Time’s up!

Saturday, my last day in Melbourne.
Corinne and me had been weighing options in the car yesterday of what to do today. There were things to do that were active, of just some things that we might do that were more tourist. I had also suggested things with Daniel, however he had told us he wanted to go stay with a friend in the weekend.
In the morning Corinne mentioned she had to go pay the rent, and if we could do some baking afterwards. She had mentioned that baking was a favourite past time and she wanted to do some experimental baking for xmas.
The morning was getting later and I had to be at the airport at around 5 PM so it seemed ambitious to do something more extravagant than baking. I loved to see some new recipes of course so I agreed.
We went to a large mall that had a bank office (one that was open on Saturday). The parking was overly filled with cars and we parked in a more remote parking spot. The bank was full as well and we had to wait a little. But soon the rent was paid and we went in search for some ingredients and aids to use while baking. We only bought some cookie forms and went on to the mall close to her home to buy some ingredients….some ingredients as we went back two or three more times when we found out we needed more.
The first recipe was “White Chrismas”, a typically Australian xmas recipe. It’s not a baked dish. Basically it contains rice crispies and lots of sugar and coconut shaving and is pressed together using copha (coconut fat product). The fat used is amazingly different from the fat I am used to. It is saturated and will be absorbed quickly by the body and not make you overly fat yourself.
The other recipe was gingerbread shapes. We bought many shapes to use and baked a good number of cookies. We also had a shape for a gingerbread house.
On the roll were also a recipe for rumballs and a xmas stollen (a northern european recipe for a bread/cake). Alas I had to go to the airport to fly back.

Flying with Virgin is strange to me, usually the food on a plane is included in the price, as it is I had to pay for everything. I decided not to take anything as the trip was only an hour and a half, but I did find something to drink as I waited for the plane. 
Somehow the security risks are way less on domestic flights as the checks were quite mild and I was allowed to take liquids on my flight. 
At the Sydney airport I hoped to be able to get something to eat. It turned out that at the time of landing the shops and establishments were closed and I found my way to the taxis to get a ride to the hotel I had booked before leaving for Melbourne.

It wasn’t much, it resembled a motel and most likely should be viewed as that. The hotel provided me with a room with four sleeping spots though. There was a queen size bed and a single bed in the small room and a tiny bathroom.
I had seen a restaurant while waiting to be served at the hotel reception, so I went back down for something to eat.
I figured the hotel was run by Chinese people and so was the restaurant. I was not able to charge on my room so I just used up most of the cash I had left. Well, I was not gonna take it to Europe anyway.
I needed to be at the airport around eight thirty, so I went to bed early.

Melbourne

It’s been a while since I updated my blog, reason for that is that I’ve been taking it easy while I stayed with my friend Corinne.
I’m in Melbourne now, and it seems to be a much larger town than I had the impression Sydney had. 
Reason for this is most likely the Time these two very different towns had while they grew.
The gold rush caused Melbourne to grow exponentially, and it spread out itself. Sydney seems to have grown over time, expanding towards the small towns that sprung up along the bay and the river. Whereas Melbourne is situated on a bay that’s much much wider. People didn’t form new towns, they just expanded Melbourne itself, and that was made possible by the new transit systems the rich town had at the time.l
My friend lives in the eastern suburbs, a place called Borona. Her house is next to a native reserve which expands towards the south. There are many birds and animals close by. Even cuckaburra’s that favor her garden, though they were pretty absent while I’ve been here.
S. far I’ve been in town with her brother Steven and his visiting friend Ash, just roaming the area around Elizabeth street. We went in a huge scifi/fantasy place, there I finally found a book to take along. And we went to the pancake parlour. I’m there at this moment as well, having a breakfast. 

