Development Experience – OpLaunch » dx

Development Experience – OpLaunch » dx
By Mark A Hart, OpLaunch
About this podcast
Enhancing the NPD capabilities of individuals
Latest episodes
Jan. 5, 2015
Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) was a swordsman, a masterless samurai, and an independent teacher. He won his first duel at age 13. By the time he was 29, he had dueled more than 60 times. He never lost. http://oplaunch.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/a-better-perspective-on-competition-during-new-product-development.mp3 Subscribe on iTunes. Duration: 6 minutes. File Size: 3.5 MBytes   Rule 9 from “The Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi is “Do not do anything useless.” Musashi’s Rules Musashi began to write “The Book of Five Rings” in 1643. In The Earth Scroll, he summarized his rules for “learning the art: Think of what is right and true Practice and cultivate the science Become acquainted with the arts Know the principles of the craft Understand the harm and benefits of everything Learn to see everything accurately Become aware of what is not obvious Be careful even in small matters Do not do anything useless” [Page 22] To expand #9, Musashi offered the following advice about combat: “Whenever opponents try to attack you, let them go ahead and do anything that is useless, while preventing them from doing anything useful” [Musashi, The Book of Five Rings, The Fire Scroll, Page 54] Opponents and Competition In new product development contexts, it is more common to use the word competition than opponent. In new product development, discussions about competition usually evoke thoughts of external struggles between organizations to complete projects and capture market share. During new product development, competition also exists internally. Typically, internal competition discussions include topics such as negotiations about the schedule and project resources such as headcount and equipment budgets. There are more subtle aspects of internal competition. Internal Competition during New Product Development During new product development, engaging skilled and experienced practitioners can address Musashi’s rules 1-4. Involving wise practitioners can address rules 5-8. Rule 9 is more subtle. Familiar practices and past successes may make it difficult to detect what is useless. Success in new product development depends on your ability to determine the relative usefulness or uselessness of all potential efforts. For a simple exercise, consider your next scheduled meeting. A decision to have a meeting creates internal competition for attention. What might be done to improve the usefulness of the meeting? Will the agenda be available before the meeting? Is there a prominent objective? Are there new documents that must to be reviewed before the meeting? Will the completion of action items be verified? Will the duration of the meeting be less than one hour? Will meeting notes be created interactively during the meeting? Can remote contributors participate in the meeting? Can these needs be fulfilled more effectively by other means? For a more complex exercise, consider how an individual contributor (a coder, engineer, scientist, communications specialist, subject matter expert,…) validates that their contributions provide value to the project. Besides completing a task (such as writing code to implement specific functionality), how will you determine if the effort was valuable? Was there a better use of the time? How will the effort be validated in terms of project success? For a more substantial exercise, consider how an individual’s efforts contribute to improving their development experience factors such as autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Developing a better perspective Musashi’s advice was “Do not do anything useless.” This is a practical project objective and a desirable career strategy. Developing this perspective requires substantial effort and it produces significant rewards. When efforts are not wasted on the useless, individuals can develop better perspectives to win as they evolve their focus and direction throughout projects. End Notes The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Translated by Thomas Cleary. Shambhala, Boston and London. Copyright 1993. The “Helping Gnomes that Code” post included descriptions of Requisite Variety, Pair Development, Disintermediation, and Recursion approaches to improve development options. These also apply to minimizing the potential to do anything useless.
Nov. 1, 2014
Some emphasize that product development begins with writing code and that effort transforms into a win. The lingering question for this type of three-part development model is “What is Phase 2?” Some emphasize that product development begins with writing code and that effort transforms into a win. The lingering question for this type of three-part development model is “What is Phase 2?” What is Valued by Gnomes that Code? Many managers track business metrics and project metrics during Phase 2 to forecast the potential to win. What is valued by gnomes that code? Gnomes associate winning with factors that include autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Dan Pink wrote about what motivates individuals in his book Drive. Gnomes can develop autonomy, mastery, and purpose in an environment when there is a moderate amount of volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors. Gnomes can benefit in a development environment that is characterized by a moderate amount of adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Taleb called this type of environment antifragile. Development Options Taleb wrote ‘The option is an agent of antifragility.’ An agent obtains results. An appropriately designed network continuously synthesizes development options that provide the potential to take action that may result in a favorable gain. When an attractive gain may be realized, options are exercised. Development options: Include tasks that are likely to improve the antifragility of the network during a project Are a response to the question ‘what should the network embrace now to improve the potential to win in the future?’ Are continuously synthesized and exercised during a project within the development network to refine the focus and direction of efforts to generate a win Are consistent with the concept of safe-to-fail experiments that have an asymmetric payoff function (large potential gain, small potential loss) Are exercised, evolve, or expire The capabilities of the network impact the attractiveness of the development options that are generated. To the extent that options are exercised and provide feedback, confidence in their attractiveness tends to increase. Multiple options can be active simultaneously to provide multiple opportunities to win within the network’s current capabilities and within the project’s current constraints. Precursors to Development Options Analysis is a precursor of synthesis. Analysis is a problem solving approach that divides the whole into its constituent parts. Synthesis is a process of connection. A synthesis approach enables one to imagine how several capabilities may work together to produce the desired result. Validation may follow from a combination of decision, action, interaction, and more observations. John Boyd represented these items in his OODA Loop sketch in his final briefing titled “The Essence of Winning and Losing” in 1995. I have expanded Boyd’s notation to represent the interactions of individuals and their efforts during a project. John Boyd’s OODA Loop sketch notation can be expanded to represent the interactions of individuals and their efforts during a project. This illustration includes the representation of simultaneous efforts within a hierarchy and the pursuit of two options simultaneously. The following notation represents synthesizing options and exercising options throughout a development project. Synthesizing many options and exercising attractive development options should occur rapidly throughout a project. ‘Synthesize options’ includes imagining solutions and documenting them. The cloud filled sky background of the ‘exercise option’ portion of this graphic represents the interaction of prototypes with the environment (which includes customers). Designing to Improve the Capability to Synthesize and Exercise Attractive Development Options Optionality can be improved by design. Concepts that can be employed in a development environment to help gnomes that code improve their capability to synthesize and exercise attractive development options include: Requisite variety Pair Development Disintermediation Recursion When the network has requisite variety, the network has to potential to recognize all problems and to activate appropriate responses. Requisite variety addresses the importance of having proficient practitioners with a diversity of capabilities that can be mobilized in a dynamic network. The table indicates that this environment has requisite variety because the number and type of responses represented is greater than or equal to the number and type of problems represented. Requisite variety is associated with mobilizing a network of contributors with diverse specialties and multiple perspectives. To be successful, individuals may require additional training, access to individuals with unique expertise, and new ways to cooperate. During the project, individuals engage and disengage to maintain requisite variety and avoid the paralysis associated with excessive variety. Pair Development facilitates the synthesis of options to develop a self-correcting focus and direction informed by the analyses of multiple perspectives. Pair development is implemented by facilitating the interaction of individuals of different disciplines (such as a coder and a market specialist). Pair development may include activities such as dialog and sketching. Pair development provides an opportunity for interaction through activities such as dialog and sketching to transform orientations. The result of pair development should be a synthesis of options, not a summary of previous activities. Pair development provides benefits beyond distributed cognition. The purpose of pair development is not cross-training. The result of pair development should not be a summary of previous activities. Disintermediation efforts may involve removing layers of management or removing other barriers. Disintermediation efforts may have objectives such as: Improving agility Rapid recognition of problems Rapid implementation of solutions Faster cycle times Achieving these objectives may require the re-design of the network to facilitate communication, cooperation, collaboration, and harmony among individuals. Achieving these objectives may require evolving the way that individuals experience the interactions of customers with prototypes (or other experiments related to the product being developed). Direct observations that promote full-fidelity interactions are preferable to mediation approaches such as presenting individuals with reports that summarize activities. Recursion is a solution or technique in which large problems are solved by reducing them to smaller problems of the same form. Recursion is a solution or technique in which large problems are solved by reducing them to smaller problems of the same form. A recursion approach works best in a development network with requisite variety that observes the interactions of multiple potential customers with evolving, functional, holistic prototypes. The network’s perceptions of large problems shape the focus and direction (schwerpunkt) of the project. When developing a new product, the large problems include the customer’s experience with the product. Large problems are evaluated by the interactions of people with products during activities such as buying, setup, use, maintenance, and troubleshooting. The large problems include the customer’s perceived value of the new product in comparison to alternatives.  