Sunday, 10 November 2019

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR - PERMISSION OR FAILURE?



This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

Source
https://www.lollydaskal.com/leadership/story-everybody-somebody-anybody-nobody/

REFLECTIONS ON COMMUNICATION



1.      Have a plan: think ahead, about (hard) facts and figures, and (soft) thoughts and feelings
2.      Know your audience (their interests, bias, fears) and who or what influences them
3.      Be clear about your role, and their role: who plays what parts in this performance
4.      Plan what you say (substance),how you say it (style) and here you say it (location)
5.      Repeat the same message for consistency, tailored to each audience for their understanding
6.      Listen, watch and learn from feedback, if necessary revise, adapt and adopt changes
7.      Appeal to the majority, don’t try to convert the extreme
8.      Acknowledge and manage dissent, don’t deny, defend or denigrate opposition


Original Source
https://projectspeoplechange.blogspot.com/2015/01/some-thoughts-on-communication-and.html

Thursday, 7 November 2019

WHAT IS THE LADDER OF INFERENCE?


WHAT IS THE LADDER OF INFERENCE?

People are often lead by jumping to conclusions. These can be correct, but also wrong conclusions and can lead to conflicts with other people. The Ladder of Inference can help you to no longer jump to premature conclusions and to reason on the basis of facts.

This so-called Ladder of Inference was developed by the American Chris Argyris, a former professor at Harvard Business School, in 1970. In 1992, The Ladder of Inference became popular after being described in the bestseller The fifth discipline, which Argyris wrote in collaboration with the American scientist Peter M. Senge.

Unconscious
The Ladder of Inference provides insight into the mental processes that occur within the human brain. It describes the perception starting from senses to the series of mental steps that need to be taken to work towards an action. This human thought process only takes a fraction of a second. That is why people do not realise how they developed a certain action or response; it is done unconsciously. The Ladder of Inference shows how mental models are formed unconsciously. They determine what and how you see and how your thought process and behaviour is led. Every person gives meaning to observations and bases their actions on them.

From bottom to top
The Ladder of Inference consists of seven steps and the reasoning process starts at the bottom of the ladder. People select facts from events, which they translate from prior experiences. These interpreted facts form the basis for assumptions, which in turn lead to certain conclusions. Then a person proceeds to (inter)act. All the steps are listed below, starting from the bottom level:


1. Reality and facts
This level identifies what is directly perceptible. You observe all information from the real world.

2. Selecting facts
From this level, the facts are selected based on convictions and prior experiences. The frame of reference plays a role in this.

3. Interpreting facts
The facts are interpreted and given a personal meaning.

4. Assumptions
At this level, assumptions are made based on the meaning you give to your observations. These assumptions are personal and are different for every individual.

5. Conclusions
At this level, conclusions are drawn based on prior beliefs.

6. Beliefs
At this level, conclusions are drawn based on interpreted facts and prior assumptions.

7. Actions
This is the highest level. Actions are now taken based on prior beliefs and conclusions. The actions that are taken seem to be the best at that particular moment.

Source
https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_91.htm
https://www.toolshero.com/decision-making/ladder-of-inference/


Wednesday, 6 November 2019

ANCHORING CHANGE




It is important to consider anchoring change through one of three perspectives:

Anchoring the change in the organization’s structure
Anchoring the change in the organization’s recognition and reward system
Anchoring the change in the organization’s culture

Each has strengths and weaknesses

Anchoring the change in the organization’s structure

Changing the structure and reporting can embed change. It immediately highlights where the problems are occurring, where there is resistance, and this allows management to focus their effort precisely on the point where it is needed. However, not all change can be managed through structure. Moreover structural change is complex and costly and often creates anxiety and unhelpful politics.


Anchoring the change in the organization’s recognition and reward system

One of the main reasons why change initiatives do not stick is because the support systems are not aligned with the change. When a change is implemented, the support systems, including incentives, recognition, reward and performance measures, should support, encourage and reward successful change.

Anchoring the change in the organization’s culture

The third method of anchoring the change is to combine hard change with a change in the organization’s culture. This is by far the most difficult type of change to achieve–creating organization culture is a book in itself–but when it does occur, the change can be most profound and widely owned and accepted.

