Friday, April 19, 2013

Saturday Night Soup (39)

When your mother sends back all your invitations
And your father to your sister he explains
That you’re tired of yourself and all of your creations
              Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?           

Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Now when all of the flower ladies want back
what they have lent you
And the smell of their roses does not remain
And all of your children start to resent you
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?.

(Queen Jane Approximately)

or those of you who have managed large projects (I have), these few words will ring true.
There are many phases to a project. From inception, you have scope definition and cost/benefit analysis. If the project gets launch authorization, you must define the succinct phases of the project and deliverables of each phase, timelines, staffing, determine what the metrics shall be to measure progress, so forth and so on. Then cometh the execution of the plan, with all the unanticipated pot holes, tears, breakdowns, screaming matches, personality incompatibilities, intrigues, and hopefully despite all this, success.
“The lamps are going out all over Earth; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” From an email I received this week.
The above description of the process of managing a project is all a gross simplification of course. But it is superficially accurate.

Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned
Have died in battle or in vain
And you’re sick of all this repetition
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
When all of your advisers heave their plastic
At your feet to convince you of your pain
Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
(Queen Jane Approximately)
There is one often overlooked phase of a project that should conclude a project (but is often overlooked): the project post mortem. This is where you dissect the past: what worked and did not work; what went to plan and ran off the tracks becoming a major train wreck, so forth and so on. Why do you do this? It should be self evident.

There is a proper way to conduct the project autopsy. Never, ever let the process descend into organizational name calling, finger pointing, and playing out the “He did this” and “She did this” blame game. That is never productive, and fractures inter departmental relationships, ensuring that the organization will never be successful in executing future large scope projects.

One of the ways I have found that you can prevent such rear view mirror chaotic bickering is to stand up in front of everyone and become the face of whatever failures occurred in the past. Do this at the beginning of the post mortem. Do this with humor. Own the projects failures. You will find that once you set such an atmosphere, the players will feel safe with being objective and open about the things they did wrong in the concluded project. This then allows the all important objective of this process to occur: determine what changes could have been made to the past to prevent the failures. And of course, this helps you to better plan the next project, and to avoid making the same mistakes.

Now when all the bandits
that you turned your other cheek to

All lay down their bandanas and complain
And you want somebody you don’t have to speak to
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?

(Queen Jane Approximately)

As a work collogue reminds me “We won’t repeat the same mistakes; we will make new ones!”.
I have written about the professional career compartment of one’s life. This same concept equally applies to ones private life.

I’m leavin’ today
,I’ll be on my way
Of this I can’t say very much.
But if you want me to,
I can be just like you
An’ pretend that we never have touched.
An’ if anybody asks me,
“Is it easy to forget?”
I’ll say, “It’s easily done,
You just pick anyone,
An’ pretend that you never have met!”

(I Don't Believe You)

I have spent much of the past year and a half, up to and including the week just passed, in a state of reflective post mortem. Yesterday I dug up and disposed of several corpses buried on this blog (i.e. deleted some posts). I buried a couple of fresh corpses in blog where they are unlikely to be found (one was found within 14 hours by a bizarre Google search – I had bet someone that it would take three weeks for this to occur – I lose).
And I dug up one particular tombstone topped corpse, clamped on the jumper cables to the bolts protruding from the sides of the corpse’s neck, and set the timer to “fully resurrect”. I have yet to test the result of this process for success (or lack of).
If all of this sounds dodgy and intentionally illusive, that was my intention. Here is my last bowl of soup for a while. Have all you want. There is enough for all of you, and for all of your friends. As usual, there is a subtext to the music that those of you who are perceptive will understand. There is always much, much, much more to the soup than meets the ears. Such is life. The recipe includes:

1. I Don't Believe You Bobby Dylan, introducing this song at his Halloween, 1964 show at New York's Philharmonic Hall (this bit begins this week’s soup) said, "This is about all the people that say they've never seen you...”. He then says “Hi” to someone in the audience, and tells the audience “and I never saw him”.
The song comes from Dylan’s pivotal 1964 LP Another Side of Bob Dylan. Having been placed onto the chrome plated pedestal of fame, been anointed as the poster child of American folk music, protest music, and declared to be the voice of the social consciousness of America, Dylan did what any other self respecting artist would do: find a way to escape at any price. During this period of his life, the four headed monster otherwise known as The Beatles invaded Dylan’s New York, and from this beachhead stormed America’s culture with their unique high electrified musical shock and awe. Furthermore, he took the wonder-drug LSD.

Dylan’s music changed – radically – though few at the time really understood what was afoot. Gone were the signature movement anthems which had initially made him famous. Replacing them were songs of a deeply personal nature, nuanced, absurd and bizarre at times, dark and passionate at other times, and always intense in their simplicity. And ideas and change were now exploding out of his subconscious at an accelerating brake neck pace.

The self-anointed over-inflated windbags of the folk movement denounced Dylan for straying from the orthodoxy of folk with this LP. The Halloween performance, of which I have included but a snippet of dialog catches him as a blur in rapid transition, sounding stoned, and introducing one yet unrecorded new song after another to an audience that was unable to grasp what they were witnessing before them. After this LP, Dylan would go electric and record three LP’s that rank among the greatest achievements of popular music in the entire 20th century.
2. Queen Jane Approximately comes from Dylan’s fantastic full tilt Highway 61 Revisited LP. Released in August 1965, it remains one of the greatest LP’s of all time. For the recording sessions, he assembled a high caliber group of electric blues musicians. What they created was unlike anything ever record and to this day sounds amazingly fresh and unique.

Well, he is prophesying to one specific person about things to come in his/her life using incredible and surrealistic allusions to predicted future events. And he appears to be telling him/her (Dylan once said that Queen Jane was a man) that they will one day reach that do or die point of desperation in their life, that he (Dylan) will be there waiting to hear from them, and be receptive to them.
Below: The historical Queen Jane

All of this makes it's way into this week's soup. You can get your bowl of Saturday Night Soul for the Soul by clicking the jukebox.

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