Task Dependencies and Probability

Flip a coin, heads or tails. The probability that it will come up heads is 50%, after all there are only two sides.  Flip that same coin again, the same probability, 50%.  However, if we say that success is two successive heads (or tails) that is different. The probability of two consecutive heads, is the product of the two coin tosses (50% x 50%) or 25%.

I’m sure we understand task dependencies.  This is fundamental to project management and schedule.  Dependencies are the connections between tasks for example, I must put socks on before I put my shoes on (assuming I wear socks, which I generally do).  Of course, this is not the only type of dependency (finish-start). There are four actually;

Finish-start Start-start Start-finish Finish-finish



Let us focus on finish-start for a bit. Specifically, lets talk about a portion of the resulting schedule and the task consequences on the entire project.

Each task … Continue reading

Saving The Day

Saving the Day

What is it about running in and saving the day like the old westerns that companies enjoy.  Why is it we value the Herculean effort to correct or fix the result of poor strategy, poor decision, insufficiently staffed, or poor execution? Could we agree that generally is better to get things correct the first time where possible?  It is not the idea of not taking risks (calculated) that I am referring.  These calculated experiments that are undertaking with the goal of learning and not the source of our failure of which I am referring.  Rather it is the poorly calculated or evaluating approach to the work, for example, cutting corners in the development work to save time or money or perhaps it is the poor project or product strategy, or too little time vetting either broke both.  Or maybe my favorite the understaffed endeavor.

Is it really a Gain

These events often take considerable effort from our … Continue reading

CES 2018 Event

CES 2018 Event

I have never gone to CES 2018 Event (Consumer Electronics Show) and was taken aback by the size of the event.  There was considerable to see, even with the minor discomfort of periodic electrical blackouts at various parts of the show.  I have a great enthusiasm for creating new things (I have ceded 7 US patents and other country patents to the companies at which I have worked).  I wonder about who things are created, where do these ideas originate and the level of productivity of the group that create these things.

It was in warm, even if wet and sometimes flooding Las Vegas.  Walking through one of the casinos I saw this flood outside the window.  There were a number of accidents and getting around was a little difficult (traffic).

I had fun on the Sony virtual ride, where I felt like I was going over a cliff at times, at other times it felt like … Continue reading

Taxonomy of Project Failure – Risks

Taxonomy of Project Failure – Risks

Experience suggests there are many ways to project failure due to our project management actions, this does not include the riskiness of the effort in general that comes with the uncertainty associated with projects – these are not operations.  Projects by definition have uncertain components, this is especially true in product development and especially in software product development.  That taxonomy would look much different than the one below as we could have, for example, material, processes, people, technical, measurements and many other ways to breakdown or categorize the failures.  However, project management is there to make things better, or it should be. It is there to improve our probability of success, not bring in additional potential project failure modes that must be navigated.  It seems all too often what really happens is poor project management does not make the situation better, but snatches defeat out of the jaws of success.  Below find a breakdown … Continue reading

Agile for the Rest of the Organization

Agile beyond product development

I have recently had another wonderful discussion with John Cutler on agile beyond the actual product development work of the organization.  This may seem trivial on the surface, but the reality is the company or organizations is only as fast as the slowest element.  Imagine the finances for the endeavor are not secured in a timely manner, delaying the start of the development work, as a small example.

Some company’s separate the qualifying of the technology away from the development group using a group that may be referred to as Advanced Technology, at least that is my experience in some larger automotive companies.  This group will work with the technology, understanding it and helping to bring it maturity including the broad strokes of how the technology will be employed.  This time to understand the technology reduces the risk to subsequent product development work.  However, this approach does bring other risks to the organization.  For … Continue reading

Off Topic – A note to a son.

You are in college now, and you see people that are likely smart as far as youth will provide.  Everybody can have strong “opinions” and perhaps their track record in high school has been one of success after success or being the person known to be knowledgeable – as far as high school topics go.  University work is much different as I am sure you know.

I have been ruminating about engineers and what I think makes a good one. It is not the know it all’s – and many people besides engineers fall into that category (have this malady). People are so certain of what they know to be true, but is likely not at all true, or only true for a very finite or specific situation.  Engineering is as much about creativity as science.  It is about devising experiments for those situations in which it is not so easy to understand or calculate due to complexity, or wide … Continue reading

Behavior and Engagement Extinction

Behavioral Extinction

By: Shawn P Quigley and Jon M Quigley


The Dodo, the Tasmanian Tiger and the Carolina Parakeet are extinct.  Extinction; however, does not just apply to animals but can be applied to behavior as well.  In the case of behavioral extinction we will be discussing things and/or actions that make motivation and positive employee behavior extinct.

A scary study on engagement

Before we go much further down this road, we should consider the information provided by the Gallup poll on employee engagement.  Those that are engaged in their work: in the United States, is approximately 30% according to the 2013 Gallup Poll. Globally, that number is much less; about 15%.  If that sounds bad to you, you have not heard the worst of it. In addition to (on average) a small percentage of our workforce being engaged, there are two other categories. The next category is for those people who are “Not Engaged”. This section of the … Continue reading

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