The large problems may be evaluated in terms of the delight produced using the product to accomplish a task. A recursion approach provides multiple channels of feedback to a development network with requisite variety that evaluates multiple opportunities to win. Customers interacting with prototypes is represented in the upper-right corner. Four snapshot of the development network are represented during the project. A recursion approach provides multiple channels of feedback to evaluate multiple opportunities to win. A recursion approach works best in a development network with requisite variety that observes the interactions of multiple potential customers with evolving, functional, holistic prototypes. The interactions provide multiple opportunities to detect mismatches and develop corrections. Mismatches: the difference between the phenomena that is observed and the conceptual description of that situation A recursion approach provides validation that is beyond the results available from surveys. Prototypes are evaluated beyond their functionality. A recursion approach includes evaluating how one user describes a solution to another user. A recursion approach is used to validate the attractiveness of development options. When practicing recursion approaches, individuals that tend to identify themselves as independent specialists shift to identifying themselves as contributors to development options. Their perspectives change. They engage in efforts to solve the large problems. Transitioning from Coding to Winning Gnomes know how to write code. To transition from writing code to winning, gnomes benefit from concepts such as requisite variety, pair development, disintermediation, and recursion contribute to improving the capability to synthesize and exercise development options rapidly in an antifragile development environment. This enables gnomes that code to become winners that code. During Phase 2, the capability to synthesize many options and exercise attractive development options rapidly enables a properly prepared network of individual contributors to realize non-linear gains that are not possible by alternate development approaches such as ones that focus on managing mandates. This enables gnomes that code to transition to winners that code.   Diversity in Expressing Wins Ultimately, gnomes that code express their wins through actions that are consistent with motivating factors such as autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Gnomes that code may express their wins to their peers through recurring actions such as pushing files to their Git repository or answering questions on StackOverflow. These types of actions improve their development experience. When the gnomes that code win, their success propagates. Customers express their wins by actions such as posting product reviews that described how the products enable them to be successful. Managers achieve their desired business objectives and project objectives. Managers may express their wins through actions such as presentations and publication on innovation. They may be rewarded with stock options. Individuals in different roles express their wins to their peers through unique actions. Gnomes that code may express their wins through actions such as pushing files to their Git repo or answering questions on StackOverflow. Customers may express their wins by actions such as posting product reviews that describe how products enable them to be successful. Managers may express their wins through actions such as presentations and publications on innovation. Notes: The “What is Phase 2?” question was included in the “Gnomes” episode of South Park, Season 2. 16 December 1998. That episode provided an inspiration for this post. The Law of Requisite Variety was formulated by W. Ross Ashby. This post included material from my book Developing Winners. [Requires iTunes or Apple Quicktime. Duration 9:24 minutes:seconds]
May 1, 2014
In the book Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shared insights on optionality that can be expanded to include new product development environments. This post provides an introduction to the non-linear gains associated with antifragile systems that may be realized by designing new product development environments that help individuals improve their capability to synthesize many new options continuously and enhance their proficiency to exercise options that are attractive. This post includes a comparison to concepts represented in Boyd’s OODA Loop sketch. Fragile, Robust, Resilient, and Antifragile Development Environments Taleb’s classification of systems as fragile, robust, resilient, and antifragile may be used to characterize development environments. Every development environment can be characterized in terms of its fragility, robustness, resilience, and antifragility. Antifragile: Things that Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb A development environment that tends to be fragile does not welcome disorder. When uncertainty is injected, the results may be unpleasant. In a fragile development environment, one obstacle can prevent the realization of value. Examples of harmful conditions include: Incorrect, incomplete, or misleading information A problematic handoff between functional groups Disagreements among functional groups Unpleasant results may include delays, cost overruns, and insufficient adoption of the product. Individuals tend to be frustrated. The more fragile the development environment, the less likely it is to thrive. From project-to-project, a robust development environment tends to survive unchanged. Processes tend to be preserved. Individual contributors tend to retain their employment status. From project-to-project, a resilient development environment survives changes from external factors. After a project is complete, there may be changes such as a re-arrangement of the organizational chart. New tools may be incorporated. The organization survives to serve the needs of the next project. The word ‘antifragile’ is an adjective created by Taleb. It can be defined as the exact opposite of fragile.  According to Taleb, “Antifragile is beyond resilience or robustness.” An antifragile system thrives and grows when exposed to a moderate amount of volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors. An antifragile system benefits from a moderate amount of adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Iatrogenesis In Chapter 7, Taleb described the concept of iatrogenics as “damage from treatment in excess of the benefits.” Iatrogenesis: preventable harm resulting from the treatment or advice of a healer. The word iatrogenesis is not common in product development but harmful inputs may come from multiple sources. These include: Specialists that assume that solutions to development problems relate to their area of expertise. Innovation pundits, consultants, and vendors that offer their favorite tools and techniques as solutions Interventionalists that believe that their contributions will improve outcomes Status quo It may be difficult to recognize the harmfulness associated with specific sources because of cognitive biases or unvalidated claims. Recognizing harmfulness is more difficult in development environments that isolate individuals of different functional specialties. New product development efforts can suffer from iatrogenesis. Approaches to recognize potentially harmful inputs and reduce potential damage from harmful inputs include: Requisite Variety Disintermediation Pair Development Requisite Variety The concept of requisite variety can be used to emphasize the importance of having a diversity of potential responses in a development environment. Requisite Variety: For a system to be viable, only a variety in responses can force down the variety due to disturbances. The Law of Requisite Variety was formulated by W. Ross Ashby For a development environment to be successful, only a large repertoire of possible responses can address the variety presented by a complex set of development problems that emerge throughout projects. In a new product development environment, requisite variety may be achieved by mobilizing a network of contributors with diverse specialties and multiple perspectives. To be successful, individuals may require additional training, access to individuals with unique expertise, and cooperation. Without requisite variety, previously successful responses to familiar patterns may not be recognized as insufficient responses. Without a variety of potential responses at the appropriate times, a development environment may be fragile. If there is excessive variety, the agility of the development environment may be reduced. To ensure appropriate adaptability, the network determines that certain responses should be amplified. Other responses are attenuated. Disintermediation removes layers between individual contributors and data. It removes barriers between decision makers. One way to facilitate disintermediation in new product development environments involves individual contributors experiencing the interactions of customers with prototypes (or other experiments related to the product being developed). Direct observations that promote full-fidelity interactions are preferable to mediation approaches such as presenting individuals with reports that summarize activities. Pair Development is implemented by facilitating the interaction of individuals of different disciplines (such as a coder and a marketer). Pair development provides an opportunity for interaction through activities such as dialog and sketching. The result of pair development should be the synthesis of options, not a summary of previous activities. Typically, no slides sets are used during these interactions. The result of pair development is the synthesis of options that is informed by the analyses available from multiple perspectives. The purpose of pair development is not cross-training. The purpose is to develop a self-correcting focus and direction informed by the analyses of multiple perspectives. Reducing iatrogenesis is a pre-requisite to synthesizing more attractive options. Typical Options A typical option, such as a financial option, provides a buyer with the potential