I just had a dream that made me feel good about my work and helped me to understand and possibly explain some of the challenges I have. The challenges are not because of lack of attention or effort they spring from an inability to control the process or information. Here’s the dream as I can remember it.
I’m working with a team of people on a particular community subject and people are waiting for me to come into the scene and start. As I come in to this areas there are large round tables filled with computer power cables and no computers – these are being carried by the team with me. They are as simple devices as two or three pieces of paper, some are tablets, but the one I start using is three pages. The cover, the interface including the screen, and a page I insert to change the pick up image from colour to monochrome because of light issues.
What is happening is on the screen in my paper computer are subjects in real time providing input on the subject in a community forum and there is no staging – video conferencing with the masses. The device we’re using as a camera in each of the video pick up locations is a pen with a projector/camera on one end and microphone on the other, and this just gets passed around. The multiple computers on the project table show multiple subjects in different locations but all of them including the one we are in are rather like shopping malls or community centers with so, so much activity going on at the same time and everything seems like a mess and people talking over each other but the team is picking up data nevertheless, and catching and categorizing pieces of information and feeding things back to the live experience.
One of the things I am doing is writing on a split screen so that information being collected is seen by both the viewer in the remote location and it is going through the categorizing and work being done with the team. It’s all being truncated or abbreviated. We are spending very little time looking for meaning, and there are a couple of leading questions each time to get the meaning from people, and guide them in the right way of finding the next level of truth or investigation. Everyone was moving forward.
At one point ahead of this scene as I am about to arrive I am watching some colleagues trying to make sense of a collision in cyberspace where they appear – I am speaking to them as they go about delivering their event activity and they are all having trouble, and people with new problems just keep coming into the frame – and I am looking at them in real time also, watching these things converge, and I physically hold the processor up and start to tilt it on the same axis that I am looking at and all the people in the processor – which is chaotic and uncontrollable – come together in my real life view. In an instance, I see them in both virtual and real time and believe for a second they are actually inside the computer. It’s one of those real prophetic moments of dream nonsense that when you remove yourself from the dream leaves you with certain awareness about the challenges you have been having.
The relevance is exceptional. I have to control a large amount of real time process and move things forward in my work. I have multiple and seemingly different conversations going on at the same time, and a lot of expectations for solving problems, and unlike my dream, there is no team sifting it together. It felt more like a conference than a project – even so. As well, there are a lot of people waiting on my actions and that of the team –clamoring for things to move forward.
With current technologies and the restrictions on process – form following function kind of thing, there’s a lot of staging that feels, well, staged, there doesn’t seem to be any real way of moving forward other than by sheer luck and personal leadership.
So the challenge becomes how much of a natural process can you allow, and how much leadership needs to take place. It’s obvious that being central to the process is not going to go away because this is a reflection of reality, and I can’t imagine not having the process of project management in place because there many steps to assist the outcome. Yet there is a huge difference between the forms of “pipelining” information and having it flow freely without responsibility to manage it. I some ways the dream was closer to community engagement as it only focused on the facilitation aspect. In some ways the process was only to nudge things forward on their own timelines which clearly doesn’t work for event planning.
I am inside these ideas in a very real way as I am trying to be competent in the environment I have committed to work in, and there are too many critical paths and clashes of information retrieval and stages of work for me to be effective and they draw together at the same time. I also have to consider where my own cognitive process is and what kind of process fits the requirements and how I might adapt. It is interesting that I think for all of us there are chaotic times in the planning and delivery, I just feel like it’s a little backed up for me and it’s always chaotic due to the multiples environments. I do know I can function in the chaos to a degree as I do this most of the time anyway, but I also know I’m not effective in some areas only because of the chaos.
I’d be interesting in hearing some opinion on this one. There seems to be threads of reason in the dream and how it is reflected in reality. If I accept that there will always be chaos, should I be trying to develop a solution? Or should I perform under a function that says we can’t accommodate chaos, which is sort of like saying we shouldn’t respond and just go about our set ways.
Also interesting is the relevance of the tools we use. I started using the paper computer in this dream and had to make adjustments on the fly when it kept shifting around on the table of power chords, so the rlevance of technology is important as well. Sometimes when I’m in chaos I can’t follow up what gets sent out or worked on elctronically and I’m unable to attach a task to a project unless i go backwards and with multiple projects it still comes down to using memory where a better system would be able to attach e-mail and workflow to a virtual time-line within each project without any extra steps. Interesting how this dream seeks out new technology.