Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Law of Unintended Stakeholders

Recently I was chatting with a family friend and quite by accident we discovered our common interest in Ma’aseh Bereishit (“the workings of Creation”), an early school of Jewish Mysticism focusing on how the Universe was created. I also recently came across two related articles on this topic by Head for Red called “Sorcery’s a Dangerous Game” and by Strategic Sorcery: “On Secret Identities” that caught my attention.

From a Project Management point of view what this looks like is what I call the “Law of Unintended Stakeholders”. Which basically means that someone or group of people takes an interest after find out about something, in this case that the person is a sorcerer, theurgist, voodoo practitioner, pagan, mystic etc. (or all of the above).

Definition of a Stakeholder

First we need to answer the question of what the definition of a stakeholder is? Then we’ll take a brief look at how to manage stakeholders and finally some advice on how to handle stakeholders who have an interest in the occult.

According to the PMBOK Guide (Project Management Institute Body of Knowledge, 3rd Edition, pp.376) the definition of a stakeholder is:

“Person or organization (e.g. customer, sponsor, performing organization, or the public) that is actively involved in the project, or whose interest may be positively or negatively affected by the execution or completion of the project. A stakeholder may also exert influence over the project and its deliverables.”

In plain English a stakeholder is someone who has an interest and may have influence over projects that you’re running. If for example you’re a vampire, then a stakeholder is quite literally someone with a hostile interest in your continued existence. Perhaps a better example is the 2012 Olympics in London, everyone living in the city is a potential stakeholder as they may be affected by the Olympic games. However, as a Project Manager you’re aware that there are different scales of interest and influence by your stakeholders and it’s important to manage those carefully.

On Managing Stakeholders

Fortunately this is where the “Lazy Project Manager: How to be twice as productive and still leave the office on time” by Peter Taylor comes to the rescue. There’s a LOT of literature written on managing stakeholders, but Peter’s book has some very helpful diagrams.

“Lazy Project Manager: How to be twice as productive and still leave the office on time” by Peter Taylor pp. 38
This diagram is actually about the Sponsor (i.e. the person providing funding) of the project. However, I believe that it can be stretched to include all stakeholders.

What the diagram shows is that those people who score highly on influence and interest should get the most effort to keep informed and satisfied. The interested should be kept informed and the influential should be kept satisfied- which leaves the least effort for the ones at the other end of the interest and influences scales.

Law of Unintended Stakeholders

OK, so let’s bring this back to the original posts quoted by Head for Red and Strategic Sorcery.

Sorcery’s a Dangerous Game” and
On Secret Identities

What happens when someone in your circle of family, friends, colleagues, or other contact finds out that you’re interested in magic, mysticism, paganism, etc? If they express any interest in this, then they have unintentionally become a stakeholder due to their interest. The next question is: how much influence do they have on your life?

Once the assessment of how much interest and influence they have has been done; then the next step is to use this to determine your communication strategy and risk management of this issue. As the diagram above shows, people with little interest or influence do not require much, if any, management. People with only an interest and little influence can be managed by either keeping them informed or not. If you don’t keep them informed, their interest may fade over time.

It’s the people who have high influence (whether very interested or not) that are the main concern. So here are some approaches to handling this issue based on PMBOK (3rd edition) section 11.5.2 “Risk Response Planning: Tools and Techniques”, pages 261-263

.1 Strategies for Negative Risk or Threats
“Three strategies typically deal with threats or risks that may have negative impacts on project objectives if they occur. These strategies are to avoid, transfer, or mitigate.”
.2 Strategies for Positive Risks or Opportunities
“Three responses are suggested to deal with risks with potentially positive impacts on project objectives. These strategies are to exploit, share or enhance.”
.3 Strategies for Both Threats and Opportunities
These strategies are (hopefully) self explanatory. To give a little more help I’ve included some examples of how to use each one and leave the rest up to your initiative and creativity to come up with solutions of your own.

