The Exam Question: Home Ownership

He likes to ask his teams ‘What is the Exam Question?‘.

Muktesh Ghatak was my Project Manager on a Finance Transformation project in 2008 while I was at IBM Global Business Services.

When team meetings and other conversations would get mired in confusion and ambiguity he would ask us ‘What is the Exam Question?’.

It was a great question. Great at pulling you back from the detail. Great for re-orientating your perspective. Great at reminding you to get back to why you are here in the first place.

When you are stuck in the middle of it. When it is too confusing and ambiguous, remind yourself what you are trying to do.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Why are you here?

Where are you trying to get to?

That is the exam question. A question specific to the current situation and context.

Now keep that in mind and as I dive headfirst into a political and generational minefield.

Continue reading The Exam Question: Home Ownership

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Show Early, Show Often

I once worked on a team supporting an internally developed and maintained application.

This application was the beating heart of the organisation. Every organisation has one of these.

You know the application at your company, the one that can’t be bought off the shelf? The one that reflects your company’s business model?

That one.

Continue reading Show Early, Show Often

Which one is it?

This used to be a restaurant I walk past on my way to and from the train station each morning.

At first I was excited by a new store … hopefully a restaurant with a great breakfast …

… Then I was confused …

Pay attention to what you are saying and look out for conflicting messages.

 

Poor customer service? Are you doing your part?

Are you a good customer? Have you ever thought about how your own attitude in a given scenario affects the interaction?

I was working at the Keystone Resort, in Colorado, in the US, over the winter of 1998/99 as part of a student working holiday program.

I was assigned to Base Operations. We were the groundsmen of the resort. We cleared the footpaths after snowfall, collected the trash from restaurants, and we marshaled the car parks amongst other things. Not very glamorous but a lot of fun.

We also had to man the parking booths. Remember the old days when you paid a real live human on leaving a paid parking lot? Well that was us.

Continue reading Poor customer service? Are you doing your part?

Why do buses come in threes?

Last year I came across two interactive models that struck a chord with me. They asked and answered, and allowed me to interact with two questions I have spent way too much time thinking about.

Although to be fair that time has a direct correlation with how these two scenarios have impacted me personally.

I spent way too much time in London waiting for buses. You wait and wait, and then they all come at once. And while you wait, you think.black-and-white-person-woman-night Continue reading Why do buses come in threes?

Do you Assume?

Have you been somewhere with no internet access and tried listening to music?

Chances are you encountered the same frustrating problem I did last week.

I was holidaying with my family near Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, Australia. There was a 3G signal, but it was weak and intermittent in our accommodation. The resort had WiFi in communal areas, but that does not help when you want to listen to music in your villa.

On opening Spotify I would have to wait what felt like a minute or more while it tried to connect to the internet. Often failing. Then it would present me with my downloaded playlists.

The ability to download music is the main reason I subscribe to Spotify. For precisely these moments. When network connectivity is an issue, for example when on a train or in a car, and to limit data usage.

Continue reading Do you Assume?

Just Enough, then Out of the Way

“We rely on simple, efficient thought processes to get the job done—not so much out of laziness (though there is some of that, too), but out of necessity. There is just too much going on, too much to notice, understand, and act on, for us to give every individual and every occurrence our undivided, unbiased attention. So not only are you innately hard to understand, but the people observing you are hoarding their attention.”

From No One Understands You and What to Do About It by Heidi Halvorson

I couldn’t resist this quote when I read it earlier this week. On Tuesday, the 15th, I gave a presentation to a Business Analysts Meetup Group in Brisbane on the core concept of the Jobs to be Done framework, the Job.

The words “get the job done” stood out straight away.

I was primed to see them.

Specifically, the link between getting the job done and being a cognitive miser caught my attention.

Continue reading Just Enough, then Out of the Way

Why don't you see what I see?