When everything fees like a Root Cause

I am preparing a talk on Jobs-to-be-Done for the Brisbane Business Analysts Meetup in March.  For this particular talk, I am re-telling the Milkshake Story as told by Clayton Christensen to introduce the mental model of a Job to my fellow Business Analysts.

I know what it means to me and how I apply it to work. That is what I plan to share.

As I work on it the same thought keeps popping into my head.  How is this different to a Root Cause Analysis? Essentially how is this any different to asking a lot of why’s to get to the important point.

Continue reading When everything fees like a Root Cause

Navigating the Crosswind Compromise

This post is a follow on from the Crosswind Compromise. In that post, I was inspired by a video of Viktor Frankl discussing the impact of crosswinds on our lives. I drew parallels with an organisational context.

My followup question is what does a pilot do to ensure he gets to the destination?

The pilot does at least these three things:

  1. Finds a map of the terrain he is flying over.
  2. Gets the latest meteorological (weather) information.
  3. Creates his flight plan.

Continue reading Navigating the Crosswind Compromise

The Crosswind Compromise

Its not what the vision is. It’s what the vision does.

If you are flying a plane destination A to destination B, where do you think the pilot points the plane? Do they aim directly at their destination B?

No. Any cross wind will push the plane off course. It will end up somewhere else. Any headwind will slow him down and require more fuel. Any tail wind will push him along quicker and require less fuel.

There are many crosswinds in life and work. Our moods, office politics and ability to name a few.

So when we do set a goal, why do we aim for the destination and expect to get there?

By the time these crosswinds have buffeted any particular initiative, the outcome is at best misleading and at worst disappointing.

What crosswinds are blowing in your organisation and which way are they blowing?

Aim high. Push the boundaries. Expect better.

The inspiration for this metaphor comes from this post on Brain Pickings, and in particular the video of Viktor Frankl.

The example of pilot navigation is close to my own heart. Thinking of the crosswind metaphor, being able to identify it, and to call it out is important and necessary. It all boils down to one word.


Context is everything.

Teacher and Student

In March 2003 I was working at as an Junior Implementation Consultant specialising in Oracle Financials, a large Enterprise Resource Planning product in the same space as SAP.

I had been in this role just over 9 months.

Everything was new to me. The role of a consultant, the product, the projects themselves, and the tasks I was required to complete.

On one occasion I was asked to deliver training for the Accounts Payable (AP) module. My role was to teach the current AP team in Singapore how to use the new module starting 1st April.

There was one problem. I barely knew anything about Accounts Payable processes, let alone the module and how it functioned.

Continue reading Teacher and Student

Documentation – Get it out of you head

What is the purpose of documentation? It has a bad rap. People avoid it. Think of it as bureaucratic. Red tape. Just bad. A waste of time. Avoid it at all costs.

Yet it does have a purpose. I believe it does.

You have to get what is in your head out. In words if that works for you, or pictures, or any other means. You have to get it out of your head, externalise it, so that you can truly understand what you think.

And secondly so that you can better explain it to other people.

If you are not doing these things then how do you know you are building the right thing? Or solving the right problem?

I can hear someone answering ‘prototyping’ to that question.

And it part they are correct. But there is value before you start the prototype. Before you expend effort.

In some disciplines they use wire frames and outline sketches. And I think that counts as documentation to me. But in the corporate worlds I have worked that rarely happens. Because it’s a ‘waste of time’.

Kind of like the waste of time building something no one wants or uses is …

My point is that documentation, in whatever form, suits the situation and your own mental models, adds value.

And we do not work in isolation. We all work in a team of some sort. And the team needs to share and learn from each other.

So get it out. Get it on paper or a wall of wherever. Just get it out of your head.

Nothing to explain

“The deeper truth is that there is nothing to explain.”

-Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow

I love this quote. Our desire to search for a cause or explanation is so hardwired.

How much energy is spent rationalising (rational-lies) and justifying an outcome that is simply the result of a small statistical sample?

It is about People not Technology

The tweet below encapsulates where I believe we should be heading in the enterprise software space. We continue to place too much emphasis on the technology and features. Not on the how people will use it, or whether people will use it.

We continue to place too much emphasis on technology and features. Not on how people will use it, or whether they will use it.

The future must belong to those technology and software companies that get this. Those that understand that the technology must get out of the way.

The best project I have been involved in was a Finance Transformation Program. It included change management specialists, process specialists, and systems specialists. All working together on an ERP implementation.

However, the outcome and the experience was very different from a ‘traditional’ ERP implementation. A significant focus on process first, and system second. The ability of this approach to shift the mindset of the users, particularly early on, paid dividends later.

However, there is way more to the tweet from Jeremy. His reference to an ecosystem is also important. It is important to understanding how it all connects, relates, and works together to get the result you want.

Don’t be oversold a siloed solution you may or may not need.

Why don't you see what I see?