The morning paper…..and failure.

Imagine you are an executive and you are sitting down to your early morning breakfast with the daily paper.  As you read the paper, you find an article about your company and you are stunned to find it is not a flattering article but a description of a traumatic event that has come to a customer using your product.  You are shocked and embarrassed and it is not even 0600 yet.

When you get back to the office, you find out this situation was known by the line management and workers of the company.  They have been wrestling with whether the problem is, in fact, a problem and the magnitude of the problem if it is a legitimate event.  The line personnel wants to determine if it is a problem how to correct rather than make this situation aware and bring the entire company’s resources to bear on the problem.  I have seen this situation a number of … Continue reading

More Hope.


I want to start off by saying; I am not affiliated with any political party. There are some key principles by which I behave, but I do not think any one party has a monopoly on good. In fact, if anything, I believe both parties have a monopoly on bad.  I also know the book, Audacity of Hope, is not a new introduction, however, for some reason, this title has stuck in my head today and has me thinking.

I have long held hoping in low regard.  Hope is okay, but only when linked with doing all that you can do.  I have seen hope used in project management and product development as if it were going to come or our rescue, which invariably it does not.  Hope allows me to sit in my lazy boy and contemplate winning the lottery.  However, to actually win, I have to get up out of my lounge chair and take … Continue reading

Spamcast The Big Picture of Configuration Management

Software Process and Measurement Cast podcast: The Big Picture of Configuration Management, Tom Cagley and Kim L. Robertson

Configuration Management: Theory, Practice, and Application

Configuration Management is a common thread that ties the various departments and organization together, facilitating coordination of effort and is fundamental to product and human growth.

Quality – when 500 parts per million is not

In the purchasing contract with a tier one supplier, the expected the “0-kilometer” quality or failure rate is not to exceed 500 parts per million (ppm).  These are failures seen before the product leaves the OEM manufacturing floor requiring product rework on the assembly line or as the vehicle rolled off the end of the assembly line.  The contract is signed and the development staff sets about developing the product.  The design is set, there are trial production runs and run at rates and 18-24 months later the product is coming off the end of the OEM manufacturing line at production volumes.

Shortly after production start, the OEM notices the quality is not consistent with contractual obligations of 500 ppm.  A dissection of the product and conversation with the supplier finds that there is one component, had a failure rate of 500 ppm, and there are at least two of these components and sometimes three in the product.  Meaning the … Continue reading

Online Applications

I have been spending time with many companies online job applications.  I have to say, these online job application tools run the gamut in capability.  What I have also discovered is there seem to be bugs or defects in many of them.  I wonder if the products were tested in a multitude of platforms and my system was missed.  I would think Google Chrome would have been one of the test systems.  One had the ability to delete work experiences, except you could only delete one, and when you selected the delete for another – nothing happened, though the screen refreshed as if it did. 

Some of the things I am finding may not be bugs but requirements issues.  For example, on more than one website, the salary was a required input and it was only numeric.  The problem with this, I am not a big fan of talking about fixed number for salary up front, and at one time … Continue reading

Product Development By the Book

Ad hoc Product Development

There are those that say that agile is the way and that the time for conventional project management has passed into the distance, and I would disagree.  Those that complain about how poorly the conventional approach meets the objective, in my experience, often do not practice anything even remotely related to a disciplined conventional approach.  There is a measure of discipline espoused in the doctrine in which you can perhaps expect the outcome to be close to that predicted by the doctrine.  Even agile has a certain measure of discipline, dump the planning session, forget the daily meetings and let pandemonium reign.  What do you think will happen with that form of product development execution?  I have heard executives and managers alike pooh-pooh a disciplined product development approach as by the book electing instead to allow random actions and pandemonium to reign.

Those that complain about how poorly the conventional approach meets the objective, in my … Continue reading

Career Ladder

Career Ladder

I am re-reading my copy of Paid to Think by David Goldsmith and I find myself surprised that I missed a late section titled Transparent Career Ladder[1].

 Just as important as the actual career ladder itself is leaders’ and staffers’ knowledge if we of how it works.  A good career ladder allows people to advance their careers at the wrong place.  It must be a vehicle that delivers reliable rewards, they can only do that if you build it without the all too often subjective and auditory benchmarks that gives some career ladders a bad name.  To truly empower people, you must create a mechanism that goes beyond offering the promise of hope; it must guarantee outcomes.  The sport’s coach tells his team of athletes that if they work hard, they’ll play in Saturday’s game.  In the use of many athletes in message rings, “Hard work equals playing time”.  In this scenario, some athletes … Continue reading

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