Nik

Nik has written 400 posts for niksilver.com

The map is not the territory

My daughter and I are currently reading Lemony Snicket’s very entertaining “Who Could That Be At This Hour?”, a book in the series of “All The Wrong Questions”. And there is a constant refrain I think is very useful: The map is not the territory. The book tells the story of Mr Snicket’s apprenticeship as … Continue reading

Teams and crews

One of the most entertaining sessions at last months’s Agile in the City: Birmingham was from Martin Burns, discussing teams in relation to performing music. And of all the points he made, the simplest and most compelling to me was the distinction between teams and crews. The dynamics of a team, he said, changed significantly … Continue reading

Why measure happiness?

Measurement might sound like it’s some kind of objective process, but that’s not always the case. Last week I asked the audience at Agile in the City: Birmingham to “Quantify Your Goals”. As part of that I showed how on one of the programmes at ONS we assessed progress against a goal simply by asking … Continue reading

Impact mapping using rings

I’ve been doing a lot of impact mapping recently, but when my friend Matt Hosking got involved he noticed a problem: it makes very poor use of wall space. And as a result of that he suggested laying it out differently—in rings. I’ve now had a chance to try it, and I can report that … Continue reading

Agile frameworks do have some merit

Last week I came across a post by my friend Kelly Waters, in which he bemoaned the many competing Agile methodologies, and said that he thought “the best advice is to go back to basics and apply those basic principles without layering over them a whole tonne of processes“. I agreed, but didn’t add my … Continue reading

Feedback happens, whether we respond or not

The other day I was listening to BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed, which on this occasion focused on “Platform capitalism”. This is the world of Uber, AirBnB, and TaskRabbit, in which the company in question acts as a broker between those able to offer a service and those seeking it. Being Thinking Allowed it focused … Continue reading

Specific risk guidance is troublesome

I’ve been (re)reading a bit about “risk appetite” again recently. Some of the reading includes messages saying it’s a confusing term, it’s a bad idea, or that it’s a good idea that’s really important to manage properly [pdf]. One of the things that occurred to me during this is that it’s actually very difficult to … Continue reading

Is this team the best it can be?

Recently I was part of a discussion on team improvement, and someone asked “How do you know if a team is the best it can be?” My first instinct was to ask why it matters, although I couldn’t think of way of doing so quickly and be sure I wasn’t sounding rude. However, that’s definitely … Continue reading

Delivering incremental value in an investigation

How do we tackle a piece of investigation in an incremental manner? It’s much easier when we’re delivering a tangible thing—we stand up at our show and tell, and say “Last time we showed you we could do X, now we can show you we can also do Y.” But for investigation work it’s not … Continue reading

There’s trouble in MoSCoW

Most project teams I work with prioritise their work in a simple order: most important, second most important, etc. But sometimes people still use the MoSCoW method, and I find this leads to problems. MoSCoW stands for Must, Should, Could, Won’t—it’s a way of categorising deliverables into one of four buckets. The Musts get done … Continue reading