Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Tom (not Peters) Guide to Man Management

Last weekend was a bank holiday here in the UK, and so, as is our wont, on Friday evening we hopped in the car and headed off to the New Forest to go camping. We're ideally positioned for this, close enough to get out into the heart of the forest in 30 or 40 minutes (as long as we can dodge the bank holiday traffic). It means we can do a full day at work, but be pitched up with the dinner on and the first beer (always the best) in hand by 8 or 9 o'clock.

One of our favourite haunts is a site called Tom's Field. This is a field, owned by a bloke called Tom - the clue's in the name. It's low key, the facilities are basic but clean and well-maintained, and Tom and the loose confederacy who seem to run the place are friendly and helpful. Plus, of course, it's in the New Forest, with easy access to loads of walking, cycling, and pub lunches.

We had an excellent weekend, and by Monday lunchtime were packing up ready to go home and start preparing for the week ahead. Along with everybody else on-site.

Now, Tom owns a thing called a Gator. It's a little quad bike/tractor thingy that he uses for moving stuff around the site. The sort of thing you see farmers and groundsmen using.

On the Monday morning Tom went round the site telling all of the kids that if they put all the rubbish in the bins provided by the gate, they could have a ride on the back of the Gator.

This is genius. Sheer genius.

With this simple act Tom unleashed a veritable Tsunami of wombles who swept across the site like locusts, picking it clean of every last scrap of litter. In return for ten minutes of taking kids for joyrides, Tom saved himself several hours of tedious work.

I'm not entirely sure how to link this little story back into coding, the nominal topic of this blog. Somebody with more perspicacity and insight than me could doubtless create a compelling analogy to empowering the inherent synergy in a cross-functional team to achieve a win-win scenario. To using the carrot rather than the stick. To envisaging the desired outcome of a project and setting in motion the train of events necessary to manifest that version of reality.

Me, I'm just impressed that Tom gets his field cleaned for him every weekend. Tom, I salute you.

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