My Career Part 2

Career; of Motorcycles and Trucks

This blog continues from my last post describing the first part of my career.  We continue with the tire pressure monitoring system.  In those days, and for many years before that, my preferred form of transport was motorcycle.  I had an accident a few years before taking this job that broke some bones in my wrist (not my first nor last set of broken bones), in fact I got the bike fixed and was riding it through the winter with my right hand in a cast, and with multiple socks on to keep my hand warm.  I should mention that my preferred transportation was motorcycle, at least in part, because it was my only source of transportation.  Eventually, my fourth job before my professional career started, the manager of the U-Haul at which I worked during my undergraduate education came across a wonderful, and old, Toyota station wagon complete with the fake wood … Continue reading

Estimating and Business Case

Estimating and Business Case

Our last post explored the abuses of estimates. I thought it best to recognize the abuses, thinking acknowledging these thoughts from the no estimate crowd, may make them amenable to a discussion of how other see the problem and perhaps, eventually, a movement toward a solution that all find acceptable.

Individuals cannot do all the things they want to do, and so to it is for businesses.  Whether the business is for profit or a nonprofit, there are limited funds and available talent, that put constraints upon what can be undertaken.  These constraining factors lead the organization to optimize the projects that are undertaken to both fit within the capabilities and constraints, but also to maximize the benefit, the benefit being profitability for the for profit, and biggest benefit to the most constituents for the non-profit concern.

In addition to these afore mentioned constraints and benefits, we have risk.  There is risk associated with … Continue reading

Clues! Signals

Clues! Signals!

Below is the result of a collaboration with John Cutler. He posted a document on Google Docs, and I liked the outline so much I felt compelled to post my thoughts In fact, it was surreal adding my contents to the Google docs and John coincidentally showed up on line, at the same time and was approving my contribution as I was writing it!  I had to write fast to stay ahead of him. I wrote the top level part of the outline, making it easy to think about that topic and what can and often does go wrong.   It was such an interesting collaboration, unscripted, accidental, and fun.  We had talked about making a short video, teasing out a few of the more interesting ones and talking about them, but the new father has plenty of other more important work.  In  fact, the collaboration was so easy, it turns out making a decent outline in WordPress … Continue reading

Team Building Not all Roses

Team Building Phases

Teams are not as easy as throw our collection of individuals into a room together and bang, thus is a team created.  We are fond of the description of the steps a team will go through by Bruce Tuckman we list below.  Our experience suggests this list to be a reasonable list of the phases a group goes through to become a team.

forming -the collection of individuals are put together storming  the clash of personalities as well as social mores norming – the group establishes the group’s norms and mores performing – the collection of individuals are now performing (the sum is greater than the individuals) Collection of Individuals

It takes more than placing people together in a room and pointing them at an objective, will not necessarily turn this collection of individuals and turn them into a team.  This story is about the start of a project, actually the first time this collection of people worked together.  … Continue reading

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

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

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

Behavior and Engagement Extinction

Behavioral Extinction

By: Shawn P Quigley and Jon M Quigley

Extinction

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

Maslow and the Learning Organization

By Shawn P. Quigley

Maslow and Motivation

In our previous discussions we have referred to Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation (Hierarchy of Needs) and how this relates to work place motivation. To best continue our discussion we must first review some of the tenets of Maslow’s theory in more detail and dispel the misconception that Maslow set the hierarchy in the form of a triangle to convey that one need must be fully satisfied before another can become predominate or pre-potent as coined by Maslow in his 1943 paper published in the Psychological Review. (Maslow, 1943) Maslow discusses that if the individual feels a need more than another it will be the main driver and this can only be determined by that individual.

Relation of Needs

In his article Maslow states that there are at least five goals or basic needs: Physiological, Safety, Love, Esteem, and Self-actualization. (Maslow, 1943) However, he also states that these are only part of what … Continue reading

Automation and Paradigm Shift

The Manufacturing Innovation Network Breakfast went great last week.  Nearly all of the seats were full, and there was a plentiful of discussion afterward.   The discussion was about the role of automation in the not so distant future.  We talked about how automation and drones are now even working in the fields.

Robots came about due to advanced manufacturing techniques and now or very soon, robots will be heavily in the employ of advanced manufacturing.  The consequences of this will likely be the need for fewer people for the manual labor aspects of manufacturing.  However, that does not mean that people are out of the equation. To be successful, those that remain must have a variety of skills. We will discuss more on the people aspect later.  The real discussion point is the notion that we can use our present experience to infer how this will impact our organization.  So far, organizations have automated portions of their manufacturing.  The … Continue reading

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