Expert Judgment

Kindling

Posted in Innovation by dnzrn on May 18, 2009

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

-Eleanor Roosevelt 

Kindling is a simple web-based knowledge management system. Main function of Kindling is that, it enables users to post their ideas, share it with other people from a certain group and provide feedback to other ideas. There is no need to discuss the obvious benefits of such a system to an organization or a team. The easy-to-use web interface makes the whole experience a lot more appealing.

However, there is a huge defect with their sales strategy. When I saw the Kindling first, I was amazed by its simplicity, elegance and power. However my amazement turned into a real shock by the time I realized that it comes with an absurd price. It is basically a wonderful Web 2.0 tool, with a legacy sales strategy.

Discontinuous Innovation is defined as the type of innovation which significantly changes how customers co-create the value. This co-creation of value requires customers to adopt three different roles of buyer, user and payer. Until Kindling, Web 2.0 succeeded in discontinuous innovation operations. Think about Wikipedia, WordPress, eBay, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and many others. Now imagine what would happen if these sites requested a compensation for their services. Probably you wouldn’t be familiar with most of these names. I’m not suggesting that these successful websites are running a non-profit operation, but they somehow managed to accomplish a discontinuous innovation and making huge profit out of it.

Get prepared for the aftershock. Kindling has three different licensing models. First one is limited to 40 users. The second licensing option allows up to 100 users. Only after you consider paying more than $99/month the user limitation ceases to become an issue. Web 2.0 thrives by collaboration and synergy of the users. The more the merrier. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps Kindling is not Web 2.0 at all…

My forecast? Here it is:

Alexa shows that kindlingapp.com (Kindling) is not in to 100,000. In fact Kindling’s traffic rank is 299,310 as of today. I believe we will never be able to see Kindling in top 100,000. I don’t expect a significant rise in its current rank either. Unless, of course, they do not change their current sales strategy.

Career Choice: Project Manager, Why ?

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on May 15, 2009

When we wake up in the morning, we have two simple choises. Go back to sleep and dream, or wake up and chase those dreams.

Assumption 1: Individuals at the higher level positions in the organizational structure, are more capable and knowledgeable.

Assumption 2: The higher the position of a manager is, the less he needs to know about the details of the project. 

These assumptions are self explanatory. I agree that they are often correct. However, there is an apparent exception; the project manager. 

Project managers must know a lot details about their projects, so the statement of assumption 2 is not correct. Also, I believe, project managers are (should be) more capable and knowledgeable about their projects than anyone else in the organization. I know this does not sound about right. I just want to draw attention to the unique knowledge, viewpoint, skill set, capability that a project manager possesses. 

For instance, the senior manager is the one who placed bet on a game and watching the game on a screen. He doesn’t know how to score, he doesn’t need to, and moreover he doesn’t need to care. 

However, project manager is IN the game. Right in the center of the chaos, trying to tame the beast… He has the knowledge. He has the skills. He has the unique viewpoint of the entire show. He has the –ability to have– full control over things. 

Norman Agustine, defines a benefit of being a project manager as “being where the action is”, in his foreword of the book Visualizing Project Management

There are more. People within the team, customer, and even his senior manager leans on him, trusts him. Pressure, stress, possibilities, the thrill… The challenge… Intense sensation of victory, fear of loss… Creativity, vision, analytic thinking… 

Isn’t it wonderful for those who yearn for a world where 8 + 8 may not be equal to 16

What about being able to see the tangible results of the project, experiencing the success so intense? Can people who are primarily motivated by success find a better position to achieve a self actualization?

Creativity in CVs

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on May 8, 2009

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
-Steve Jobs

How many of you have CVs, in which you write “Creative” as a personal trait? I’ve been looking through hundreds of CVs during last four years. (mostly of students from nearby universities) Let me tell you, more than half of them declares their owners creative. 

Why not demonstrate your creativity instead of just writing “I am Creative”? 

The first of creative kind of CVs is Özgür Alaz’s Google Earth Resume

This summer, Microsoft is looking for a creative intern, not an intern with the ability to type “creative”. Following links direct to web sites in Turkish: 

Official Announcement, Internship Blog 

Innovation summarized in three sentences: Think differently. Change your viewpoint. Use existing products and techniques out of their original purpose. Check these out; 

Brain Map CV (jpeg)

Timeline CV (www.dipity.com)

Failure !

