Tag Archives: Planning

Information Is Energy: Product Management Example

© 2017 Michael A Hill

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As a practical example, consider a couple of issues that often arise in managing product development: time to market and internal team rivalries.

violin

First, remember the familiar story in song about the violin being sold at auction? The bids were low until someone picked it up and played a few strains of beautiful music. Then the bids accelerated higher and higher. A luthier had initiated the value chain through product development and a virtuoso finalized it with marketing. But one part would have no value without the other. The violin’s value was created first and then enhanced by adding information.

Time to Market

Long learning curves and slow adoption of new work methods frustrate nearing time-to-market deadlines. Product managers may complain of worker resistance to project urgencies. Resistance is good, though—it means that work is being done. Resistance makes the light bulb shine, violin strings sing, oysters encase pearls, and workers innovate. The product manager’s challenge is then to balance and channel the team’s creative energies to capitalize on resistance before it generates too much friction or waste heat. On-the-job mentoring can often smooth the work flow.

Team Harmony

Often, development and marketing each consider that their own contributions to product value are more important the other’s. Team disharmony arises from such misinformation, which is like just so much background noise. From an energetic information perspective then, the product manager’s focus is to increase the signal-to-noise ratio. Gerard Holzmann [1] proposes a particularly innovative way to highlight the team’s primary mission: Write the user manual first. This approach provides for better documentation, requirements, design, and testing; but it also focuses the development and marketing team members toward a shared vision of satisfying customer needs at project startup. The desired outcome is, of course, creating the most valuable end product, and recognition is shared among all team members.

Synergy

By accepting the premise that “Information Is Energy,” we discover subtle changes in our perspective, providing us with advantages for recognizing new connections, finding process efficiencies, and identifying technology crossovers. Take this idea one step further—find your own applications for concepts of information flux, entropy, and equilibrium. Information invests our universe with value. It brings synergy to energy.

[1] Holzmann, Gerard J., “Frequently Unanswered Questions,” Computing Edge, vol. 2, no. 7, 2016, pp. 36-38. https://www.computer.org/csdl/mags/so/2016/03/mso2016030010.pdf

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Life & Plans, Part 2

“You try to make plans for people, and the people make other plans.” Terry Pratchett

“The planning fallacy occurs when individuals and groups try to plan complex projects and underestimate the true cost, expanse, and time of the project. Mario Weick and Ana Guinote found that people in a position of power are particularly vulnerable to the planning fallacy. Perhaps feeling powerful causes them to focus on getting what they want and to ignore hurdles, or having so much self-confidence causes them to avoid worst case scenarios.” – Michael A. Roberto, Transformational Leadership

“It is important that we know where we come from, because if you don’t know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you are going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.” Terry Pratchett

“Always remember where you are going and never forget where you’ve been.”  today’s cookie fortune


FULFILLING BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS – Part 5

Transformation is not complete until each task has been executed AND verified. Verify each task independently based on your same requirement statements. Verification planning and execution can easily eat up 60% of your transformation budget, so be careful. Verifying task outcomes is not necessarily about massive regression testing programs, but more about selectively performing the correct tests.

When you engage a business analyst to advise you on a transformation, what should you expect? What work will be performed and what tangible work products will you receive as the result of that work? That’s the next topic.


Life & Plans

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon (1980)

“A life without plans results in aimless inefficiency.” – Waite Phillips

“Such plans got altered by events as often as not, but I’d found that no plan at all invited nil results. If all else failed, try plan B.” — Dick Francis

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” — Allen Saunders (1957)

“Life was a process of finding out how far you could go too far, and you could probably go too far in finding out how far you could go.” – Terry Pratchett


FULFILLING BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS – Part 3

The implementation plan for a simple transformation consists of three phases: planning, execution and verification. The planning phase organizes, estimates, assigns, and monitors the tasks for putting your transformation project into action. The execution phase comprises the work of the change process, and the verification phase spans the work of the inspection process. Verification normally follows execution, which in turn follows planning. However, in complex projects much of the work can proceed concurrently if it is carefully staged.