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Friday, May 25, 2012

That Other Memorial Day

Memorial Day is for remembering our family and loved ones.

Memorial Day is also remembering and venerating George Orwell’s Rough Men.

Perhaps there is a third memorial, for a time gone by, for our changing way of life. I may be too close to see the whole, I get occasional glimpses.

Technology opens a steady wave of less labor for each dollar of goods produced. What a glory! Unless you’re on the losing end.

This internet disintermediated world, it doesn’t look like the old world. Figure 40 to 60 percent less people. The autonomous economy.

After a shift change at a Hardee’s in Ashland, Virginia, I saw the crew standing in the parking lot, firing up their smartphones to reconnect to their world. I have no idea what they were looking at, but whatever it was, it had their full and complete attention.

Used to be twenty years and a gold watch. Now it’s three years to become a millionaire. Aneesh Chopra, the first White House Chief Technology Officer told me that, as he was going back to private practice.

Of course it has to be the right three years. But that leaves a lot of time for subsequent attempts. Serial opportunities.

Why would you expect your first at-bat to be a home run?

Are you getting up often enough?

The ’80’s, ’90’s and ’oughts aren’t coming back. Good to have a Memorial. Now move on.

Have a loving Memorial Day. Put your ghosts to rest.

June 12 is the next Capital Technology Management Hub featuring Sales Lab's Rainmaker 14 – The Myth of Full Capacity - 300 seconds of pure profit. The featured speaker will be Cory Lebson of Lebsontech LLC, presenting User Experience: What it Means & Why a Technology Manager Should Care!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Road Not Taken

This week I was repeatedly annoyed by a fervent, but tiresome project management zealot loudly asserting that new steps should not be part of a project plan. As near as I can tell, this guy does plans, he doesn’t do work.

I started pondering the issue and decided that if we can separate planning from reality, we get a situation much like when we confuse a model with reality. In both cases, reality is where the results are counted. The model and the plan are artifacts, like 3 by 5 cards and beer.

I think the wish implicit in a plan is for clear steps to a solution. That works on simple problems, but only on some days. I like it when those work, too.

I worked with a prominent venture capitalist who told me, “I hate the part of the project plan that has a gold star that says Breakthrough Required Here.”

I use that. You can too.

I am reading a fantastic book, The Emperor Of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Sid calls it a biography of cancer. Actually, it is one of the best detective mysteries I’ve ever read, with a cast of superheroes. Those guys love to plan, so they plan the background noise, to give them time to concentrate on each breakthrough...after breakthrough...after breakthrough.

Two days ago, we got some news from a client, that punctured our plan. Jack asked if we should tell the client. I said, no, we should sleep on it and address it in the morning.

The next day we came up with a workaround, six tasks that create a much stronger product. It didn’t take six hours to define the new tasks.

Which got me thinking how often we start with a plan, when the plan ruptures, we develop a workaround, sometimes feeling disloyal to the plan. And now I’m realizing that the only plans that work the first time are the real simple ones, and then only on the good days.

“If at first you don’t succeed, you’re running about average.” M. H. Alderson