  • Avoid – This can be taken quite literally to have less contact with that person or to avoid this topic. If you can skillfully navigate away from this topic, then the stakeholder may get the hint and realize that it’s not something you want to include in your conversations. You may need to tell this to them directly.
  • Transfer – Point to another source for more information. This can be another person, online information or books, etc. It can even mean getting another person or group to engage with the stakeholder to answer their questions and get them to take the brunt of the interest whether positive or negative.
  • Mitigate – This means reducing the impact and can be done by for example down-playing the importance these topics have such as “Oh, I’ve only read a couple of books on Kabbalah. I’m by no means an expert and only do some breathing exercises.”
  • Exploit – On a more positive note, this may be an opportunity to learn from someone else. They may have knowledge and experience whose benefits you could learn from.
  • Share – If the person has an interest in other areas you could each agree to share such knowledge each with the other. One example of this is Doing Magick’s article on “The Rabbi Speaketh"
  • Enhance – This means increasing the likelihood of something positive coming out of this situation. Proactively seeking to increase the chances of success, such as for example starting a blog to better interact with other initiates around the world.
  • Accept – passive acceptance means doing nothing about it. Active acceptance means moving on (if possible) to somewhere that their influence is unlikely to have an adverse affect on you.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Project Update: Two boats and a helicopter

There's a joke about a man who is sitting on the roof of his house as the valley he lives in has flooded. A boat passes by and offers to rescue him, but the man replies: "God will save me".

A little while later the water has risen higher and another boat passes by. The crew of this boat urge him to climb on board, but again the man replies: "God will save me".

Finally a helicopter passes over the man's house as he is perched on top of his chimney. They throw down a rope to pull him on board, but once again the man replies: "God will rescue me".

The man drowns and when his souls ascends to Heaven he confronts God about letting him drown. God replies: "Two boats and a helicopter was not enough for you?"

At work recently I'd made the decision to ask not to be included in the new organization structure. Since there was no voluntary redundancy, this was the closest thing we could do to get a payout and move on to another job. Shortly after making that decision, I had chats with 2 managers to explain how I was Project Managing my career and looking at the next 5 years of my career growth.

An hour later I got a call from another manager offering me a very good project in the new organization, but I turned him down and explained my decision was based on the 5 year plan, etc. Anyway, a few days later another manager approached me and offered me an even better project. That got me thinking... was this the second boat? Should I wait for the helicopter or just get the hell out off the submerged house to relative safety? Hence I said yes to the second manager and I'm now waiting to find out if I have a job in the Yew Year.

In other project related news, my project to meditate for 40 days to acquire Wisdom has finished and so far there's no immediate transformation in my consciousness or of level of insight in to all things occult and Kabbalah. Early on in the 40 days I had dreams of studying at a Rabbinical college, but I could not understand what was being taught. Later in the 40 days these dreams stopped.

My reading is continuing for the Project to understand Merkavah (Heavenly Chariot) and Hechalot (Heavenly Palaces) literature in 2000 pages. In terms of page count I'm doing quite well, in terms of comprehension of the subject matter it's not going as well. However, like the 40 days for Wisdom project - I'm hoping that at a certain point I'll reach a critical mass and have a break through in my understanding.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Winter Solstice Feedback Thread

Happy Winter Solstice 2010!

This blog was originally set-up to experiment with the nicer formatting that BlogSpot offers over Livejournal. Then it grew to include the research whether Project Management techniques could be of value to magicicians, mystics and occultists in general,

The seed of an idea to combine Project Management and Magic has grown in to a series of articles on this topic including choosing the right project management approach to things such as managing complexity in magical projects.

So now my questions to you are:
  • What would you like to see more of?
  • What would you like to see less of? 
  • Would you like to see more book reviews, occult lecture write-ups, practical guidance on Kabbalistic meditation techniques, translations of works by Abraham Abulafia or Elazar of Worms?
  • Which topic would you like to see more detail in?
  • Which articles are pitched at the right level for you and which assume too much background knowledge on the part of the reader?
  • Are you interested in being a guest bloggers? If so, please leave a comment.
  • Are you interested in participating in an occult bloggers carnival?

