Friday, February 13, 2015

Know everything but understand nothing

Big data. We know it all, but do we understand anything really useful? Lord, I hope so!
Data warehouses abound, the cloud is ever bigger, data flows in by the billions of bits, and yet:
  • projects still fail; some spectacularly, even with Kanban boards filled to the brim
  • businesses still can't find the winning recipe, and
  • others walk off with $billions of profits -- why not me?
Well, you won't find the answer in this posting. If I knew it, I'd make my own millions with it (probably not billions, but who knows?)

But it does seem a modern conundrum that with ever more data, project successes creep ahead -- and surely the trend line is a bit more positive than it might have been -- with agile methods giving a bit better results to smaller scale software projects (more scale coming as we figure out how to do it effectively), more speed in the project office with better tools, and surely better productivity per contributor.

But, alas, alack: We still get the headlines about woeful project performance, challenging our profession to show value add (do I really need to pay a project manager to get bad results? I can do that on my own!), even as robots and uberization are on our doorstep!

Will more data help? More information on requirements? More information on the science? Surely it can't hurt so long as it can be processed and reduced to something actionable.  I think that's the key: if you had the data, what would you do with it? If nothing, then don't collect it; certainly don't pay to process it.

Perhaps understanding can come with less data! OMG! Is that possible?