General Strike Coming Up

Paris, and in fact the rest of France probably, is in full preparation for a big general strike next thursday. Although in the past seven months we experienced some strikes, with minor invonveniences, it wasn’t at the scale of this one. Apparently, all public transport is out for at least a day. Even the minimum service, required by the government, won’t help us this time.
That this was going to be a big one, I realized in the office. Colleagues are not only talking about it, but also preparing for it. A good-bye lunch for a colleague has been put forward, meetings for Thursday are being cancelled, colleagues that were supposed to come over from our other offices are postponing trips and colleagues living in other cities or countries are going home a day early. I will probably work from home, a luxury my m/gl does not have. How she will go to the office, remains to be seen. If she’s lucky, she can get a taxi, but they will also probably be overbooked and unavailable.
The amazing thing is, that our French friends and colleagues take it as a fact of life. They’re not really annoyed by it, although in general it seems that the tolerance for striking is diminishing in France. I always have found it a rather irritating way of negotiating. I understand that it has been a very powerfull weapon in France, with the unions getting mostly what they want out of it. But what are the costs to the rest of society? And how long will people put up with being victimized? In the Netherlands some of the unions are transforming their ways already. They have public friendly actions. Related to public transport, that would mean operating as usual, but giving the public a free ride (opening gates, no ticket control). This way, the action hurts where you want it to hurt, without the collateral damage.

About The Tiger and The Big Fish

A long time ago, when I was still studying, I took a train daily to go to college. Mostly, I travelled with one of my classmates. We liked to annoy our fellow travellers by telling amazing stories about how we met working on a nuclear Russian submarine in Wladiwostok and more nonsense like that. Stories that always, because it was easy, partial truth in them. Our other classmates would play roles like they did in real life, some events were weaved in, but of course retold with a huge dose of fantasy. But, it was a good way for us to pass time, and we both loved stories, more than just the simple facts of everyday life or what’s happening in the world around us.

So, which do you prefer: a beautiful story of which the key points are true and the rest might not be, or a dry statement of facts in chronological order? Probably, it depends on what it is you are being told or talking about. But nevertheless, the story seems always more appealing. And if you think about it, what would be the actual difference in consequence, between the story and the cold facts? In essence, I guess you wouldn’t. And if so, maybe your response to the story would be closer to your personal believes. At least you would give the story teller some points for the effort.

The question of the story or the facts is the basis of two wonderful tales I enjoyed very much. One a book, the other a movie. The book is Life of Pi. It’s about a shipwreck survivor. The story het tells is amazing and about how he survived on a life boat he shares with a tiger. The movie, Big Fish, is about a son looking for the dry facts about his dying father, who has always told him the most amazing stories, but never the ‘truth’. I can recommend both to all.

2009 Well On Its Way, And We’re Back

Already almost ten days into the new year, I finally get back to my blog again. Christmas meant going back to the Netherlands for a week, and I had to spend some time with my great Christmas present. And then, back in Paris for Sylvestre with some friends coming over and last Monday back to work again. All in all, I confess to ignoring my blog for a couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean it’s like 2008: history.

By the way, for my Dutch friends especially, the December issue (number 8) of Business Process Magazine published an article co-written by me (and two of my colleagues) on Lean for Public Service. So I closed 2008 with some good news for me. We are now working on a translation in English.

So, now 2009 is kicked off again, it will be, for this blog, much the same as in 2008. I plan to continue posting, I haven’t had enough of dicovering Paris, taking notes and pictures, so there will be more Snapshots of Lutetia and other Parisian impressions. Furthermore, I will also be on Twitter, my bookmarks on Delicious and interesting articles on Newsvine.

Thank you all for visiting here in 2008 and I hope to see you all some more here this year! Until then: all the best for the new year.