Month: May 2016

The problem with Customer Advocacy: it addresses neither!

I used to think that the best way to get your customers talking about how great you are was to be, well, great! – give your customers something to talk about.  Be great is the sense of having a product that customers really value. This seems self-evident doesn’t it? The problem with this thought is that it is still framed in terms of the brand or product. It *sounds* like being customer focused, but is actually still product focused.  Your customer is the recipient of value, and the product solves the problem. Customers don’t really think of it this way. The company...

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The Dunning–Kruger Effect – Who knew?

I was introduced to the “Dunning-Kruger Effect” last night whilst listening to my first edition of a podcast called “This American Life”, as I listened to the story on the way to pick up my son from soccer training. This episode consisted of three separate stories supporting the notion of “The Defence of Ignorance” – the state in which we deliberately or unconcsiously act as if we are not aware of some information about our context. It’s kind of amusing to me that this observation was unknown to me, given that I see its effects so frequently.  But, now that I have a handle for it, I can explore it in more detail. Just to recap, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is: “a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is.” – Wikipedia The simplest scenario is the basic experimentation that Dunning and Kruger performed on a range of students at Cornell University.  In this simple experiment, each participant is given a test on some generic subject, such as logical reasoning or grammar.  As each test subject finished,  they were also asked to rate their performance in percentile terms in relation to all the other participants in the test.  E.g. a ’65’ answer indicates that the subject thinks that their score will beat 65% of all those...

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“Agile Documentation” is not an oxymoron

“Every team needs to leave footprints. Anyone who doesn’t document their work in a project, or actively participates in helping create a persistent record of the project, is a Project Asshole.” – Principle #6 of the “No Assholes Project Team” principles  Every team needs to leave “footprints”, or a persistent record of its work.  And yet this simple requirement causes so much grief, in both agile and traditional “plan-driven” projects.  This post covers the agile part, and we’ll look at traditional documentation in a future post. There’s nothing in the bulk of the agile literature, starting with the Agile Manifesto and Principles, that tells people not to generate documentation. The intent of the 2nd statement in the manifesto is that you should decide to produce working software “over” comprehensive documentation, when forced to a choice. Many people read “over” as “instead of” but to my mind it is “is a higher priority than” i.e. if you have to choose between writing docs and producing working software, then choose the latter over the former. The trouble is there is little that describes “agile documentation” in any practical detail, preferring to leave project teams with the recommendation to “do the level of documentation that is appropriate to your project”. This lack of detail leaves projects to take very different pathways.  Sadly, ill-informed, dramatic or, frankly, opportunistic, team members has lead us to a level...

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How to Use the Project Action Principles

You’ve probably read the keystone article about the 5 Project Action Principles, and one or more of the pillar articles that describes each principle in more detail. If not then see the references at the end of this page. I’m assuming you are at this page because you are keen to understand how they work; to understand how you use them to improve your project management effectiveness.  This article describes in more practical terms how these all work together and how you can make them work for you. This is not a typical “How To” guide The 5 Project Action Principles are not intended to replace one set of process-oriented methodology definitions with another. That would be crazy. For me, these Action Principles have no guaranteed outcomes in terms of specific execution steps.  The principles frame an approach that puts you in the right place to see, hear and understand the project.  And, once understanding clearly what is happening, to know what drivers to follow, what tools to select, and how to facilitate the outcomes that the project demands. There are no guaranteed steps. There is no silver bullet.  There is no point pretending that this or that technique will give you the right outcome every time. So I don’t intend to prescribe specific steps, actions or toolsets to use.  The specific actions will come from you, as a competent...

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