The third method of anchoring the change is to combine hard change with a change in the organization’s culture. This is by far the most difficult type of change to achieve–creating organization culture is a book in itself–but when it does occur, the change can be most profound and widely owned and accepted.

To achieve this, you’ll need to
1. Change all the symbols and stories of the old culture and create new ones. See Cultural Web https://www.leadershipcentre.org.uk/artofchangemaking/theory/cultural-web/
2. Make a bold statement about the new culture and both communicate and demonstrate it.
3. Ensure all management and ,leadership model the new culture
4. Systematically remove any people or impediments to new culture
5. Align with organization’s recognition and reward system
6. Regularly review using evidence from customers, staff, other stakeholders

Saturday, 19 October 2019

SHOULD WE ABANDON IT REQUIREMENTS AND FOCUS ON CURRENT NEEDS

The problem with REQUIREMENTS is that they represent what we think might be useful some time in the future and are written in anticipation of needs rather than on the basis of lived experience.

When we add up all those REQUIREMENTS the project becomes large, costly and time consuming. Inevitably delivery (which may take years) often reveals that what we thought we wanted and what we actually need are different.

Maybe we anticipated wrong, or maybe circumstances changed, or maybe new better ideas emerged.

The solution is to ADD to the project scope, cost and time with CHANGES.

CHANGE is not a bad thing. It is learning. There is no point in slavishly delivering the original requirements if they are out-of-date or not fit-for-purpose.

The problem however is that it often takes until the project is almost finished to actually see the gap between what we thought we wanted and what we actually need.

Perhaps a better way is to abandon the long wish list of REQUIREMENTS and focus on CURRENT NEEDS and just deliver those. One at a time, not as part of a long project (a marathon), but as part of short experiment (a sprint).

The advantage is that the accumulation of sprints may well deliver a marathon outcome, but each and every effort is short, focused and flexible to a change in direction, change of tools or change of approach.

This is not new to anyone familiar with Agile, LEAN or DevOps. But how do we persuade the Board or the Exec Team that abandoning their marathon goal, significant time-table and huge budget is a good idea. How do we stop huge, expensive, Digital Transformations in favour of building an Enterprise Asset of incremental improvements in people, process and technology.

Perhaps the answer lies outside the IT Team. Sales and Marketing for example do something every day that advances the cause of the organisation. And it does this as a revenue cost. Sometimes campaigns will be successful. Sometimes not. But all the experience is learning and none is so large that it puts the organisation at risk.

What if we run IT like Sales and Marketing?

What if IT improvements were like short campaigns with incremental improvements to people, process and technology which could be measured in reduced costs or increased revenues at the end of each campaign.

FEEDBACK

I am interested in your thoughts and experiences. Maybe you agree. Maybe you do not. Maybe you can recommend some other books, blogs or videos. Do not hesitate to get in touch, and if you are in Jersey I will happily buy you a coffee if you would like to talk about your experience.

RELATED READING

War and Peace and IT: Business Leadership, Technology, and Success in the Digital Age By: Mark Schwartz
A Seat at the Table IT Leadership in the Age of Agility By: Mark Schwartz
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups
The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations
The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership: Achieving and Sustaining Excellence Through Leadership Development
Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Critical Chain: Project Management and the Theory of Constraints
The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win 5th


AUTHOR

@TimHJRogers +447797762051
https://www.linkedin.com/in/timhjrogers/
http://www.timhjrogers.com
MBA (Management Consulting) Projects & Change Practitioner,
TEDx & Jersey Policy Forum, Public Accounts Committee,



Saturday, 5 October 2019

CULTURE OR DATA – WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT?





CULTURE OR DATA – WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT?

In a previous posting I noted that the book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable the author argues that data is better than narrative. This is because we can always create a story to account for the data but in fact the explanation may not be correct. We are better accepting the data than explaining it because the explanation smooths over the rough edges and exceptions which may turn out to be really important.

I also noted that we are overly influenced by people, characters and charisma because of a bias toward trust which Malcolm Gladwell notes may expose us to risk, but perhaps is a necessary price for a workable society.

The Black Swan concludes that we should not predict but prepare.

The book A Seat at the Table argues that Chief Information Officers CIO should abandon the old [1] command and control,[2] customer service and [3] waterfall approaches to technology delivery which [a] create well intended but unhelpful barriers and boundaries, [b] focus on technology being a servant of the business rather than a leader or enabler and [c] focus too heavily on projects which plan too far ahead and inevitably fail to hit the moving target of business needs.