to take action by a specified date without an associated obligation to buy or sell. Typically, an individual decides to exercise an option based on their perception of value at a specific time. According to Taleb, optionality is the property of asymmetric upside (preferably unlimited) with correspondingly limited downside (preferably small). Optionality: a quality of state where choice or discretion is allowed. In Chapter 12 Taleb stated that “An option is a substitute for knowledge” In Chapter 13, Taleb wrote “antifragility supersedes intelligence.” The value of a typical option depends on factors such as the negotiation skills of the individuals involved and the type of control individuals have over their decisions. Development options require additional proficiencies. Example Taleb summarized the experience of Thales, an ancient philosopher. Thales acquired an option to use equipment that may be needed during next year’s harvest. His potential profits or losses were not be determined solely by the accuracy of a crop forecast. If there was an abundant harvest, he could exercise his option for the equipment and be rewarded financially. If the harvest was scarce, he could decline his option and not suffer a loss. The harvest was bountiful and Thales built a substantial fortune. Development Options To improve the potential for success in new product development environments, an option must be more than a negotiated agreement based on a speculation. Development options are the most valuable when associated with current capabilities or a capabilities that may be acquired within an appropriate amount of time for an appropriate cost within the project constraints. The approach to development within a network of individual contributors includes the interplay of capabilities with analyses and synthesis. Synthesis is a process of connection. Synthesis generates something new and different. A synthesis approach enables one to imagine how a several capabilities may work together to produce the desired result. In a properly designed new product development environment, proficient individuals analyze situations and synthesize new options continuously. The interplay of synthesizing options and exercising options improves antifragility The interplay of synthesizing options and exercising options includes interaction with the environment (feedback) that enables a network of individuals to comprehend, shape, and adapt during development. This enables operation at faster tempos and rhythms and the compression of cohesive observation-orientation-decision-action time cycles. The capability to synthesize many development options and exercise a few attractive development options rapidly and repetitively enables a properly prepared network of individual contributors to realize non-linear gains that are not possible by alternate approaches such as ones that focus on managing mandates. Comparing Development Options to Concepts Represented in Boyd’s OODA Loop Sketch Concepts related to development options have similarities with concepts represented in John Boyd’s OODA Loop sketch. The concept of synthesizing development options is similar to the Observation and Orientation items represented in Boyd’s OODA Loop sketch. The concept of exercising development options is similar to the Decision, Action, and Unfolding Interaction with Environment items represented in Boyd’s OODA Loop sketch. The outcome from cycles of synthesizing a multitude of development options and exercising a multitude of development options is consistent with victory and the representation of a “series of maneuvers” in an OODA Loop context. The non-linear gains associated with exercising attractive options in antifragile environments are similar to Boyd’s themes for vitality and growth. Concepts related to development options have similarities with concepts represented in John Boyd’s OODA Loop sketch. Synthesizing development options is similar to the Observation and Orientation. Exercising development options is similar to the Decision, Action, and Unfolding Interaction with Environment items. Enhancing Optionality throughout Development For each development project, the goal is to change the environment to improve the capability to synthesize a multitude of development options and exercise a multitude of development options that are attractive. To increase this capability throughout development, invest to improve the following objectives: Design the development environment to embrace optionality Produce new repertoire based on theory and refined by practice with others seeking a high level of proficiency. This requires a sustained, deliberate effort. Develop the capability for rapid cycles of observation, orientation, decision, and action which is based on the OODA Loop concept from John Boyd. Improve the capability to shift rapidly between options which is similar to the concept of Fast Transients from John Boyd. This is similar to improving agility. Improve the capability of individuals to synthesize options that are cohesive across the network and cohesive over the duration of the project(s). Improve the proficiency to exercise attractive options. Identifying attractive options includes developing a holistic perspective and recognizing iatrogenesis. Antifragility and Development Experience Individual contributors invest much of their time in new product development projects. Their personal investment is what Taleb refers to as “skin in the game.” I refer to an individual contributor’s day-to-day and year-to-year set of perceptions and responses as Development Experience [DX]. There are multiple approaches to improve an individual contributor’s development experience by reducing fragility, increasing robustness, or increasing resilience of the development environment. An individual contributor’s development experience may improve dramatically by designing the development environment to improve antifragility. According to Taleb, “The option is an agent of antifragility.” Options make vitality and growth possible. Development options are agents of development experience. Development options drive non-linear gains in antifragile development networks. Designing to improve development options stimulates better performance from individual contributors even when there is volatility. This inspires better performance from others. This creates virtuous circles, beneficial cycles of development efforts. This inspires greater commitments to project success. Additional Information 1. Taleb includes Post-Traumatic Growth as a characteristic of antifragility in Table 1 in his book. In “Beyond Surviving New Product Development” I defined: Post Development Growth: the positive changes experienced by individuals that result from enhanced new product development capabilities. Post Development Growth includes reflection to achieve cognitive clarity. It goes beyond reflection to action. An antifragile development environment is more likely to produce Post Development Growth. This tends to enable better outcomes in future projects. 2. A fragile development environment is consistent with the model introduced in “The Devastating Zero Model of New Product Development.” 3. Too many inputs may be harmful because it may be difficult to discern the valuable from the harmful or signal from the noise. Too many inputs reduce a network’s agility. A requisite variety approach must include ways to evaluate potential contributions to project goals. One approach is the development of “continuously correcting, network-informed schwerpunkt” described in my Reimagining How New Product Development Artifacts Impact What We Should Be Doing Today post. 4. This post included extracts from my book “Developing Winners: Assimilating the Insights Encapsulated in Boyd’s OODA Loop” [Requires iTunes or Apple Quicktime. Duration 15 minutes]
April 1, 2014
In this post, I will share ways to categorize new product development artifacts. I will clarify several memes. Then, I will offer a concept that individual contributors can use as they determine what they should be doing on a particular day. Two Types of Artifacts in New Product Development During new product development, many artifacts are produced. The word artifact is from the Latin phrase arte factum, skill + to make. Typically, the product is a valuable project artifact. Other artifacts include items such as “design documents, data models, workflow diagrams, test matrices and plans, setup scripts, …” (from “What does artifact mean” on Stack Exchange). In the context of new product development, deliverables are a subset of artifacts. A product may be characterized as a set of external deliverables. Other items may be characterized as internal deliverables. Some of the internal deliverables may be maintained as documents. These are not the only artifacts. In the context of new product development, deliverables are a subset of artifacts. Other Artifacts in New Product Development In addition to external deliverables and internal deliverables, artifacts include: Items used to produce deliverables such as tools Secondary items produced during development. These may be unintended items. Items that are not incorporated into the current project but may be incorporated into future development efforts. This includes training. Incomplete, unfinished, or abandoned items Intangibles such as development strategies, tactics, and culture These items are a subset of artifacts. Why it is Difficult to Determine What is Important Today Individual contributors ask “What should I be doing now?” and “Why?” There may be questions such as ’Should a specific artifact be created?’ and ‘How much effort should be expended creating it?’ Resolving priorities may be difficult because of situations such as: The number of items that could be explored during a project may be greater than the network’s (1) development capacity. Predictions about the future (including how much effort will be required to develop a particular item such as a user story or feature) are estimates about an emerging set of conditions. Some items are not on the list of considerations. Because of a lack of experience and insight, these items are not known. Some priorities may be specified explicitly. Some issues seem to require immediate resolutions. Some priorities evolve. Interruptions impact flow (2). This includes flow within functional groups and flow between functional groups and the system. There are dependencies. For example, a coder’s efforts may precede a technical writer’s efforts during development. Perspectives Influence the Perception of Value The value of any artifact is subject to the perspectives of the stakeholders. Coders tend to value working code. Some individuals may stress the importance of prototypes they created. Copywriters tend to value persuasive messages. Other individuals favor spreadsheets. Even though the word artifact has noble origins, it may have positive or negative connotations. Sometimes, there is an implication that certain types of artifacts have less value than a product delivered to the customer. For example, the Agile Manifesto includes the phrase “working software over comprehensive documentation.” Perceptions about the value of artifacts and the attention that they should receive are driven by factors that include: The status quo. A bias to repeat what was done previously. Value is attributed to what was delivered previously. The loudest voice. The person that has the most authority. HiPPO, which is an acronym for “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” Curated information that may of may not be validated Expectations from estimates and milestones. Feedback from well-crafted experiments Sub-optimization When a multitude of individuals with diverse specialties develop artifacts, there may be a tendency to sub-optimize efforts. Sub-optimization: A situation characterized by an individual (or a group of practitioners with a specific function) that tends to work within their specialty (sometimes referred to as silos) without regard for the impact on the output of the entire development effort (also known as the system). Indicators of sub-optimization may include: Efforts expended to improve a component do not improve the system performance The success-limiting component does not receive the appropriate resources Rewards are silos-centric instead of the system-centric For the individuals that comprise the development network, producing artifacts quickly is not the main objective of new product development. That would be sub-optimizing based on a proxy for value. However, the capability to produce artifacts quickly contributes to achieving the main objectives. Besides making decisions about which artifacts to develop, choices are made about developing the capabilities to produce artifacts. These choices depend on the proficiencies of the individuals that are mobilized for the development network and additional training that they receive. Preparing to Make Better Choices Suggestions that may help individual contributors make better hour-by-hour and day-to-day choices include: Better choices are enabled when individuals improve their proficiency. According to John Boyd,  “It is advantageous to possess a variety of responses that can be applied rapidly to gain sustenance, avoid danger, and diminish adversary’s capacity for independent action.” (Boyd, Patterns of Conflict, #12) Some specialists tend not to believe that solutions exist outside of their area of expertise. Although a cross-functional team strategy may surface a few perspectives, employing the concept of Requisite Variety provides multiple perspectives to inform better choices about the system. Better choices require considering the immediate needs and the entire timeline of the current project and the impact of the timelines related to future products. The interplay of functional specialties accelerates the development of implicit coordination. It improves the resiliency of the network. Suggestions that may help development networks (which are also be known as the system) improve their capabilities for cooperation, collaboration, and harmony include: Invest in the development of Einheit, the short-term alignment of individual efforts. Invest to improve schwerpunkt, a concept that provides focus and direction for the long term. It provides actionable guidance in situations where there are no explicit directions. It reinforces mutual trust. According to John Boyd, Schwerpunkt “acts as a center or axis or harmonizing agent.“ (Boyd, Patterns of Conflict #78) It contributes to a focus on the results. Invest in the development of continuously self-correcting, network-informed schwerpunkt. This is the capability to adapt the concept that provides focus and direction over time so that the network can detect and correct mismatches from factors such as accumulated learning, evolving market conditions, and new boundary conditions. A continuously self-correcting NPD network has the capability to detect and correct mismatches from factors such as accumulated learning, evolving market conditions, and new boundary conditions. The phrase “working software over comprehensive documentation” from the Agile Manifesto should not be over-simplified to “eliminate documentation.” The improvement kata, a systematic, scientific routine of thinking and acting from the Toyota Production System should not be over-simplified to “eliminate artifacts by reducing the seven wastes (muda).” Functional Specialists Embracing the System Perspective To be more successful in a development network, find better ways to produce and integrate artifacts that contribute to the goals of development. To make better hour-by-hour and day-by-day decisions, embrace a system perspective when writing more lines of code or producing more pages of documentation. Move beyond a perspective that is limited by reductionism or procrustean solutions. Encourage deliberative subtraction (deciding what not to develop) from the perspective of the system. Embrace new product development as more than a collection of diverse artifacts. Embrace new product development as more than a job characterized by obvious answers where choices are framed as ‘OR’ selections. Embrace “AND” selections that meet the needs of the present and anticipate development in the future. Facilitate set-based design over point-based design. Strive to be proficient problem solvers that also invest in future capabilities. Incorporate artifacts that contribute to the goals and minimize distractions. First rate individual contributors have the ability to hold a requisite variety of ideas about artifacts in their mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. Refactoring F Scott Fitzgerald from The Crack-Up, April 1936 (3) With that capability, you can improve your Development Experience [DX] which is another artifact that should be made skillfully. Endnotes This post included extracts from my book “Developing Winners: Assimilating the Insights Encapsulated in Boyd’s OODA Loop” 1. The definition of New Product Development Network from the Glossary for New Product Development A New Product Development (NPD) Network is a temporary, dynamic, adaptive system designed to evolve a product vision and compare that to the reality of their current version. In an NPD network, individuals may report to multiple managers in multiple companies and have multiple priorities. Many individuals engage and disengage during the project. Often, the word “teams” implies that most of the individual contributors are employed by one organization and assigned to a relatively small number of functional areas (such as engineering and marketing). Often, an individual is assigned to a project for most of the duration of the project. In contrast, NPD work groups are assigned specific tasks. 2. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi proposed this concept of flow. 3. The original quote was “The test of a first rate individual contributor is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” by F Scott Fitzgerald [Requires iTunes or Apple Quicktime. Duration 12:18]
Feb. 21, 2014
When the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February 1964, there was noise from screaming fans. During this performance, John, Paul, George, and Ringo had difficulty hearing each other. However, they delivered a great performance. How did they coordinate their musical efforts? Requisites to Coordination The requisites to coordination in that noisy environment included: Individually, John, Paul, George, and Ringo were proficient musicians. They invested years developing their musical abilities. As a group, the Beatles practiced together for years. They performed under a diverse set of conditions. They had experience in ideal performance conditions and challenging performance conditions. Musically, they knew what to expect. They pre-selected songs for the performance that they had mastered. The arrangements were designed for live performance by four musicians. These arrangements were familiar. They did not rely on a technology that they could not control. They did not have a sophisticated audio monitoring system. They did not have headphones or in-ear personal audio monitors. They did not rely on delayed feedback from others involved in the production. In part, the quality of the musical performance required using information accumulated in the past to influence the future. This can be called a feed forward approach. A feed forward approach benefits from the involvement of proficient practitioners. In a feed forward approach, training precedes performance. In other contexts, a feed forward approach may be characterized by a control signal that is transmitted from a source to a destination. Prominent Signals and Subtle Signals During the performances in 1964, the crowd noise was a prominent signal. During the performances, there were valuable subtle signals. In a noisy environment, these subtle signals correlated with specific parts of each song. They included: Discernible sounds such as the crash of a cymbal or the rumble from the bass drum Facial expressions of the other musicians including mouth movements Movements of fingers, arms, and feet of the other musicians Interactions with the environment such as instantaneous interaction of the performance and reactions from the crowd (Based on remarks by Paul McCartney in “The Beatles: The Night that Changed America. CBS 9 February 2014) The subtle signals provided feedback during the performances. Feedback is an approach that uses information about current results to influence operation in the present. Feedback modifies a system based on interim results. Feedback changes the system output. This approach may be referred to as closed-loop feedback. Subtle signals should be incorporated judiciously. Considerations include: Valuable subtle signals may not be available when they would be the most useful. Valuable subtle signals may be overlooked by novices. An individual musician may not have the capacity to discern valuable subtle signals from the spurious subtle signals. Stated another way, an individual may not know that a subtle signal is valuable when they detect it. The value of amplifying a particular signal by a specific amount is assessed by the nature of the results and the interaction with the environment. Incorporating the appropriate subtle signals enabled the Beatles to be proficient performers in environments with nearly overwhelming undesirable noise. Camera Operators Coordinated Their Efforts It was so noisy in the Ed Sullivan Theater during the Beatles’ performances that the camera operators could not hear the instructions from the program director. The camera operators were proficient individually. They formed a cohesive team. They framed every shot without being able to hear the coordinating instructions from the director. The next week, a decision was made to replace the open-ear headphones with over-the-ear headphones. (Based on remarks by the production crew in “The Beatles: The Night that Changed America. CBS 9 February 2014) Mismatches Mismatches address the differences of “our mental images/impressions and the reality it is supposed to represent” (John Boyd, Conceptual Spiral, 1992, 25) A 2-dimensional model of impression, representation