Agile Doesn’t Mean Endless

So Agile development is great for iteratively working closely with customers to develop and refine information systems that are useful to them and the organization.


But even in Agile, there is a beginning and an end to the sprint planning and project management.


Taking Agile to somehow mean endless in terms of adding more and more requirements or scope creep is not what is intended. 


Agile has to be bound by common sense somewhere between what is needed for a minimally viable product (MVP) and what is achievable with the designated resources, objective, and scope. 


Good project managers always have to be sound arbiters and be willing to ask the tough questions and determine if something is truly a requirement or simply a wish list item that is out of scope (but of course, could perhaps make it in for future enhancements).


We need to understand the difference between genuine customer service and irrational project exuberance based on inflated expectations. 


It’s not a dangerous project bubble we want to create that can and will get busted, but rather a successful project that is delivered for our customers that help them do their jobs better, faster, and cheaper.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Dumb Socks

So have you ever gone to the shoe store, but you forgot to wear socks. 


Well, this is what you get to try-on shoes.


These absolutely crappy, thin, brownish wades of disposable nylon socks. 


How completely unappealing–especially piled up like this and looking like they are getting reused again and again. 


The try-on socks look shitty, feel shitty, and don’t help you try-on anything, because they aren’t the same density or texture as regular socks. 


Talk about penny wise and dollar foolish–if the store won’t even invest in a proper pair of socks for their customers, then how much do they value their business? 


How about an intelligent shoe store with a little class that actually has some real pairs of socks for their customers, and when you’re done they send them out to the cleaners or maybe even let you keep the pair if you buy the shoes!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wrapped In Bubble Wrap

So I thought this was an interesting risk management strategy…


One colleague joked with me that:

“Everyone should just wrap themselves in bubble wrap!”

Reminded me of that game where people put on big wearable inflatable bumpers and then smash into each other for fun.


The problem though is that sometimes we put on the bubble wrap, bulletproof vest, or seat belt, but then we get stupidly overconfident. 


We think we are protected, but nothing human in impenetrable. 


So the person with the seat belt and air bag drives too fast and off a cliff and still gets him/herself killed. 


Or the person with the bulletproof vest gets shot with a high caliber armor piercing shell or in the back of the head.


Like on many cars, where the mirror says, “objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” we need not over rely on safety, protective, and risk measures and still do stupid things.


One guy told me, he backed up into the wall in the garage, because he thought there was more room and that’s not how things looked in the mirror. 


Let’s face it, there is no bubble wrap that can fully protect us from life. 


Everyday we face risks out there, and we need to manage them with common sense or else… 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Manage The Crisis and Don’t Exploit It

Crisis.jpeg

So I heard an interesting thought on crisis management:

“Never let a good crisis go to waste!”


Isn’t that frequently how politicians and lobbyists use the crisis, rather than deal with it. 


In certain cases, some have even been known to actually create the crisis for their ends!


Whether it’s some politicians calling for strict gun control when there is a mass shooting (perhaps infringing on other reasonable 2nd amendment rights) or it’s right to life advocates demanding an end to funding for planned parenthood when some bad people are caught selling fetal body parts and so on and so on.


Maybe these things are the right thing to do–in which case, a very bad event can end up being an impetus for much needed change and thus, can facilitate in transforming society and from that perspective, be a good thing!


But is the change really and necessarily the right thing to do…or is the crisis de jure just an excuse to get what some people wanted all  along.


– Use (exploit) the crisis.


– Maximize the momentum from the crisis.


– Leverage the emotions from the crisis.


– Promptly turn the tables on the issue.


– Leave all compromise and negotiation aside, and seize the moment.


The lesson here is not to just react, because a sudden and impulsive decision may end up being an overreaction and cause negative unintended consequences down the road.


The pendulum tends to shift and swing widely in both directions–neither extreme is good.


Instead well thought policy, use of common sense, maintaining reasonableness, looking at all sides, and a general middle of the road approach usually yields the best results for the most people.


Crisis management should be just that–managing the crisis; the policy should be fully reasoned both before and after. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Would ANYONE Close Gitmo?

Gitmo

So over and over again, we read about the desire and promise by some to close Guantanamo Bay (“Gitmo”)–the prison for terrorists against the U.S. 


What are the reasons given and do they make any sense?


1) It’s costly–Yeah, it’s costly to house prisoners, especially incredibly dangerous ones like terrorists who commit mass murder like in 9/11, but what is the cost of letting them go free, especially when the known recidivism rate of the released detainees is close to 29%!


2) It inspires other terrorists–Really, since when does imprisoning bad apples inspire other bad apples. Isn’t one of the well-recognized and intended purposes of incarceration is to dissuade and deter bad behavior, as well as to rehabilitate. Even according to those who question the effectivenss of the deterrent capability of prison, studies show that it should be used to “incapacitate offendors (particularly, those of a chronic, higer risk nature).” In other words, we need to take and keep the terrorists off the battlefield!


Can an argument be made to bring the terrorists into prisons on American soil? Sure, but it makes a lot more common sense not to bring terrorists into the American heartland and risk further violence and danger to our citizens from known terrorists and their jihadist associates. 


