ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘project management’

Death to the Project Post-Mortem!

Posted by Plish on November 30, 2012

Turn to any business magazine, look in project management books, (Microsoft’s site even has a template for it!)¬†and one of the best practices of project management is to conduct a post-mortem just after a project has been completed, and right before it’s officially ‘closed.’ The purpose is to get everyone on the team together to examine what went well in the project, what went wrong, and record this information so that others can learn.

Don’t get me wrong, the concept is a good one and should be practiced.¬† What I have a problem with, in particular, is use of the phrase, ‘post-mortem.’

By now you know that I’m a big fan of the power of words and metaphors – they shape how we solve problems¬†and approach the world.¬† So it probably won’t surprise you then that my aversion to the phrase is tied to all the meaning around the words, ‘post-mortem.’

Think about it.

The term literally means: after death.¬† But what’s dead?¬† You just finished something that myriads of people put their hearts and souls into, and now that that something is impacting the world, you call it dead?¬† The project is closed, not dead. As a matter of fact, all projects, even those that resulting in the closing of a chapter, are births, not deaths! They are the beginning of something new.

By bringing the concept of death into the mix, there is a meaning conveyed that what just happened was not life-giving.¬† It’s a¬†not-so-subtle reminder¬†that what just happened needs to be dissected and analyzed, and perhaps even robbed of deeper meaning and import*.¬†¬†Perhaps¬†worst of all, it¬†creates a sense that no continuity with this ‘dead thing’¬†is required.

On the contrary, the work of marketing, manufacturing, sales and product monitoring is kicking into full gear!

My point here is that it’s not about ending something,¬†as much as it’s about a continuity of learning!¬† Sure, one project ends, another begins.¬† It’s a never-ending cycle. The commonality is that before, during and after a project, there needs to be a recursive aspect, a learning process that is ingrained into the culture.¬† That mindset only comes about if there’s less emphasis on analyzing ‘that which died,’ and more emphasis on learning each day what works, what doesn’t, and growing from that. And, for that to happen, we need to put the term,”Project Post-Mortem” to death, and replace it with a more¬†forward thinking term.

I like: ‘Lessons Learned.’

What would you call it?

 

 

*

One day after sleeping badly, an anatomist went to his frog laboratory and
removed, from a cage, a frog with white spots on its back. He placed it on a
table and drew a line just in front of the frog. “Jump frog, jump!” he shouted.
The little critter jumped two feet forward. In his lab book, the anatomist
scribbled, “Frog with four legs jumps two feet.”

Then, he surgically
removed one leg of the frog and repeated the experiment. “Jump, jump!” To which,
the frog leaped forward 1.5 feet. He wrote down, “Frog with three legs jumps 1.5
feet.”

Next, he removed a second leg. “Jump frog, jump!” The frog
managed to jump a foot. He scribbled in his lab book, “Frog with two legs jumps
one foot.”

Not stopping there, the anatomist removed yet another leg.
“Jump, jump!” The poor frog somehow managed to move 0.5 feet forward. The
scientist wrote, “Frog with one leg jumps 0.5 feet.”

Finally, he
eliminated the last leg. “Jump, jump!” he shouted, encouraging forward progress
for the frog. But despite all its efforts, the frog could not budge. “Jump frog,
jump!” he cried again. It was no use; the frog would not response. The anatomist
thought for a while and then wrote in his lab book, “Frog with no legs goes
deaf.”

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Posted in Best Practices, Creative Environments, culture of innovation, innovation, Innovation Tools, Project Management, Team-Building | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Great New Tool for Collaboration (and More!) – Use a ‘Big Marker’

Posted by Plish on July 19, 2012

What do GoTo Meeting, Dropbox, and Ning have in common?

Not much really.

So, if you want to web conference, share files and create a community presence on the web, you need to subscribe to all the above services and maybe more.

Enter Big Marker.

BigMarker.com¬†is a one-stop shop – and the majority of features are free.¬† Those that aren’t are very reasonably priced. And, there’s nothing to download; it’s all web-based.

Seth Godin describes a tribe as, “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea;” it’s people with, “a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

Big Marker is essentially a tribe builder.

Public or private, project management or social widgets, educate or elucidate, Big Marker can help you innovate!

~Would love to hear your experiences using Big Marker~

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, culture of innovation, Disruptive Innovation, Education, innovation, Innovation Tools, Project Management, Start-Ups, Team-Building, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Embracing Scope Creep

Posted by Plish on July 23, 2010

We’ve all experienced it.

We’re cranking along in a project and someone comes in with a ‘brilliant’ idea or a new documentation requirement.¬†

AUGHH!¬† Time is ticking, money is being spent.¬† Why couldn’t this have¬†been brought up at the beginning of the project?!?!

There are basically three responses:

  1. Ignore the request and move forward promising to fold features into the next version
  2. Agree to the request and try and get more time/money
  3. Agree to parts of the request and move the rest into the next version.

All three of these cause angst to the team, to management, and perhaps even the users.  They result in more time and money being spent.  Creativity likewise drops as people go into crunch mode trying to accomplish more with less. 

