Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How to avoid SharePoint becoming a wicked problem

Check out SharePoint planning presentation by Paul Culmsee on SlideShare:

How to avoid SharePoint becoming a wicked problem - Presentation Transcript

“If you can tell me why you say that plan A is great, and I understand your judgments, you have succeeded in objectifying your space of judgment to me. And although I might not share your judgment and might not be convinced, I understand you now.” Horst Rittel

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved”  Charles Kettering (1876-1958)

How to avoid SharePoint becoming a wicked problem CIO229 Paul Culmsee, MCT, MCSE, CISSP  Seven Sigma Business Solutions  www.sevensigma.com.au  paul.culmsee@sevensigma.com.au  Author of cleverworkarounds.com blog  SharePoint architect, Trainer, Dialogue and Issue Mapping practitioner, author for SharePointMagazine.net & EndUserSharePoint.com Reformed tech geek, Metalhead

Session Agenda Understanding wicked problems and social complexity  The “SharePoint paradox” and paths to SharePoint  wickedness The power of Issue Mapping and IBIS based  collaboration How to leverage the best of SharePoint and Issue  Mapping
Project Success/Failure Factors Failure Factors  Lack of user input  Incomplete requirements &  specifications Changing requirements &  assumptions Lack of executive support  Technology incompetence  Lack of resources  Unrealistic expectations  Unclear objectives  Unrealistic timeframes  New technology  Source: Chaos Report (1995) 

Project Success/Failure Factors Failure Factors  Lack of user input  Incomplete requirements &  specifications Changing requirements &  Lack of shared assumptions understanding Lack of executive support  of the p r o b le m Technology incompetence  Lack of resources  Unrealistic expectations  Unclear objectives  Unrealistic timeframes  New technology 

Project Success/Failure Factors Failure Factors  Lack of user input  Incomplete requirements &  specifications Changing requirements &  Also a lack of shared assumptions understanding Lack of Executive Support  of the p r o b le m Technology Incompetence  Lack of Resources  Unrealistic Expectations  Unclear Objectives  Unrealistic Timeframes  New technology 

Project pain “They don’t know what they want!”  “The requirements are too vague!”  “If only they had listened to me”  “Not another %$%$% meeting!”  “I was never consulted”  “This is ridiculous – it won’t work”  “It was in the minutes – did you read it?”  “Well if everyone actually followed the process…”  These are examples of the forces of “social  complexity” and “wicked problems”

Social Complexity The more parties involved in a collaboration, the more  socially complex The more different these parties are, the more diverse,  the more socially complex The fragmenting force of social complexity makes  communication very difficult This extends to collaborative technologies too! 
Wicked Problems  Defined by Horst Rittel in 1973  Problems in planning and social or public policy  Highly resistant to resolution  A number of “distinguishing properties” compared to “tame” problems

Wicked Problem Properties The problem is not understood until after formulation of 1. a solution Cognexus Institute www.cognexus.org
Wicked Problem Properties The problem is not understood until after formulation of 1. a solution Wicked problems have no stopping rule • You cannot prove that all solutions have been • considered Solutions differ based on interests, values and ideology • of participants

Wicked Problem Properties A wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways 1. (serving the intentions of who is explaining it) It can be hard to go back – “one shot operation” 2. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a 3. symptom of another problem There is no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked 4. problem
Dealing with Wicked Problems There is no quick fix   No “tame your wicked problems in seven easy steps” “Constrain Scope” Strategy   Have you really solved the problem if you don’t consider the solution in the original context? Authoritative Strategies   Decision is made for us and we agree to abide (Supreme Court) Competitive Strategies   Win-lose outcome (politics and lobbying) Collaborative Strategies   SharePoint?

The SharePoint Paradox To deal with wicked problems we have to collaborate  SharePoint is a collaboration tool  We use a collaborative tool to improve our collaboration  Therefore, why do many SharePoint projects have  wicked elements to them?
Strategic SharePoint Pitfalls Do not “boil the ocean” 1. “Too much too soon” is a magnet for wickedness  The organisation has to be ready to come too  Have a clear strategy 2. SharePoint should not be a “tool looking for a problem”  Do not paint with the same brush 3. Gen Y think everyone wants web 2.0  Engineers think everyone wants wikis  Record managers hate wiki’s and think *everything* should be  classified Marketing think that people will use it if it looks good  Some will never break the folder habit 

Strategic SharePoint Pitfalls Understand the inherent conflicts within application 1. requirements Records management vs Collaborative Document  management WCM vs Collaborative Portal  Branding before anything else  Account for “soft” factors 2. Organisational culture  Individual learning styles and behavioural styles  Vertical Market/Sector 

Signs of SharePoint wickedness... Arguments over accountabilities and ownership  Excessive rework of custom development  Poor performance and scalability  SharePoint mushrooms (site sprawl)  No history of modifications made  What, when, who and why  A service pack installation is a “War and Peace” effort  You have decided you should attend a best practice  conference :-)
One “best practice” to rule them all Ensure a shared understanding of the  problem among all participants “The ‘Holy Grail’ of effective collaboration is creating shared  understanding, which is a precursor to shared commitment” – Jeff Conklin
Will this solve a wicked problem?

