Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas. Now leave.

I recently read "Helping the Dying Product Manager." OK, OK, I realize that for people such as Susan Reynolds, the use of the term "dying" in the Product Management View blog post is a little excessive. But, in some sense, we react similarly to a failed project as we do to a life-threatening illness.

Dealing with failed Product Management can sometimes be as emotionally and physically similar to dealing with the life altering situations I talked with that psychologist about. Some may think it a stretch, but I’ve seen the struggles, pains, stress, disappointment, loss and anguish of people who work for years on products that fail. Not to be dull and dreary, I’ve also seen the immense feelings of self-worth, fulfillment, and joy that comes from a successful product. As a consultant I have learned to find out what stage a product manager is in, and help him to first cope with the stage he is in, and then as he is ready and able, move him to the next stage, and next until that first unique smile that comes the moment he knows that his product is going to be a success.

But at least a product manager has a product. What happens to a DBA when nobody realizes that the firm has data that needs to be managed?

[I]n the department meeting we talked about the improvements in the applications and new customer demands for the next year. In the organization level we talked more about sales, strategy and plans to cut costs.

Listening to all those discussions, you’d come to the conclusion that we have customers that are paying us a lot and have high demands, they are using applications which we keep upgrading. These applications run on servers, which cost a lot, so we are moving to VMWare, and usage storage which is also expensive but there is nothing to do about it. Everything is hosted in a data center which costs way too much, so we will be moving to a cheaper one. We also have nice processes that we keep improving and internal tools that we are building.

It sounds like we don’t have a database anywhere. Which makes me wonder what is it I do all day.

But it could be worse. Red Stick Rant links to an article in Architect magazine.

In May 2004, Sean P. O'Malley, the Catholic archbishop of Boston, announced that 65 parishes out of 357 would close in a massive “reconfiguration” of the Boston Archdiocese. The closings had been half expected: In Boston, as in other big cities, urban parishes were seeing a fall in the number of parishioners. Fewer men were entering the priesthood, making parishes harder to manage. Pension commitments were underfunded (by a staggering $135 million, according to a 2006 report). And then the clergy sex abuse scandal emerged nationwide....

[T]he parishioners at St. James were not treated especially gently by the Boston Archdiocese. In October 2004, on the eve of a final celebratory Mass for the church, which was established in 1914, McGough remembers that St. James' pastor, the Rev. Francis E. Daley, had to go to the archdiocesan headquarters to retrieve a key. The previous day, officials with the archdiocese—taking no chances on protests—had come and changed the church's locks, “so that Father Daley couldn't even get in to celebrate Mass,” McGough says. “That hurt worse than anything,” he says, because “they didn't trust us.”

To everything there is a season. If a product fails, someone will come up with another product. If a DBA leaves, then the company will get another DBA, or perhaps outsource its data management. And when a church closes...

A year later, St. James became a new church. A Greek Orthodox congregation in Arlington, St. Athanasius the Great, bought the three-acre St. James complex for $6 million. St. Athanasius is bursting with members—at last count, about 900 families. That Nov. 27, the Rev. Fr. Nicholas M. Kastanas of St. Athanasius held the final Divine Liturgy in its longtime church, an 1841 whiteboard Greek Revival building on Massachusetts Avenue. Afterward, the congregation made a procession up the avenue to their new church on Appleton Street.

“A group of us from St. James met them at the front door and wished them the best,” McGough recalls. “There were about 60 of us. They were flabbergasted.”

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