Cow and pig: avatars of improvement

Some people use fast, ferocious, inspiring, fearsome animals as the mascots for their projects—hawks, eagles, lions, tigers. Livestock is my spirit animal.

Today I put together a weekly get-together on Friday at lunch to share some better ways of getting things done, and to focus on some vexing problems that could be automated to save ourselves some time. Nothing fancy. It's just that people often stop by my desk for some help with DOORS (requirements database) or with displaying some text stuff that shouldn't have been put in Excel (but for the fact that it's better there than wherever else it would end up, probably PowerPoint). Or maybe I just look at documents and spreadsheets and so on with that nagging feeling of "there's got to be a better way"—constantly. I enjoy doing that work—improving things—but (1) I'm not that good at it, I'm just persistent; and (2) I don't want that to be my job, I just do it so that I can work with or display the actual content better.

Anyway, I called the group the Performance Improvement Group. The PIG. It is, after all, the year of the pig in the Chinese zodiac calendar.

And that reminded me of how, five years earlier, I enrolled another bit of livestock to help me record some beefs we had with the program we were on and to collect some lessons learned:

May is, after all, Beef Month in Iowa.

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