Any and all comments, feedback, suggestions, rants and general musings are much appreciated!

Break It Down: Building a Plan with Breakdown Structures

Recently at work I’ve been assigned to work with a new team and as well as using my normal checklist to ensure a smooth handover from one project manager to the other – there’s the issue with understanding a new technology area to deal with. Often when facing a new domain of knowledge it can be quite daunting to get to grips with it. My two favoured techniques are “nibble at the edges” and work breakdown structures (WBS).

Unstructured Approach:

The first technique is not really a formal technique as such. It boils down to picking up information as I go along. As problems and risks are raised and addresses, they shine more light on the internal working of the technology in this domain. It’s a path of organic-like growth in knowledge that is rather unstructured and can lead to misunderstanding of key concepts.

In occult terms this is a bit like coming across a particular topic in passing in various books, articles and conversations. It’s not the main focus of the book and often leaves me with more questions than answers. For example,, about 4 years ago a friend lent me a book on Wicca which was quite interesting and at the back was a very brief chapter on the Sefirot ( ) and the Tree of Life. When I asked why this was included my friend stated: “Oh, for some reason that makes an appearance in a number of books.”

Structured Approach:

The second approach is called Work Breakdown Structures. A good book on this topic is: “Effective Work Breakdown Structures” by Gregory T. Haugan. The author defines (on pp.2) a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) as:
“The WBS is an outline of the work; not the work itself. The work is the sum of many activities that make upa project. A WBS may start either as an informal list of activities or in a very structured way, depending on the project and constraints, and it can end wherever the planner wants it to. The goal is to have a useful framework to help define and organize the work and then to get started doing it.”

Using that definition, the author then goes on to outline a 4-step process for creating a WBS:
“Developing the WBS is a four-step process:
  1. Specifying the project objectives and focusing on the products, services, or results to be provided to the customer.
  2. Identifying specifically the products, services or results (deliverables or end items) to be provided to the customer.
  3. Identifying other work areas in the project to make sure that 100 percent of the work is covered and to identify areas cut across deliverables, represent intermediate outputs, or complete deliverables.
  4. Subdividing each of the items in step 2 and 3 into successive, logical subcategories until complexity and dollar value of the elements become manageable units for planning and control purposes (work packages)."

OK, that’s a lot of words and unless you’re really in to Project Management you might be tempted to stop reading here – or have done so already. Hence here are some diagrams of WBS used for planning a dinner party and writing a book.

Effective Work Breakdown Structures” by Gregory T. Haugan. Figure 5-5 Bottum-up WBS for a Dinner Party

Effective Work Breakdown Structures” by Gregory T. Haugan. Figure 5-4 Sample Book Writing Report

Kabbalah in terms of WBS
Having spent a fair amount of my free time reading academic books on Kabbalah, I appreciate that it can appear to be a bit of a monolithic domain of knowledge with a learning curve like taking off in a harrier jump-jet. But once you start digging a little deeper a number of things become clear:

  1. Kabbalah is not a monolithic body of knowledge
  2. Study of Kabbalah does indeed take a lot of time for a serious student

The good news though is that using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) it is possible to break down study of Kabbalah in to manageable chunks. A WBS for this can either be broken down by authors or along a timeline of evolution of thought in Kabbalah. For example, a simple WBS of authors could be:
  1. Martin Buber
  2. Gershom Scholem
  3. Moshe Idel

An example of WBS based on timeline could be:

  1. Merkavah and Heichalot mystics (2nd-5th century mysticism based on Vision of Divine Chariot from Ezekiel)
  2. German Pietists also known as Hasidei Ashkenaz
  3. Kabbalists of Spain and Provence
  4. Kabbalists of Safed incluing Isaac Luria and Moshe Cordovero
  5. Hassidic movement founded by the Baal Shem Tov

Another example of WBS based around chronology and author could be:

  1. Eliphas Levi (Paris 1850)
  2. Mathers (Golden Dawn 1888)
  3. Papus (Golden Dawn)
  4. Israel Regardie
  5. Dion Fortune
  6. Gareth Knight
  7. Lon Milo Duquette and chaos magic
Now it's your turn. How will use WBS to breakdown a practical or research project in to manageable bite size chunks that you can put on a timeline to create a realistic schedule?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Strategic Occult Book Purchasing Guide

Earlier this week whilst having tea with a colleague I mentioned that I was looking for another topic to post for on my blog and he responded: "How about project managing buying books?"

