The Hegemony of Large Numbers – Ignoring Common Sense

Ok, maybe I'm stretching the meaning there, but that's a cool sounding title, and what I see as an interesting phenomenon. People get excited about Large Numbers, and think they have meaning and importance simply because they are Large Numbers. Big Errors For example - years ago, when an application manager was whirling around the office in a minor uproar, worrying that that someone accidentally keyed in a $1B line item on an invoice. That's $1,000,000,000,000 - for the Unit…

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Business Proposals and The Lesson of Jabberwocky

When someone asks my opinion on their writing, I'll get fairly detailed; I've noted in the past that there is a lot of power and influence¬†in the written word, and it's fairly important to get it done well, or your project proposals just never seem to get off the ground. This particular proposal suffered from a lack of direction; it didn't take the reader (the decision maker) through a clear progression. Admittedly, the subject matter was a bit technical and…

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Over / Under Communication for Project Managers

It is often said that you can't over-communicate, but I'm willing to bet most folks - and especially your project sponsors - underestimate the cost and effort of this critical component of project management. Consider this fair warning - and a good checklist for folks wanting to get into IT, project, or functional management. Media To achieve any decent amount of success, you have to be a good communicator with both face-to-face and written / published media. And by "good"…

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News for Wombats: Taming Unreasonable Requirements

I've heard from a couple of friends about some "classic" project requests - dilemmas they have recently faced. These unreasonable requests can be turned into something achievable and, potentially, more relevant / meaningful to the requestor, by approaching the problem from a different direction. Request for Data: the Analytics Project Classic scenario #1 arrives courtesy of the external Experts, analytic genii (sic) promising to reveal secrets of profitability and sources of revenue buried deep within our data sets. Their "simple…

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A Plea for Empathetic Communication

It's impossible to over-communicate Sounds a bit strong, but if you think through your real-world experiences, this shouldn't surprise anyone. No matter how hard you try, your message will be missed by someone ... Problem: It's all their fault! Rely on Web 2.0, and ... ... they won't subscribe to the RSS feed; they don't understand the concept, and have no other information sources that supply feeds ... they won't sign up for the email notifications; that feature is hidden,…

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The Power of Paper in Business Communications

Confucius was wrong - it is good to live in interesting times ... I'm deep-diving into a number of projects at work, while juggling a sudden surge in business travel (the majority of my tweets of late). All of the work involves significant change - different tools & process, or reworking process "traditions" that have ossified over multiple years and a succession of owners. I have developed a stack of notes on a range of topics - excellent blog fodder…

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Agile Methods in a Waterfall World: Speaking In Code

Starting up a new project, and I'm definitely having fun with it. At first glance, it looks like a fairly small, departmental application, but it is actually part of a web of disconnected processes and local databases (ie. "a mess") that support some fairly important master data. Also, the folks I'm working with are much more comfortable in a "waterfall world", with formal requirements followed by code, test, and deploy. Lots of opportunity for process coaching and new methods -…

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Don’t Accept Snap Answers Too Quickly

A few years ago, I was working on an interface project, and wanted to have the ERP system send copies of any and all transactions that have changed over the past few days. I've done this before on other platforms, so I asked the lead developer what I thought was a no-brainer request: Do the transaction files capture a date/time stamp somewhere in the record, each time the record is modified - DateLastUpdated, something like that? His answer came back…

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Can you, should you, bother Executives with The Details?

In a recent post on Thinking Faster, Phillips expresses concern about the apparent propensity for project sponsors to skim over the details and jump to quick answers. He's talking about [what I believe is] a peer relationship, when external expertise is brought in to develop the solution that they (the sponsors) are responsible for "owning" (vision, design, execution, and ongoing support). I've seen the same sort of thing in multiple organizations, especially when talking with executives about projects and initiatives…

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Politically Correct Euphemisms in IT – Translated!

I recently attended a professional seminar, and noticed a propensity for politically correct euphemisms to describe life in corporate IT. This was a typical group of IT professionals, representing a variety of companies - small and large, public and private. As with most group meetings, we started with a trip around the table; quick introductions, plus some highlights of "what's hot" for IT these days. The careful language wouldn't fool the experienced; however, a casual listener might see the knowing…

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