It’s Scope Creep.

So, why would anyone want to embrace this?

Let’s step back a moment.

We all have a tendency to look at projects as totally linear processes.  Everyone  agrees up front what needs to be done,  money is allotted, a timeline is set and everyone is off to the races.  The project moves into execution mode Рefficient execution.

But, we also know that projects aren’t linear phenomena.¬† They’re a combination of fits and starts, looping back, problems and solutions.

So what happens?

When we first embark on projects, we keep our fingers crossed and hope that nothing gets in the way of launching the product  Рthat there is no Scope Creep.  As the project progresses we continue with the same mentality, constantly moving forward but at the same time looking over our shoulders, trying to anticipate what might occur before it does.   We hope nothing will knock us off our tenacious trek towards launch Рespecially no new product requirements.   Nevertheless, these new requirements seem to come and wreak havoc. 

But, there is a bright side.  

Scope Creep is more than something that should be avoided and/or grudgingly¬†dealt with because where there is Scope Creep, there¬†are opportunities to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Authenticity, Creative Environments, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, innovation, Nature of Creativity, Project Management, stress, Tactics, Team-Building, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Your Ideas: Your Gift of Beauty to The World

Posted by Plish on May 10, 2010

I was recently reading the new, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality,  by  Soctt Belksy, the founder and CEO of Behance.

The book is about bringing ideas to frution and¬†it’s chock full of¬†techniques and ¬†pearls of wisdom.¬† One that really got my attention , was this:

“Please take yourself and your creative pursuits seriously.¬† Your ideas must be treated with respect because their importance truly does extend beyond your own interests. Every living person benefits from a world that is enriched with ideas made whole – ideas that are made to happen through your passion, commitment, self-awareness, and informed pursuit.

Challenge yourself to withstand the self doubts and societal pressures that will rally against you. When they do, take comfort in the knowledge that you are in good company.¬† We all struggle, but we persevere.¬† Adversity makes us stronger.¬† Relish the fact that you are on an important path, emboldened by both the opportunity and grave responsibility to create something of value – a value that is rewarding for you and enriching for all.”

Step back…

Breathe…

Think about it…

In the day to day grind it’s too easy for us to lose track of the fact that what we’re providing to our families, employers, clients and the world,¬†¬†are not¬†faceless concepts.¬†

We enflesh ideas –¬†our gifts¬†come with a face!

We need to fight for our ideas, to stand by them, to even let them go if need be.   We need to realize that humans are privileged with the supranatural capacity to bring beauty into the world.

What is this supranatural capacity?

A flower drops its seeds to guarantee more beauty next year.¬† It is the natural way for a flower to bring beauty into the world.¬† Humans bring beauty into existence through the work of our minds, hearts, hands and relationships.¬†Sure, by nature we have this capacity, but it’s also a choice we make.¬† It’s a both/and type of situation.¬† We are able to create¬†outside of, or above, the¬†natural order, all the while still being a part of it.¬†¬† It’s supra (above) –¬†natural.

Sound pretty awesome?

It is!

A fish brings its beauty of ‘fishness’ to the world even while dropping its waste products into the water it swims in.¬† But it has no choice and it can’t improve the situation on its own.¬† If it over-populates and over-pollutes its waters, its population naturally dies back to bring the system back into balance.

If¬†a bunch of ¬†fishes had the¬†supranatural¬†capacity of humans¬†they would realize that¬†their actions impact the environment and respond accordingly.¬†¬† But¬†they don’t.¬† They’re¬†fishes that are part of, and act¬†¬†naturally¬†within, their system.¬†¬† Humans willingly ignoring their supranatural capacity (and¬†interestingly enough¬†not acting¬†‘naturally’ any more)¬†¬†¬†will be¬†at the mercy of the system (and vice-versa!), and like the above mentioned fishes,¬† throw the system out of whack until the people¬†die back.¬†

So you see, acknowledging the supranatural aspect of human nature isn’t an option.¬† It’s a necessity.

It’s a prerequisite to¬†bringing beauty to the world through our ideas; to building¬† sustainable¬†cultures of innovation that respect people and the world.

Before my¬†mother died she¬†told me, ‘You’ve been given so many gifts, you bring beauty to the world in so many ways; never stop bringing beauty to the world.”

My mom’s desire for me, is also my desire for you.

Please take your responsibility seriously.

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Evolution, Human Rights, imagination, innovation, love, nature, Nature of Creativity, Society, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Value of Divergent Thinking – An Analogy From Sports

Posted by Plish on April 25, 2010

Having played goalie in hockey and soccer for most of my life, I’ve spent a lot of time experiencing opposing teams converging upon me.¬†

In business, converging is considered a skill par excellence.  Find a problem, name your destination and throw everything you have at it to (hopefully) converge on a solution.  In reality, innovations and good design occur when teams and individuals learn to diverge, to see the bigger picture and thus see multiple opportunities for success. 

Here’s a little video I put together that talks about what converging and diverging looks like to a team attacking the obstacle – the goalie.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Best Practices, Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, problem solving, Sports Creativity, Tactics, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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