of reality, and reality. Impressions flow from previous experience which includes knowledge, skills, training, and capabilities. Practice and theory shape impressions. Impressions establish the boundaries of the decisions that can be made and the actions that are possible. Words that can be substituted for impressions may include hypothesis and model. Impressions may be faulty or incomplete. Impressions are built on assumptions. Biases influence impressions. Individual observations may be misleading. Errors may be unknown. Representations of reality are influenced by: Observations Feedback from decisions Feedback from actions Interactions with the environment Representations of reality may be faulty or incomplete. Approaches should be developed to detect and correct mismatches. A properly developed approach enables impressions and representations of reality to be addressed and improved. Mismatches address the differences of “our mental images/impressions and the reality it is supposed to represent” (John Boyd, Conceptual Spiral, 1992, 25) The mismatch approach summarized in this post is based on the insights of John Boyd. Some of his insights are encoded in his OODA (for Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action) Loop sketch (Boyd, The Essence of Winning and Losing, 1995). OODA Loop sketch that includes feedback, feed forward, and implicit guidance & control. Based on a 1995 sketch by John Boyd. Although the word “mismatch” is not one of the labeled items, the concept is encapsulated in the sketch and described in Boyd’s Conceptual Spiral briefing of 1992. In situations that rely on a coordination of efforts, the potential for success is improved with rapid feedback and feed forward capabilities. An approach that has been developed to detect and correct mismatches can provide a way to make corrections dynamically. It provides a framework to ensure that mistakes aren’t propagated. Proficient craftsman can incorporate selected subtle signals appropriately to achieve valuable results nearly instantaneously. Proficient craftsman incorporate selected subtle signals appropriately to achieve valuable results…Click To Tweet A mismatch approach can be used in situations that include preparation, performance, and retrospective phases. In these situations, there may be long delays between analysis, plans, actions, and consequences. In these types of situations, feedback is delayed and it is more difficult to perceive relationships between cause and effect. Prominent signals, subtle signals, and noise plus their interactions contribute to mismatches. Mismatches are multidimensional. Applications to Development Experience in New Product Development John, Paul, George, and Ringo continuously synchronized their efforts. Subtle signals helped Paul McCartney and the other Beatles coordinate their musical efforts during performances on the Ed Sullivan Show under conditions of extreme noise in 1964. To improve your development performance, evaluate your approach to: Requisites to Coordination Subtle signals Feedback Feed forward Impressions Representations of reality Mismatches An appropriate analysis will suggest additional investment opportunity areas such as theory and practice. You will have insights to discern the valuable subtle signals from the spurious.  Strive to improve your agility so that you can learn faster than the speed of the market and faster than competitors. Analogous concepts can be applied to improve Development Experience [DX] in new product development. Additional Information The concept of prominent and subtle signals is not the same as weak and strong signals as described in the February 2014 McKinsey & Company article, “The strength of ‘weak signals:’ Snippets of information, often hidden in social-media streams,” offer companies a valuable new tool for staying ahead. In that article, weak signals refer to beliefs of a small population of elite users that may be thought to have a better than average capability to predict trends in the future. Subtle signals can be used to impact the present. Endnotes This post included extracts from my book “Developing Winners: Assimilating the Insights Encapsulated in Boyd’s OODA Loop” [Requires iTunes or Apple Quicktime. Duration 9:20]
Dec. 1, 2013
The greatest value of producing interactive prototypes can be the impact on the network developing new products. In some development environments, this value may not be communicated as a primary objective. Sequential Development Processes Some textbooks summarize the steps to new product development (NPD) as a sequential process: Select one idea from a large list of possibilities Scope the project. Develop a plan that includes estimates to transition from an idea to a complete new product Craft a business case or business model Develop the product. These development activities are typically done by individuals in roles such as scientist, engineer, coder, tester, marketer, subject matter expert, project manager, product manager, …) Test the product internally Produce high fidelity prototypes Place prototypes with potential customers for external test Craft a marketing communications package Launch the product to the intended market A phased-gate approach to new product development is characterized by a sequential process used to manage projects Often, this approach is administered by: A formal management process such as a Stage-Gate® process A resource management process that includes a list of requirements for specific project roles Other explicit processes, checklists, procedures, and practices Often, when Agile or Lean concepts are introduced, the impact is limited to the day-to-day activities of development. Common Uses of Prototypes in New Product Development There are many kinds of prototypes associated with a sequential product development process. Some prototypes are produced quickly. They are used to evaluate a few design parameters. Typically, these prototypes are discipline specific. Artists sketch. Electrical engineers breadboard. Designers wireframe. Marketers test messages with focus groups. Typically, these prototypes are produced early in the development effort. Often, the process of designing and building these prototypes enhances the capabilities of the functional specialists that produce them. The raw data from testing these prototypes remains within a small group of like-minded specialists. In many cases, an interpretation of the test results is summarized in reports that are distributed to other specialists and managers. Other prototypes are produced in limited quantities near the end of the development process. The construction of these high-fidelity prototypes requires the integration of components from multiple functional disciplines. Since the prototypes are constructed prior to the market launch, the potential for changing the product is minimized. Often, the major reasons for the production of high fidelity prototypes are: Test the integration of components developed by separate groups of specialists Gather testimonials for use in the market launch Use for compliance testing (such as electrical safety, crash testing, drop testing,…) Forecast production problems Other names for these prototypes include alpha-units or beta units. Typical Benefits of Interactive Prototypes Prototypes can be static or interactive. Typically, interactive prototypes can provide insights that a static prototypes can not. For example, instead of a designer producing static sketches of web pages, the prototype could be designed and developed in HTML and CSS. Instead of asking someone to evaluate the aesthetics of sketches, evaluators interact with dynamic prototypes to perform tasks and solve simulated problems. Dynamic prototypes have the potential to provide valuable feedback. Since the feedback loop from the evaluator to the designer is faster, the potential for misinterpretation of the evaluator’s comment by the designer is minimized. The potential to detect mismatches (what the designer believed that the customer wanted and what the customer needs) is maximized. When evaluators interact with prototypes, deficiencies are revealed. Individual contributors are presented with an opportunity to fix their mistakes and learn from the experience. When the testing efforts focus on product functions, prototype testing tends to impact individual contributors. Individual learning is associated with this testing. Typically, interactions with prototypes impact an individual contributor’s orientation (the way they approach the challenges of development). Typically, the primary benefits associated with the testing of interactive prototypes are associated with the potential to improve user experience (UX). Unexpected Benefits The value of producing interactive prototypes can go beyond generating user experience data. The greatest value can be the impact on the network developing the new product. Individuals with enhanced capabilities in a new product development network are indicated by the difference in color and size. The white-colored field that surrounds these two individuals indicates better interactions between these contributors. When the development of interactive prototypes involves many individuals from diverse specialties, it changes the way the network approaches development. When individuals from different perspectives (such as engineering and marketing) work together to develop an abundant number of interactive prototypes, the benefits include: New opportunities for cooperation, collaboration, and harmony Reduction of the innovation gap (the time from an idea to value creation) Fewer tasks must be defined explicitly. Tacit knowledge is developed. The construction and maintenance of To-Do lists can be minimized because corrections are more likely to be made in real-time instead of adding items to a backlog for processing at a later time. The network becomes more cohesive. Appreciation of other perspectives improves. Situational awareness improves. The ability of the network to adapt improves. Network agility improves. The orientation of the network becomes more implicit. The potential for innovation improves. When interactive, holistic prototypes are built and evaluated frequently throughout the development effort, the unexpected benefits include realtime improvements to feedback, feed forward, and implicit guidance and control proficiencies throughout the network. OODA Loop sketch that includes feedback, feed forward, and implicit guidance & control. Based on a 1995 sketch by John Boyd. As the development capabilities of the network are enhanced, the development approach becomes more recursive, the Development Experience [DX] for improves, and the probability of project innovation is maximized. An improved potential for innovation is compounded. It can span the current project, the next project, and adjacent projects. Individuals retain enhanced capabilities for future development projects with other networks. Endnotes This post included extracts from the book “Developing Winners: Assimilating the Insights Encapsulated in Boyd’s OODA Loop” by OpLaunch founder, Mark A Hart.      