Additionally, after 9/11 and the loss of almost 3,000 people, our brave U.S. serviceman and women spent a lot of time and hard work and risked their own lives to capture these dangerous terrorists…why would we want to release the terrorists endangering our military and our citizens all over again (especially when the threat has not abated–see below)?


Has the threat of terrorism gone away that we can say the war on terror is over and so let’s send the terrorists home (the question itself almost sounds ludicrous for anyone living in the age of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, and more)?  Well, according to the RAND research experts, “there has been an INCREASE in the number of Salafi-Jihadist groups, fighters, and attacks.” 

 

And after the recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, the downing of the Russia airliner, and many other terror strikes, it is no surpurse that “Americans name terrorism as the No. 1 U.S. problem.”


Perhaps, this helps us understand why Congress is blocking the closing of Gitmo, and why none of us should be able to understand why violent, dangerous terrorist detainees are continuing to be released to hurt U.S. citizens again.


(Source Photo: here with attribution to JBrazito)

Politics Has Us Lost

Curve.jpeg

So we’ve become a nation that only seems to be moving, but yet is heading nowhere fast.  


Shock and awe and “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”


Think about it!


Where are we going?


– Are we growing, innovating, leading. 


– Are we spreading our ideals of freedom, human rights, and democracy.


– Are we a nation the defends those in need and is a refuge for those under duress.


– Are we a country that is safe and secure from threats external and internal. 


– Are we united and heading in a clear direction with a strategy and making incremental steps towards our goals.


– Where are we on critical programs for the future from genuinely protecting our environment with binding agreements to investments in our space program to discover, travel, and build our destiny beyond just here. 


– Do we have the love and respect of our friends and the fear of those that are against our way of life.


– Are the decisions that are being made bringing together those from across the political aisle and are they particularly fruitful in terms of making a real difference in people’s lives or in our future.


– Why is the system so broken and we don’t even hear any real ideas anymore about how to fix it.


– Why do we hear about Obamacare, trade deals, deals with Iran, deals over global warming, deals over Syria, budget deals, yet don’t see or feel any tangible differences in our lives–or feel any passion from those making the decisions.


– Where is the grand vision to really put a man on Mars, solve poverty, or cure cancer.


– Why is Russia grabbing what they want with Crimea, planning a permanent station on the moon, and creating air and naval bases in Syria and we can’t even train some rebels to fight.


– Why are we afraid to call radical Islamic terrorism what it is and to fight them over there before they come over here.


– Why do we bounce back and forth unable to overcome basic problems like with our flailing education system first centralizing federally with “No Child Left Behind” and then decentralizing to the States with “Every Student Succeeds.”


– Why do we reign in the budget one year with Sequestration only to expand the budget with unpaid tax cuts the next.


– Why do we call for a strong military and then cut their budget and undercut their mandate to get their job done. 


– Why do we stress the importance of cybersecurity, but then lose the security clearances and personnel information of the entire federal, intelligence, and military workforce.


– Why do we let in terrorists and criminals to our country and are then surprised when they commit violent acts against our people. 


– Why do we hurt allies and embrace enemies.


– Why do we stymie debate and opposition disrespecting others, calling them horrible names, threatening them, and working to destroy them instead of embracing healthy debate and compromise. 


– Why do we claim transparency, but then hide behind obscurity. 


This could be the list that never ends, which goes on and on my friends, some rationale people started asking common sense questions, not knowing how broken this system was, and they’ll just keep questioning it forever just because…it makes no sense. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting Your Message Out With Impact

Car Lease

There is an old Jewish parable about the body parts arguing which is most important. 


Each makes it’s case that without that part, we just couldn’t function. (No jokes here now!)


But in the end, the tongue that harnesses the power of speech demonstrates that it is most important, because it is through our words that we may live or die. 


– Say the right thing–something smart and influence the masses–and you can change or even save the world.


– Say the wrong thing–something stupid, inflammatory, and damaging–and it can literally mean your or someone else’s life.


From an early age, we come to recognize that communication is so important to our success. 


Hey, I need a bottle or diaper changed…please!


Or answer the (interview) questions well, and you can land yourself in the best schools and jobs and even with the best ladies. 🙂


Those that succeed with communication, can we make themselves and their positions heard, understood, and accepted.


What are some common communication strategies people employ?


Well as we’ve all learned, it’s not always the one who is the boldest, screams the loudest, or repeats themselves the most that wins the argument–although at times, that too can work when force of debate, undeterred passion, and a little crazy can hammer the points home. 


Having the best laid out and most rationale argument–some people will rightfully be influenced by logic and common sense. 


Sincerity, integrity, honesty, and appealing to people’s gut and emotions–this certainly goes a long way as many people are driven by their feelings as well as their instincts and genuine character assessment of others. 


Making people confront what scares the hell out of them–fear is a big motivator for action and everyone is afraid of something and usually many things. 


Oh, of course, the religious argument that “It’s what G-d wants” and there will be fire and brimstone if you don’t do it that way–well reward and punishment, heaven and hell, divine justice–that certainly will move masses. 


“The pen is mightier than the sword.”


For those who can effectively harness the power of their speech and intellect, the sky is the limit. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)