Nik has written 410 posts for

An example of seeing through the rules

The other day I heard a memorable, if short, tale about Emmanuel Macron. It recounts that as a student he auditioned for the school play, but didn’t get the part he wanted. His response was start his own drama group. I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s not the point. It’s a neat example … Continue reading

From visualising data to seeing the work

Visualising data is good, but then looking behind the visualisation is even better. This became apparent to me recently reading a fun piece of research by Justin Matejka and George Fitzmaurice: An effective (and often used) tool used to demonstrate that visualizing your data is in fact important is Anscome’s Quartet. Developed by F.J. Anscombe … Continue reading

The multiple dimensions of “the best deal for Britain”

When assessing a goal or an uncertain situation it’s often useful to see if it has multiple dimensions. A very good example is from Theresa May’s disastrous election campaign when she asked the electorate to help her get “the best deal for Britain” in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. I’ve previously made a lot of the … Continue reading

When the leader doesn’t lead

Last week Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. It’s a decision which was met with much horror, and condemned around the world. It’s likely to do lasting damage to our planet. I think it’s also likely to do economic damage to the US, as the market for renewable energy products … Continue reading

Measuring the impact of our activity

When we measure our progress there are—by some perspective—three kinds of things we might be measuring. The most immediate things to measure is our activity: Are we doing what we said we would do, and at the rate at which we said we’d do it? This is about measuring ourselves against our plan and is … Continue reading

Project management is about managing the unexpected

There’s a snappier title for this blog post, but it’s not mine. It comes from Tim Lister, who says: “Risk management is project management for grown-ups”. This is in his book, co-authored with Tom DeMarco, and also the title of his 2014 QCon London presentation. And maybe that’s all there is to say… but the … Continue reading

Risk isn’t really linear

It’s easy to talk about things which are “higher risk” and “lower risk”… and most of the time it’s appropriate. Last week Tom Loosemore used the idea well, and I’m sure we’ve all used that concept at one time or another. But we should be aware that risk (or “uncertainty”, if we’re to include positive … Continue reading

Informing the bereaved product owner

I once worked with the CEO of a company with too many products, and he took it upon himself to cut down the product portfolio dramatically so that the company could focus on what was most worthwhile. During one such meeting someone must have said how it was going to be very difficult to tell … Continue reading

Why did the risk manager cross the road? (Or: let’s stop seeking risk)

The death this weekend of climber Ueli Steck generated not just tributes from fellow climbers, but also discussion in the media of risk taking, and whether taking risk was part of the enjoyment of climbing. It reminded me of two things: (i) a discussion on Radio 4 with a researcher who has looked specifically at … Continue reading

Balancing strategic guesswork with tactical evidence

I’ve always seen strategic decision-making as consisting of a large element of guesswork. It’s educated guesswork, but it’s very much taking a punt on what we want to achieve based on our assessments of how certain situations will evolve and where we want to be positioned at the end of that. And we can never … Continue reading