After breakfast, a nice simple pancake dish, I went into the mall. The place is dominated by a huge building. It seems to be something of a monument, high, and situated right under a high dome.
The shops were still mostly closed, even at ten o’clock, so I went to see what they were showing in the cinema. I bought a ticket for Puss in Boots and had to pay extra for a 3D goggles which apparently were pretty expensive cause the price was about twice that of a movie in the Netherlands.
The movie had already started, well, the commercials were, and even though I was about 5 minutes later, it still lasted for a good 20 minutes more before the movie really started.  The ticket I bought was a center aisle, smack in the middle seat. However, as I got into the room I noticed 4 other people coming to see the movie, two of which were in the seat I had bought. There were about 500 seats, and they had to go sit on the seat I had bought. Didn’t they buy their own seat numbers?
I decided not to make a fuss and went to sit a few seat away from the center in the same row and almost regretted my decision as the girl of the couple in my seat was talking and talking and doing things with her bright telephone. Fortunately they silenced as the movie actually started.
Puss in boots is a fun movie, nothing special, but definitely fun if you like cats. Lots of cliche fairytale stories and a few skewed as to my memory of the fairytales I heard as a kid.

After the movie I went in search for some christmas presents for my friend Corinne. I promised her something and went to get some money. For this I wanted to use my corporate American Express card. As it turned out, the card didn’t work anywhere. I must have tried at least four major banks and a few smaller ones, until one of the directed me to Collins street, where I could get help with the AmEx card. I walked into Collins street and didn’t see anything that could help me until I remembered that there was also a lt. (little) Collins street. So I took a road leading north from there and ended up at the real Collins street. Such a waste of time and effort as they both are not level streets, there is a definite upward slope leading towards the west.
At Collins street I first tried my card again at one of the largest Australian banks. Obviously is failed and told me I was denied access. So I went into the bank and asked if they could let me charge money from my AmEx the old fashioned way. They didn’t accept American Express and I sighed and went off, not wasting time anymore until I walked back into Collins street and noticed an AmEx office next to it. I would have passed it first if I had entered Collins street the regular way.
They told me they could not help me as it was a corporate card. I protested, after all it was an AmEx card and whom to go to with that besides them. I could not imagine what place would be more suitable to help me but them. So they took pity on me (they shouldn’t, I can take care of myself, but they should realize their responsibility as AmEx agency). One of their employees walked with me to the bank I had just failed to get money and let me try it again. She told me I had to press “credit card” on the menu, but again it told me it was denied access. SO she took me back to the agency and called the head office. Apparently I had tried too many times and she admonished me for it (duh).
She charged my card the old fashioned way, pressing the cards number into a paper slip. I got the money I needed, and went away a bit disgruntled at the uselessness of my credit card (fortunately I had a second card in reserve).

Corinne texted me that she was having lunch in the cafe next to her work so I went back there and had a salad while talking to her and two of her colleagues. I also gave her the xmas gift I promised, a little early, but she needed it sooner than later.
I went back in search for a present to put under the tree for her brother and son. This I found in a shop called Minotaur where they have an awesome collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy and other type of books, items, collectables. I bought another book, I go through books quickly when I have no other preoccupations and I bought some nice presents. Funnily enough I could not pay with my other credit card. I had decided not to use AmEx for a while as I didn’t want any more troubles, but I ended up paying with it anyway.
The store however did not wrap presents, so I had to find a way to get them wrapped somehow.  I knew no store would wrap it, but maybe if I found wrapping paper…

I went into another mall and finally found wrapping paper for sale. I bought a roll and a little something for Corinne to put under the tree as well. I had to buy sticky tape along with the roll, but decided not to buy scissors. 
With a public seat that had grooves I cut off pieces of paper with my eyebrow pliers and wrapped the presents the military way.

Trying to find a spot to sit and read my book was a bit difficult. I wanted a cool spot, but xmas in Melbourne is not cool in any way. It was a warm day, and even though I had dressed the weather this time I did not really find a spot to match my taste.
I had about an hour left till I would meet back with Corinne for the drive back home, and I tried about three places to sit. The second spot was reasonably ok. It was by the side of the busy Elizabeth street where an empty bench in the relative shade of a tree gave me the cool I needed, but not the quiet as it was next to a parking spot and the cars came awfully close to my knee as they parked next to it.
I went back about 15 minutes before my appointment with Corinne and waited for her a little while on a small platform near the plaza in front of her work.

The evening was ok. Steven was off to his son and Daniel had taken possession of his computer, playing games he usually was unable to play. He did so till late and I had to tell him to go to bed when it was half past midnight. At which point he hastily left and I slept a little restless. The next day I would leave, returning to Sydney as I had to be there on Sunday to fly back to Europe.

