Nik has written 505 posts for

Granularity of project governance frameworks

I’ve worked with a few organisations that wanted to create a framework for reporting on and governing projects or programmes. The intention is generally good: we have lots of projects and programmes across the organisation; if we can standardise the approach to governing them and reporting upwards then we can ensure they are run to … Continue reading

Learning to work with user stories

A short time ago I was talking to friends about teams who struggled to create “good” user stories. One friend talked about an organisation where most teams understood what a good user story looked like, but one or two still created user stories that looked like tasks from an old-style project. These might include things … Continue reading

Shorter show and tells are better

The other week I was at a show and tell with—thankfully—not the usual suspects. The team and key stakeholders were present, but also some other curious people from around the organisation. There was a lot to cover in 30 minutes, so the team rattled through the material and there were a couple of brief questions … Continue reading

Prioritising hypothesis tests

A little while ago I was working with a team that had a lot of user research to do. Naturally, we only had limited time, so we needed to decide how to prioritise our work. This is how we did it. First of all we wrote out all the ideas we wanted to examine. Some … Continue reading

Ensure degrees of success

The other week I was on a train going across the country, and while it was stopped at a station the train manager made an announcement. “I realise this is unusual,” he said, “but we’re running ahead of schedule…” There was some laughter from the other passengers. But I was slightly surprised by what followed, … Continue reading

Eliminating uncertainty can be excessive

We sometimes think we want to eliminate uncertainty. Clarity is helpful in our projects and in our businesses. When I listen to discussions about Brexit (today’s status: approaching the leave date without knowing what will happen then) we hear about businesses wanting certainty. All this is fine, but in fact that’s not always strictly true. … Continue reading

Seeing the product as a constraint

Last week I wrote about separating the value of a project from the constraints that set its context. But sometimes it’s also useful to see the development of a product as a constraint for a larger goal. Some time ago I was discussing success metrics with a team that was developing a product. The product … Continue reading

Distinguish value and constraints

In the past I’ve spoken about the importance of a value statement. This is how we express, in quantified terms, how we measure success. Ensuring success is measurable brings huge benefits to any stream of work. But the process of identifying our measure of success can be difficult. In doing so we may consider and … Continue reading

If you need an FAQ you’ve done it wrong

One thing I often say to people I work with is, “If you need an FAQ you’ve done it wrong.” This idea stems from a blog post I read ages ago from GDS, and also a tweet from James Hupp, who said, “FAQs are a way to show you’ve thought about what your users should … Continue reading

Avoid hostage situations when refactoring

Last week I talked about refactoring and the need—throughout that process—to still be able to deploy frequently. What I did not explain was why it was important to still be able to deploy frequently, and that was a bit of an omission, because we shouldn’t take these kinds of mantras lightly. The reason is to … Continue reading