I’ve begun to publish a collection of short articles on creativity, design, and innovation on LinkedIn as a interim approach.
Risk mitigation requires surfacing and identifying a broad range of possible risks and applying appropriate risk mitigation handling options based on potential consequences and impact, plus prioritization and implementing accept, avoid, control, transfer, or monitor approaches.
Strategy: Design the project organization early
• Consider all initial roles, how roles may change, or start work later in life-cycle
• Create visual to aid integration review and communicate scale, opportunity, and commitment
• Ensure everyone sees and acknowledges their part in the project early
• Is there sufficient definition of each role and responsibilities, criteria?
• Reduce risk of insufficient skilled labor, time, or inadequate competencies to complete tasks to meet quality and schedule requirements.
• Consider roles where there must be a single owner who must deliver a finished product as part of the project scope and deliverables.
• Benchmarking against similar organizations that execute this category or class of project
• Confirm future availability of resources at individual and management levels
• Contingency planning for critical resources/roles
This work is especially important if the current project is similar to past projects, and assumptions of how things will progress can be biased based from recent experiences.
As part of a supplier evaluation process, outline and review the implementation plan as a group before selecting a supplier.
Five step model
Summarize strategic and operational objectives
- Confirm understanding with stakeholders and potential suppliers
- Validate against Charter
Zero-in on specific and tangible deliverables
- Simplify/summarize proposal so stakeholders understand exactly what is to be purchased, and relationship to objectives-executive summary format.
- Clarity on scope, and how/when to address important out-of-scope work.
- Does the potential supplier/service provider/consultancy understand long-term goals and strategy to leverage tools and processes? For example, that will be sustainable as staff and organizational change occur?
- Have other related needs been identified to ensure scope boundary clarity, validate ranking, and where/how in future schedule they fit and will be addressed? Full stakeholder agreement in advance for these decisions to avoid a subsequent, “What about….”.
- Decide what not-to-do and document.
Outcome over time: 90 days and one year milestones
- High level dashboard to sustain visibility?
- Develop success story to share
- Is a PM needed to ensure schedule, resources, and quality goals are met?
- Measurement or reporting schedule/ cadence
Roles and responsibilities
- How/who will the organization leverage or utilize the new knowledge, plan, product, service?
- Who has responsibility to do what when?
- When will these tasks complete, and how will we agree they are complete? Definitions with metrics.
Identify integration points and priorities
- Relationship to current process/technology platform
- Relationship to subsystems or other tools that are currently integrated
- Relationship to supplier systems and processes? Simplification?
This is a remarkably simple and perfect example of the essential concepts of innovation:
Fragments | Borrowing | Combinations.
Here is a toy set for young children that presents a manageable set of fragments that can be combined to create unexpected creatures with unusual characteristics. The play includes decomposition of objects into fragments, borrowing from unrelated fields, and innovative combinations.
Plus, the opportunity to start developing storytelling skills early, an essential leadership competency.
These are designed and manufactured by a company called Kid O, https://kidotoys.com/products/mix_match_animals
It’s because the Internet of Things (IOT) is the future of products and services. Objects become avatars for services that can be updated, improved, and changed continuously.
Imagine if every industrial device, municipal machine, home, car, and appliance is instrumented with a connected sensor, and can respond to remote commands from an automated system based on real-time analysis of fantastically large amounts of data collected and integrated from many sources.
These objects will be able to behave based on large amounts of interrelated, context-aware, and pattern-based data in a predictive and personalized fashion. This is certainly changing product & service design and development, and implementation and management. Adapting current and pioneering new project management methods will be needed to successfully lead this rapidly evolving transformation of the world economy.
We will see dramatic change in every industry from automotive, insurance, health care, retail, and more impacting our lives in complex and likely unexpected ways.
- Concise one-time four hour facilitated workshop to capture objectives and associated initiatives, and surface clarity on impact, integration, gaps, options, resources, scope, timing, and sequence.
- Develop a deeper Systems Thinking understanding of how initiatives by function can/should be prioritized to deliver strategic impact on a major organizational program, and the importance of position/organization design to enable key resources to focus sufficient time to achieve quality results.
