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the shovel and the laptop  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I remember when I had the 80 acres, there was a three month span of time when there were several people being paid to do stuff. We had a trac hoe on the land for a full month. 700 bushes and trees arrived and needed to be planted. All sorts of stuff was going on at the same time. And for each person doing work, each of those people needed to be paid, plus the materials had to be paid for, plus the materials had to be selected, ordered and arrangements needed to be made for delivery. All the while all sorts of business-ish things had to be ironed out (to this day, I think the trac-hoe rental place overcharged me $900 and just helped themselves to my credit card).

I think I spent about six hours a day working outside and nine hours a day inside managing all the other bits and bobs. So I was working 15 hours a day. And a couple of people seemed to come to the conclusion that I was lazy because they worked 8 hours a day in the field and I worked on 6. And they were completely serious. And if materials showed up late, they expressed I sucked at getting the materials for the projects. And if there were projects I thought were too expensive, they expressed that I was cheap.

As the land purchase draws near ... I'm thinking about all the projects just to start. I've already started a list. And started prioritizing. And putting together a materials list.

At the same time I keep telling myself that a couple of months ago I pushed myself too hard and got sick - so I should try to slow down.

This morning I am scrambling with a dozen things and this came back to mind.

I thought that by writing this I might minimize/reduce/eliminate an icky problem that cropped up on my previous farm.



 
Tom OHern
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Location: Seattle, WA
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I think I remember in some podcast you going on about how you didn't like the project managers from back in your software development days, but what you are worried about could easily be dealt with by making a good project management plan.

Each project should be broken down in to individual tasks and further broken down in to work units (usually 4 or 8 hour blocks). That plan needs to include in it all the management tasks that need to be done to support it. Then each day, you have a 15 minute "stand up meeting" where each person tells what they accomplished yesterday, what road blocks they encountered, and what they are planning on completing today. If it turns out that a task that you thought was going to take 30 work units to complete over the course of 10 days, but you've only completed 4 work units in the first 3 days, you know you are running behind schedule and need to reevaluate your plan. With the daily meetings everyone sees what each other person is doing and knows what tasks are taking up the time.

There is some great opensource software out there that can be used to manage projects. Redmine is my favorite, but others are good also.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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You need a safe word that is not the f word to say when you have to line up the next job. Anyone that has seen or worked for a good contractor knows the owner/GC/PM is spending most of their time lining up the NEXT job.
 
kadence blevins
Posts: 602
Location: SE Ohio
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perhaps one of the jobs of the farm could be a sort of project manager poobah? like your project organizing helper?
 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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RScott has a good point. Professional teams know and trust each other. They also understand the role each of them plays and not everyone is working in the same time frame.

Did your icky situation arise through working with a group of people who didn't know each other?

I think on your farm, things will be different if you can establish a core team. Those in the field all day will look to your key person in the field for leadership. When they witness that person edifying the other core team members, and learn from them that king Paul is inside for a reason, then this shouldn't be an issue. If it is an issue, then your key members aren't fulfilling their whole purpose, which is to run a farm and build a community. Building a community requires communication, and edification of the leadership.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I think I remember in some podcast you going on about how you didn't like the project managers from back in your software development days, but what you are worried about could easily be dealt with by making a good project management plan.


I think what i don't like is what was referred to as "the cascade approach": where you spend six months designing and then six months developing. The problem with that is it leaned heavily on the use of a properly functioning crystal ball - which nobody had. During the first weeks of development you would discover that the design had flaws and needed to be corrected. Plus, during the first weeks of development, the business needs would change. And by the time the project would near completion, the stakeholders would report that it was not what they asked for - nor was it of any value to them.

With an iterative approach, the same project is usually complete in five months. By the end of the first week you have a really terrible program, but you get excellent feedback from the stakeholders. With each week you can change according to business needs and what you have learned about the project in the previous weeks.

So I prefer a "todo" list to a project management plan. The list gets time estimates and then gets sorted into priority order.


 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 22362
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Each project should be broken down in to individual tasks and further broken down in to work units (usually 4 or 8 hour blocks)


Check out what I wrote here about three days before your post.

 
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