Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another oldie but goodie

I wrote this one in Febuary 2007.

Military Strategy 101
There's a lot of debate in Washington about the War in Iraq. Many say that pulling out of Iraq is the best choice, the only choice. Others think that to leave now would be suicide for America. In war, the side that quits first is the side that loses. It's a forfeit, and every athlete in every high school across the country understands that you don't want to be the team that forfeits. Forfeiting the game (or war) is the same as saying you're too lily-livered, too chicken, too yeller to stand up and fight. I, for one, don't want to look at my country and see yeller.

Miyamoto Musashi was a renowned samurai in Japan's feudal era. He fought his first duel at age 13 against a grown samurai. He won that duel as the loser died choking on his own blood. Before the age of 29, he entered more than 60 duels, and won them all. By 35, he quit using swords of steel, in favor of wooden bokken, or training swords. He continued to fight, and he continued to win.

He later wrote a book, entitled "A Book of Five Rings." It outlined his Way, the steps to achieve victory with the sword. It's been used by military strategists and businessmen to win conflicts ever since.

Journalists need to read this. Politicians need to read this. Military leaders need to read it again. Soldiers need to read this.

"To cut and slash are two different things. Cutting, whatever form of cutting it is, is decisive, with a resolute spirit. Slashing is nothing more than touching the enemy. Even if you slash strongly, and even if the enemy dies instantly, it is slashing. When you cut, your spirit is resolved."

America's spirit isn't resolved. We're slashing at phantoms half-heartedly. In the 1940s, we were committed to cutting down the enemy. America was united in its resolve to be victorious over enemies that wanted to conquer and rule America. Today the enemies are less numerous, but there goals are higher. They want nothing less than the complete destruction of America and everything it stands for. And they're not afraid to kill you at work, at play, or in your sleep. They've done it to others.

Americans, thanks to the media and frightened politicians (not scared for their lives, mind, but scared for their re-election campaign) are too scared to cut the enemy. We slash, and we miss. We touch the enemy, but the enemy dances away from our blade.

"[You must] crush the enemy, regarding him as being weak. In large-scale strategy, when we see that the enemy has few men, or if he has many men but his spirit is weak and disordered, we knock the hat over his eyes, crushing him utterly. If we crush lightly, he may recover. In single combat, if the enemy is less skilful than ourself, if his rhythm is disorganized, or if he has fallen into evasive or retreating attitudes, we must crush him straightaway, with no concern for his presence and without allowing him space for breath. It is essential to crush him all at once. The primary thing is not to let him recover his position even a little."

A crushed enemy is an enemy that can't fight back. If America pulls out of the Middle East now, then the enemy will have crushed us. The only way to prevent this war from becoming "Bush's Vietnam" is to win.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Going Live

During the many steps in the hiring process, my interviewers made it very clear that working at Epic involves travel. Depending on the position, you'll be required to travel quite a bit. But most positions allow you to travel as much or as little as you want.

If you're an implementer (listed as Project Manager/Implementation Consultant on Epic's website), you'll travel a lot. At least 50% of the time. I share my office with an implementor, and I rarely see him. If you're employed in any of the other positions, you get to pick when you travel, or at least I've been able to so far. When my main customer goes live, I'll be required to put a couple of weeks in at their site, but the HR people who hired me gave me plenty of forewarning.

I've seen a lot of rants, angry blog posts, and general grumpiness from disgruntled Ex-Epic employees, and people who didn't make the numerous cuts required by the hiring process. Most of them involve the lack of warning about travel, expected hours in a work-week, and general stuff like that. I can only speak for myself, but Epic was very up front about all that. They didn't sugar-coat anything.

Anyway, I had my first opportunity to travel at Epic's expense over the weekend. It was within driving range, so I got to get in my car and explore Greater Wisconsin. I drove past the Ho-Chunk Casino, saw some spectacular-looking waterslides in the Dells, saw gas prices steadily decline the farther I got from Verona.

Having had no clinical background besides what my RN mom brought home with her from her home health supervisor job, working in an ED was interesting. It was as much a steep learning curve for me learning the ED as it was for the nurses, doctors, social workers, EMTs, paramedics, etc learning Epic. There was a lot of frustration on the first day. By the second day, things were running a lot smoother. Most of the people working in the ED looked like they wanted to walk across the parking lot and admit themselves to the psych ward after work on the first day. A couple of hours into the second day, though, they were using Epic like old pros.

I learned a lot on the trip. Mostly, no amount of training in the classroom can prepare users for after Go-Live. Users have to learn new workflows, and if one link in the chain messes up, it screws everybody. Also, Epic staff need to spend more time in the clinics, the EDs, on the hospital floors. We, as a whole, don't know enough about the inner workings of a hospital to be the best use we can be. However, that could just be me.