"What a genius idea!" came my immediate response followed by some very hurried scribbling on a pad that left my fingers covered in ink and very little on the page.

Anyway, on to the topic of how Project Management and buying occult books overlap…

The Project Management bit

In Project Management one of the fundamental ideas is that the vast majority of project has a triple constraint around it.

  1. Time
  2. Cost
  3. Scope

A poor Project Manager fails to deliver the right scope for the correct cost in the right time. A good Project Manager delivers in two out of three of these and a great Project Manager understands that if one constraint moves then there is often room to negotiate on the other two.

For example, if your boss wants a project done in half the time – will he/she be willing to accept reducing the scope of the project by half? Or how about doubling cost by bringing in contractors do help do more of the work that can be done in parallel?

Using the Iron Triangle to work out What, When and How Much?

Anyway, now that you’ve had a very brief introduction to the triple constraint (or the Iron Triangle) as I’ve heard some Project Managers refer to it as, let’s use that triangle as a tool to tackle the challenge and excitement of buying occult books.

Defining the problem domain also known as “What do you want to achieve?”

Write down the answer to these Scope questions to help narrow down your buying needs:
  1. What topics of books are you looking to buy?
  2. Is it on a range of topics of on a specific topic?
  3. Are you interested in an area that you’re already knowledgeable about or a new topic?
  4. Is it for practical advice or theoretical knowledge?
Here are some Time related questions:
  1. Are you an impulse buyer?
  2. When do you want to be holding these books?
  3. How fast do you get through a book?
  4. Are you able to set aside dedicated reading time?

And now for the final part – Cost:
  1. What is your budget for buying these books?
  2. How much effort are you willing to put in to finding the right book?
  3. How much effort will you put in to finding a bargain?

Now before I get on to the topic of internet links for finding and buying books, here are my thoughts about occult bookshops.

Occult Bookshops

My experience of occult bookshops in London (UK) is that they’re GREAT! There’s Atlantis, Mysteries, Treadwells, Watkins and a number of other shops that sell occult books. Here are some reasons why it’s worth spending time in an occult bookshop:
  1. People who work in occult bookshops (in my experience) have a lot of knowledge and contacts.
  2. Browsing let’s you explore the flow and exchange of ideas from one occult category to another
  3. Notice boards in occult bookshops are useful for contacts and courses
  4. Some bookshops hosts talks which are a superb way to meet like-minded people

One time I was in Atlantis bookshop and a man who’d been browsing books turned to the lovely lady serving behind the desk and asked why there were not more bookshops like Atlantis in the United States. The lady behind the desk smiled and answered that running an occult bookshop requires having a vast range of knowledge of different topics and that finding staff to meet such needs is very challenging.

(Alan Moore's "Unearting" for sale for £50 at Treadwells)
Treadwells, a bookshop that I rate highly for its friendly staff and awesome lectures & courses, has a course set-up to train both its staff and others who are interested in gaining such a breadth of knowledge of occult topics.