Last day in Sydney

I had one final day in Sydney. So what can you do on a sunny warm day.
During the ride home there were some suggestions about that, but I also had one more thing to arrange.
I went to get a breakfast at the Macquirie shopping center nearby. The coffee I had on Wednesday was wonderful, so I decided to check if they also had breakfast, and as it turned out they did, they even served it the whole day.
It was fine, and the cappuccino was great again. So I went back to the hotel ready to spend some time in Sydney.
I looked up the Hertz rental address in downtown Sydney as they would not pick up the phone in the airport. I gave up after having gone through two score phone menus again and again. Definitely an answering system gone wrong.
It headed over to the nearby metro station where they sold me a day pass.
The metro took me to Central station and from there I walked over to Hertz and explained my toll road problem. They were very helpful and let me use the phone. I bought an electronic access to the toll roads and was happy to have had it handled within 48 house of driving on the toll road, which is the limit for that here.
I headed towards the park and passed a small pastry shop called Flour and Stone. I had a wonderful apple tart there and a great cup of coffee. I took a little something to go and proceeded towards the park.
At the corner I had a flurry of pigeons landing in front of me. They seemed to expect something of me but I didn’t have anything to give them, so I passed them and went up into the park.
It was as lovely as I remembered, yet the sounds were very different. There was a concert going on, and due to that a part of the park was covert grounds. There was a lot of noise as most of the tones were filtered out by the trees and only the loudest and lowest sounds passed through. 
I paused a bit on the lawn and after that went into the nearby museum. It was not a special museum, but I loved to see the art there. There was an exhibition going on about Picasso, the entrance was free, so I enjoyed the aboriginal art and the contemporary Australian painters collection. I even chanced by some Dutch and Belgian artists. One of the prettiest Pieter Paul Rubens was there and some very old Dutch paintings. What impressed me most though was the Australian painters with historical landscapes and visions into Australians past. The typical eucalypts mingled with brown cows, a very nice compilation of quarry’s and even a scene of a post coach being held up by armoured men.
I left the museum and walked into the botanical garden, one that had impressed me some much eleven years ago. It was still wonderful and though I missed the marsupial I had seen there before, the flying foxes were still hanging from many trees.
I found a toilet and left towards the harbour side of the park. Before clearing the trees I rested under a large pine. It was warm and I was dressed a bit too warm as well, so the shade was nice. I typed a bit of my report there, the part about the Blue Mountains.
When I was done I walked on, knowing that the next stop would be the Opera House. It was there, and. I took some nice pictures. Unfortunately there were some repairs going on, the stairs were being taken apart for some reason. I scaled the part that was not being repaired yet and found many people inside. This held me back a bit, I would have liked to have seen what was playing.
A huge cruise ship was in the harbour, close. It was next to the pier and I was amazed it could get this close to land. I don’t expect many harbours can allow such deep and large ships to actually dock. So I took some pictures of it as it towered out over many of the buildings.
I moved towards the public transport and remembered that the man at the counter had told me that the pass I bought would also allow me to get on the harbour ferry. So I found which ferry actually went around the bay. I bought a bottle of water and entered the ferry that went to North Sydney. It was there for boarding so I embarked quickly and had a wonderful trip around the bay, taking many of the Opera House from the water pictures.
It was time to get back to the hotel. I was happy that my shoes were comfortable enough, but my big toes were hurting a bit, so I went into the metro back to Central and from there took the metro up to North Ryde.
As it turned out, North Ryde was not my exit, it looked very much like where I left, but I found out later that the tubes at Macquirie Park and North Ryde were very similar. I should have paid better attention on where I went on the trains.
My toes turned out to have an indentation on them from the stockings I was wearing. I didn’t have blisters, and I was very happy about that. New boots can take a long time to get walked-in and I just have to watch which stockings or socks I wear in these.
I went down to the restaurant for some dinner. Again it was closed of for a personal function. I guess a company had rented it for a Christmas dinner and I had to stay in the lounge area. I didn’t wanna go out to a restaurant anymore so I took that spot and had an Indian curry (they had an Indian cook)
It was time to go sleep. A long day ahead on my trip to Melbourne.

