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Nick Pisano

The Human Equation in Project Management

Approaches to project management have focused on the systems, procedures, and software put in place to determine progress and likely outcomes. These outcomes are usually expressed in terms of cost, schedule, and technical achievement against the project requirements and framing assumptions—the oft-cited three-legged stool of project management. These analytics, and the methodologies used to derive them, are effective in recording progress as it occurs. Analytics are then compared against an expected outcome over time based …

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In Defense of Empiricism: The Truth Hurts, but Lies Destroy

As readers of my articles know, my expertise in writing here at AITS spans the disciplines of project management and information management. These disciplines relate to others as well, such as the use of statistical methods, mathematics, engineering, physics, and psychology. All of these areas of study and practice rely upon empiricism. The simplistic definition as found in the link is the use of facts, evidence, and research in order to derive knowledge. This reliable …

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Failure Is Not Optional: Why Project Failure Is OK

Back when I was on active duty in the U.S. Navy assigned to a systems command, I was assigned as project manager in the development of a methodology to incorporate technical performance within the realm of overall project performance measurement and control. I sat down before my boss, who was a brilliant engineer, and he asked me this question: “What is the value of failure?” Then, after a bit of discussion, he said: “That is …

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Open a Window: Using Data and Self-Awareness to Remove Organizational Blind Spots

In 1955 the American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Igham developed a technique to help individuals place themselves in context to the world and the people around them. This technique originated in the study of group dynamics and organizational behavior at the University of California and is a feedback/disclosure model of self-awareness. By combining the first names of the technique’s founders, this model came to be known as the Johari Window, represented by four quadrants. …

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A Canticle for COBOL: Poor Definitions Beget Poor IT Solutions

A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, is considered to be among the best science fiction novels of all time, and its message is apt for our current times. The story begins 600 years after a nuclear war has all but wiped out modern civilization in what is called the “Flame Deluge.” From the ashes rise a number of human responses to explain and cope with the world that remains. Among these is the …

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Plato’s Cave: A Framework for Better Project Indicators

The History Behind Bad Data In Book VII of Plato’s dialogue, The Republic, the Greek philosopher introduces his powerful imagery of learning and means of perception in Allegory of the Cave. In his allegory, there is a group of prisoners who have lived in a cave since childhood, legs and necks chained so that they cannot move. Above and behind them is a fire blazing at a distance so that they can only see shadows …

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Black Swans: Conquering IT Project Failure & Acquisition Management

In my last post on the Blogging Alliance I discussed information theory, the physics behind software development, the economics of new technology, and the intrinsic obsolescence that exists as a result. Dave Gordon in his regular blog described this work as laying “the groundwork for a generalized theory of managing software development and acquisition.” Dave has a habit of inspiring further thought, and his observation has helped me focus on where my inquiries are headed. …

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Maxwell’s Demon: Planning for Obsolescence in Acquisitions

Imagine a chamber divided into two parts by a removable partition. On one side is a hot sample of gas and on the other side a cold sample of the same gas. The chamber is a closed system with a certain amount of order, because the statistically faster moving molecules of the hot gas on one side of the partition are segregated from statistically slower moving molecules of the cold gas on the other side. …

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The Medium Controls the Present: Is it Too Late to Stop a Digital Dark Age?

And now for something completely different… Our good pal Nick Pisano approached me recently with a very different sort of article than what we normally publish at AITS. Its theme extends far beyond basic knowledge management and big data, challenging our very conception of information preservation, and it just so happens to be the most thought-provoking piece I have come across in a long time. I had absolutely no choice but to publish it, and …

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Red Queen Race: Why Fast Tracking a Project is Not in Your Control

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.” “A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast, as that!” —Through the Looking-Glass and …

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