Let’s have a little fun today!
We often hear the phrase “think outside the box”, but what if the “box” is actually our brain? Can you think outside your own brain?
Change Agents have an emotionally taxing job. How can change agent teams provide a respite for themselves?
Why is it so hard nowadays to be present and fully listen to one another?
If you are an actor in Hollywood, you don’t expect lifetime employment. Actors expect to work on a project and then get ready to go back out and find their next project. Why are corporate workers any different?
When you work in a Complex environment, probing works better than analyzing. What does that mean in terms of how we do our work?
Like it or not, complexity is here to stay. Does that mean that you at the mercy of factors that you can’t see coming and can’t control? Well yes, and the good news is: going with the flow will help you succeed.
The horizon of predictability. Borrowing from chaos theory in physics, the horizon of predictability is the point at which you can predict the outcome. For example, when you pull a pendulum up really high the swing is erratic and unpredictable. However, if you start the swing from 45 degrees, the swing is totally predictable. In this case, the horizon of predictability is 45 degrees.
Time horizon. In organizations, the horizon of predictability is often time. Did you ever notice that 3-year projects are rarely on track? While a 3-week project is almost always a success. This is because there are fewer unknowns in a 3-week period than a 3-year period.
The horizon of predictability is the primary factor in why the Agile practice of working in short cycles is so effective. Teams steer away from putting effort into horizons that they can’t possibly predict, and focus on what they know now.
Team size horizon. Agile teams also insist that teams stay between 7-9 people. In complex organizations, this often seems impossible. Typically more than 9 people will be involved in most work, but by keeping a core group small you reduce the exponential work needed to communicate and maintain relationships.
Once teams become large, outcomes get unpredictable. Someone you didn’t even know about can put the kybosh on progress. The more approvals you get, the more you need. Keeping the decision-making group small keeps the horizon of predictability in view.
Work in Progress (WIP) horizon. When too many different things are being worked at once, nothing seems to get done. Think about a time you had to give an estimate on when something would be done, but so many other things were in play, each with their own level of unpredictability, plus unknown work that you don’t even know about yet. It makes giving time and effort estimates almost impossible. Unseasoned managers will try to help by asking “How long would it take IF you had nothing else to work on?” It’s a trick questions because you always have other things to work on. And the effort is not linear. If I tell you that I have 10 projects and if I had nothing else to work on each would take a week, that does not mean that it takes 10 weeks for the 10 projects! Keeping 10 projects in the air has unpredictable overhead.
When you get past the horizon of predictability for the number of projects/tasks being worked simultaneously, estimates become a work of fiction.
What other things determine the horizon of predictability in your world? Let us know!
The things we strive for can also the very things that put up a barrier between you and other people. How can we strive for excellence and still be open in relationships with others?
Will computers take all the human jobs? What will humans do? Will humans work for computers?
How can we adjust organizations to leverage the presence of women, instead of accommodating for them?
Remember back to high school math for a minute. Logarithms are those curves that get close to a constant but never, ever reach it. I see self-awareness as a logarithmic curve; you can become really self-aware but there’s always more to learn.
Did you ever notice that some people seem to be able to accomplish so much in the time it takes the rest of us to do almost nothing? How do they do it? Relentless Prioritization is the key. Here’s how.