Nov. 1, 2013
In some new product development (NPD) organizations, managers may feel that they are herding cats. Other organizations embrace a different approach and produce better Development Experiences [DX]. Herding Cats Herding cats is an idiomatic saying that refers to an attempt to coordinate an intractable situation where individuals that are part of a team tend to do very different things. A manager may say “Managing developers is like herding cats” or “Managing designers is like herding cats.” When managers use this phrase, they may be invoking a stereotypical treatment of specific contributors. Alternatively, the phrase may be used to convey the frustration that arises from moderating disagreements between groups such as marketing and engineering. My search of LinkedIn today returned 749 results for the phrase “cat herder.” There were 2101 results for “herding cats.” One humorous treatment of this type of situation was depicted in the Cowboys Herding Cats advertisement in 2000. The Development Experience where there are Cat Herders When someone works in an organization that includes cat herders, the following cultural characteristics may be present: The prevailing development approach relies on explicit coordination. The roles and responsibilities of individual contributors are documented extensively. Processes and checklists govern day-to-day activities. Resources are considered to be interchangeable. The common belief is that one engineer can be substituted for another with similar qualifications. It is assumed that the development environment is relatively stable and predictable. It is assumed that the cat herder will be able to manipulate behavior within the development environment. It assumes that the cat herder knows the criteria for success. Cat herders shop for cat herding tools that incorporate the latest technology and fads. They do not refer to their tools as cat herding tools. Cat herders transition from deadline to deadline. Some individual contributors may be satisfied producing specified deliverables on specified dates. They may be glad to be working in an environment that embraces hand-offs between functional groups. Orientation and Interplay In Boyd’s OODA Loop Sketch, (Boyd, The Essence of Winning and Losing, 1995) the Orientation component includes the interplay of the following items: Genetic heritage Cultural traditions Previous experience New information Analyses & synthesis The Orientation component from Boyd’s OODA Loop Sketch from “The Essence of Winning and Losing” 1995 The previous experience item includes a representation of an individual’s knowledge, skills, and capabilities. Some relevant experience is a result of specific training and deliberative practice. Analyses is a problem solving approach that divides the whole into its constituent parts. Synthesis is a process of connection. It generates something new and different. Synthesis benefits from inputs from a network of individuals with a diverse set of specialties. A synthesis approach enables one to imagine how a series of techniques may work together to produce the desired result. Orientation and Schwerpunkt Orientation can be defined as the way an individual approaches development. The appropriate orientation provides a unifying focus that pervades the development environment. John R Boyd stated “Orientation is the Schwerpunkt. It shapes the way we interact with the environment—hence orientation shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act.” (Boyd, Organic Design for Command and Control 1987, 16) The literal translation of schwerpunkt is “difficult point.” Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz (1780–1831) described schwerpunkt in “On War” which was published posthumously by his widow in 1832. Schwerpunkt conveys strategic objective, goal, or destination. Schwerpunkt is any concept that provides focus and direction to development. It provides actionable guidance in situations where there are no explicit directions. It reinforces mutual trust. It contributes to a focus on the results. Schwerpunkt is a concise version of your strategy. It can be communicated in one sentence. In a military context, a schwerpunkt example is “Control the city in 72 hours.” For the Toyota Production System, it is about shortening the time it takes to confer customer orders into vehicle deliveries. Schwerpunkt “acts as a center or axis or harmonizing agent.“(Boyd, Patterns of Conflict #78) Schwerpunkt is “A focusing agent that naturally produces an unequal distribution of effort as a basis to gain superiority in some sectors by thinning-out-others.” (Boyd, Patterns of Conflict 78)  Schwerpunkt guides individuals when they set priorities. It clarifies what to next to add value to your efforts. The preferred orientation is implicit. In a development context, the intended meaning of implicit is closely connected, joined, interwoven, and intertwined. It is what you do without prodding from cat herders. An Improved Development Experience When a well-crafted, shared orientation exists throughout a development network, the development experience will be characterized by an abundant amount of cooperation, collaboration, and harmony. The development approach will be more recursive. Problems of a similar type will be solved instead of waiting for handoffs. Small continuous adjustments that are created simultaneously across specialties will cumulate and create substantial change. Needs are anticipated. Dynamic adjustments are made. Multiple interdependencies are managed. Friction is diminished. Network efficacy, the shared belief in its capacity to successfully develop a specific item, increases. Developing Orientation Boyd had advice for developing a better shared orientation in military contexts: “Arrange setting and circumstances so that leaders and subordinates alike are given opportunity to continuously interact with external world, and with each other, in order to more quickly make many-sided implicit cross-referencing projections, empathies, correlations, and rejections as well as create the similar images or impressions, hence a similar implicit orientation, needed to form an organic whole.” (Boyd, Organic Design for Command and Control 1987, 23) For new product development contexts, ‘individual contributor’ can be substituted for “subordinates.” Steve Blank’s customer development advice about ‘getting out of the building’ is analogous to the phrase “interaction with the external world.” In preferred NPD environments, schwerpunkt should not be about herding cats. The predominant metrics should not highlight process metrics. It should recognize individual contributors as knowledge workers and value contributors. Closing Thoughts Instead of focusing your efforts on herding cats or gaming the cat-herding-system, I advocate investing to develop better implicit orientations. This enables the development of a compulsion loop that can become a vital driver to sustain a vibrant new product development environment. A byproduct of this approach is a series of great products that are associated with great user experiences. What is the schwerpunkt of your development environment? Endnotes This post included extracts from the book “Developing Winners: Assimilating the Insights Encapsulated in Boyd’s OODA Loop” by OpLaunch founder, Mark A Hart. An Alternative to Herding Cats
Oct. 1, 2013
This post explores feedback and feed forward approaches to improve development experiences in new product development (NPD). This post was inspired by a new appreciation of the feedback and feed forward labels in John Boyd’s OODA loop sketch of 1995. OODA Loop sketch that includes feedback, feed forward, and implicit guidance & control. Created by Mark A Hart. Based on a 1995 sketch by John Boyd. A more common and older use of the phrases feedback and feed forward is from the design of control systems for mechanical and electrical devices. To prepare for sharing these insights relating to new product development, I will review simplified electrical circuits that can be used to control the temperature in an electrical, tank-type appliance used to heat and store hot water. Initial Design of a Water Heater An initial system design includes a tank to store hot water. It includes a heater in an insulated tank. It includes a switch to activate the heater and a sensor to measure the water temperature. The water temperature is regulated by turning the heater switch on and off. An initial design for an electrical, tank-type appliance used to heat and store hot water A more sophisticated design would permit a user to input a set point for the desired water temperature. Ideally, the system would provide water at the set point temperature regardless of how much water was used for any task. A Feedback Approach to Controlling Temperature When a feedback approach is implemented, the temperature of the water exiting the tank is measured and that information is used to control the heater circuit. A feedback approach to controlling the temperature of a water heater This type of control is a feedback approach because the temperature sensor is after the circuit element producing the heat. Feedback is an approach that uses information about current results to influence operation in the present. It includes modifications to a system based on results. Feedback produces a reactive response. This approach may be referred to as closed-loop feedback. For this design, there is a characteristic lag (a delay after hot water is depleted before the heater is activated to raise the water temperature) and overshoot (a condition caused by exceeding the temperature set point because of a delay in deactivating the heater). An unsophisticated control circuit can not distinguish a scenario when a small amount of water is used or when a significant amount of water is used. A Feed Forward Approach to Controlling Temperature One implementation of a feed forward approach senses the amount of cold water entering the tank. The heater is turned on as a function of the amount of cold water entering the tank. This approach uses knowledge about the system to predict how much additional heat will be required. Such an approach is proactive. A feed forward approach uses knowledge about the system to transmit a controlling signal from a source to a destination Feed forward is an approach that uses knowledge about the system to transmit a controlling signal from a source to a destination. A feed forward approach is a rules-based approach. Simultaneous Control Systems A feed forward approach should be used with a feedback system. These are complementary approaches. The combination provides a system that is more responsive and more effective. There are examples of analogous approaches in new product development. Feedback Approaches in New Product Development During new product development, it is common to present product prototypes to potential customers and gather feedback. Prototypes can take the form of surveys, A/B tests, and other interactions with hardware, software, and concepts. This approach may be associated with other popular phrases such as ‘fail fast’ or ’safe to fail experiments’ where learning follows the development of a prototype. Another popular version of this type of approach includes the concept of a minimum viable product (MVP). Feedback approaches are consistent with processes such as Steve Blank’s Customer Development methodology where ideas and hypotheses are tested ‘outside of the building.’ Like other feedback approaches, these approaches are reactive approaches. There is a lag between ideation and observing results. There is a lag between research, developing an approach to the problem, decisions, and actions and the results from the unfolding interaction with those efforts. Feed Forward Approaches in New Product Development In a feed forward approach, a controlling signal is transmitted from a source to a destination. This is more a sophisticated approach than a simple handoff from one person to another. This is more effective than operating in silos. The control signal is persistent. Rules shape the next steps. Rules may be explicit. Exceptions to rules may be permitted. Rules are propagated to the next development effort. A feed forward approach benefits from the involvement of proficient practitioners. In a feed forward approach, training precedes effort. Training precedes the development of a prototype. A design thinking approach is consistent with the concept of a feed forward approach. Actionable Items Feedback and feed forward approaches provide advantages in system controllers and new product development. Now that you understand how to differentiate feedback approaches from feed forward approaches, take some time to classify some of your most frequently used methodologies. Where there is feedback control, you can investigate ways to reduce the lag time following decisions and actions. You can review how feedback from prototypes is evaluated and incorporated into your efforts. Where there is feed forward control, you can determine how investments in mastering the fundamentals and deliberative practice can enable you to do things that are beyond your current ability. Embrace more diversity in how problems are framed and solved. Learn faster ways to correct mistakes. Feedback and Feed Forward in the OODA Loop Sketch In John Boyd’s OODA loop sketch of 1995, feedback is indicated between Decision and Observations. Feedback is indicated between Action and Observations. Feedback is implied between the Unfolding Interaction with Environment and Observations. In new product development, it is common to present product prototypes to potential customers and gather feedback. There is a lag between research, developing an approach to the problem, decisions, and actions and the results from the unfolding interaction with those efforts. There are three labeled instances of feed forward control. These feed forwards should not be oversimplified to the concept of a transfer in a sequential process. Observations continuously shape orientation. Orientation shapes Decision. Decision shapes Action. These enable individuals to: Create and test new actions Update the way they approach problems by employing “a variety of domains or across a variety of competing/independent channels of information.” (Boyd, The Essence of Winning and Losing, 1995) Employ new repertoire An Additional Approach There are two  implicit guidance & control labels in the OODA Loop sketch. Implicit guidance & control combines the best attributes of feedback and feed forward approaches. These will be explored in another post. Summary Feedback, feed forward, and implicit guidance & control approaches provide advantages that include improved agility, better accuracy, and more effectiveness. These advantages contribute to better development experiences in new product development. This post included extracts from “Developing Winners: Assimilating the Insights Encapsulated in Boyd’s OODA Loop” by OpLaunch founder, Mark A Hart. Feedback and Feed Forward Approaches in New Product Development. This podcast is available on iTunes. Search for Development Experience.  
Aug. 6, 2013
This post explores several approaches to prepare for absorbing changing requirements in product development projects. This post was inspired by Alistair Cockburn’s recent remarks. Project Requirements Many development projects have formal requirements. Most often these are found in projects that follow a waterfall methodology or those that embrace the Big Design Up Front (BDUF) approach. Typically, these types of projects contain requirements that include features that must be in the final product and constraints related to the schedule and budget. Sometimes the requirements change significantly as the project progresses. The changes may be frustrating to the development team. Alistair Cockburn (@TotherAlistair) declared that he does not ‘welcome changing requirements.’ He sets up projects to absorb changes in requirements in the best possible way. Cockburn made these comments on 2 July 2013 (VIDEO: the ‘set up to absorb’ comments are at at 38:30). The phrase ‘welcome changing requirements’ refers to one of the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.” To understand the context of his remarks, let’s review a few items from 2001. Recollections from the meeting that produced the Agile Manifesto Cockburn (pronounced Co-burn, the Scottish way ) was one of the 17 signatories of the Agile Manifesto in 2001. This meeting was not to develop something new. It served to summarize similarities in the approaches that had been used by the attendees for several years. He recalled that the manifesto was crafted in one day. There was complete agreement over the wording. This includes the familiar phrases: “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan” Work began on the Twelve Principles behind the Agile Manifesto the next day. His recollection is that there was not complete agreement on all of the wording for the principles. During the one hour Q&A 2 July 2013 session, Cockburn playfully emphasized the word ‘welcome.’ It seems that Cockburn may not have been in complete agreement with the choice of the word ‘welcome’ in the ‘welcome changing requirements’ principle. The Mindset Regarding Changes Cockburn has been involved with enough development efforts to know that requirements change during projects. Some changes occur because of incomplete research or misunderstandings. Some errors may be perpetuated in the documentation. Mismatches may be revealed because conditions in the marketplace have changed since the requirements were gathered. Projects can be designed to respond to changing requirements. Cockburn has adopted an active approach to absorb changes. When Cockburn spoke of ‘absorbing changes’ he was not suggesting something analogous to a sponge absorbing water. The better analogy is a shock absorber on a vehicle. It is a device designed to smooth the driving experience for the passengers. It improves comfort and safety. Several Ways to Set Up a Project to Absorb Changes There are many ways to prepare projects to absorb changes. In this post, I will summarize a few approaches that Cockburn has employed. Information Radiators When the team has access to relevant, emerging information, they are more likely to be able to absorb changes. One way to share emerging information is with an information radiator. Cockburn coined the phrase “information radiator” in approximately the year 2000. According to Cockburn, an information radiator needs to be large (easily seen), easy to understand, public, and changing. Information radiators promote interaction. Current development information, including problems, should be visible to everyone on the team so that specific problems are perceptible to the individual that may have the solution. Often, information radiators are positioned on the team room wall or some other conspicuous place. An information radiator facilitates distributed cognition. The opposite of an information radiator is an information closet. Cockburn cautioned against the tendency to store necessary information online and assume that team members are interacting with it. Capture educational information from interactive sessions in rich formats To efficiently and effectively facilitate information transfer to new or less experienced members of the team, Cockburn advocates a one-to-one interaction format that is recorded. For example, the expert on a specific item can meet with a new team member to explain specific items. A white board or flip chart can be used to visually capture some of the information. The session should be interactive with questions and answers. The session must be recorded so that when the next new team member needs to learn about this item, they can start by reviewing the recording. Instead of an emphasis on formal documents or presentations, this approach relies on the interaction that results from dialog. Overall, this interactive approach emphasizes the pursuit of activities that maximize the production of value and minimize the time spent on project artifacts. Ensure that the team includes Ri-level practitioners To maximize the potential to respond appropriately to changes in requirements, Cockburn advocates that development teams include Ri-level practitioners. Cockburn uses the concept of Shuhari to characterize the stages of learning to mastery. For a particular set of skills, an individual can be classified in one of three levels: Shu-level: An individual has learned a technique but is not aware of the limitations. They look for broad level clues. Ha-level: An individual has collected multiple techniques but may not know why they are appropriate for every context. Ri-level individuals invent and blend techniques. They insist on contextual clues before providing recommendations. An individual can be a Ri-level practitioner in a narrowly defined area such as a particular programming language or in the broader context of product development. Having a critical mass of Ri-level individuals as part of the team improves the potential for selecting the appropriate options based on the specifics of the project. In addition, individuals that have the insights to craft experiments and the skills to produce rapid prototypes are more likely to distinguish unvalidated inputs from validated inputs. They are more likely to distinguish opinions that may be unsubstantiated from refined information that can shape project requirements. A Series of Cooperative Games A cooperative team is equipped to handle changes better than a team that promotes non-cooperative functional areas (also known as silos). Cockburn envisions development as a cooperative game. “I would like you to consider software development as a cooperative, finite, goal-seeking, group game. The goal is to produce a working system. The group, or team, consists of the sponsor, manager, requirements or usage specialists, software designers, testers, and writers. Usually the goal is to produce the system as quickly as possible, but there are other factors that affect the time goal: ease of use, cost, defect freedom, and liability protection. In general, it is a resource-limited game, which affects how the moves are made” A cooperative game approach is consistent with a harmonious team effort toward a common goal. Within a cooperative game paradigm, changes to requirements are more likely to be viewed as a correction to achieve the common goal rather than a struggle to promote a particular perspective. Development Experience A team that has the benefit of items such as appropriate information radiators, efficient and effective training, an abundance of expertise that enables a variety of approaches to solve problems, and, a cooperative game approach is likely to thrive when presented with changes to project requirements. A team that has prepared for changes is more likely to thrive. Cockburn advises teams to improve agility and adaptability. An environment that promotes the qualities of agility and adaptability is more likely to adjust to changes in requirements. This type of team is more likely to enjoy better development experiences. How to Absorb Changing Requirements This podcast is available on iTunes. Search for Development Experience.