Here too the emphasis appears to be on ditching the adherence to plans which seek to predict and slavish commitment to requirements that are ill defined, out of date and short on vision. Instead we should be more agile and prepared to embrace small, frequent rapid and incremental change in the face of uncertainty.

It is great when theories align and compliment each-other because it gives confidence that they might be right.

The old Mission and Command and Control of 1950’s is as dead as Central Moscow planning and yet Business Planning and IT Strategies still feel obliged to talk with the certainties that offer exact budgets, delivery dates and outputs somehow ignoring that the objective is not spend but value, not a delivery date but a capability, not an output but an outcome.

A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility by Mark Schwartz pretty much turns IT on its head and is a compelling read, especially if you believe in LEAN, Agile and perhaps have read either The Goal, or The Phoenix Project, or if you are really serious about IT and business transformation all of these!

However…..at this point the tide appears to turn.

As soon as we abandon foolish and optimistic plans and embrace uncertainty with experimentation we move from the concept of Intelligent Design to Evolution and the latter seems more about connections, randomness, culture and back to being about circumstances and character than precision or data.

In the book A Seat at the Table it is noted that code paring, working together, sometimes literally with one programmer at the shoulder of another, instead of doubling the cost of delivery will reduce errors and increase productivity by 30%.

In the book The Culture Code it is noted that putting a difficult, lazy or negative person in a four person team will cause the whole team to under-perform by 30%. But that having someone enthusiastic and collegiate brings trust and social cohesion that can reverse the effect. This is not about the person being inspirational or a great leader. To have an effect the positive person only has to smile and listen. This is about social and emotional safety bringing trust that Malcolm Gladwell notes as being essential for a workable society.

So maybe data is great for history, markets, economies and government but culture and connection is vital for the sub-structures of people, process and technology that underpin these.

Gladwell in his boot Outliers notes the importance of connectors and connections to be the catalyst of change and notes both the Dunbar Number (that most people can only really maintain about 150 relationships ) and those rare Outliers who like the six Degrees of Kevin Bacon seem to be able to be both a super connector and use that to be a catalyst for community and change.

These communities for change whether Open Source evangelists or part of an Arab Spring seem to defy data and achieve the impossible though connection and cohesion, pairing and splitting, evolving and learning.

The company Valve literally put wheels on desks and abandon hierarchy to allow people to move to the projects and people they most believe in. In the book A Seat at the Table, reference is made to the Allen Curve suggesting that connection, communication and potentially culture breaks when you are more than 8 meters away from your colleagues.

Let’s bring all this together and consider the implications.

It appears good to measure data because explanation is generally self-serving. One can often seek to offer an explanation that is more comforting than correct. This can result in group-think, error and wilful blindness. (I recommend Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious by Margaret Heffernan)

Put more simply: It is good to measure data to really see with evidence the position or the situation at hand, rather than allowing people justify the situation to their liking.

However working in groups appears essential to getting anything done. There is more allegiance and cohesion to a colleague or partner than a plan. Anyone training for a marathon knows your training buddy is more likely to get you out on a cold and windy night than the schedule pinned to the fridge.

It should be noted that well aligned teams very often outperform more skilled teams who do not work together well.

Increasingly we need to give-up the 5 year plan and focus on 5 weekly improvement and that requires a combination of character, connection, colleagues and culture, but also some impartial, objective, challenging and possibly confusing data.

Long term plans can be a waste of time, but we have to have clear objectives in mind from which we develop potential paths for achieving them. Remember The Black Swan concludes that we should not predict but prepare.

We need to embrace uncertainty and rather than trot out a revised Gantt chart or updated budget accept that we are not there to serve solutions to an expectant CEO or demanding customer but instead become a trusted partner who delivers benefit by intelligent experimentation, feedback, learning and growth.

Perhaps we should not be measured by delivery on-time, on-budget, to-specification but instead by rapid response, adding value and delivering outcomes, whilst all the time learning and improving at all these things through dynamic teams rather than static department.

Ultimately, if a department or individuals do not add business value they become waste.