A Viking funeral

The day of the Viking funeral was approaching. I had messages Diana’s sister Jenny about having arrived in Australia on Tuesday. She phoned me on Wednesday when I just arrived at the dentist. The face that I have a car made her suggest that I contact Tara, one of Diana’s friends. She and two other friends were coming as well and they had no transportation. When I returned from the Blue Mountains I called Tara to arrange something.  She was an exuberant person and announced shed just finished an impossibly long day at work. Together we figured out the route I had to take to get to her house and pick her and Dinah and Deborah up. Google is stubborn but we managed to whip it into the right route.
On Friday I got up early. I had a cereal breakfast at the hotel restaurant and left for Tara. Even though we had agreed on me arriving at 10:15AM I left the hotel at 8:50 AM. Getting across the bridge to the south side wasn’t very difficult. But there I ended up in a tunnel and lost my orientation. The tunnel took me too far east and my unfamiliarity with the city layout was not helping me a lot.
After consulting me map I found that the road I had landed on lead me in the right direction and soon I ended up on the Sydney university campus. I found Parramatta road quickly enough, but where to turn off?
After a while I decided to look at my map again, so I turned into Church street and looked for it. Parramatta road was behind me, so I would have no trouble getting back there, but how far, and would I not go too far out of the way. I knew I was close…so I decided to call Tara. 
After some explaining she knew where I was and together we found the exit to Old Canterbury road, from which I was able to find my way back to junction street, the road where her street was connected to.
Finally at her house I met all the girls and we ended up looking at pictures of my house and my dogs.
We left for Bulli, but first we had to get the chocolate mud cake, one of Diana’s favorites, Tara had one made at a local bakery. So we squeezed into the little white car and drove to a square around the corner. Tara got the cake, and another small one she had ordered and happily got back in the car. As she showed us the cake it turned out to have a superfluous n in Diana’s name…much to the dismay of poor Tara.
Off we went, to the beach Diana used to love so much. We arrived around 12:30 PM and met up with Jenny and her friends. Mom and dad still had to arrive, but they quickly did and we went to the lagoon with a big box.
Jenny unpacked the box. A miniature Viking ship came out and it needed some adjustments. The sails were fastened and Diana’s mom had brought her favorite pet horse to burn with the ship. The horse was worn, much of the hair on it was hugged off by young Diana. It barely fit on the rear of the dragon ship which had been filled with Diana’s ashes. Jenny lighted the ship up as we watched silently. There was even some ashes that had not fit in the ship, so Jenny scattered it in the fierce wind that was blowing. 
The ship had trouble burning, but there was enough lighter fuel to keep it burning. It took a bit of maintenance, but finally the ship was hot enough to burn on itself. Diana was going to walhalla.
The location and mostly the windy weather was not fit for the picnic that was planned for after the burning. Therefore we moved the event off to Diana and Jenny’s parents house. 
We had some vegetarian dishes, something Diana would have preferred and we drank some for her. Then we opened the box with the mud cake. Made sure to adjust the name with a big strawberry and all had a piece of birthday cake.
There were some anecdotes and some nice stories to share. The girls also had a pick of some of the pictures Diana had painted, all wonderful to look at.
Until it came to an end. So we bade them all goodbye and headed back to Sydney.

Dinner

In the evening of the 30th I returned from the dentist and decided to go to the restaurant next to the hotel. I had found a note by the manager about a personal function taking place in the hotel restaurant that evening. It explained the party tent being build up the day before.
The place next door was a restaurant named rumps and ribs. It was part of a chain and it was a popular place. This mainly due to the all you can eat menus and the huge portions. They quoted South African in their menu and it did remind me of what I’d seen in the most southern tip of Africa. Meat meat meat, except for a tiny item for vegetarians…but that was likely for those you bring along that don’t like meat. Obviously it was a salad.
The maitre’d was assisted by a girl who wore a big brown fake mustache, she seated me. 
A young waitress approached and announced she was Casey and would be serving me. I ordered a drink and looked at the menu. I decided on a small steak, still 220 gram. While I waited I typed out a small story about the dentist, still fresh in memory.
The steak was fine, I have tasted better, but I guess I might have chosen rare on another visit instead of medium rare. The vegetables I ordered as a side dish actually were rare, not the rare kind, but definitely undercooked.
In the meantime I watched the people around me. Lots of things to see if you take a moment to observe. A man seated at the next table wanted to go for a smoke, he spoke to a waitress and left with his bottle of beer. After a while a small family settled down on the table and when the man returned from his smoke he found his table taken.
They had huge deserts, I took a crumble pie and they brought it with a ball of ice cream. That was pretty good.