Summary of tips and techniques:
  • Go with a plan of what you want to buy and how much you can afford
  • If you’re looking for a bargain, consider looking up comparison websites such as Froogle
  • If you use Amazon, add a book to your basket instead of your wish list but SAVE IT FOR LATER. That way when you next go to your basket, it will inform you if the price has gone up or down.
  • Always look up the author of a book before buying it, the other books that they’ve written will give you more information about their expertise on the book’s chosen topic
  • Get advice in an occult bookshop or consult with someone whose opinions you value
  • Take online reviews on Amazon, etc with a pinch of salt. Bear in mind the number of reviews and the spread of reviews (e.g. ten people gave 5 stars, three with 2 stars and nothing in between)
  • If you’re in a shop and there’s no one around who can advise about whether a particular author is recommended or not – if you have your phone with you and have internet access, then look them up online and look for book reviews online.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Project update: Wisdom, Chariots and Living like a Mystic

Just over a month ago I started a project to do a meditation to gain wisdom. Not long after that I started another project to read through my academic book collection on Merkavah and Hechalot (Chariot and Heavenly Halls) literature.

I was really quite excited. Finally starting a structured meditation with a fixed duration that I’d hoped would give me a quantum leap forward in my understanding and practice of Kabbalah.

Also whilst I’d come across references to Merkavah and Hechalot literature in numerous places, I was hoping that reading the academic literature would give a grounding in a Merkavist’s worldview. Who knows, perhaps I’d even end up living in a cave in the desert eating only bread and drinking water, praying and meditating all day? Well according to legend this is what Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son did for 13 years to escape from the Romans

Well the good news is that the completion date for 40 days for Wisdom is coming up on Tuesday 23rd December 2010 and I’ve not missed a day yet. Also on the research front, I’ve read 314 pages out of an expected 200 to date to reach the overall target of 2169 pages. So that means progress is at 14%, with the expected progress to date being 9%.

The other news is that since Saturday night I have only eaten bread and drunken water and spent my wakeful time in prayer or meditation. However this is not because I have been transformed from project-manager-and-armchair-occultist to Merkavah mystic. Rather this is because I spent a good portion of Saturday night being ill and almost all of Sunday in bed trying to recover.

So like any true Project Manager who has time and inclination to focus on the CHECK part of plan-do-check-act. Here’s the likely list of reasons for how my diet has become like that of a mystic without the rest of my life following suit:

  1. Winter bug
  2. Food poisoning
  3. Delay in Hochmah meditation
  4. End of Supernatural
  5. Giving notice at work

1. The winter bug comes around annually around now. Some years it passes me by and some years I get hit worse than most. It’s quite common for me to spend a few days in December ‘hibernating’, sleeping up to 15 hours per day.

2. Unfortunately at times I have a rather sensitive stomach. My siblings all seem to have cast iron stomachs, so I lost out on this quality in the genetic lottery.

3. So normally I do the Hochmah meditation before morning prayers. My mind is often quite calm then without any build up of emotions during the day. Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to delay this meditation until after lunch. Masaru Emoto has done experiments on emotions on the structure of water and since this meditation involves drinking a glass of water at the end – well I’ll let you fill in the blanks.
(image courtesy of CW Print Creative)

4. After several years I’ve finally got to the last episode of season 5 in the TV series Supernatural. I’m not sure how that might be related to being violently sick every half hour on Saturday night except perhaps some emotional release that I have yet to fully grasp.

5. So after half a year of knowing job cuts are coming at work, the new organization structure is finally being rolled out. Although there is no voluntary redundancy this time, the option is available to let it be known that you’d rather be left out of the new organization structure.

Since I’ve been at the company and its parent company for half my working life, now seems as good a time as any to move on and expand my experience as a project manager. On Saturday afternoon I finally made the decision to ask to be made redundant and I think that it really hit me on Saturday night. Gordon mentions a similar experience of feeling of release when he stopped using his branded Oyster Card holder. My body’s reaction to deciding to leave the company has been… well let’s just say that I feel detoxed.

In summary, the meditation is on track and due to finish on the 23rd. The reading is going well. I’ve already started eating and drinking like a mystic (bread and water) and I feel cleaner inside. I just hope that my next epiphany will be a bit gentler.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Treadwells Talk: “Witchcraft Accusation in Africa”

Treadwells Talk: “Witchcraft Accusation in Africa”
by Zoe Young and Saskia Evans.
Monday 06 December 2010

The talk was introduced by Christina and although the number of attendees was not as high as some other talks I’ve attended – it filled up as the talk progressed (which is unusual as the front door is normally locked during talks).

