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Risk assessment

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Last year was crazy. I mean, fully packed, even overpacked. I was assigned to oversee, manage and deploy twelve new telescopes for Polish Space Agency, to three different locations, on three different continents. The contract was confined with huge penalties that could made the company bankrupt, if not delivered on time. The schedule was tight, the hardware and software part difficult, the management was tough.

We deployed the first four, POLON-3 in Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, February 2023, then – in the second half of March I travelled to Chile, for POLON-4 deployment at Deep Sky Chile observatory, and I would travel to South Africa for the deployment of the POLON-5, if the schedule hadn’t been overlapping… Then, two months later, we did a travel around the world (and I took my wife and our 1.5-year son for that trip) along with POLSA staff to finish this part of contract. This time, the dates were fixed by the external company, and someone really hadn’t ever been on such a trip, because we had to spent 42-hour long trip from Deep Sky Chile to Siding Spring… well, the POLSA team had another trip to South Africa the very next day, but I decided not to go there, and fortunately, I didn’t have to.

The deployment was one thing, the other part – 6-month long system commissioning, which I personally took care of, for each and every day. That time, the product-related discussions started, switching from project-based company, to product-based and market-ready actor, and my mixed role of becoming Strategy, R&D, Brand & Marketing lead along with Project management and software developer was filled-up. In November, I was basically destroyed. My physical shape dropped (alright, if one cannot regenerate properly after training sessions, then why to expect results?). My stress-levels almost killed me – at least I realised for the very first time, that I’m not sure if I’ll be alive the next day. No, really. My head was almost blown away. I finished the POLSA contract in November, working on a sick leave, with almost 40-degree fever.

Enough.

Or, really?

December of 2023 ended with another sick leave (this time my son was sick for the whole month, typical for the nursery-level kid), while we were about to launch the first product… Ok, we realised we have to start selling another one, not only the software, but the hardware, similar to what Apple does. In that craziness, I become another site deployment manager. This time, we got a trip to Utah Desert Remote Observatories, January 2024, and right after coming back – I got additional things to do.

Four ESA projects to coordinate, three product launches at the same time, and so on, and so on. It’s tough, it’s stressful, it’s time consuming, and, since I spent a last month on calls, fighting for proper system architecture, delivering project meetings, basically, rebooting the projects (which were put on hold because of staff change) – just before the Perseus launch date set to 20th of March 2024, I got a message for current and future me.

I’ve always set the bar high, and I sacrificed many things to make the company shine. Working over time, working on full engine, dropping training sessions, dropping art-related activities, dropping flying. Is this really that important? Does the world will end if:

  • I don’t finish the website on time?
  • I stop taking care of someone’s well-being? If they don’t care about me, delivering what I asked for, then it’s time for them, not for me.
  • I will go for training instead?

No.

Will the world end (at least mine and my family’s) if:

  • I drop training sessions, and lose health?
  • I stop doing art-activities, like writing, photography? Hey, I still have The Aperture of a Word to complete.
  • I drop spending time with my son and playing with him?

Yes.

I read once an article written by a CEO, who scheduled his company activities around training sessions, focusing on his well-being and physical shape, because, if he was to lose health, the 50+ people staff and their families would be endangered (sadly I cannot find the link now). Now, being a Senior Vice-President of Extremely Important Things, it’s high time for me to do so.

2024-076