Dentist

It took a while finding the dentist today. I was told it was in the mall, but after looking through the mall on both sides of the road I finally found it along the road, a single door with stairs leading up. Granted, it was no grand teeth servicing station, it was however quaint and cosy. The assistant was extremely friendly and they had a small tv which played reruns of Mr. Bean.
After filling out the forms, with questions I forgot to answer as they were buried on the one page form which should have fit on two, a patient came out of the treatment room. I had heard the drill, so it was obvious what he was there for. He also was friendly which to me was a good sign.
There were all kinds of diploma’s and certificates on the wall, and photo’s of the type “before and after” showing bad teeth transformed into wonderful smiles. At least I had come to the right place if I had to go by those photos.
After a short while I was ushered into the presence of the dentist. The treatment room was rather small, it fitted a full sized chair though. It was 17:30 or about that time, not much later. The dentist, a Indian woman of middle age was also very friendly, asking me many questions about where I came from and what I was doing, where I was living. The assistant I had spoken to on the phone apparently was from Sweden and had told her that I was from Belgium. They had been trying to reach me, as a patient had called off an appointment and they had time for me an hour or so earlier. 
The phone number she had written down showed the wrong country code, I had told her to dial +31, she had written down +41, so I don’t know which poor European they had called in the middle of the night.
I was put in the chair and the dentist, who apparently went by the name of Marion, started inspecting my teeth. She did a full inspection, complementing me on my teeth, yet berating me the bad care I gave them.
Calling out all kinds of secret dentist codes to the assistant she inspected every tooth I have and a few I haven’t. After quite a while she finally started on my chipped tooth. During this process I remembered my home dentist had also worked in that area a while back. The chip was most likely a filling that had been dislodged.
She worked on it hard, adding layer upon layer to restore the tooth to what it has been. Also making sure the color was correct. Sometimes she hit my gums while polishing and apologized profusely.  One of the most difficult thing seemed to be making the separation between my two front teeth as smooth as possible. She seemed to be using a file at one point to make sure I could floss alright.
When it was finally done it was 18:30, the whole treatment had lasted an hour.
My own dentist never had more than half an hour for me, and that was during an extraction…
The result is wonderful, as was the steep price, but that I had expected.

Australia – day one

As a start I’d like to mention how I appreciate the fact that I can actually read things here.  The China Southern Airlines took me to Beijing (unexpectedly) and to Guangzhou (used to be Canton) and the whole trip over here was covered in Chinese. Frankly, I’m terrible at Chinese. I like the food and manage to cook a bit of it, but there’s still a little piece of it that keeps evading me. I should have taken up the chance to learn Chinese when I was offered it, but that was 25 years ago.

It’s hard to imagine that I’m actually on a vacation. I keep feeling it is not since I still have the funeral to go to, but sometimes it seeps through that I actually have days off and am not expected somewhere.

Australia is where I left it 11 years ago. Then we just had the olympics here and I actually took time to go by the stadium when I was in Sydney. Granted, I only saw it from far away. The ferry took us there when we accidentally took the wrong one. But seeing the stadium made us feel as if we didn’t waste a day on the wrong boat.

Yesterday seems only slightly like a waste of time as I kinda overnapped. I arrived late at my hotel, it was hard to find my way there in a car without a navigation system and when I finally got my phone to give me directions though the internet, I found out that internet is expensive here. It ran out almost as soon as I bought a package, 10 megabyte swoosh out to the phone company. So only half my map was downloaded and it was just enough to follow the blue dot (me) on the map, along a grey line that was my route. 
That and my efforts to drive on the “wrong” side of the road made it a bit longer to get anywhere.

