Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Building Bigger Snowmen

Bad monkey! No banana!
For a so called 'accountability project' I haven't seen much word of any projects, let alone accountability' in 15+ days...and I blame all of you!

So without further ado, I want to formally introduce ad idea I've been working on for a bit; a sub-architecture within the accountability project to make it work better. An idea that will empower all of our future ideas/projects and give them a better fighting chance of survival.

Amongst our contributors (and I can think of at least a few more that should be immediately added) we've got a lot of skills and a lot of intelligence. I think it's high time that we start utilizing the power of collaboration to support our friends and to support ourselves.

It's one thing to write (and a good thing) to write about accountability, but true accountability comes through action, responsibility, and framework. Accountability is destined to require structure to utilize it's power to the fullest.

What I propose is a scheduled, regular meeting of said contributors to the accountability project. A specific time and place to present our ideas, our hurdles, our motivations - and get feedback on it. Once a week, or once every two weeks, we will get together working in an environment free from distraction and we take our ideas and projects seriously.

We all have ideas, some of which may already have evolved into projects. Any evolving idea or project, however, needs momentum to work. Every snowman starts as a snowball and no matter how perfect of flawed that snowball is, it can be shaped into something bigger and better. I'm pretty sure all of us here aren't particularly interested in making a collection of miniature snowmen or boxes of nicely started snowballs. If you ever hope to make big snowmen, you're going to have to work your ass of and keep pushing the snowball. It would sure help though if you were working on a downhill slope. And that's, metaphorically speaking, what I think such a meeting can do.

It would easy to approach this concept with a casual glance. It would be fun, and it would work - once or twice. But that's not good enough. That's why it needs to be a regular occurance, and there needs to a fixed structure to how we present and critique our fellow ideas and projects.

There should be formal attire - like a business meeting. Because we're in the business of assuring that our goals are successfully met. Formality indicates maturity and responsibility - it sets the frame of mind. I take my life's pursuits very seriously as well as all of yours.

busi·ness [biz-nis]
3.a person, partnership, or corporation engaged in commerce, manufacturing, or a service; profit-seeking enterprise or concern.

Imagine a place where you have to describe what you're working on, what you're having trouble with, and where you're your closest peers. That's self-accountability. Now imagine you can get constructive (and maybe not so constructive) feedback on what you're doing. A fresh pair of eyes and ears to lead you in the right direction and make sure you're still headed downhill.

With some of leaving, some of us already left, and surely more to leave in due time, the time is more than ripe to put something into place that will function wherever we may end up. We are the age of technology. No need to let a few thousand miles get in the way of getting stuff done.

I've got plenty more specifics in mind, but I'd like to hear from allz' yall.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Never stop learning.

UPDATE: So the notion of "never stop learning" has its applications even here... In my original post, I misappropriated an idiom (the carrot and stick metaphor). It's been fixed and the post probably makes a bit more sense now.

Word is gradually spreading about this little endeavor, and I'm getting some great feedback from all sides... One of the on-going debates that has always roiled just under the surface for me is the question of college. Grad school (and an MBA in particular, for me) has always held certain appeals for me: the prospect of better jobs, more "experience", and a credential to show to would-be employers... The fairytale comes crashing down, however, with the 6-digit debt and 2-3 year commitment (during which I would be working just as hard as if I was *actually* employed, all without making a dime). With so much uncertainty about my future direction(s) still looming, there is no way I could commit myself to that sort of academic term.

There are, however, still a few options... A good friend pointed me to some seminar-style classes at the University of Washington's Experimental College. They offer classes that run from one-night engagements to several week terms and teach everything from basic business principles (Patents/Trademark law) to entrepreneurial workshops (Real Estate development and Small Business Importing). They're cheap, offer a minimal commitment of time, and provide a perfect environment to get my feet wet, ask questions of a mentor, and give me a launch pad for further research/exploration. If I'm ever going to get a project of my own off the ground, this is the sort of background I'll need.

UW Experimental College

Friday, January 4, 2008

There's always time for a stopgap.

So how's this for turnaround time? Job sucks... so change your job description! It seems that all of this self-examination is coming at a very convenient time. My department at work is undergoing some staffing changes, and along with the new year there has been a push to re-evaluate the roles and responsibilities of myself and my coworkers. I took the opportunity today to explain my exasperation with the mundane and advocate for a change in my focus towards the more exciting areas of work. The meeting is preliminary, but I may soon get to go from Accounts Payable to Startup Logistics. My organization is growing rapidly, and they are opening new field offices in the 3rd world all the time. It looks like I may soon get to play a very direct and hands-on role in the establishment of those offices. That smells like travel abroad, increased responsibility, and a chance to take ownership of my own projects. And, if you haven't already noticed, those key words are music to my ears... The situation will develop over the next week or two, but my team seems supportive. Now, to tackle management and flesh out the possibilities...

This is definitely great news, and I'm excited for the prospects. It doesn't mean that I can rest on my laurels, though... The idea that I can turn the job I already have into one I appreciate more is encouraging. It's actually a great relief to realize that it might have some of the qualities that I'm looking for. Regardless, I'm still not completely sure of the things I want to do or the directions I want to take in life. The above key words are a good start, though, and I should probably take pains to add to and better define them. More to come!