Author: dcjarvis

Data-driven decisions? Yes, but please understand the data first

Wherever you look in digital, data is the new black. Big data, smart data, data that helps make you the hero, rather than having to bow to the opinions of the “HIPPO” – the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.

dilbert dashboard

However, working with a couple of clients over the past few weeks has been a stark reminder that data on the web is not always what it seems.

Continue reading “Data-driven decisions? Yes, but please understand the data first”

Turning management upside down

“Industrial age” management – that which has been in place since the Industrial Revolution – models all kinds of work endeavours as factories. Managers must set direction, define processes and achieve consistency of outcome. Staff must demonstrate competency and deliver what they are told to deliver, otherwise they will be “performance managed”.

In contrast, leading proponents of new styles of management are arguing for ‘autonomy over automatons’. This is particularly prescient in a time when many are predicting that robots and artificial intelligence technologies will take jobs away from humans.

In his recent post, Simon Terry argues that the new role of the manager is not to reduce variation in the work and increase consistency, it is quite the opposite.

“Too many managers can be replaced with robots because of the predictable nature of the algorithm at the heart of their work.  Worse, those who suppress variation in their teams will be left behind in the disruptive economies ahead.”

Read on for more…

Why so many modern IT programmes feel like fighting World War 1

On this historic day – one hundred years since the Battle of the Somme – this article by Richard Moir at Vanguard Consulting eloquently describes why modern management practices have so many similarities with World War 1.

“The common response to projects showing signs of failing has been to increase oversight by committees, boards and sponsors through increased emphasis on reporting in order to regain control.

[…]

Efforts to reduce bureaucracy and simplify project delivery are laudable and on the face of it very plausible, however in themselves they are unlikely to provide a sustainable change in project delivery performance.

The various artefacts and control mechanisms that may be the target of simplification efforts will not have appeared in organisations by chance or as a result of any physical laws of nature.  They will have been introduced by somebody at some point in time to satisfy an assumed, but often unstated and misunderstood, need such as maintaining control of activity through compliance.”

I couldn’t agree more. The real battle, however, is persuading those who instigate these processes and controls that they are ineffective. Because doing that questions the  value they believe they bring to the organisation. Tread carefully and carry a big stick.

The power of ‘black hat’ thinking

If you’ve worked anywhere near technology over the last 10-15 years you will probably be slightly wary of the phrase “black hat”. For those in tech, ‘black hat’ typically has negative connotations as it’s usually associated with devious hackers who can hack into systems to steal your personal data, or with clever search engine optimisers who can game rankings to drive additional web traffic. But that’s not where ‘black hat’ comes from.

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Life’s a pitch: 10 ways to run an effective tendering process

pitching

Over the years I’ve been involved in plenty of competitive pitches and tendering processes. I’ve learned the hard way that not all tender processes are created equal and, try as I might, some of the clients and projects to which I thought my company was best suited we’ve ended up not winning. And sometimes vice versa. Here’s ten ways in which we think clients can improve tender processes to achieve better outcomes…

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Is user experience really expensive?

While the market for user experience consulting has continued to grow over the last five years, some organisations are only taking their first steps in prioritising investment in professional user experience consultancy.

And it’s often these organisations who need it most – charities with internal disputes about their brand and what to publish online; small businesses who have a world of opportunity at their feet but apparently no money or time to grasp the nettle; local authorities who struggle to separate internal needs from user needs, and therefore navigating and reading their content is frustrating.

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Dedicated to being different: the #responsiveorg

Today I spent most of my time in a *space* in London talking about change.

Sounds horrid doesn’t it? But truly this – alongside moving house recently – has been the most transformative day of this year for me, and probably many years before it.

Why? Like a 1960s happening it would be hard to explain if you weren’t there. But in a nutshell:

1. Like minded people came to an event in London in their own time to share ideas about changing how they do work, how their organisations did work, and fundamentally who they are and who their colleagues are as individuals.

2. An unconference was held, where the attendees of the event defined the agenda and facilitated discussions about their chosen topics. Unlike your usual conference, there were no rock stars. The connections I made, the challenges that were laid before me without prejudice, and the conversations I was party to were the memorable moments.

3. Everyone was friendly, intelligent, creative, articulate and willing to share experiences. Sometimes even saying hello can feel difficult when you’re at work. The level of openness I experienced was unprecedented for me outside of some of my closest relationships. And these people were all strangers when I arrived.

4. I ducked out at 10pm, when the conversation had covered sex with robots, how teenagers are taught about anal on YouTube, and how we are in the middle of a New Renaissance. These topics aren’t typical of my usual Saturday evening.

The purpose and true substance of the event will be covered elsewhere, and no doubt extensively. But these are the reflections of someone who has experienced the #responsiveorg movement for the first time, first hand. Now all that remains is for me to work out what to do with all of this new input. And for that alone, I thank everyone involved. Salute!