FEEDBACK

I am interested in your thoughts and experiences. Maybe you agree. Maybe you do not. Maybe you can recommend some other books, blogs or videos. Do not hesitate to get in touch, and if you are in Jersey I will happily buy you a coffee if you would like to talk about your experience.

BOOKS

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell
A Seat at the Table: It Leadership in the Age of Agility by Mark Schwartz
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement - 30th Anniversary Edition by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox, et al.
The Phoenix Project: A Novel about It, Devops, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim and Kevin Behr
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious by Margaret Heffernan

LINKS
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees_of_Kevin_Bacon
https://steamcdn-a.akamaihd.net/apps/valve/Valve_NewEmployeeHandbook.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_curve
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink


AUTHOR

@TimHJRogers +447797762051
https://www.linkedin.com/in/timhjrogers/
http://www.timhjrogers.com
MBA (Management Consulting) Projects & Change Practitioner,
TEDx & Jersey Policy Forum, Public Accounts Committee,

DATA IS HOW YOU MAKE DECISIONS, CULTURE IS HOW YOU DELIVER THEM
#DATA #DECISIONS #BOOKS #BUSINESS #CULTURE #TEAMS #CHANGE
https://timhjrogers.blogspot.com/

Monday, 23 September 2019

HOW HAVING MORE DATA MAY INCREASE ERROR



HOW HAVING MORE DATA MAY INCREASE ERROR

In his book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Nassim Nicholas Taleb [NNT] argues that it is better to start with ‘real life’ and then read books than to start with books and try and apply to ‘real life’.

His point being that if we start with a theory and then go looking for an example to fit our model we end up finding something that fits our pre-conceptions. Taking the opposite approach should mean we come up with an explanation for something that is true in ‘real life’.

I found his book clever, difficult, inspiring and rude but never dull.

He is scathing of people who create models and spreadsheets that predict next month, next year, or next decade when we know that its difficult to predict the weather tomorrow. Take for example financial predictions.

Did you know that 50% of the price volatility in the markets is down to 10 days over the last 50 years. Can any of us predict the market behaviour for every-day for 50 years in the knowledge that miss just those 10 ‘special days’ and you’ll be out by 50%. Here is another thought: Did you know that for many banks all the cumulative gains of 50 years were lost in 1 week of trading.

Nobody 3 years ago would have predicted how the Brexit saga would have turned out. Indeed its difficult to predict next week let alone next month, next year, or next decade.

NNT notes that having more data confirms confidence, but not fact.

In his book Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know Malcolm Gladwell notes many instances where computers get facts right based on very little data (example offender record, age, offence) whereas people get it wrong ostensibly because of too much data (they look innocent, they dress well, they speak with an accent).

Faced with all that extra data we are bound to find something to justify our notion. Again, more data confirms confidence, but not fact.

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman explains both the merit in quick thinking and the risk. This simple categorisation based on past experience, values, beliefs means we suffer “confirmation bias” – looking for things to confirm assumptions rather than go through the hard work of fresh and independent thought (potentially challenging or changing our experience, values, beliefs)

So, what are we to do if too much data confirms confidence, but not truth. And hasty thinking leads to false assumptions?

All this came to me today in a practical situation about risk. Looking at GDPR and Cyber Security there is a real risk that we suffer analysis paralysis: lots of data confirming how scared we should be, which ostensibly comes from the people who earn a living from these risks. Warren Buffet is alleged to have said “Never ask a barber if you need a haircut”.

We need to understand the context and maybe NNT is right. Maybe we need to start with ‘real life’ and then look at data rather than become too obsessed with what the spreadsheet or check-list says and be blind to the reality and practicality of it all.

As a guy who is data-driven and more about process than personality this is a new way of thinking for me. Like I said, NNT’s book was interesting because it challenged me and my assumptions. But when you put it in the context of all the other literature it seems clear: too much data blinds us.


FEEDBACK

I am interested in your thoughts and experiences. Maybe you agree. Maybe you do not. Maybe you can recommend some other books, blogs or videos. Do not hesitate to get in touch, and if you are in Jersey I will happily buy you a coffee if you would like to talk about your experience.