Issue Mapping Horst Rittel created a planning/design method called  IBIS Issue Based Information System  Complex group discussion broken into basic artefacts  – questions, ideas, pros, cons Issue Mapping is crafting an IBIS based map of  discussion It makes critical thinking visible.  Shows the deep structure of an issue 

We are demonstrating the power of issue mapping over conventional techniques to manage the complex dialogue required to manage problems with wicked elements. ISSUE MAPPING IN ACTION
Benefits of Issue Mapping Simple, intuitive, adds clarity to discussion   Limited short term memory means exploration of a complex problem unaided is confusing and error prone  All participants have an organised point of reference Democratic - Acknowledges all contributions   Disarms “truth by repetition”  Disarms “grenade lobbing” (topic shift) Takes the interpersonal “sting” out of supporting or  objecting to an idea Faster - allows a group to achieve shared understanding  with much less pain

The Craft of Issue Mapping Issue maps can be sketched on paper, but  usually crafted using software  Compendium  bCisive. Issue Mapping is a craft based skill – you need  some training and practice!  Don’t fall for the panacea effect!
Issue Mapping with other best practices Maintain your other standards or frameworks   IM emphasis at the problem/requirements definition phase  Compliments any methodology or practice (PMBOK, Scrum) Leverage IM with Agile methods   Agile/Scrum is a *process* based approach that rejects the waterfall approach  Agile processes and methods implicitly support shared understanding, but IM goes beyond software engineering  IM and Agile are a great fit

Leverage IM and SharePoint Use Issue Mapping to understand the problem   Ensures shared understanding and shared commitment among participants Use SharePoint to manage and track the  solution  Documents and reports still need writing  Data needs to be managed, maintained and distributed Holy Grail - Present issue maps within  SharePoint sites  SharePoint project sites containing the latest *thinking* via an integrated issue map

Summing Up Wicked factors are very common in IT projects   SharePoint is especially vulnerable Achieving shared understanding among participants is  *paramount*  Later best practices can be undone by failure to achieve this goal IBIS and Issue Mapping are a key complimentary tool   Designed *specifically* to tackle social complexity and wicked problems When used to their strengths, Issue Mapping and  SharePoint can be a very potent combination

More Information Seven Sigma Business Solutions (www.sevensigma.com.au)   paul.culmsee@sevensigma.com.au  Issue Mapping and SharePoint specialists  CogNexus Institute “Designated Partner” Dr Jeff Conklin – creator of Issue Mapping (www.cognexus.org)   Issue Mapping & Dialogue Mapping training and services  Book: Dialogue Mapping: Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems CleverWorkarounds Blog (www.cleverworkarounds.com)   SharePoint Project Management  SharePoint Strategy  SharePoint Governance Compendium Software (http://compendium.open.ac.uk/) 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review: "Bozo Sapiens" by Michael and Ellen Kaplan

Erudite, wise, and delightful tour through human fallibility

A review of "Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human" by Michael and Ellen Kaplan

[See this and other reviews on Amazon]

We don't naturally think like scientists, except perhaps in very limited and specific ways. Thinking that can't stand up to scrutiny is commonplace. Why do we tend to be more wrong than right most of the time? This book is one of many recent releases that attempts to address this question through scientific experiments and theories in various fields.

At first this book looks very much like many other recent releases devoted to the quirks of human decision making. It isn't as strong on the details of neuroscience as many of the others, and there isn't as much technical coverage of psychology as others, but this book has a compelling advantage. It is more of a literary delight than the others with wonderful turns of phrase and superb summaries of the important points.

As with most books on human reasoning (and unreasoning) you get a list of examples of cognitive distortions, perceptual illusions, theories of decision making, and examples. Where Kaplan and Kaplan excel is in particularly well chosen, memorable, and entertaining examples, and particularly thought provoking and wide-ranging conclusions. They mention but don't dwell much on the classical examples like the Wasson test, then go on to look at the topic from a unique perspective taken from real life experience or literature. This style brings the lessons to life in a very distinctive way. The lessons range broadly over behavioral economics, game theory, evolutionary psychology, social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, probability, various kinds of decision making research, and many other fields. In one chapter, "Fresh off the Pleistocene Bus," they explore evolutionary psychology, but recognize that there is something inherently anti-romantic that grates against our sensibilities about evolutionary psychology, sometimes called "the moral equivalent of fast food." There is a genuine sense of larger wisdom and balance throughout this book that helps keep it fresh and interesting.

Some of my favorites from the book:

"Consciousness brings with it a gnawing sense of exile from the world of simple certainties."

"There seems to be something fundamental about using money as the stand-in for worth that causes us to abandon common sense."

"Sound encodes the rich symbolic power of language and hte emotional truths of music; it duplicates through tone of voice many of the clues to character and mood that we attempt to read from facial expression. This may be why becoming deaf seems more a banishment from life than blindness."

"When the illusion is broken and we see the truth, the world loses a little meaning for us. We laugh as the tension loosens, but deep down we are slightly disappointed."

"Any image forms expectations; attention responds to novelty. We look at what has surprised us in what we see."

"In our lifelong journeys, we humans tend to navigate like coasting sailors, not transoceanic pilots: we look our for landmarks and invent rules of thumb. Our minds, so acute locally but wooly in general, try to concoct the best possible sense our of what life shows us here and now, rather than to develop a consistent picture of how everything fits together. Thus we are built to be interested in and judicious about the incidents and quirks of what we know well - that line of surf over the reef, that darkening of the upwind horizon - while our broader explanations so easily shade off into krakens and mermaids."

How do they wrap this all up? The Kaplans offer interesting advice:

Think probabilistically, admitting the power of the random and the unknown and take small steps testing them along the way. Make good use of the primordial urge to examine new things closely. Don't assume you can understand the complexity of situations, rather use the "straight lines of local conclusions to approximate the wider curves of probability." Culture is essentially the human urge to create fictions and it is what allows us to reshape our own expectations, to create new explanations, to enjoy finding things out, and without them ... we would have died out as victims of our own certainty. Our grand abstractions like truth and justice and free will are "neither divine powers nor personal whims" but are "responsibilities we must take on with full knowledge that they will always be greater than ourselves."