Major Crow

The heart of the problem is that many believe that being in a leadership position means they no longer need advice, particularly unsolicited advice: They must have all the answers, and see accepting advice from others as a sign of weakness. They think they’ll lose face for accepting help from others; or that “naysayers” are seeking to undermine them and their cause. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

“Where there is no guidance, a nation falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
– Proverbs 11:14 (NRSV)

A dozen (or so) years ago, I was a Technical Lead for an IT services contractor in the DC area.  After wrapping up one project, I had been assigned to lead a project for a new client of another division within my company.  A few months later, I was pulled back into my old group because a project that had been waiting approval for a long time had finally gotten the green light: writing a new and very complex logistics-support application for a branch of the military.

Several members of my team had spent years supporting (and fixing) the predecessor to the proposed new system.  They had developed a very deep and thorough knowledge of the way the client used the system, the system’s remaining flaws, and the needs it was failing to address at all.  We had known for a long time that it would cost far more to finish fixing the existing system’s critical problems and gaps than to rewrite the whole thing from scratch.  The client had finally agreed: a design and project plan had been developed, and the proposal had been approved.  I was brought back to lead the technical side of that effort.

Just a couple of weeks later, we had our initial meeting with the primary stakeholders of the new system in an office building not far from the Pentagon.  I arrived along with my boss.  She and I were escorted into a conference room.  Several of the folks associated with the use of the system were already there, and we all chatted for a few minutes as the rest of the team trickled in.

Suddenly, an aide came in and announced an Officer: after that introduction, he strode in and sat down.  Wasting no time, his message was pointed and brief: he had talked to the commander about an hour earlier and convinced him that our project should be under his command, since he was already tasked with leading the development and deployment of a similar system.  (Although similar, not identical – its mission actually had very little overlap with that of our project.)

He explained that our project was needless duplication, and that it would detract from what he was trying to accomplish.  Besides, he’d had a conversation with the vendor of the workgroup product his own “portal” was going to be built-with, and the vendor had assured him it would only take 8 months to duplicate the functionality our project would provide.  And so, he’d promised his commander that he would have the new system up and running in eight months time.

Therefore, he was shutting down our project, effective immediately.

Continue reading “Major Crow”

Crossing Boundaries

Mattia Preti (Il Cavalier Calabrese), Christ and the Canaanite Woman, c. 1665-70
Mattia Preti (Il Cavalier Calabrese), Christ and the Canaanite Woman, c. 1665-70

Sermon: “Crossing Boundaries”

Delivered at ARK Community Church, Dalton MA
9th Sunday after Pentecost: August 17, 2014.

Scripture readings:
Isaiah 56:1-8 (NRSV)
Matthew 15:21-28 (NRSV)

Podcast:

Please join me in prayer…

Lord, let it be your voice that speaks through my mouth, and let our hearts be open and receptive to the Word you have for us here, today. Amen.

The story of the “Canaanite Woman” in this morning’s reading from Matthew 15, and also in Mark 7, is a narrative that crosses all sorts of boundaries.

To begin with, the setting isn’t located near any of our other stories about Jesus. Matthew tells us that Jesus has journeyed with his disciples to “Tyre and Sidon.” Doing so means he has left behind the familiar comforts and safety of his native land, moving across Israel’s frontier into the Gentile lands to the North. He’s in a new and strange place. But, is it strange for him, or strange for us?

Continue reading “Crossing Boundaries”