Zoe started by outlining how she got involved through the Women’s Empowerment Network in making a documentary on witchcraft accusations in Ghana. She stated that missionaries are very active in Ghana and that misogyny and gender inequality were at the root of witchcraft accusations. The problem was as prevalent in the Christian dominated areas as the Islamic dominated areas.

(Picture courtesy of Simon Albury on Flickr)
Times of stress and change in lifestyle combined with lack of understanding of mental illnesses also contribute to witchcraft accusations. Witch accusations are not done in a systematic way, such as being led by a witch-finder General. Rather is it more spontaneous and the root is quite complex to unravel. Whether the accusation is because someone is impotent, a child has died, jealousy between a man’s wives (he can have up to 4) or simple alcoholism. Once the accusation is made and the woman (or man) survives the assault, they are then taken to the local chief or fetish priest.

Ghana’s hereditary spirit workers are called fetish priests. Accused women are taken to them for de-witching, he then does a ritual to test her and even if she passes the stigma of the accusation does not go away. Because an accused woman cannot return to her village, she ends up living in a witch camp. There are at least 6 or 7 of these camps with upwards of a thousand women (with some men) living in these camps. Because communication is so bad in parts of the country – new camps are being found all the time.

The aim of the documentary is to highlight this problem of witchcraft accusations. The TV in Ghana is dominated by American bible bashers in the South and Iranian influence in the North.  97% of people in Ghana believe in witchcraft and although none of the people interviewed who had been accused of witchcraft admitted to using witchcraft – each one knew of someone else who did.

Fetish Priests hold respect in society and will advertise their services next to for example church billboards advertising prayer camps. This syncretistic worldview highlights the complexity of the environment in which witchcraft accusations are made.

However, the processes of accusations follow a fairly familiar path:
  1. someone has a dream about a person
  2. accusation is made against that person
  3. if the accused has children, they will speak up and fight on her behalf
  4. there may be a mod assault on the accused
  5. the accused is dragged to see chief or fetish priest
  6. the fetish priest tests the person with a “concoction”**
**  - whose components they would not reveal. If the accused lied about using witchcraft, then the fetish priest’s shrine could kill that person.

The women who were shown in the film at the end of the talk were mostly old women, often without living children or were women who were too assertive and successful. The aim of the documentary is to focus on the human rights violations with a feminist slant. The documentary also did (in my opinion) a good job of showing the situation with the layers of complexity that exist, rather than trying to simplify it and viewing it through “white European lenses”.

Zoe and Saskia are looking for more investment to complete their documentary. Please get in touch via (remove spaces in email address) zoe at zoeyoung dot net

Project Managing Magic: Chaos, Complexity and Strategic Sorcery

See article by “December PM World Today eJournal” called: “Project Management, Chaos theory and the Butterfly Effect” by By Robert Gordon & Wanda Curlee.

Article summary: In the beginning it seemed that Order reigned supreme; then chaos theory came along and eventually gained traction. Chaos theory has given rise to Complexity theory and Project Managers are today struggling with handling complexity.

In fact the theme of this year’s Project Management Institute (PMI) one day meeting held in Reading, United Kingdom was all about managing complexity. In the article referenced above, there are three quotes in particular that caught my attention:
“The butterfly effect is the understanding that all forces are connected. Taking this to project management, when a project is moving forward, is best to try to put all the forces working in the same direction.”
From a kabbalistic viewpoint, all of reality (both seen and unseen) is connected. The above quote also relates to “as above, so below”. In other words since things are interconnected, in order to get things moving above it also needs to get moving below (or vice versa).
“What makes complexity theory different than the traditional open systems theory is that the theory acknowledges that there are parts of the system that cannot be explained but acknowledges that there is normalcy in the randomness (Byrne, 1998).”
Also in magical working there is (in my understanding) an acknowledgment that there are parts of the system that cannot be explained or understood. Whether it is the means that a spirit, god, or other entity achieves a desired result or the way that a magical act has a manifest effect on reality – if this was fully understood it would fall in the realm of rational science rather than magical thinking.
“Seasoned project managers realize that all parts of the projects cannot be controlled; nor would they want to have full control of the project.”
I would like to put forward the hypothesis that also in the realm of magical working that not all parts can be controlled. In fact, from what I have read trying to exert too much control on the desired means by which a result can manifest will often result in undesired effects. That’s not to say that a working should be done and then forgotten about. Head for Red recently posted an article about keeping focus on amulets once they were in use.