The hotel is nice. The room I got is similar to the setup I had in India. It’s just a bit smaller. And the bed is wonderful. At least after a 30+ hour trip. The nap therefore went very well, too well. I finished unpacking, then sent some messages to friends and family. I went down for a lunch and went straight up to nap. It was about 2 PM and when I woke up I had slept through my alarm clock and into the evening. It was 9:30 PM when I woke up. 

I took some time to update several social networks, and I prepared my maps. I got complimentary internet, but it says it is only for one day. So I was making the most of it. I had a Coaching Circle call in the morning, so I went back to sleep and again slept very well.

I planned to go shower early and get breakfast before the call, but I slept so well that I couldn’t get myself to get out of bed. Around 8 I decided it wasn’t worth it. I just stayed in bed and when my phone alerted me to the coming meeting I just hooked up my headset and called in.

It was a good call, I do love the Circle calls more and more, even though I miss some of those that we lost on the way.

Of course breakfast was unavailable, After 10 they don’t serve anything anymore but coffee and some bread, so I went on my search for a power cable. Australia’s power plugs are pretty different from European and I brought something that only needs a good power plug. If I have that I can put four devices on it and I only brought a few. 

There was a KFC across the street from the hotel. As my search for a power chord is not going well I decided to eat first before going on the rest of my search.

And that’s where I am now. In the KFC, typing my blogpost out on my notes application and thinking about my first impressions. News from my team is that they didn’t get a lot “Done” for the demo, but the demo went well (it better, if you only have a few things to show 🙂 )

First impressions?

People are still very friendly, they’re not used to people like me, I can see them looking, but that’s fine. The amazing weather here, the tropical plants. It is very westernly yet so different. 
I saw some things that showed me how Australians are. Like the guys putting up a party tent outside in the hotel garden. They were going about it clumsily, so they were either unskilled or just didn’t care about thinking things through. It is not an Australian thing to not think things through, but doing things the easy way is. I also noticed that when I was sorting out my maps for this week. The photo that Google Maps streetview added to my list was full of rain spatters. Something I didn’t expect from Google at all. I understand it a little. But it shows the attitude.

I think I’ll have fun, it’s a must on this vacation.

Australia time

My work is done, well, at least for the coming two weeks.
The time has been rolling on and on, no mercy for those who toil. And now the time has come for me to leave things be, trust my team to keep going and to let go.
It’s Australia time now. Time to pack my bags and check my lists. Prepare myself for a long long trip to a place far far away. Well, you can’t go much further. 
My first stop (barring my transfer location in China) is going to be Sydney, which is 10 hours difference with my home location. I guess New Zealand is further away for me, and maybe some obscure island off the coast of NZ is the exact opposite on our globe, but well, Sydney will have to do.
The trip will take about 30 hours, this is not in one go of course (as I said I have a transfer) but it is the time I will be traveling at least. I leave on Sunday, around 10PM CET.
I have been told that the airline (China Southern Airlines) is a good one. Main reason for coming to that conclusion myself is the fact that they managed to become a Skyteam member. To be confirmed in my conclusion was good. Apparently they have good service, something I am going to need on a long trip.
My arrival will be on Tuesday, in the morning. I have been granted access, well the visa says so (I know, it’s no guarantee 😛 ). And I will have a car waiting at Hertz. I hope my mind will still work for me to get to my hotel.
Last years trip to India has merited me with enough points to have a free stay at another Marriott hotel, so I hope the extra costs will not be pushed to the max 😀

Next Friday will be the Viking funeral of my friend Diana, so I will have time to recover from my jet lag. I will do this by sightseeing, maybe some hiking in the Blue Mountains.  Maybe find someone to fix me up in the meantime.
I need to remind myself to bring enough tissues.

The project?
Well, I leave the project in the capable hands of my teammates (mate is a good word when you leave for Down Under). I know they feel they are adrift without me, but frankly, I disagree fully. Yes they won’t have my view on how things work between the triangle we’re part of, and they won’t have the same leeway that I give the team when I am there, but what I don’t bring to the project in the next sprint, they make up in other expertise.

