How I have failed to project manage projects

AgileCowboy

#Fails in managing projects

All project management is about writing a list of tasks a glorified to-do list and having everyone in agreement about executing it.

Written like that it sounds so simple doesn’t it?

Hell yeah!

Well no actually. See the trouble is getting real people execute your to-do list is a lot like cat herding.

There’s two approaches to creating a plan… write it all down up front and bark at people like a sergeant major or write some loose description and coax it out like a trendy high school teacher.

But projects can and do fail whatever way they have been organised. I know because I’ve failed using both methods. Let me tell you the reasons why so you don’t have too. Continue reading How I have failed to project manage projects

How Tom Cruise taught me when to Agile and when not

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When to Agile

Sales people sell dreams… developers make them reality. But with this often awkward tryst things sometimes go wrong. We have all worked on projects that I am sure we all wish hadn’t started I am sure.

It’s been my experience that Agile is often sold in with an impression of being a magic bullet. Using agile so the story goes means that communications are magically perfect, products magically appear on time and magically produced in budget. But magic bullets are called magic for a reason… they don’t exist.

As an Agilista fanboy I am often charged by some assertive management type to simply “fix” the problem with that “Agile” thing you go on about..

So how do I do that? Let me tell you: Continue reading How Tom Cruise taught me when to Agile and when not

How I deal with a customer’s critical comments with my development team

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We are programmed to think criticism means failure

I’ve been running with teams of creative people all my life. As a games dude I have done some really cool things in my career . Making digital stuff is brilliant and getting paid to do it is even better.

But it’s not all been sweetness and light. There have of course been bad days too. Moments when my customer vents badly. He doesn’t like what he has been delivered and he is not afraid to say it.

You’d have thought that was bad enough… But this situation gets worse. Back to the office a debrief of the expectant developers can quickly turn toxic. Wow that’s when the bitching really starts!

Recognise this? Let me tell you how I go about defusing the debriefing. Continue reading How I deal with a customer’s critical comments with my development team

Find out how to focus your innovation lens

sherlock holmes laptop computer silhouette in studio on white background

A way to focus your innovation team’s efforts

A misère game is a term used in card games . In short it is defined as a game that is played according to its conventional rules, except that it is “played to lose”.

In my new book Innovation Muscle I set out a practice misère as a tool generate ideas.

By playing misère it is possible to revolutionize the practice of Brainstorming the technique favoured by unimaginative management types to world over to acquire status in ones business.

So how can you use the technique to create new ideas… let me tell you.

Continue reading Find out how to focus your innovation lens

Foreword for Innovation Muscle

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A Foreword for Innovation Muscle

I’m very proud to say that my new book has this foreword by Dr Sylvester Arnab of Coventry University.

Sylvester

Fostering innovation has never been more important as many countries are taking further steps towards economic recovery and growth. Innovation is at the heart of all successful businesses and the returns and impact can be significant – from developing products and services that secure a competitive advantage to disrupting the market and changing the face of the industry and society.

Continue reading Foreword for Innovation Muscle

Why does Brainstorming suck so much? Here’s how to fix it.

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Why does brainstorming suck so much?

The word brainstorm is so abused that it seems pervasive in modern business.

In actual fact Brainstorming is a old fashioned technique invented in the 1950’s the era of the Mad Men. In my opinion brainstorms are used by lazy management types to give a metaphorical tick to the political expediency required to rope buy in from all those people from the office. Its a trick to make people feel involved.

That may be good for team building, but as a mechanism to generate new ideas or innovation it sucks.

The basic tenants for a brainstorm are

  • To generate as many ideas as possible
  • Not criticise people’s ideas
  • Welcome unusual and daft ideas
  • Combine and improve ideas in a collaborative environment.

So why do brainstorms fail?

Let me tell you

Continue reading Why does Brainstorming suck so much? Here’s how to fix it.

Your customer is NOT always right, so here’s what to do about it.

An innocent lawyer and an angry client blaming him

Your customer is not always right

I guess you have subscribed to the mantra that we professionals are all meant to follow…

The customer is always right!

If you do then you’d be wrong!

We all have finite resources. There are some customers whose unreasonable requests can gnaw away at your soul. These guys steal so much of your resource that you end mistreating your more meaningful clients and that is simply not good.

Unreasonable customers then are NOT always right.

So what should you do… let me tell you:

Continue reading Your customer is NOT always right, so here’s what to do about it.

Changes: Innovation using the Bowie technique

Bowie

How you can innovate using the same techniques as David Bowie

Game development is a one of the coolest jobs on the block. I’m lucky enough to have been doing it for a few years now. Being this “experienced”, I am often called upon to make presentations to wax lyrical about my career in entrepreneurial innovations I’ve made.

Whilst I love talking about myself, what the audience really want is for me to spell out the secret recipe to innovation so that they can recreate it themselves.

But there is a big problem.

Put simply there is no reason why some cultural phenomena take off burning simultaneously into so many people’s consciousness while others don’t. But explaining that your hit titles are based in random magic inspired rather than controlled innovation process doesn’t make great reading in a CV does it?

Whilst there is no secret recipe to innovation success there are tools to facilitate it.

Let me tell you how David Bowie does it.

Continue reading Changes: Innovation using the Bowie technique

How Harry Potter should sell his innovation

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How Harry Potter should sell his innovation

A black swan is a metaphor devised by Nassim Nicholas Taleb for an event or item that is totally outside the perception of a person’s consciousness that they write it off as an impossibility. The metaphor goes that there was a time not so long ago when the general perception was that all swans were considered to be pure white. When an actual black swan was subsequently discovered it sent the this notion into a metaphorical tail spin as people readjusted to the new normal. Up until this moment people simply did not believe in Black Swans.

As developers of innovative products it is our job to wrestle Black Swans into a manner we can exploit. At no point in our history have black swans been discovered at the rate they are now. But once we think we have one of our own how the heck do you convince the fragile inward looking world that what we have is a genuine thingy that will benefit the world?

Continue reading How Harry Potter should sell his innovation

The Selfie Stick an Example of Premature Innovation

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The selfie stick an example of premature innovation.

I have just come back from a holiday in Venice. The city is beautiful and only slightly marred by the hundreds of people brandishing selfie sticks. This irritating innovation seems to have completely captured a moment in many people’s lives.

So you’d have thought then that fellow who invented it must be planning his retirement living off the income from this?

Well if you did, you’d be wrong.

It turns out that the genesis of this simple little gadget is a sorry example of Premature Innovation a problem that affects all innovators at some point in their career.

Do you think you suffer from premature innovation? Let me tell you how to solve it.

Continue reading The Selfie Stick an Example of Premature Innovation