64E. Project Management

We are in Europe but we still get plenty of news from the US. We are up to speed on how most things are faring in our homeland. It has been interesting to learn of the roll-out of the ACA healthcare website and how awful it has been. From a project management standpoint I am incredulous that it has failed so spectacularly. This is not a politically biased opinion – it is objective fact – a product was launched that did not work. From a business standpoint there should have been a plan in place that included the part where IT HAS TO WORK. How it was addressed after the first failure – I’ll leave that to the pundits.
While I sit on my high horse and think “I could have even done better” we had a failure of our own in the Friend Family Adventure today. This morning we awoke in Paris with our sites set on Brussels and a wonderful house awaiting us. What we didn’t have was a way to get there. No train reservations and no rental car awaiting. Just a big chasm of country for us to cross.
Brenna is in charge of train logistics. Our week in the Loire with no internet kept her from researching the train. Once we had internet in Paris, Brenna had to cram to register for classes, even though it was on-line – it was not an easy process. Train tickets took a back seat. We made it to the train station and were able to make arrangements which got us to Brussels mid-afternoon.
But that was not the big fail.
We are staying in a private home while in Belgium and not the city center, we need a car to get around. A car that seats 6 people. At this point I’m convinced there is a law in Belgium which outlaws vehicles which hold more than 5 people. We failed to procure a rental car – how this came about would probably best be examined in a couples therapy session – but we’ll discuss it on the most public forum ever – the internet!
One day – Brent wanted to help plan – he was bestowed with rental car procurement. A car would be needed for Madrid, Loire and Belgium. As Madrid approached I researched the car company, found coupon codes and identified the best deal – leaving it to Brent to finalize on the internet. For Loire, I mentioned to Brent that a car would cost xx dollars on a particular site. Brent said, “It’s not my job if you keep doing it for me.” He was right. I have a habit of asking someone to do something and then either doing it myself or asking them 500 times, “Is it done?”, “How are you doing on this”, “do you need help?” In a business setting there are updates, staff meeting and reports which answer all these questions – not so on a family vacation. Any question only falls under the “nag” category.
For Belgium – I vowed to leave it be and not worry about it. I never asked about the car. Evidently, I also failed to mention to the car procurer that we would even need a car. We could not find a car for 6 anywhere on-line. We made it to Brussels and not one of the car rental shops had a 6 seater. The best we could do was a 9 person passenger van for $1,000. That is way too much, it would be cheaper to pay for train tickets everywhere. Our final solution was to rent 2 smaller cars. It is a pain that two of us will have to drive but financially it’s about the same as a mini-van.
I have not driven a car for quite awhile. Not sure if I am rusty or if Belgium drivers are crazy but driving was pretty rough. However, our host family had a tip list which let us know that at ANY intersection the car on the right has the right of way. There are no stop signs – just intersections where you can blast though OR if there is a car on the right, yield. This is a really hard concept to exercise immediately. I don’t even know where to start with pedestrians but a lot of them just wanted to walk in front of me and should be thanking God tonight that they are alive from me not hitting them.
My friends, I don’t even know where to start with the home we finally made it to. I’ll gush about the hosts in a later blog but a house, fresh flowers and a stocked pantry – so unexpected and much loved. Erin and Kevin had a bevy of Belgium treats, wine, cookies and sugary confections. Usually I tell the kids to employ self-control and have just a few cookies. Today I didn’t tell them anything – because I wanted to keep eating the goodies. We were gluttons and ate just about everything they had waiting for us. Tomorrow we will find a Belgian Cathedra land ask for penance.

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One response to “64E. Project Management

  1. Elizabeth didn’t you learn anything from your father— that the key element in project management is the ASSIGNMENT OF BLAME and the subsequent humiliation and demeaning of the identified culprits ! Evidently you just didn’t want it enough!

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