Patent

How do new ideas occur to us? What is the secret mixture that enables this spark that creates something new?  I have long wondered this, including when watching my son build things that I found interesting, and with no clear sign of what of the source of that idea that became reality.  I saw him build things with Lego blocks, and I watched him build things at an online game called Roblox.  In both instances it made me think, what is the source?

The same is true for my own life, especially my work life.  I have been part of groups that have produced 7 US patents and other intellectual property.  Each time was so different it is difficult to discern an underlying theme that made this creation possible or at least facilitated.  What can be said in each instance to varying degrees, is there was a perceived difficulty or problem, some desired end state that was presently not … Continue reading

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 siding, … Continue reading

Project Organization Structure

If you have been a project manager for any time at all, you probably have experienced competing demands from the sponsors for the project.  The sponsor is the person(s) who drive the scope of the project in conventional projects.  In some instances, the project manager may find that there are in fact multiple sponsors and the respective priorities of those sponsors may be at odds.  This is not the only difficulty to which the project manager must respond.

From the CHAOS study by the Standish Group, on project failures and success factors, we find the results below. This study analyzed 23,000 projects in 1998[i], of the factors that enable project success and failure.

Success Factor Influence User involvement 20 Executive support 15 Clear business objectives 15 Experienced project manager 15 Small milestones 10

 

A list of the top 5 factors from this study, demonstrate that importance of the interface between the project, the executives that are supporting … 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 any … Continue reading

Abuses from Estimating

I would like to start off with has anybody seen an appropriate study of estimating when it comes to doing the work? Not a study that already knows the conclusion they want, but an actual scientific study.  The thoughts below are not based upon anything like that but, having seen many estimating boondoggles. I have also read portions of the works of Barry W. Boehm, and Constructive Cost Model which is a tool for estimating, many years ago.

I find myself in many discussions with the #noestimates crowd. I am not a no estimating person.  The latest “exchange” was around the abuses that estimating brings. This I am in full agreement with them. I just do not go as far as they would to say, no estimates because people are abusive in this regard. My retort, people abuse antibiotics, but we do not ban these.  It is interesting to note that most if not all the people I “hear” … 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 is … 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

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 perfect recipe for creating 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

Executives, Experience, and Engagement in the Work

Executives, Experience, and Engagement in the Work.

By Jon M. Quigley

Discussion board on Engagement

I participate in discussion boards on a company called Convetit.  Convetit has people sponsoring discussion boards on a specific topic areas. These people pose specific questions within the confines of the topic area and individuals that have been approved to work on that discussion board, answer those questions and perhaps ask questions of their own.  I am on several boards, have been on more than I am presently, but some of those boards are:

Capturing Knowledge to Empower Future Leaders and Employees

Exploring Technical Trends & Innovations in the Development of Online Experiences

Exploring Packaging Solutions to Reduce in-store Shrinking and Theft

The one of interest for me, is Capturing Knowledge to Empower Future Leaders and Employees.  I have been ruminating on this for years now, originating in 2013 or so when I saw a study from Gallup regarding employee engagement.  … Continue reading

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