Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Risk management of Ghosts

The other night I was pottering around the house when I heard a woman call my name from upstairs. Thinking that it was my wife I made my way upstairs to speak to her only to remember halfway up the stairs that she was out running errands. My pace slowed, I peeked around the door frame and when a cold chill went down my spine – I ran back down the stairs as fast as my legs could carry me.

Immediately my mind went in to overdrive. Was it a ghost? Was it a heavenly voice? Was it a voice in my head due to lack of sleep?

Putting on my project manager hat I scanned my bookshelf for inspiration and started drawing up a plan of action. The first thing was to define the problem domain, in other words to work out what the origin of the voice was so the problem could be resolved. Next to do a risk assessment on dealing with the uninvited manifestation of the female voice and then to take action!

So cracking open my copy of Rabbi Dennis’ excellent “Jewish Myths, Magic and Mysticism” I looked up the entries for ghosts, heavenly voices and other likely causes. I had a flick through Chajes’ “Between Worlds”; however since I’ve only read the opening chapters I was unsure of whether it contained any practical details for conducting an exorcism. Then booting up my computer, I looked up the definitions of RISKS from the Project Management body of knowledge and put together a risk register.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (3rd edition) PMBOK

Risk. An uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has appositive or negative effect on a project’s objectives. See also risk category and risk breakdown structure.

Here is an example of one of the risks captured the risk register in response to the (possibly) ghostly encounter.

Statement of Fact: Heard a incorporeal female voice
Risk: Could be a ghost
Probable Outcome: Could have a haunting related to an object or location.
Mitigation: If related to an object, then destroy the item. If related to a place, then may need to do an exorcism.

Well, as you can imagine at this point my fear of the ghostly encounter was fading fast as I started documenting risks and trying to come up with a plan. Rabbi Dennis’ book had helped provide more information and hence give more detail to the potential problem domain. The risk register was starting to look quite promising with various mitigation strategies being worked out.

After a couple of hours of analysis and planning I’d mapped out a mini-project to help deal with this uninvited manifestation of a female voice and was getting ready to cautiously make my way back upstairs with some salt and iron (thanks Supernatural). Unfortunately as they say “no plan survives contact with the enemy” and before I could action a single risk mitigation in my carefully crafted plan, my wife came home and went upstairs.

Creeping slowly up the stairs after her I mentioned hearing a voice call my name and she promptly laughed it off. Since any occultist worth her salt will tell you that laughter is amongst the most powerful forms of exorcisms - I realized that my wife had just solved the problem for me. I went to bed that night safe in the knowledge that combining good project management practice, occult knowledge and an unintended joke that all problems can be overcome whether natural or otherwise.

Plus I now have another chapter in my electronic grimoire called: “Ghosts, how to manage haunting within the framework of project management best practices and psychic defense”.