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What does Mount Everest have to do with IT projects?

A CIPS member gives his perspective on Jean Ricard's presentation at Summit 2008

By Neil Lang I.S.P.

As a former climber and backcountry skier, I just had to attend Jean Ricard's presentation which was primarily about climbing Mount Everest.   Not your usual conference presentation, but with an invigorating set of photos of all the expedition planning, preparing, and of course marvellous shots of Mt. Everest.  Climbing mountains may be viewed as an individual endeavour but it really is a team effort.  And certain team members, like the Sherpas really make the team work.  Without them, the summit would be unachievable.  

The photos I found most impressive were the sheer magnitude of Mount Everest.  We have all seen them in the past.  But when you are up close, the enormity of the scenery is impressive.  Jean showed several scary shots of himself walking across metal ladders bridging crevasses.  Trust me, the metal crampons on the feet do not make it any easier.   One slip and....

Photo of Mount Everest (w/permission from Jean Richard)

Jean said that these ladders had to be crossed hundreds of times in both directions. 

So how does this compare to Information Technology (IT) projects?  How do we do our personal best to achieve our summit? 

Jean truly showed the effort necessary to seek his goal.  It takes a huge amount of work that comes from within.  Know your limits and know when to push those limits and when to know when to stop.  FOCUS on your goal, which really means determine your goal in advance.  

Jean's main goal wasn't really to "reach the top," but rather to return home alive.   True, an IT project may not have as much personal physical challenges.  But I say we can relate to the sacrifices necessary to extend our reach.  Aim high to achieve new objectives.  Do your homework and those goals can be achieved. 

Jean Richard did reach his goal of making it home despite turning back 500 meters from the top of the world.  He is now planning his next trip to Everest.  

Jean Richard

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