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Product Development and Cognitive biases


Project Management and Critical Thinking

There are a good many cognitive biases that can impact discerning the truth or what is valid and true.  Yet knowing what is valid and true is important for any business decision, product development and especially for project managers.  Project managers are often part of decision arm and execution arm of the business objectives.

If you do not think cognitive biases do not impact you, and that there are so many of them, perhaps you should shuffle on over to Wikipedia an do a search list of cognitive biases[i].  There you will find a long list of biases that can get in the way. These biases are so subtle that you may not even be aware that it is affecting how you think. Cognitive biases are shortcuts for us to make decisions.

For example; let’s consider a few of those biases starting with confirmation bias.  Confirmation bias impacts product development and project management … Continue reading


Team


 

I had a brief chat with Tom Cagley  of the famous SPaMcast the other night about teams. We periodically take time to talk about product development topics, and I frequently appear on SPaMCast podcasts.  Last night we talked about teams an whatever magic makes a collection of individuals move to the point of performing better than the sum of he constituent parts.

I have worked professionally for nearly 30 years, and a decade before that as a field worker, fast food worker, and what we self-referred to as a yard dog – the guy who moves trailers, puts hitches on vehicles, cleans up vehicles and much more.  In my 30 years professionally, I can recall being on 3 groups that were what could be referred to as a team.  In fact, the story of one of those teams can be found in the book by Peter Taylor in The Project Manager Who Smiled book.

If there were a … Continue reading


Soft Skills and Training


Are we starting to believe and behave as if all conflict is bad? Not just bad, but something to be avoided at all costs. There are upsides to conflict, that we may be forgetting.  For example, the tension between what I wanted to be able to do with my life outside of employment at the time, created a tension that got me off my duff and go back to school. The tension within a team working on a development project, can deliver a better quality product, as with each perspective or potential design solution presented, there is a vigorous attack and defense on the technical merits.  Note the attack is on the idea, nothing personal, just working to find the best solution given the resources, talent and constraints.

Even companies that provide training in the soft skills, in my experience, expect this training to be some sort of weird cure all to avoid conflict, and not necessarily constructive conflict resolution.  In our modern work spaces with psychological safety, we … Continue reading


Risk Management Through the Project Class


Risk Management Through the Project

In modern life, risk management is a fundamental discipline for success. This does not just apply to work life, or project management but also personal life. Today we are going to discuss the approaches and impacts on the project when there is insufficient attention to the risks to which the project will be subjected.  The risks to which our work will be subjected depends upon the what we are doing and how we go about doing it, that is, the strategies and tactics we employ to reach the objective.

Consider an automotive project to develop a new product. This will require understanding the need, creating the design, develop the manufacturing line and verify and validate the product and the manufacturing line, and ultimately launch the product at the production rate. We demonstrate in our SAE book, an example of how these phases work and how these phases share information.

 

Risk Management Class … Continue reading


Safe Space


I have been in twitter and real discussions about safe spaces for the product development team to do their work.  I can understand this, nobody should get hurt at work, that is one of the reasons for OSHA, and internal work instructions and equipment.  However, we are not talking about the physical world in our modern discussion of safety in the work space.  There is nothing wrong with tension, or discomfort. Of course we are not talking about guns, cars and knives at work, but then again, most of those referring to safe space at work are really talking about words in the work place and not physical harm.  We are talking about the removal of even mental discomforts from the work space.  The problem is, this mental discomfort is frequently the source for progress.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. … Continue reading


Planning Poker @PMImetrolina Ballantyne


I recently spoke at a PMI Chapter in Ballantyne event, well, I say spoke at but we really played a game of planning poker. We divided the group up into groups of four (that is how many suits per deck). There were 5 groups, and I supplied the prompt from which all responses were generated.  As expected,the initial prompt produced a wide array of results, from the lowest duration card available, to the maximum and in this case that was the infinity symbol – meaning not estimate able.    This was true not only from table (team at one table) but also from table to table.  After three passes, we could see convergence in each team as assumptions were evoked and questions were answered.

Every time I have used this technique, either in game or real life, I have witnessed this converging result. The team asks questions, more information is uncovered along with a variety of approaches and nuances to the … Continue reading


Process and Bowling


I have been dabbling once again with bowing.  I did this when I was a kid with my family.  I bowled on a league from time to time as well.  Then you graduate, get a job, wife, and child, and you sort of just stop plying for whatever reason.  As I restart my bowling endeavor, I realize how process intensive it is.  Stand here. Aim at this specific point (dots on the lane).  Walk like this, ball moves out, then back, then forward while moving toward the foul line.  The swing comes forward, ball comes off the hand like this, then follow through, then ball lands on your spot, then look up at the pins to see if you are going to do anything productive.  This should look like a process to you. I notice, when I tick all of the boxes in a good way, I knock down most if not all of the pins. Violation of some of … Continue reading


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