Give Me Quiet And Half An Hour


Microsoft Office Word 2007

Microsoft Office Word 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt asks “Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?”

I’ve got two different crisis reactions, well maybe three. The one I’m unhappy about is the “I’m having a crisis” personal reaction. If it’s happening to me I can fall apart, though the more serious the calmer I get.

If it’s happening to you then I’m much better. Ask me for help in a crisis and it’s all hands to the pumps and anything I can do.

Then there’s my reaction at work. I’ve worked IT support from some pretty crazy places in some hard core, high stress places and when things suddenly come apart you’ve got to keep it together.

Here’s a tale you’ll enjoy. I was state IT Manager for a large law firm and we were upgrading the operating system and Microsoft Office across the company and skipping two versions of Office. We had asked a dozen times for all example documents and scoured the company for templates and macros to test and make sure everything worked. Lawyers live and breathe by the word processing done by their para-legals, assistants and secretaries so this was like fiddling with their right arm.

So we tested and tested and trained everyone on the new version. Then one Friday at six o’clock we started converting everyone and worked Saturday to get it finished. Monday we were back at work at 7am ready for any problems but hoping for none.

Then it hit, one small unit that took care of debt recovery had sixty templates for local court documents and they weren’t formatting properly. This was a major disaster as debt recovery is tiny cases where taking an extra ten minutes meant you lost money and two paralegals handled cases by the dozen. Of course they had to get documents for over ninety cases ready by half past nine for court at ten.

My boss was going crazy, my assistant was next to useless and one of the senior lawyers was oscillating between yelling at my boss and yelling at the two paralegals.

I told my assistant to keep everyone off me “Give me quiet and half an hour”, walked into my office and shut the door. A little research and I discovered that the templates in question were created by the Court many years ago and were in a version even further back, four versions of Word back from the one we were now using. That was the bad news, I needed some good news. I discovered that if you opened the templates in the version of Word we used the previous week they did, as the paralegals insisted, worked fine. The good news was that if you saved the template using that version of Word it would open perfectly in the new one. I then spent ten minutes writing an AppleScript that would open all the files in one folder in the old Word and save them with the same name into another folder.

I’d solved the problem. What it had taken was the ability to shut out the distractions, it didn’t help to listen to lawyers screaming, and an ability to focus on the real problem, that the templates were needed in twenty minutes didn’t count.

Then I just needed to focus on what I did know, what the questions were and how to answer those questions.

I’m proud of how I react in a crisis. I think I’m actually better in a crisis than not, somehow I work better when there is a single focus that is typical of a crisis situation.


One thought on “Give Me Quiet And Half An Hour

  1. Very nicely done. I do not like crises. But I admit, I work better when my back is against the wall, whether it’s a crisis or not, my brain believes it is and does what it needs to do. I’m not advocating procrastination…though that’s what usually gets my back against a wall.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s