UNDERpromise + OVERdeliver

Every manager is rightly taught to underpromise and overdeliver. 


It’s sound planning and good risk management to plan for contingencies–and certainly these do happen. 


Build in some buffer time and resources into your estimates, because reality bites and you need to have the ammunition to respond. 


My father used to tell me:

“A word is a word!”


When you say something, promise something, commit to something then that is it!”


To do otherwise is to have no honor, no character, and no fear of G-d. 


Similarly, when you overpromise and underdeliver, you fail yourself and your customers.


People commit time, resources, and faith in you, so you owe it to them to set realistic goals and plans to accomplish them.


To do otherwise, you risk damage to the longterm relationship, you hurt your credibility, and maybe most importantly, you hurt the chances of genuine progress. 


The philosophy that I believe works best is:  Be thoughtful. Be strategic. Be direct. Be honest.  


That’s what I would want from others and that’s also what I strive to be. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Are The Chances for IT Project Success?

So I was teaching a class in Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance this week. 


In one of the class exercises, one of the students presented something like this bell-shaped distribution curve in explaining a business case for an IT Project. 


The student took a nice business approach and utilized a bell-shaped curve distribution to explain to his executives the pros and cons of a project. 


Basically, depending on the projects success, the middle (1-2 standard deviations, between 68-95% chance), the project will yield a moderate level of efficiencies and cost-savings or not. 


Beyond that:


– To the left are the downside risks for significant losses–project failure, creating dysfunction, increased costs, and operational risks to the mission/business. 


– To the right is the upside potential for big gains–innovations, major process reengineering, automation gains, and competitive advantages. 


This curve is probably a fairly accurate representation based on the high IT project failure rate in most organizations (whether they want to admit it or not). 


I believe that with:

– More user-centric enterprise architecture planning on the front-end

– Better IT governance throughout

– Agile development and scrum management in execution 

that we can achieve ever higher project success rates along the big upside potential that comes with it!  


We still have a way to go to improve, but the bell-curve helps explains what organizations are most of the time getting from their investments. 😉


(Source Graphic: Adapted by Andy Blumenthal from here)

Top Secret Tinseltown

So this is a city with a lot of secrets. 


I’m not talking about just the run-of-the-mill, non-disclosure agreement (NDA).


This is Top Secret Tinseltown!


And even the stuff that comes out in the news–whether it’s clandestine transfers of $1.7 billion to the Ayatollahs in Iran or the Uranium One deal with the Russians, there is plenty of dirty little games going on. 


What was hilarious is when when saw this huge industrial shredding truck in the parking lot:

Paper Shredding * Electronic Destruction * Medical Waste Disposal


And there were a line of cars waiting to get rid of their little secrets.


I kid you not when I say that on a Saturday morning, there were at least 25 cars in line to dispose of their “stuff.”


Now who do you know in what city that waits 25 cars deep in line for an industrial shredder on a Saturday morning.


And the cars are pulling up, the trunks are popping open, and boxes and boxes of paper and electronic files are being handed over. 


Gee, I hope the Russians or Chinese aren’t getting into the shredding business…and inside the truck isn’t a large shredder but a bunch of analysts waiting for you to hand it all over. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Struggling With Some Decisions

So I’ve been helping some family members with some really big decisions lately. 


As we all know, there are pros and cons to every alternative. 


I remember how you can diagram decisions out like the branches of a tree with probabilities for each branch to try and get to the highest value decision. 


The problem is we don’t know everything that may happen down the road or even know the probabilities for each possibility–or as they say:

We don’t know what we don’t know.  


So it’s hard to make a great decision and not second guess yourself.

Well, what if…


You can “what if” yourself to sleepless nights and death and never decide or do anything meaningful. 


We have to make the best decisions we can usually with limited information. 


Using gut or intuition is not a solution either–those can end up being very wrong especially when we let our raw emotions dictate. 


So I do not take decision-making for myself or helping others lightly, especially my family. 


I want to protect them and help them make good decisions that will bear fruit and joy down the road. 


I definitely don’t want to waste everyones time and efforts and lead them or myself down a dead end or worse off of a cliff.


In the end, we have to turn to G-d and whisper:

Oh G-d, please help us to make the right decisions, because only you know what the results will be from it. 


And so, I am definitely whispering!


At the same time, we need to move forward and not let fear and doubt get in our way of living. 


Yes, we have to be prudent and take calculated risks (everything worthwhile is a risk), but also, we have to look at the potential rewards and the costs for these (every decision is an investment of time and resources) and then just try our best. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You Can’t Eat The Elephant

So there is a popular saying:


“You can’t eat the elephant in one bite.”


The idea is that you need to break things down in little pieces to get them down. 


If you try to eat the elephant in one bite, I assume that your mouth would easily split in half and your face would literally explode. 


Similarly with projects, if you try to get to the nirvana end state in one fell swoop , the project explodes with complexity and risk, and you will fail miserably.


Thus, managing requirements and phasing them in chunks is critical to projects’ succeeding. 


Sure, customers want to get the Promised Land immediately–where the projects have all the “bells and whistles”–but you don’t want to sacrifice getting the train on the tracks for the accouterments either. 

Think big, but act small–little by little, one step at a time, you can actually eat an elephant. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Does It Feel At The Top

A colleague told me something interesting about what it feels like at the top.


He said:

The 360 degree view is good, but it get’s windy at times!


I thought this was pretty smart, and one reason that many people opt out of moving into senior and executive positions in their organizations. 


Yes, it’s great to be able to lead and have more visibility, influence, and impact. 


But at the same time, this does not come for free or without risks. 


At the top of the pyramid or corporate offices or whatever, there is opportunity. 


Yet, your dealing with other top honchos with strong personalities, egos, and often harsh ways of dealing with others and conflict can be perilous for many. 


My father used to tell me his philosophy:

Better a little less, but you know what you have. 


There is definitely wisdom in those words. 


Maybe as with most things in life, there is a time and place for everything. 


It is great to have the opportunity to lead.


It’s also not bad to have a time to follow and contribute in that way. 


What’s important is that whatever role your in at the time, that you do it with integrity and passion to do good. 


So how does it feel at the top–sure, it’s a nice view, but it can get very windy too. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Winding Path Of Life

Thought this was an interesting commentary on life. 


Perhaps, we seek a straight line–with no bumps or bruises–to go from where we are to where we want to be. 


But life has others plans for us. 


The road ahead is often winding and where we truly end up is often unknown. 


Certainly, staying frozen in place and doing nothing with our lives is not an option. 


So we move forward, one step at a time, and occasionally taking a leap forward. 


Also, sometimes, we have to take a few steps backward before we can advance again. 


Other times, we may even stumble and fall. 


Whatever happens, we continue to work our way towards the landing at the top to see what we shall see. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)