What's permanent? What's temporary? Perceptions of time frame the way we work together.
I was debating project and service management standards the other day. (Yep, I lead a sad life.)
To be honest, it wasn’t much of a debate. We all agreed on the big stuff – that projects and services overlap; that we all need to work together to deliver value; that people and skills matter more than standards and controls.
A lot of motherhood and apple pie really. Boring.
Throughout the debate, I felt we were missing something. There was a big divergence in our underlying mindsets; we just weren’t getting at it. Afterwards, I realised this was due to the framing of the debate.
Things were simple when I worked in the games industry. If the company’s owner liked an idea, he invested in it. One guy’s gut feel drove our entire investment strategy.
Back then, in the 90’s, a typical console game cost maybe £1m to develop. Our boss could afford to invest in several at once, giving himself a pretty decent chance that at least one of them would make money. And he only needed one or two successes to pay for a long tail of flops.
Nowadays, a high profile console game costs upwards of £20m to develop. Even large companies can only afford to carry a small number of failures of that size. Gut feel just doesn’t cut it any more.
Say “governance” and blame never follows too far behind. Accountability, so far as I can tell, is a synonym for “who shall we sack?”
No wonder most people avoid discussing governance.
I’ve been facing it head-on recently. I’ve run several workshops on product development governance within a variety of organisations.
In particular, we’ve been looking at some of the key decisions that people make during the course of product and systems development, and at how they allocate responsibility for those decisions.
Organisations like to pretend that they're objective. It's not that simple.
Technology is tricky stuff. We respond emotionally to it. It changes the power balance between people, provoking political reactions. Vendors obfuscate about what their technology really does.
Most organisations recoil from this. They place a premium on “objective” decision-making, on measuring their options against some careful breakdown of functionality. By weighing each technology option against clear criteria, they reckon they’ll end up with the objectively “best” solution.
Big Data may be tough on our technology stacks, but the real challenges lie elsewhere.
Promises. Promises. Big Data sure makes a lot of them.
Increase the effectiveness of your sales (or political) campaigns by using behavioural data to divide customers into micro-segments.
Improve brand perception by monitoring the complex web of conversations across Twitter, Facebook and other channels and then engaging carefully with key influencers.
Analyse internal processes to find opportunities to reduce costs and increase responsiveness.
Sounds great, but is it real? Are people actually doing such stuff, or is it all vendor hype?
When work is invisible, a spiral of death builds up. How can we break that cycle?
Apps. Websites. E-commerce platforms. We talk about these things all the time. They’re having a very real impact on our world. Yet they’re all scarily intangible.
Like icebergs, you see only the small percentage that’s on the surface. There’s a lot going on deeper down. Code, libraries, schema, configuration scripts, layer upon layer of infrastructure – all largely invisible.
Sometimes the best practice is simply to be flexible and adapt your response to the situation at hand.
Are you paralysed by 'best practice'?
Innovation is increasingly going to shift from the device to the interaction between multiple devices.
Apple is the biggest corporation around. Its fights with Samsung win front-page headlines. Have the device-makers taken over the world, or is this a battle amongst the residual dinosaurs?
I think it’s the latter.
Security doesn't come from building castles. It comes from people taking action to defend themselves.
In the middle ages, security was simple. If you wanted to be safe, you found a steep hill and built a castle on it. Add a network of walls, ditches, moats and battlements, and you could feel pretty secure.
Problem is, most castles were starved, not stormed.
Decision-making is about more than appearing decisive. It’s about managing the context so that we achieve the outcomes we desire.
How do you succeed in today’s rapidly changing world?
By making decisions faster than the competition? By identifying opportunities, rapidly zeroing in on the best ones, and then pursuing them relentlessly?
Not so fast. There’s a growing body of evidence that rapid decision-making isn’t the key to success...