Recently I presented  “The Art Of Saying No” to the Chicago Quality Assurance Association.  The material was a synthesis of work published on the Software Process and Measurement blog, wisdom from the podcast interviews, and hard-won experience. As one of the exercises in the workshop, I asked the participants to identify the reasons they found it difficult or impossible to say no in their business environment. Three reasons that elicited passionate debate were: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 564 is part 2 of my conversation with Steve Tendon and Daniel Dioron.  We discussed their new book Tame Your Work Flow. Steve and Danie ask the question “Do you need a high-performance enterprise management & governance approach improving planning, execution, and delivery while dealing with multiple projects, events, stakeholders and teams?”, the book and the interview probes potential answers. In order to answer the question, the three of us take a deep dive into applying Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints in the real world. Listen to part 1 before listing to SPaMCAST 564. (more…)

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Last night severe thunderstorms rolled through northern Ohio.  There were lots of power outages and trees that were blown over.  This morning when I went to the grocery store, the store’s systems could not accept debit cards. I immediately made up a story that connected the storms to system failure. As we have seen before, System 1 thinking takes disparate facts and creates a coherent believable story.  No conclusion is too big a jump for System 1 thinking. My story and my belief that I had predicted the most probable cause is an illusion of validity.    (more…)

When I was in primary school I remember learning about herds of buffalo that were so vast that it would take hours for all of the animals to pass a specific point.  Herding behavior evokes visions of groups acting the same way. There is a special case that affects how work is accomplished. Self-herding affects how decisions are made based on how an initial event is tackled. Dan Ariely defines as  “our tendency to follow the same decisions we have made in the past (future decisions are influenced by previous decisions).” Self-herding is a form of cognitive bias in which an individual creates a heuristic for a specific decision, limiting the possible outcomes.  A classic example of self-herding is the rule many people develop that states that, all things being equal, given two restaurants the one with people is better. The origin of the rule many times in unknown and doesn’t get questioned. I believe I originally heard this guidance from my mother.  Even today I have difficulty going into restaurants that are empty. The first time I used my mother’s guidance the decisions translated into behavior that I rarely question even today. Restaurants might be one thing, but a decision about accepting work or using a specific framework should be a different matter but the answer is no.  (more…)

Herding for pickle beer. Who would have thought!

Herding is a pattern where an individual or team acts based on the behavior of others. Stated very simply, herding is just like the children’s game follow-the-leader.  Last year, I sat in on a discussion in an organization where being perceived as being helpful was a significant attribute for bonuses and promotions. The R&D Group (software developments) had recently been asked to implement a significant SaaS package with a due date before Thanksgiving so that the retail portion of the business would not be impacted. The date was absurd. The CIO had gathered a number of teams together to determine if the work was doable. The answer from each team as they went out of the room was no until a single team said they could do it. In quick succession, everyone changed their minds and played follow-the-leader.  All of the affected teams exhibited herd behavior. As soon as one team broke from the pack everyone followed. The cascade was exacerbated when the CIO muttered “thank-you” after the first two teams said yes. Herding in decision making effectively took “no” off the table. This type of behavior is response-driven. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 563 is part one of my conversation with Steve Tendon and Daniel Dioron.  We discussed their new book Tame Your Work Flow. Steve and Daniel share deep insights into applying Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints in the real world. After you have listened to the conversation you will never view the flow of work as an esoteric topic.  Steve, Daniel, and I had a wide-ranging conversation, I decided to ignore my own guideline on two-part interviews and let the tape run (metaphorically). We will return with part 2 next week.  (more…)

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Part 3 of Thinking, Fast and Slow is titled Overconfidence.  Chapter 19 begins by exploring several biases that affect overconfidence. Earlier in the book, we explored how System 1 thinking connects events to generate a coherent story.  This chapter begins by building on the attributes of fast thinking by stating that humans interpret behavior as a manifestation of general propensities and personal traits. One of the classic biases that cause this type of thinking is the halo effect. I overheard an example of a negative halo effect this week as I walked behind a group of people in Chicago. The group, tourists, pointed at a person sleeping rough along the river and exclaimed that the person was lazy.  One attribute of the person’s behavior was generalized into a larger narrative.   (more…)