July 6, 2013
How do you get individuals involved in new product development to do more of the effective activity? There are many approaches. In this episode, I will explore several concepts from game development. I will describe how to develop the conditions for a core compulsion loop to drive positive Development Experiences (DX) in new product development. Game Thinking and Game Mechanics Often, playing a game is associated with the concept of fun. During game development, individuals are involved in tasks such as designing, coding, and composing, their deliverables. In addition, they strive to make playing the game fun. According to John Earner of Space Ape Games, a great game has the following characteristics: You are not forced to play the game. If you are forced to play, you are likely to resist. In itself, playing the game may seem unproductive but it allows learning. A game probably has a purpose. The outcome is uncertain. You understand the rules The game may be set in artful, virtual worlds. These worlds can capture an experience in a fictitious environment. Games have easily understandable goals such as ‘save the Princess.’ Throughout a game, you may avoid obstacles, win tokens, and advance to the next level so that you are closer to saving the Princess. It is not a surprise that some of these game characteristics have been applied in other contexts. The term for this is gamification. According to Wikipedia: “Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems” According to Stephanie Morgan, (@notSMorgan) “game mechanics are constructs of rules intended to produce a game. Common game mechanics include: Scores and points accumulated through experimentation, interaction, and learning Achievements such as badges and rewards Avatars that provide a sense of identity” Unfortunately, the concepts of gamification are frequently misinterpreted. One needs more than a tally of scores or a presentation of leader boards to maximize fun or interest or engagement. It requires more than dazzling graphics and carefully composed music. Note: Some individuals may try to manipulate the system for a desired outcome. This is also known as “gaming the system” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaming_the_system) . This is different than gamification. Core Compulsion Loops in Game Development To understand what makes a game fun, some have explored a concept called the core compulsion loop. Some say that the proper development of a core compulsion loop is the essential ingredient for a successful game. The word compulsion has definitions that range from: The state of being forced A difficult to resist urge to behave in a certain way In the game context, the ‘difficult to resist urge’ conveys the desired intention for a core compulsion loop. A properly developed compulsion loop feeds the mechanics of the game. A simple, primary compulsion loop is kill monsters, obtain rewards, buy items to kill more monsters. A simple compulsion loop from a game Secondary compulsion loops can be layered and fed into one primary compulsion loop. A secondary compulsion loop may have an element that may be characterized as instant gratification. The primary compulsion loop has a long-term impact. The primary compulsion loop may be characterized in terms of accomplishment. A properly functioning primary compulsion loop is a virtuous circle that keeps players engaged. Note: In this post, I am presenting compulsion loops from a positive perspective. Compulsion loops can designed to amplify destructive, additive behavior. I am not addressing those aspects in this post. Common Gamification Approaches in New Product Development Common approaches to new product development activities include: Document explicit processes Compliance enforcement. Establish milestones and demand accountability to deadlines. Financial incentives related to salaries and bonuses of individual contributors There are more subtle forms of gamification. One example is part of the Scrum framework. It embraces the concept of assigning story points for tasks and tracking progress with a burn down chart. This is a reasonable method to track project progress but it does not make for a great game. Planning Poker Cards used in Scrum to represent story points. The numbers approximate a Fibonacci Sequence. These methods are not likely to form high performance compulsion loops. Generalized Version of a Compulsion Loop for New Product Development Environments A properly designed compulsion loop can become a vital driver to sustain a vibrant new product development environment. A general version of a compulsion loop can be illustrated using goals that are consistent with the concepts of “autonomy, mastery, and purpose” as advanced by Dan Pink (@DanPink) in his book  Drive. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink emphasizes the roles of autonomy, mastery, and purpose Autonomy is defined as the ability of a person to make their own decisions. It is self-direction. In a new product development environment, one strives to make better decisions. In this context, autonomy includes individual and group decisions. It includes decisions that the have an impact in the present and those that impact the future. Mastery includes becoming more proficient with tools and techniques related to individual specialties (such as coding, testing, and marketing). It includes explicit and implicit coordination, collaboration, and harmony within a group. Purpose includes the ‘why’ questions. In a new product development context, purpose relates to individuals and the product. Personal purpose includes questions such as “Why am I doing this?” and “Why should I care about this?” It includes short-term and long-term perspectives. Purpose includes questions such as “How do my efforts impact others?” Product purpose may include a product vision statement or value proposition. It may not completely express the purpose of the product. In part, purpose may be transmitted from management. In part, individual contributors inform management. Purpose develops from interactions. Purpose emerges. Developing the Conditions for Better Compulsion Loops in your New Product Development Environment The concepts of autonomy, mastery, and purpose may provide a general starting point to develop the conditions required for a compulsion loop. A compulsion loop for an individual in a new product development environment A high performance compulsion loop can not be developed instantaneously. It requires more than the aspiration of the leadership or a single individual in the development network. It requires more than creating a motivational graphic to represent a compulsion loop and posting it throughout the workplace. A high performance a compulsion loop requires the appropriate supporting environment. It requires investments by individuals to understand the theory. It requires sufficient time to develop proficiency through practice. To explore how this development may occur, consider a few items related to the concept of autonomy. Someone does not become fully autonomous just because a new initiative begins. The expression of autonomy is role dependent. Leaders may encourage autonomous behavior in their direct reports but the range of appropriate behaviors will be role dependent. For example, a senior project leader will behave in ways that are different than that of a neophyte. Likewise, a coder will make different decisions than a tester. An individual contributor may embrace their autonomy but not have sufficient knowledge to make informed decisions throughout development. Ongoing training is required to maximize the potential for desirable results. An individual’s expression of autonomy evolves and adapts. In terms of autonomy, the development environment should promote decisions that result in characteristics such as enthusiastic, effective, and efficient decisions for engagement. In terms of mastery, the development environment should promote activities that result in comprehensive knowledge and accomplishment. An individual should advance their skills in their specialty (such as coding in a particular language) and expand their skills (such as coding in a new language). An individual should increase their understanding of how they create value through their interactions with others in the development network. An example of purpose is captured by in the following excerpt: “For a cross-discipline team that is measured by value added to a working game, the role of an artist shifts to that of a ‘game developer’ who specializes in art. An artist doesn’t simply create an asset for someone else to put in the game and make fun.  The artist participates in the creation of an experience, where art has an equal value. By having a voice in the discussion about what is being created, the artist elevates the value of what they create and minimizes the cost of creating it.” –  from the book “Agile Game Development with Scrum” by Clinton Keith (@ClintonKeith) page 227. Published in 2010. Agile Game Development by Clinton Keith Better Compulsion Loops in New Product Development Environments To get individuals to do more of the effective activity, develop conditions to ensure that the activity produces fun. I am using the word ‘fun’ to cover a broad category that can also include items such as fulfilling, satisfying, and intellectually challenging. For knowledge workers, I contend that a compulsion loop based on fun will produce better outcomes than one that is based on compliance. I acknowledge that deadlines and performance reviews that relate to salaries may motivate individuals during certain times in a project but that is an inferior compulsion loop. It is better to evolve notions of compliance to reflect the project constraints. In a project, constraints evolve as information emerges. Prototyping a Better Compulsion Loop in your New Product Development Environment When a new product is being developed, prototype the compulsion loop before you invoke a lot of technology. Individual contributors want fun and technology. In a new product development context, prototype the conditions that you believe will produce a great Development Experience (DX). When you have done that, you will have the insights required to develop a high performance primary compulsion loop. Developing the Conditions for Better Compulsion Loops