Unfolding plans 73 – The Myth of Sisyphus

It has been some year.  They seem to be coming along faster and faster these days.  No sooner have we planned for this one then we are half way through it.  We’re already in month two of the new fiscal year.  Already we are thinking about our plans for next year and even the year beyond.  It is a never ending cycle and it is easy for the pressure of the present to wipe out any memory of the successes of the past.

We have a seemingly endless list of tasks that move the business forward yet that gives the impression that we are standing still.  It is like watching the moon on a cloudless night as you drive through the countryside.  The trees and the fields rush past yet the moon remains a static feature held fast in the sky.

I am reminded of Sisyphus who in Greek mythology was condemned forever by the Gods to repeat the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up to the top of a mountain only for it to roll down to the bottom again.  This was deemed to be the worst kind of punishment, being engaged in something meaningless.  Experiments conclude that people will work harder when their work seems more meaningful.  People understand the link between meaning and motivation.

Sisyphus’ crime was to believe that his cleverness could be greater than that of the Gods.  No one likes a clever-clogs.  Perhaps his task is a metaphor for the path of the sun that rises every day to its zenith only to fall each night below the horizon.  Every day it is the same task without apparent meaning.  But Albert Camus in his essay ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ saw his toil in a different light.  Camus accepted that his daily task personified the seeming absurdity of human life yet celebrated that the struggle itself was sufficient to fill a man’s heart with purpose.

This last year hasn’t been like that for us.  We have not been caught in a Sisyphusian nightmare of an endless cycle of meaningless work.  We have delivered considerable change and just because we have more of the same ahead of us it doesn’t mean that what we have achieved has not been worthwhile.

We have achieved some really big things.  The Digtial Durham programme has passed the half way mark and will bring world-class broadband to the vast majority of premises across the county and our partners.  The planning application was the last of the former district systems to be collapsed into one and weaning people off their personal printers was no mean challenge.

We are preparing for the future with the launch of the ICT Strategy, the new apprentice hub and work to improve diversity within the industry.  We’ve done some new things around garden waste, children’s and adult’s services and highways in particular while improving processes and technologies across the board.

The list is long, far too long to go into much detail yet it is important every so often to take stock of where you have got to.  It is like climbing a large hill.  You need to keep moving forward but it is good to look back from time to time.  The start of the new fiscal year is an ideal time to do so.

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