I will try to forget them only a little, but I left a communication channel open, it’s called Skype. 

An agile government

Agile government

Government and Agile don’t mix, they’ve always seem like complete opposites to me. The red tape that caused Agile into existence, or at least Kaizen within Lean is abundantly present in government organizations.
This of course does not mean that certain departments in the government structures want things to be like this. Civil servants are still human, and nothing annoys as much as red tape.
The danger is that you get complacent and accept that red tape is a part of your life, but that’s definitely not an agile thought.

Let’s grab that Agile Manifesto: Individuals and Interactions are preferred above Processes and Tools.

To me red tape fully falls in the category Processes. And as far as I have seen process is what drives many within government organizations.

I remember a computer game from my youth. It was called Civilization and it was loosely based on a board game me and my friends used to love. This game by MicroProse was awesome, I could play it all night – and I did.

There were several inventions that would further your civilization. One of them was the choice of government structure. Of course this started out as Anarchy, then it went to something like Monarchy, then evolved into Democracy. I always expect to have my civilization grind to a halt when I do that. But then you need a good structure in organizations. And the more organizations grow, the more structure you add. At least when you grow as an organization from a small one.
Government organizations are big, if not huge, and what I am dealing with in my project is an organization that serves all of the ministries. IT is a service organization. Where every ministry used to have their own service departments, they have now made one singular organization responsible for IT services.

Obviously this kind of centralization is part of decisions that are made to reduce costs. Personally I think that decisions made solely on the merit of cheapness always turn out to make things worse, not better.

What I noticed is that the ministry we’re building a suite for is not happy with the fact that they have to go to this huge service organization to get things done. Who is the most important, what department gets their work done first. In these huge organizations this is usually the one who screams loudest, or who has the best and highest connections (minister level)

I should soften my words a little. The people I work with (of all the organizations involved) are awesome in that they want to work together and want to GO for the result we try to achieve. Unfortunately they run into the same walls everyone does.

Of course the organization is set up in a traditional way. The deliverables are usually measured by waterfall structures. We need to deliver a Functional Design, Technical Design, they talk about phases and toll-gates. All deadly for agile.

This all leads to slow delivery of knowledge on the interfaces we need to connect to and it means we have to wait long times for environments to get finished. Environments they demand us to test in (TAP).
People in their organization are used to have enough time to get their work done. They don’t procrastinate, but they have to divide their time between a dozen different projects. As said this mean that projects that scream loudest get served first.

Guess what I’ve been doing?

Fortunately I have an awesome project manager on the ministry side. He is also certified in Scrum and knows where to put his foot in the door and when to leave the room (when things get done).

We’ll get this project done, but it has resulted in my request for two more sprints to deliver anything of value. I got it, but I’m not sure at the costs yet.

Another Sprint done, another challenge met

Time of course cannot be stopped. It wanders on, sometimes wearing 7-mile boots, sometimes it just stomps along the countryside. It always sees I have a shortage of it, so time apparently is a commodity as well as a flow.

A Sprint of course is also time, it is a time-box, an awesome remnant of days gone RAD. Useful, yet underestimated. What I notice is that my client has a lot of trouble with it. Especially with the concept of not being able to prescribe what we as team will put in it.
A lot of people ask me for a time-planning, both on the user side and on the client side.
They try to get me to predict how much time we need, and of course I am duly reserved in giving them that prediction. I don’t have a glass ball that tells me what is coming (if I had I would be as rich as Richard Branson and I would not be a meagre Agile Coach)
My problem is that the client I work for has a too traditional view on the concept of predictions, If I tell them I need another sprint, they will keep me to it, they will tell me I “promised” to deliver their product in an extra sprint.

Today I told them I will at least need another two sprints to give the about 85% of the functionality their users want. His first reaction was “but you promised the functionality would be done in December”…do people even look into Agile and Scrum when they ask us to use it?

Anyway, we have been ambitious and took on about the same amount of work this sprint as last sprint. Last sprint was successful in that, yet there were still a lot of things we found out and a lot of delays due to interfaces that should have been there a long time ago.

Now I still have to impress on the team to use the sprint backlog. They seem to have trouble with doing that consistently.