Friday, June 1, 2007

Testing, 1, 2, 3 ...

Another "slow" news day. In this morning's news some of the top stories included a piece about chunks of concrete falling from a railroad bridge and a story about the town of Brookline, Mass., passing a ban on trans fats. Nothing that was going to send people surging to the web site in any great numbers.

The slowness of the day was a blessing, however, as I am down an editor who's on vacation and I had to spend a good deal of time in meetings, either in person or on the phone. The Manchester presidential debate is day after tomorrow and we were still trying to determine whether we would get the correct feed from Manchester.

We were also trying to make sure the new PC was set up to livestream correctly. This was something we started a week ago and, not counting the weekend holiday in between, it took four days to get it accomplished. Even now, we haven't tested the entire set-up to my satisfaction. I could work 24 hours a day and still feel I haven't gotten everything done, so at some point I just have to get on with my personal life.

In the meantime, I do take away what I think are key lessons from every endeavor. In this case, the notion that PLANNING is everything has been reinforced. It simply does not do to throw a project at people a few weeks in advance and then expect everything to fall smoothly into place. One invites problems with that approach.

I sometimes feel impatient with the way that engineers do things slowly and methodically, planning everything out in advance and then completing steps in a linear fashion, but over time I have truly grown to appreciate this approach. It's important to envision the ultimate goal, the final product, and then work backwords from there, planning each phase of a project as you would design an outline for a term paper.

Nothing guarantees a flawless finish, but I do think you seriously boost the odds for success when you take the time to anticipate problems and do what can be done to reduce them. I also think communication is vital. The more people know far enough in advance what the goals are, the better off everyone is.

I know all these things may seem like truisms, but it's truly amazing how often some of these basic precepts are NOT followed.

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