So what about the scenario in which an initiate uses multiple paths to achieving a result? Let’s call that a “strategic approach” of coming at a problem from multiple angles at the same time. Well, that is exactly what this article is about. Taking in to account: 1) butterfly effect, 2) unexplained parts of the system and 3) trying not to control all parts. This means that trying to get all the paths working together is a fine balancing act, keeping the project from collapsing in to chaos and managing the complexity by trying to break it down as much as possible.

My experience as a Project Manager has been that clear and well understood communication paths are essential for managing a complex project. Not only to make sure that the right communication happens at the right time, to the right people in the right way – but also to make sure that such communication did not generate any additional complexity of its own.

OK, so even writing that last sentence has my head spinning. Now think about what the effects might be if an initiate uses a talisman, curse and servitor or summoned entity (i.e. lots of different ways) to get a desired outcome. They might all work, but how will they interact with each other?

With this line of reasoning I find myself arguing against the approach taken by Strategic Sorcery , in the sense that using too many approaches to solve a single problem increases complexity and hence risk beyond what is necessary. However, I acknowledge that my scant theoretical knowledge of magic and sorcery outweighs by practical knowledge by quite a bit.

So in conclusion I think that this needs further investigation - by trying out a single approach to solve a problem or multiple approaches at the same time. Perhaps the multipath approach simply increases the percentage chance of meeting success criteria. On the other hand (based on complexity as experienced in projects and other areas of work), the multipath approach could lead to “interference” between avenues to success and possibly even increased probability of undesired side-effects.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Spiritual Regeneration: Make the Dream Happen

Rune Soup has posted an interesting article about creating your own Festival of Festivals.

Why is it important to start your spiritual regeneration at this point in the year? Well, the Solstice is coming up and soon the shortest day of the year will pass, leading to the days starting to get ever longer until Spring arrives. Did I say Spring? We're barely in to Winter!

However, it's in winter that the seeds and sap stays in the ground getting ready to germinate and rise in the spring. New beginnings, like seeds, start small and often develop out of sight (such as in the dark cool earth).

Importance of a Good Beginning

Project Managers know that the start of a project is a crucial time (see PM World article). If it starts badly, then the rest of the project is often spent trying to recover from the bad start - which takes away focus from other important areas. So the advice I'd like to share as a Project Manager is: start as you mean to go on.

Which brings me on to the important subject of dreams. The dreams that you have in your sleep and the dreams that you create to build hope and impetus for a better future. In this last week's Torah portion the story of Pharaoh's dreams are told. Not too long before that we read about Joseph's dreams and the Rabbi asked the following question of our congregation: “What is the difference between these dreams?”

* Link to Jospeh's dream: Genesis 37:5-10
* Link to Pharaoh's dream: Genesis 41:1-7

Differences in Dreams

The difference between Joseph's dream and that of Pharaoh is that Joseph was an active participant in his dream unlike Pharaoh who was passive. Pharaoh also got his servant Joseph to act on his dream and make them a reality.

So ask yourself: “Have I been a passive participant of my dreams recently, an observer? Or have I been an active participant, making things happen?” Then ask yourself: “Is my spiritual/magical development going strong? Or does it need a period of regeneration to germinate in to a stronger form for the coming seasons?”

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the overt focus on materialism at this time of year. If you are going to start the next phase of your spiritual or magical development, make sure it's with the best possible start. So why not start with a celebration to commence the period of re-growth, to focus the mind on the spiritual and magical dimensions/aspects of life?