SOME LINKS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Swan:_The_Impact_of_the_Highly_Improbable
https://www.amazon.com/Talking-Strangers-Should-about-People-ebook/dp/B07NDKVWZW
https://www.amazon.com/Black-Swan-Impact-Highly-Improbable/dp/B000VXBVN6/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=black+swan&qid=1569264880&s=digital-text&sr=1-1
https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-and-Slow/dp/B005Z9GAJG/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=thinking+fast+and+slow&qid=1569264938&s=audible&sr=1-1

AUTHOR

@TimHJRogers +447797762051
https://www.linkedin.com/in/timhjrogers/
http://www.timhjrogers.com
MBA (Management Consulting) Projects & Change Practitioner,
TEDx & Jersey Policy Forum, Public Accounts Committee,

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

TWO STORIES ABOUT MEETINGS. ONE IS TOO LONG AND DON’T ACHIEVE MUCH


John has been told by one of his team, Harry that Harry and the others spend 10 hours of their 40 hour week in meetings. John doesn’t know what is being discussed in the meetings or why they take so long.

John is curious: Do they say the same thing in every meeting (which suggest the team need someone to constantly repeat the same message before anything gets done.)

Or maybe they say a different thing in every meeting (which suggest that everything is changing all the time and people are confused and always debating and discussing the future rather than implementing it.)

What needs to change? Is the problem the meetings, attendance, agenda or participation?



Sam always circulates a report of key facts and figures, proposals, plans and price at least 3 days before any meeting so everyone has a chance to read and think about what needs to be discussed in the meeting. The agendas are clear and the minutes record only what was agreed and the key actions.

If someone wants to add something to the agenda they need to let Sam know in advance, otherwise it is rolled into the next meeting. The other thing Sam is careful to do is ensure at each meeting people have completed their tasks from the previous meeting. Sam is quick to thank people for doing good work, but not reluctant to say when someone has failed to do what was agreed.

Sam is also firm about the agenda and the time. If someone rambles on they simply cut it short, get them to explain their idea in writing and schedule it for discussion at a future meeting when the idea is clear and people have had the time to read and think about it.

Is the structure likely to make these meetings more or less productive?



I am a fan of short stories because they are easier to follow than theory and if it is too long you won’t read and won’t remember. If you would like to share your ideas or experience get in contact and I’ll buy you a coffee.

Tim Rogers
07797762051

A STORY ABOUT IMPROVING ENGAGEMENT AND PERFORMANCE


Charlie is tasked with improving the performance of his team and given a set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) as a guide to what must be improved. The problem is that Charlie doesn’t know the current score, how often they are assessed or what the target score should be.

The other problem is that his colleagues don’t know what these measures are or how their processes or behaviours effects the scores or their rewards and recognition at the end of the year.

Is Charlie likely to be a KPI – Key Person of Influence?




Sam has agreed the KPIs with his team who are all keen to show what they can do, month by month, in Jan, Feb, Mar to December to improve their scores. They have also agreed a really simple and objective way to measure what is important (and not waste time measuring things they cannot control or don’t matter). They publish these scores and take 15minutes each month to review what went well and what didn’t and what they might do for next month.

Is Sam likely to be able to learn from successes and failures, in Jan, Feb, Mar to Dec leading to overall improvement?




I am a fan of short stories because they are easier to follow than theory and if it is too long you won’t read and won’t remember. If you would like to share your ideas or experience get in contact and I’ll buy you a coffee.

Tim Rogers
07797762051



Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Building a Cathedral on Sand



I work for many clients on many projects for many years. Once I was engaged to do a project rescue. I asked an IT supplier to justify their bills or evidence for the work invoiced.

The reply from their CEO was “Don’t try building a Cathedral on Sand”. Their argument was that governance and paperwork was bureaucracy and not a good foundation for their solution.

I thought this was a brilliant title for a book, and told them so. Below are the headings for each Chapter. Do you think I should write the book?

1. We need something
2. Poor specification
3. Big promises
4. Loose contract
5. Weak Management
6. Vague deliverables
7. T&M but no deliverables
8. Inaccurate Reporting
9. Escalating invoices
10. Product Problems
11. Management Issues
12. Better tomorrow
13. A bit more time…and cash
14. Emperor’s New Clothes, or Boy who cried wolf
15. Brought to account
16. Recriminations
17. Reprisals

It’s an interesting admission: That your product is “a Cathedral on Sand”.

Anyone else had a similar experience?