Saturday, April 08, 2006

On my travels

On my travels I witness some truly fascinating things.  Ok, actually they are rather mundane, but I like to embellish and on reflection, they represent aspects of human nature which, on one level, are simply bizarre and on another, are oddly focused on real agile portfolio management.  Here is an example from my most recent trip to St. Pete (Russia).
When I am in St. Pete, my company furnishes me with a driver who I respect and admire.  We rarely talk because he has little English and I, no Russian (which I am always embarrassed by, but I try – he just tries harder).  The roads in St. Pete were designed a long time ago and worked well throughout the Soviet era.  Now that there is a lot more traffic, they don’t work quite so well – but show me a city that has easy flowing traffic and I will show you an economy in decline.  So we were crossing the bridge on the [blah] and queuing in the oddly organized way the Russians have to cut back under on to the river road to go down towards the Aurora.  This morning, Traffic was going nowhere.  From my vantage point, I could see down on to the River road from the bridge and saw a policeman standing in the middle of the road, effectively stopping all traffic from entering.  Being of western decent and having learned to drive in Boston, I figured that there must have been an accident under the bridge and he was holding back the traffic so that they could get in and clear it (I forgot, clearly, that they don’t clear accidents in St. Pete, they just drive around them, but regardless…).  We waited a good 10 minutes.  I also noticed that this morning, traffic coming up from the river road onto the bridge was really backed up – all the way to Finlyandsky it seemed.  All of a sudden, I heard a siren coming from that direction and watched as a police car, followed by a black Mercedes with a flashing blue light on the top (a sign of VIP status in the city) came rushing down past the traffic on the wrong side of the street, up the down ramp and across the bridge we were ‘parked’ on.  (The cars were headed towards the Dom, but there are other offices that way as well, so let your imagination swirl wherever it wants.)  The policeman casually walked back to his car, parked somewhat unnoticed by the side of the river road and got in and turned off his lights.  Traffic began to flow again and quickly the backlog eased and off we went.  Serge grumbled a little, but not too much.
My immediate reaction was “Damn, they are selfish.  What an abuse of power.  How Soviet of them!”  I put it into terms we all use and started formulizing thoughts about local optima vs global optima and so forth.  It wasn’t until later that I reflected and genius became clear.  The more I thought, the more clear it became that the Russians really were innately tuned into TOC and Agile Portfolio Management than I thought.  What a eureka moment for me – how I misjudged them!


Post a Comment

<< Home