It seems to me that no matter how much work I put in to the various aspects of Exetel's operations the list of things that require immediate attention never reduces and only doesn't increase because of my habit encrusted in decades of use is to never allow any 'list' to go beyond ten items. I think my current decision making schedule is greater than it has ever been with not only more decisions needing to be made in the very near future but each of the decisions is more 'dangerous' than previous decisions in terms of potential negative impacts on the business and expense to recover from if such action has to be taken.
Apart from playing my part in finalising a new class of ADSL plans this week, I have to participate in resolving some issues with the 'shaped' option for ADSL plans, make a decision on advising what we do with the UK HSPA opportunity, decide on a future modem provider, finalize a new aspect of HSPA services, put in place new telephony pricing across our range of telephony services, review and set new target dates for the next phase of our personnel management system, 'sign off' on the new management plan for our business plan for the Australian operations and finalize the business plan for the Sri Lankan operations, determine how the Sri Lankan operation is to be managed in 2009 and, assuming there's enough time - deal with the day to day issues of running a small private company that somehow are always more 'urgent' than commonsense would suggest they should be.
Not that I'm complaining - I chose to do this job and I have no problems putting in the hours that are required. Occasionally, obviously like this morning, I am honest enough about my abilities and knowledge to question whether I'm the right person to continue to carry these responsibilities. Right now I think the answer to that question is - "no". However at the moment, and in each time I have contemplated this in the past, I have no idea of how to find someone to replace me and therefore the solutions always seem to be to simplify the Exetel business so the amount, and quality, of decision making and knowledge acquisition is reduced and therefore more time can be spent making better decisions.
That rationale and the decision to implement it, at least in the past, usually lasts less than a few days before we decide to actually expand what we do in some initially minor way but then continue to add new and different aspects to the services we offer or the ways in which we operate that actually makes the business more rather than less complicated. Somehow I can't even make a half-hearted promise to myself this morning to attempt to simplify the business. So I haven't done that. Some of my more sensible acquaintances point out to me that it is my own failing in not employing people who are capable of replacing me which is an essential requirement of any sensibly run company. I do understand such 'motherhood' statements but I just don't know how to go about finding one person, let alone more than one, who would actually want the responsibilities for the money we could afford to pay - always assuming they had the peculiar set of abilities required in the position.
Perhaps the whole concept of providing services to some of the Australian marketplaces at the lowest cost of any supplier just can't be made to work for a small company that has to gradually develop its buying power and developing really good automated processes and systems to reduce operating costs, in the end, will never be enough to offset the huge advantages much larger companies have in buying the basic building blocks of Australian communications services. I haven't considered this before but perhaps it is getting to the time where it has to be considered.
I'm very tempted to spend some time in the UK seeing if, via a 'partnership' that eliminates the need for us to invest much money, we can make the ideas we have in mind for HSPA work in that much bigger market and I'm encouraged that at least one UK company is willing to offer that opportunity to us. However I'm very conscious of the time and distance issues that would pose to us at this stage of deploying our very stretched resources. I'm also very conscious of the considerable burden that's involved in keeping an operation running after the adrenaline powered start up phases drain that vital 'kicker' and the day to day grind for the infinite future is the only 'horizon' you can see. So I will have a bet both ways and suggest a start up plan for mid January 2009 and see how that plays out as it is a key 'back up' option if our current plans with Optus don't work out as we both hope they will in terms of numbers of connections (on our part) and the abilities to sustain the delivery of faster services in more areas (on their part).
So I suppose its the usual contradictory situation/action plan - bitch about a lack of time and too many demands and then decide to add even more demands in even more complicated ways to the daily work load - Never mind - today is billing day for our recurrent services and it is a new record with a very sizable 'jump' from October so, at least briefly, all is well with the world.