Nik

Nik has written 425 posts for niksilver.com

What does it mean to “manage” risk?

What do we mean when we say we need to “manage” risk, or “manage” a risk? I’m not talking about financial risk, which is a world of mathematical models and algorithms. I mean project risk or enterprise risk, which typically manifests itself in risk workshops, risk registers, mitigation actions, and regular discussion of “risks” either … Continue reading

More answers are available than we might think

We’re often faced with decisions that seem outside our area of expertise. Last week I met some founders on the Emerge.Education programme and one of them gave an example of this: her company was considering changing from content management system A to content management system B. It seemed like a big step, and while her … Continue reading

When certainty is absent

Among all the noise about Brexit, one line I keep hearing is that “businesses need certainty”. We can read this message from the British Chambers of Commerce, from the Confederation of British Industry, and it’s a message the Chancellor has repeated, too. Undoubtedly certainty is helpful. But those who run businesses deal with uncertainty all … Continue reading

We don’t have to make (very) unpopular decisions

The other day I came across a product manager job description that talked about the need to make unpopular decisions (and to defend them). This is also an idea used by politicians, though they tend to talk more about making “tough decisions”. It’s only when we ask why the decisions are tough that we realise … Continue reading

Opening doors for positive people

The other day I bumped into a colleague whose responsibilities include something I often have to manage—encouraging people to change the way they work. She described her new team, including the familiar situation of having a number of people who were skeptical of any change, or who were otherwise reluctant to do so. But she … Continue reading

Good technical people need good non-technical skills

Very technical roles require very technical skills. Information security experts, software developers, architects and others all need specialist skills as a baseline. But in general those people (like so many others) don’t work alone, and it’s important that their work meshes with others. If we treat our staff like cogs in a machine then that … Continue reading

Lightening the delivery balloon

I’d love to say all the projects I’ve ever worked on have run perfectly smoothly, but that would be a lie. There are plenty of times I’ve been involved with a project where a deadline is looming, and as we get closer and closer we have to ask harder and harder questions about what to … Continue reading

Hubbard’s powerful question: What decision do we want to support?

Sometimes a piece of analysis work can be very open-ended, or at least there is a danger that it might go on too long. Examples I’ve come across are reviewing some old code, going out to understand a process, implementing a spike, looking at a competitor, etc. It’s not that such activities are inheritently bad, … Continue reading

Avoiding the unexpected

Earlier this year I was involved in a talk led by Gayatri Kamath in which she discussed a serious incident at the Apollo Theatre in London in 2013. A large number of people were injured after part of the building collapsed due to water build-up in the plaster. On speaking to one of those with … Continue reading

The cost of delay of technical debt

Last week I wrote about the value of stopping work to tackle tech debt, and more specifically when we might expect to recover from the temporary stoppage. In the ensuing discussion a question came up about one of my assumptions, which was that the team was delivering at a constant rate (albeit below its potential). … Continue reading