Sly-entific Management 8

Previously in this series: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh



The Way A Poet Might

If I were to write this poem the way we’re trained to manage work,
I wouldn’t need a pen or paper (or an eraser, or any quirks).
I’d start with pure logistics, and organize the space
in the One Best Way to guarantee the efficiency of pace.
I’d consider all the resources I’d likely ever need,
Then contract to acquire each before I would ever dare proceed.
And I would draft a careful plan with metrics clean and square
to guide my pen and paper use, to co-opt every care.
I would also study others’ works with a coolly larcenous eye,
To find the very best of class to anonymously plagiarize.
Then I might change a word or two, and certainly tweak the title,
before publishing the result to great tumult, The New American Bible!

Then I would gather followers, only true believers please,
willing to curse that other guy’s verse as immature sleeze.
Then we would live the good life, just as outlined in the paen,
and question our personal dedication before we’d ever doubt the plan.
We’d sacrifice our dignity, foregoing every break
to guarantee our every deed was finished, never late.
And we would balance the metre on the head of a hair-fine pin
while delivering to the expectations no one knew when we began.
And we would know true joy there as we’d execute the plan,
The soul of full maturity manifested in mere man.
We’ll be carried on their shoulders into a victory dance,
Revered, respected laureates, perfect creases in our pants.

But if I were to manage my project work the way a poet might
I would never lay a plan before entering the long, dark night.
I’d ride with synchronicity and just the sparest goal
while trusting the Gods to beat the odds, wagering one immortal soul.
I’d start with pen and paper and the barest of belief
then bleed my fool heart out onto paper, down my sleeve.
I’d soak my cuffs in metaphor then scrub them clean with rhyme
and lose my orientation relative to space and time.
I’d know I was making progress if an hour disappeared
and call it great every time I’d taste a salty, bitter tear.
I’d discover something wonderful or simply waste my life,
while a growing, deep concern to both my neighbors and my wife.

And occasionally, just once in a while, I’d touch the face of God,
then fail to explain what happened, just an incoherent clod.
I’d never know the lives I’d touched and rarely catch a glimmer
of how my personal struggles might have saved some nascent sinner.
But I would continue to write my words, like a shark must swim to live,
obsessed, I suppose, (who could know?), by the form the crafting gives.
I might never know the shoulders of the cheering crowd’s rejoice
but thrive instead between my head and my tiny, tremulous voice.
I might wonder at the magic and ponder all my days
but never distill what grit and will left gleaming on the page.
My method must be madness, non-rational and uncouth,
I cannot calculate efficiency when confronted with the truth.

Within each and every manager, there beats a poet’s heart;
in continuous contention with the engineer in charge.
While one insists their intuits can clearly guide the way,
their opposite counters rationally to each asserted claim.
You can see it in the eye roll, the pre-conscious turn of head,
The intellect and the intuition are wishing each other dead.
But I say bless the both of them as they wrestle each effort to ground,
One scream without the other wouldn’t even make half a sound.
No, you you can’t predict very much of what will matter in the end,
but neither need you contemplate every logical extent.
What’s real is always up for grabs, philosophy weighted by stone,
it’s in these conversations that we find our way back home.

Without that odd perspective, without that curious twist,
there is no conversation worthy of us getting miffed;
(the way we always do when we’re pursuing to the plan
or confounded by the certainty we will disappoint The Man.)
For we are merely mortals here, spelunking on this plain,
our Gods amused at just how confused our futures must remain.
Blinded by our own bright lights and deafened by our songs,
we insist on buying the batteries that promise to last long.
We’re learning at a snail’s pace while racing toward the end;
perhaps our worst contenders are our well-disguised best friends.
Our methods might be madness, our imperatives far from rhyme,
Our quatrains barely good enough, but perfectly adequate for project work, I guess.

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