Tuesday, January 12, 2016

PMPM Execution -- Logistics

Note to any new readers: the Overview page includes links to all my various series and intro posts and whatnot.

This is part of my PMPM series. For other posts related to magical project execution, see the main Execution post.

When I look back at the times I succeed in executing my projects, workings, and goals, I can see that part of my success comes from having sorted out the logistics. At times when I failed, logistics were often to blame.

In the spirit of the start of the New Year, I've been working on a new personal goal and I'm trying to learn from my mistakes by getting the logistics sorted out in advance.

If you haven't seen Office Space you won't know why this is funny... or what it has to do with logistics

According to the dictionary, logistics is "the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies." Its origins come from military science and in this context it's the effort involved in keeping an army supplied with equipment, supplies, and lodging.

In the corporate world, logistics and operations are both part of Supply Chain Management. We've discussed operations before. It's managing the reoccurring and ongoing processes that provide value for the company. Logistics on the other hand are the processes that coordinate where and when people, supplies, and facilities are needed to do that job.

They are both distinct from project management, which is, as you recall, "a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result. So, projects have starting and stopping points, goals and deliverables. Operations and logistics on the other hand are ongoing and track success over time as opposed to by reaching a certain result.

So, example: Let's say you own a sandwich shop chain. Launching a new store is a project. The processes that you set up to make the very best sandwiches are operations. And getting the right people and supplies to your shops are logistics. Making sure there are enough tomatoes, but not too many, that the bathrooms don't run out of TP, and that you have enough people for optimal shift coverage -- logistics.

Logistics also have the most boring corporate imaging I've ever seen.
Pictures of boxes? We've got your pictures of boxes right here!

Only the largest companies have dedicated supply chain management departments, however operational and logistical concerns impact all kinds of efforts. There's a particular impact on the execution phase of projects. If I need my team to deliver new SW product features as part of a project, I need to make sure they have the right resources to do that -- everything from the right computers and software to develop the code, the right skills on the team, and a good environment in which to work. I can assure you that while engineers don't think of coffee as a development tool, if the break room runs out, things will immediately grind to a halt in our office.

As always, these lessons can be applied in simple form to your own projects and life. When you decide to take on some new tasks, how easy have you made it on yourself? Do you have the supplies and equipment you need? Do you have the schedule and facilitates?
  • You have a list of regular magical workings that you want to accomplish as part of a PMPM working. These include full moon libations, burning candles and offering incense weekly on Mondays, and anointing your sigils and charms on a monthly basis.
    • Do you have a stockpile of incense and candles?
    • Are they stored where you can easily access them for your magic?
    • Do you have a lighter and matches right there as well? Does the lighter fricking work?
    • Do you have the libation you need? Do you need to get more on the regular?
    • Have you entered the schedule of activities into your calendar? With reminders?
    • Do you have a supply of anointing oil?
  • You want to start going to the gym on your lunch break to get into shape.
    • Do you have a gym membership already?
    • Have you blocked your schedule at work and so that no one double-books you?
    • Do you have the gear you need for working out? Do you have a gym bag packed with the workout and cleanup gear you need?
    • Do you know the best route to get there in lunchtime traffic and how long it takes? Have you done a trial run to see how crowded the gym is at lunch and how long it takes to get a decent workout, shower, and back to work?
    • Do you have a plan for when and how you will actually eat lunch on gym days? If you will pack lunch, do you have the supplies you need? If you buy lunch, have you budgeted for it?
    • Do you have a process for getting your gym gear washed and back into your bag before the next workout?
    • Do you have a backup plan for days when you do get double-booked?
  • You want to spend time every day meditating and doing energy work.
    • When will you do this? Does the same time work every day?
    • Where will you do this? Will you be interrupted?
    • Do you have a little agenda for what you will do, so you actually accomplish something?
    • What will you do when you are traveling or have a major event during that time or are sick?
I know this sounds ridiculous. But people (and I am so people here) will make a goal for themselves, even have a plan in place, but then neglect the logistics that help them get the thing done. Now, that doesn't mean that if you don't have all the logistics sorted you should just do nothing. It means that you have to figure this stuff out as part of the activity, so that you can reasonably keep it going.

There was a point in the past where I was riding my bike at least a half an hour every weekday that the roads weren't icy. I rode in rain, wind, and blazing heat.

Now maybe this doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but if you know me you know that physical exertion has always been a challenge to me. I am, and have been since childhood, scrawny, out of shape, weak, clumsy, bad at sports, and generally traumatized by athletics of any kind. Yet I found myself happily getting regular exercise, even being athletic, without any issues or concerns. I felt great, I looked great, and it was honestly no big deal to do it. How did this happen in my life?


At the time I was living in a location that provided a 15-20 minute bike commute to work, on a combination of back streets and bike paths. The building I worked in had a locked parking garage with bike parking and a private locker room with showers. I had a street bike and bought some rain-proof panniers that all my gear fit neatly into. I started riding in lovely April when it was not too hot or cold or wet. I actually did a practice run on a Sunday to make sure that I knew the safest route and how long the ride would take. I got in the habit of washing my riding clothes in the evening and packing my bags before bed. Oh, and it was downhill in the morning and uphill in the afternoon. So all the real puffing and sweating and straining happened at the end of the day.

At first it took me longer (like 35-40 minutes), but as I got in better shape, it took less and less time. I also got really good at dealing with my gear and getting changed at work. I could park and lock my bike in seconds.

Then we moved to a new house much farther away. I still kept riding. In the morning I had a 30 minute ride in, more stressful with traffic, but with at least a bike lane. In the afternoon, I'd pop my bike on the front of a bus instead of taking the much steeper and way more dangerous ride home (why put a bike lane on one side of the street and not the other?). Still I found myself riding less often.

Finally I got a new job, one that was technically closer to my house... but in terms of bike commuting a logistical impossibility. And I haven't been on my bike much since. For the naturally fit among you, I know that sounds lame. But at that point, if I wasn't going to ride to work, there was just no room in my life to ride. The idea of getting on my bike every afternoon and circling the block a couple of times just to get exercise wasn't going to work. There was a lot else going on at that time too, but at the core, the change in location caused a failure of logistics.

The truth is that so many of the tasks we need to accomplish, either to meet our goals or keep our lives running smoothly, could be made so much easier if you just think of the logistics. For any tasks you have to execute, sheer will power isn't enough if you don't put any practical thought into how things will actually get done.



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