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on May 6, 2009
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
-Collin Powell

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

-Colin Powell

Projects fail ! Why? Ask different people and you get many different answers. There is a pattern though;

  • Almost everybody blames somebody or SOMETHING ELSE for the failure. (Thats one thing common in all answers)
  • Senior Managers blame EXTERNAL entities, other stakeholders, vendors, suppliers, even sometimes Force-Majeure!
  • Middle Managers (yeah that would be Project Managers…), tend to blame someone or something else WITHINthe organization. (Perhaps, senior managers…)

I –inofficially– blame the Project Managers, for they are supposed to be in control of the project. When given a unrealistic deadline, they must object. Project Managers have to have a response plan for force-majeure. Project Managers must manage all stakeholders and must always have other options at hand. This list goes on and on…

The truth is; there is no value to gain in the “blame game. We should embrace the failure, for there are lessons to be learned within each failure. 

Lets have a look at different reasons for project failure; (from various sources)

http://www.coleyconsulting.co.uk/failure.htm lists;

  1. Lack of user involvement
  2. Long or unrealistic time scales
  3. Poor or no requirements
  4. Scope creep
  5. No change control system
  6. Poor Testing

http://www.gantthead.com/article.cfm?ID=187449 has a different list;

  1. Inadequately trained and/or inexperienced project managers
  2. Failure to set and manage expectations
  3. Poor leadership at any and all levels
  4. Failure to adequately identify, document and track requirements
  5. Poor plans and planning processes
  6. Poor effort estimation
  7. Cultural and ethical misalignment
  8. Misalignment between the project team and the business or other organization it serves
  9. Inadequate or misused methods
  10. Inadequate communication, including progress tracking and reporting

A little outdated but results of an in-depth analysis (Chaos Report, 1995), are as follows;

 

Project Failure Reasons

%

1

Incomplete requirements

13.1%

2

Lack of user involvement

12.4%

3

Lack of resources

10.6%

4

Unrealistic expectations

9.9%

5

Lack of executive support

9.3%

6

Changing requirements and specification

8.7%

7

Lack of planning

8.1%

8

Changing needs

7.5%

9

Lack of IT management

6.2%

10

Technology illiteracy

4.3%

11

Others

9.9%

To be fair, I believe there are things that can cause a project to fail, which a Project Manager can not control. BUT (yes a huge but) best Project Manages can foresee such situations and take action ! (alert the management, alter plans, or even not initiate the project)
Last but not least; project termination is NOT project failure. 

View of Risk

Posted in Project Management by dnzrn on May 2, 2009

A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.  

-John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic

 

Can one dare not taking risks? Its all about the viewpoint. 

Recently in a software project, a major stakeholder who is a long standing customer, helped us identify a risk. He reported us that his accounting data has exceeded the limitations of  Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express, which is 4GB. We have estimated that a large scale accountant office would need 10MB of database space per year, per customer. So, we estimated, unless one accountant is keeping track of  40 customers’ data of last 10 years in the same database, they would be able to use the Express Edition, which is free. 

So we quickly analyzed the risk, and found out that the root cause of exceeding limits problem was high data storage need of that particular stakeholder (which is one of the largest construction companies in Turkey). Looking at this risk, I saw an opportunity. An opportunity to be able to sell a more convenient edition of MS SQL Server, which would have resulted in 1000$ profit per customer with similar special needs. So, happily I let my manager know the issue. His voice was ice cold and I couldn’t get a body language reading, because we were speaking on the phone. Later that day, the manager ordered a major change in the design of the software product, in order to satisfy the specific need of customers with high data storage need. We were ordered to carry out the design change, even though I let the manager know of my objections to his decision.

My manager has seen a threat, where I saw an opportunity. We walked down the “safer” road. Thus, it resulted in 2 staff-months of rework, $8.000 cost, plus the cost of opportunity to sell MS SQL 2005. To be fair, I must admit that we might have ended up with a significant loss if we didn’t alter the design and our estimations turned out inaccurate. (I guess, we’ll never know)

Its all about the viewpoint.

 

Certified now

Posted in Project Management by dnzrn on May 1, 2009

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

-Neil Armstrong

I’ve passed the PMI’s PMP certification exam last monday. Well, it may be a small step for mankind, but it is definitely a giant leap for me. 

With this opportunity, I will go ahead and post some useful links about Project Management. 

PMI: Project Management Institute. Leading association for Project Management Profession. 

PMBOK: A term defining the body of knowledge related with the Project Maangement. Basically a framework of what Project Management is about. PMBOK Guide is the official resource of PMBOK, issued by PMI. (Now 4th edition is available)

Rita Mulchany: A successful Project Management Trainer, and a Certified PMP. Without her, I wouldn’t have passed the exam on my first try. I strongly recommend her products, especially the software: PMFastTrack. 

Ankara PYD (Ankara Project Management Association): the Project Management Association of Ankara, Turkiye. (Site language is Turkish)

Project Reference: A truly wonderful resource for project management. Created by John Musser, an Instructor of Columbia University.

Controlling Chaos: A series of (very useful) podcasts, about Project Management, created by Dina, a PMP Certified senior Project Manager.