared email about downloading it all from Dropbox (all 535 pages of it) and sending the already prepared accompanying email.


So then, off to the airport in a more rushed fashion, dropped Sarah off with giant hugs and thank yous - I think I was in bed before she landed in Nelson - and it's only a short flight ...

So we delivered on time! My contract ended yesterday (30 June) but I was determined to have it all delivered on the Friday. But to be honest, yesterday I worked too - I put together and sent out all of the stuff for the first Steering Group meeting that I am attending this coming Friday in Timaru.

It has been a frenetic time as I mentioned above, but a very satisfying piece of work and very satisfying to get it done on time - I am sure I have overspent the budget, because I have worked at least 6 days a week since early April, and I think they only calculate actual weekdays ...

Amid the hard work though, there has been a lot of laughter - Sarah and I are good friends, and all the work we do is creative in its own way, and I find creativity is always enhanced by being off the wall and laughing.

One morning (well, several actually) we started work still dressed in our night attire - that is one of the benefits of working from home. The other is the time saved in not commuting! It is so efficient being able to walk from the bedroom, via the kitchen to turn on the kettle, to the dining room to start work. And finishing work off at the end of the day is an easy segue to eating dinner.

4 Macs and a Heyward, hard at work

Sarah was an NZ Argentine Tango Champion and used to teach tango. So one night as an avoidance activity regarding doing the dishes, she taught David how to lead when dancing ...
Apparently the secret is in making sure that you dance close so you can feel when/where each other wants to move to. I think Sarah called it 'lead to initiate' - I will check, and get back to you ...

So, it was across the kitchen, and

past the freezer and into the laundry pantry.
One night Sarah's daughter Izzie came for dinner with her husband Bevan. Izzie renewed her friendship with Mel. Kirsty used to babysit Izzie so she had to be sent this picture.

One day we did escape the dining room and the Apple Macs and went for a quick walk up to the village. We saw this as we came back into our street.

And one day it was very cold first thing in the morning before the heater kicked in, so it was on with the burhka ...

We gave David a night off cooking and walked in the very cold evening air (so lovely and refreshing!) up to the local Indian restaurant. Yummy!

And outside the dining room window was a tui feeding from the camellia. This photo is a bit of a lucky fluke as I had to take it through the insect screen - that is why there is fine cross-hatching visible if you look closely.

David has also been a star during this time - he took on almost all dinner cooking duties, made innumerable cups of tea, delivered breakfast, did the supermarket and vege market shopping. About the only things he didn't do were sweeping and washing the kitchen floor and dusting - I am not sure what has to happen for him to look upon that set of tasks as 'must do' in the same timeframe as I want them done ...

Last weekend, while David was away in Brisbane, seeing his sister Ginny and being visited by our wonderful daughter Kirsty, Luke came around with Mr Chainsaw. I moved the motorhome out on to the street, and Luke and Mr Chainsaw got to work - the maple has had a very severe haircut. He also cut down a dead kowhai at Grahame and Joy's place over our back fence and trimmed the kowhai out on our berm - no where near as severely as the maple - it only needed shaping.