Lean Thinking

Tuesday, 12 June 2018 20:48

The Cost Trap

Published in Agile

Time to close out our series on common traps with a look at probably the most common trap organisations fall into. I don't think I have ever worked for an organisation that wasn't caught to some extent in this trap. What I'm talking about today is the cost trap. You get into this trap by having the wrong sort of conversations - conversations about cost. "How much will this cost?" That question has lead most organisations astray. Why is that? Surely how much it costs is an important question. And indeed it is. The problem occurs when that's the only question you ask. Cost is important, but there is something else you need in order to make a good decision. There is half the information missing. That other half is value. "What will I get in return?"

Let me put it this way, if I were to ask you "would you rather I took $10 from you or $50?" I suspect most of you would chose $10 (and for those who wouldn't, you are very generous, please leave your name in the comments below...). If, on the other hand, I asked "Would you rather I took $10 and gave you back $50 or took $50 and gave you back $500?" I'm guessing most of you would pick the $50. Just focusing on the cost would drastically lower your return. But this is what most organisations do. To be fair, most organisations do consider value, particularly at the top levels of the organisation. Every idea starts with a cost/value decision. ROI is a key consideration. But as work moves down the organisation, the discussion starts to become less and less about value and more and more about cost. The point at which the organisation falls into the cost trap is the point where the value part of the discussion vanishes and the discussion becomes entirely about cost. Often, this is where an idea becomes a project and is handed over for delivery.

Sunday, 27 October 2013 00:00

When You Are At The Bottom Of A Hole…

Published in Agile

When a team is behind its targets, the natural instinct is to work even harder to catch up. Sometimes though, the best thing you can do is… nothing.

Let’s look at a team. For various reasons, they have done several sprints' worth of work with no test environment available. How can this be? Let’s just imagine that they work for a hypothetical large company with a ludicrously complex process around setting up test environments. I’m sure such things never happen in real life, but just go with me on this one.

Monday, 11 November 2013 00:00

The Problem With Projects

Published in Agile

They say that when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. It’s the same in business – when all you have is a project management methodology, everything looks like a project. Most organisations have become very project focussed. Everything is a project. New release of software – project. Some process change – project. That’s great. Projects are good. They are certainly better than the ad-hoc approach we had before projects. But projects do have some drawbacks.

To work out what the drawbacks are, we need to look at what a project is. A project is defined (by the PMI who should know) as something that has a defined scope, a defined start and a defined end date.  So projects are finite in length. Anything without an end date isn’t a project, it's business as usual.

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