Nik

Nik has written 437 posts for niksilver.com

Visualising uncertainty with bar charts

Previously I’ve advocated the use of probability distribution curves to describe uncertainty more clearly. It helps us get away from the binary success/fail of traditional risk listing, and instead allows a much wider understanding of the likelihood of different gradations of outcome. For example, not just whether we’ll make our predicted profit, but different degrees … Continue reading

Balancing ownership and quality

Having worked as both a team manager and a consultant, I find there is a common balancing act when introducing people to a new approach or idea, such as setting up a particular process. On the one hand I tend to have a good idea about what I want to achieve and what it should … Continue reading

Accepting failure enables rational exits

You’ve probably heard the idea that we should allow people to fail. You’ve probably also heard the phrase “fail fast”, meaning that we should both allow failure and be set up sufficiently to recognise it and recover from it quickly. In both cases I’ve always seen the benefits of accepting failure as allowing us to … Continue reading

Are we seeking to evaluate or improve?

In a discussion the other day about measuring the effectiveness of developers I looked for a document I’d written a while back for exactly that purpose. But when I opened it up I found that it wasn’t the document I thought it was. I expected something that would help the reader, as a manager, assess … Continue reading

The three dimensional progress report

A programme manager colleague once told me about the report he created to keep his programme board up to date with progress. It was a room. On the walls of the room were all kinds of charts and pictures which collectively told the story of the work in progress. It showed the context, the high … Continue reading

Mistaking frameworks as toolkits

The other day I was watching Craig Larman discuss the LeSS framework for large scale agile development. In the video he says many prescritive frameworks address compliance by saying it’s just a buffet and you can take what you want. He went on to say that in practice that often doesn’t work, “for whatever reason”. … Continue reading

Even successful subversion is a sliding scale

A few weeks ago Theresa May talked directly about Russia’s attempts to undermine democracy in the UK. It does this by planting “fake news” in social media, as well as direct cyber attacks and influencing individuals. Yet I also heard a claim on BBC News that one government source said there was no evidence that … Continue reading

Be aware of the organisational brakes

I often hear about organisations that have tried to implement change and it’s not gone well. Sometimes those are organisations in which I’m working. Here, “not gone well” means the change has had to be halted or scaled back significantly, because of some kind of push-back. Maybe key senior stakeholders have prevented certain things happening. … Continue reading

Always build for real people’s real problems

I’ve been having fun this week watching some conference talks about my current favourite language, Elm, at Elm Europe 2017. And I enjoyed seeing an important idea discussed—important not just for coding, but for product and project development generally. The lesson is: solve the actual problems experienced by actual people. Don’t generalise—at least not without … Continue reading

Improving our decision-making by externalising our instincts

It’s useful to be clear about our decision-making so that we can improve on the poor decisions and repeat the good ones. Even if we don’t know how a decision will turn out it’s valuable to be explicit about the thinking behind it so that we can understand it better for the future. Recently I … Continue reading