Monday, March 07, 2005


One of the ongoing projects I've been working on for a client has involved a complex server migration that entails managing clients with two entirely incompatible operating systems, and using software that really shouldn't play together. I did a lot of research and testing (for which I've been quite fairly compensated), and we've made a few attempts at putting it all together, which have been aborted at various points due to time and availability constraints.

Today, the customer pulled the plug on the project. Which isn't really a problem for me - I'm still working on other issues for them, and like I said above, I'm being paid for what we've done so far as well. So it's not a problem at all in that regard. They understand what the problems are, they know I'm not the cause of them, and in the process of this we've made some significant improvements in the rest of their infrastructure and filled a lot of holes they didn't even know they had until my audits turned them up. Things are way better over there now than before I started, so it's not entirely a failure at that.

The problem for me is a psychological one. Since my history is in IT management, and until very late in my tenure I was the "buck stops here" guy, for me failure has never been an option. My outlook (which has served me well so far) has been a "it'll work, or by golly we won't stop until it does" method. But that doesn't fly in the consultant relationship, where it's someone else's money, and someone else's decision. I'm not used to just being an expensive tool used on a problem, and it's still my nature to take it as a personal failing when something doesn't work the way it's supposed to.

So for me the problem is one of mindset, and part of my maturing as a consultant is learning to realize it and deal with it. Which I think I'm doing OK. Meanwhile, I've done some homework on their behalf for which I am not charging to help work around things, and we'll revisit this at some point down the road.

After a year in business (by the way, my anniversary was the 1st of March), I'm growing up a little. Good thing.

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