- Team understanding and alignment of entire annual activity scope created on a single white board
- Individual objectives can be stack-ranked by positive impact on organization if achieved (decide what we can and cannot accomplish)
- Cross-functional relationships between objectives are understood and prioritized, and integration activities can be sustained
- Resulting set of objectives are feasible and achievable in 12 or 24 month time frame and sustainable beyond.
- Measurable where possible with time, resource, and financial or other numeric metrics.
White board heading structure:
Resources| Initiative| Functional Support| Gap| Outsource| Criticality | When| New Role|
Leading to quality dialog and development of:
- Important action items (fewer, better, more specific)
- Goal prioritization by function (top five in context of cross functional impact)
- Role strategy and prioritization
- Risk assessment and contingency scenario planning
- Initiative decision capability and confidence including implementation impact assessment
- Opportunities for simplification or consolidation of organizational design
- New solution concept generation
- Future visioning and strategy at organization (mission) and functional level
- Change management discussion
- Short-term communication plan
The City of Boston is taking a particularly thoughtful approach to design of a new website for their residents. I’m a big believer in the value of this type of upfront investment. This team’s ability to distill their research down to four carefully crafted guiding principles is an excellent thought model to consider for your next initiative. From their Digital Initiatives site:
These four principles are a constant reminder of what we need to create and maintain a citizen-centered site:
- ACT AS A HELPFUL HUMAN. Make people feel like we’re here to assist. Not to pass the buck.
- EQUAL PARTS WARM AND OFFICIAL. Giving people information they can take to the bank and also be honest about our limitations.
- THE SYSTEM IS VAST. HELP PEOPLE NAVIGATE THEIR PORTION OF IT. Make it functional. Make it as intuitive as possible.
- BUILD AN ENERGIZING ENVIRONMENT. Rather than avoiding contact with City government, make it something that helps people engage with their community.
It also strikes me as an indicator of strong senior leadership understanding the value and willing to provide time and resources for quality research.
Good information on their program can be found at next.bos.gov.
The city has recently set-up a pilot site to both inform the community on progress and encourage feedback on both structure and content at pilot.bos.gov.
This approach has the added advantage of setting expectations early and throughout the project leading to a higher likelihood of stakeholders viewing the new site as a success.
Janet Echelman, Artist
After college, rejected from seven out of seven art schools, then pursuing ten years of painting, leading to a scholarship to teach in India:
Taking Imagination Seriously
Her story contains the following elements:
- Scarcity (unexpected)
- Transition from painting to sculpture, bronze casting (something new)
- Opportunity (place and time) to see something already present in a new way (fishnet)
- Combinations: fishnet + sculpture, borrowing fishnet from completely different field
- Collaborate with a domain expert (net makers then aeronautical engineer/sail maker)
- Mix domains (architecture, engineering, manufacturing, sculpture )
- Time to research, experiment, design, test, and refine (years)
- Something unexpected in the outcome
- Evolve by adding new ideas to platform (Philadelphia subway + mist production) with increasing complexity
- Develop new analysis and modeling tools and software
I’m a subscriber to the New York Times and recently found a small cardboard box with my morning paper. The box contained a folding fixture that holds a cell phone in the back and lenses to view a special stereo video format downloaded from the NYT site.
The first stories offer a very intense personal experience with the people who have been displaced from their homes by conflict, war, and terrorism. This is something completely different, a dramatic reframing of what we expect from news providers with traditional text, image, and video content. It is completely immersive with the ability to look about at all angles to examine and experience rich detail in the environment, the people, and their challenges.
I’ve been experimenting with augmented reality which I believe has many practical and useful applications. This however brings us deeply into individual lives and personal experiences in a way I did not expect, maybe even closer and more sharply focused that our regular daily interactions in our own worlds.
The value is in the conversation facilitated by the graphical view of people and teams.
Much of the value is in the conversation among stakeholders, by aligning mental models of information flow, enabled by a concise visual model that accelerates a common understanding.
- Complex relationships between people and tasks
- Information exchange patterns
- Identify dependencies at a deeper level: [task + information] leading to better decisions
and Improved project performance.