Sunday, January 27, 2008

Improv Wisdom - Just Show Up

More interesting reading.


Interesting Reading on Innovation

Lessons Not Learned About Innovation Q&A with Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School
Understanding the Process of Innovation
The Essentials for Enlightened Experimentation
Why Managing Innovation is Like Theater
Cheap, Fast, and In Control: How Tech Aids Innovation
Boston Consulting Group Measuring Innovation Aug 07
Boston Consulting Group Sr. Management Innovation survey Aug 07

Strategy & Business Magazine Online

from blog
Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation
, James Andrew and Harold Sirkin lay bare the nature of cash traps and explain how companies can make more profitable innovations by using a four-phase “cash curve” framework. As Andrew and Sirkin see it, the purpose of innovating is “to generate cash.” Their framework structures the process of sorting through innovative ideas and managing them until they yield financial returns.

No time to draw conclusions yet, but I'll come back and revisit this topic as time permits.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior is a new book from Atlantic Systems Guild, scheduled for publication in February 2008. It is a collaboration by Tom DeMarco, Peter Hruschka, Tim Lister, Steve McMenamin, James Robertson and Suzanne Robertson. I met both Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister through the Boston Software Process Improvement Network and am a fan of their previous book Waltzing with Bears about managing risk in software development. Although the Atlantic Systems Guild general focuses on software development issues, this book really focuses on people issues and behaviors that are applicable anywhere.

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies applies pattern recognition concepts to human interactions in the project environment. The Guild focused on the hidden notions that govern behavior and interactions on projects and teams Just as architect Christopher Alexander and his IT counterparts Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John M. Vlissides, deal with the technological aspects of software patterns, this new book focuses on the social and human aspects.

The book identifies 86 project and team behavior patterns, which often go unrecognized, and provides amusing 1-2 page vignettes describing each of them. The patterns are the unwritten rules that frequently drive behavior. People tend not to think about them, or acknowledge them for what they are. The first step to dealing with behavior patterns is recognizing their existence.
The book has been endorsed by:

Howard Look,VP, Software, Pixar Animation Studios
Alistair Cockburn, author of Agile Software Development
Ed Yourdon, author of Death March
Warren McFarland, Professor, Harvard Business School and others

If you are interested and willing to invest a few minutes, you can download an 18 page sample pdf that includes the table of contents,introduction, and a few patterns.

Dead Fish: From Day One, the project has no chance of meeting its goals; most people on the project know this and say nothing.
Film Critics: Film critics are team members or corporate spectators who have determined that the value they add to the project lies in pointing out what has gone wrong or is going wrong, but who take no personal accountability to ensure that things go right.
Hidden Beauty: Some aspect of the project’s work moves beyond adequate,beyond even elegant . . . and reaches for the sublime.
There is an aesthetic element to all design. The question is, Is this aesthetic element your friend or your enemy? If you’re a manager, particularly a younger manager, you might be worried that any aesthetic component of the designer’s work could be a waste, little more than the gold-plating that we’re all taught must be avoided. This aesthetics neutral posture in a manager acts to deprive designers of appreciation for work that is excellent, and to refuse acknowledgment of any valuation beyond “adequate.”The opposite posture requires that you be capable and willing to look in detail at your people’s designs, and be aware enough to see quality when it’s there.

The book is now available for pre-order through Dorset House or Amazon. (The current Amazon price is $35.95 with a 5% pre-order discount)
Roller coaster image available under a Creative Commons License from Kalense Kid's photos

Friday, January 25, 2008

I'm an inventor.... well, a co-inventor anyway

I was greeted at home tonight by a letter telling me that one of my patent applications has been granted. US Patent 7,321,699, Signal intensity range transformation apparatus and method. Abstract: A system and method for manipulating image data is disclosed. Generally, the system and method identifies useful grey-levels within an input image. The image is then scaled based upon the identified useful grey-levels.

The application was filed in September, 2003, while I was working at JAR Associates, Inc. and is assigned to Rytec Corporation, an innovative manufacturer of high speed industrial doors who contracted JAR for R&D services . It is a reminder of a very exciting time in my career when I worked on some extremely challenging technical problems with a very talented team of individuals on an exciting opportunity for a visionary customer.

Previously, I've been a co-inventor on four patents for automotive components. The patents include two for a combustion pressure sensor 5,038,069 & 5,126,617. The others are for transmission gear position sensors 5,902,975 & 6,518,525.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Here is a useful summary on writing good requirements by Scott Sehlorst on the Tyner Blain blog. Scott derived and refined the list starting from Pragmatic Marketing's Requirements that Work Seminar.

Attributes of good requirements:
based on Pragmatic’s List (1-8) + Two Three Four More
Necessary => Valuable
Design Free

Scott provides links to articles on each attribute that provide additional details.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What is a wiki?

Seth Godin blogged recently about a shortage of digital coaches. While I'm not a digital coach, I've been told I do a good job of boiling down a lot of information to explain complicated topics to non-experts. I maintain a website for my church, which includes a wiki, where other parishioners contribute content without any direct involvement from me. I received an email earlier this week from someone in the parish asking me, "what is a wiki?" After a quick search of the web- including wikipedia, I thought this would be a good topic for a blog.

The term wiki derives from the Hawaiian word for "fast." A wiki enables web pages and documents to be written collaboratively using a web browser without any specialized training or software. A single page in a wiki is referred to as a "wiki page", while the entire collection of pages, which are usually well interconnected by hyperlinks, is "the wiki". A wiki is essentially a database for creating, maintaining, browsing, and searching through information. A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Generally, there is no review before modifications are accepted.

Wikis allow visitors to create, modify or delete the content of a web page from their browser, and usually record the history of who changed what. Wikis enable creation of collaborative community websites, and are trending toward eliminating the need for specialized skills and software to create and edit content on a web page.

The administrator of the Wiki decides who is allowed to modify the site. Some wikis are open to changes by anyone, others limit modifications to trusted members, and some use moderators to arbitrate disagreements. The Wikipedia free encyclopedia is the best known Wiki, where hundreds of thousands of users add to the collective knowledge. where hundreds of thousands of users add to the collective knowledge. On Wikipedia, an entry started by one person is often iteratively refined by other contributors who collaborate to produce a consensus.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Product Management Blogs

One of my resolutions for 2008 is, as Steven Covey wrote, (habit # 7) "sharpen the saw".
Some blogs I will be watching more closely include:

Product Beautiful
The Cranky Product Manager
Silicon Valley Product Group
How To Be A Good Product Manager

Happy New year,