Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bad Haircut



The bad haircut 
What do you say when your colleague comes in with a bad haircut? (*)
Jump on it? Criticize it?
Threaten abuse?
Probably none of the above; probably you ignore it or make some civil remark

The bad idea 
What if the same person comes in with a bad idea? Now what?
Probably you can't ignore it, but your commentary can be civil, inquiring, benefit of the doubt and all that (Speak softly and carry a big stick ... our guy Roosevelt; and look at what he accomplished)

 _______________

(*) 2018 season opening episode of "Blue Bloods"




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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Communications v content


"The New York Herald pointed out [that] the telegraph appeared to make it possible for the whole nation to have the same idea at the same moment. .... Henry David Thoreau raised an eyebrow: "We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate"
The New York Times

Nothing important to communicate? Then why is everyone staring at their screens all the time? Could it be simple addiction to having the same idea at the same moment as everyone else?

 


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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Situating reslience


"Scholars ... have situated resilience, the ability to sustain ambition in the face of frustration, at the heart of ... leadership growth. Why some people are able to extract wisdom from experience, others not, remains a critical question"
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Historian
"Leadership in Turbulent Times"

In another venue, we might say some people are naturally street smart, while others have seen it all -- but can't make anything of it.



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Monday, October 8, 2018

Physics v Engineering


The physicist ... is an expert in matter, motion, and energy, and has one simple task: to take energy from here and put it over there. [And] we have the engineer, who makes all things possible ....
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist

Ooops, did the eminence of astrophysics forget project managers?

  • Physicists may indeed move the energy ... who can forget "the bomb"?
  • And, the engineers may make it all possible, as indeed they did re "the bomb", 
  • But without the PMO there would be no money, no resources, no milestones to align the dots, and thus: no project! 



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Friday, October 5, 2018

Run to the challenge


In the last posting, it was about heavy tails .... if it doesn't happen about now it grows less likely it will happen at all.

But, what if it does happen, all good management to the contrary? It could, you know.
 
Manage the consequences
  • As part of the management group you have to "run to the challenge", sort of a first-responder paradigm, but with much less bodily risk.
  • Gather yourself and assemble the pieces. Now what? You need the go-forward version of Plan B
    (Plan A is always "do nothing", just accept the circumstances) 
 Fight, fight, fight
  • Here's a thought: you might have to shift into the "fight mode", more aggressively managing consequences than you did the lead-up to the present circumstances.
Sunk cost
  • Whatever you "paid" so far, it's sunk and not retrievable -- unless insured. 
  • The cost of getting to the present situation should have no bearing on the cost and practicality of Plan B, or whether or not Plan B is even warranted. 
  • In other words, the cost of the fight should be valued only by the possible value of what could be obtained, not what has been sunk.
Cheer up! It could get better 😃




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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Is your tail heavy?



'Is your tail heavy' is the question raised at 'critical uncertainties' in a recent post.
It might be if you are a risk with some "memory" of the immediate past.

Risk with memory? What does that mean?
  • The immediate past influences the immediate future
  • The probability of the arrival of an outcome is not time-stationary: as time passes, the probabilities change
  • The distribution of the arrival time of an outcome is "heavy tailed", meaning that (usually) with more time: if it hasn't happened it probably won't happen  
In the posting (above), an example is the expected arrival of an email: Near term, it's expected. But, if doesn't get here soon, it may not get here at all

Project consequences:

  • Simple assumptions, like symmetrical bell curves, are unlikely to give a good picture of when a risky outcome may happen
  • Testing for an unlikely outcome may be easier and more economical than you might think: run a few tests; if it doesn't fail soon (infant mortality) it likely won't for a long while. 
  • Early on, consumer electronics exhibited such behavior. (If you could make it a few days, you were likely to make it a few years) 
Who knew 
Who knew heavy tails were the cheap way out of expensive testing??!



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Friday, September 28, 2018

Plan A (or B, C, D)


There is always Plan A: "Do nothing"

  • This is actually different from "do no harm"; do-no-harm could be Plan B
  • Following that theme, sticking with Plan A could actually be harmful ... thus, Plan B could be not only less harmful but also could be essential for limiting harm

So, presume there is always Plan A, and good management principles say: there should be a Plan B
  • What about Plan C or D? Shouldn't decision makers always have alternatives to consider? Why be narrow? 
  • More important: why be self-delusional that there is "no other choice". No other choice, is, in a word: nonsense!
And, if you've decided on Plan A or B, and along comes the possibility of C or D with greater cost/benefit, can you change you mind and still be "strong and confident"?

  • ".... the ability to change one’s mind is a crucial mark of intelligence and maturity ... " (Bret Stephens)




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