Sunday, May 26, 2013

The man who did the job alone

It's not too often that I find something about project management in the chaplain corps, but hey... things emerge.

How often have you had a SME who was also a loner, eccentric, or just stubbornly independent?  No team for that guy! And, other times, we (not the SME of scorn of course) find ourselves working alone -- perhaps even choose to work alone -- even though we know better (See, for example, "pair programming" ). Either way,  I'll bet that this story resonates.

Here's a guy who never got the memo: 'Plans never survive first touch with reality'

The following is a letter a man wrote to his medical insurance company concerning an accident he suffered on-the-job. 

"I'm writing in response to your request for additional information. In Block No. 3 of the accident report form, I put "trying to do the job alone" as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter I should explain more fully. I trust the following details will be sufficient. 

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I discovered I had approximately 500 pounds of bricks left over. 

Rather than carry the bricks down by the hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor. Securing the rope at the ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to ground level and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow ascent of the 500 pounds of bricks. 

Now -- you will note in Block No. 2 of the report form that I weigh 135 pounds. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I ascended at a rapid rate up the side of the building. 

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and the broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain. 

At the same time, however, the barrel hit the ground and the bottom fell out. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighs approximately 50 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in Block No. 2. As you might imagine, I began a rather rapid descent down the side of the building. 

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the fractured ankles and lacerations of my lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks. Fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked. 

I'm sorry to report, however, that as I lay on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move, and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my presence of mind and let go of the rope. The empty barrel weighed more than the rope, so it fell down on me and broke both of my legs. 

I hope I have furnished enough information about how the accident occurred. As you can see, it happened because I was trying to do the job alone." 

Check out these books I've written in the library at Square Peg Consulting