The Crosswind Compromise

Its not what the vision is. It’s what the vision does.

If you are flying a plane destination A to destination B, where do you think the pilot points the plane? Do they aim directly at their destination B?

No. Any cross wind will push the plane off course. It will end up somewhere else. Any headwind will slow him down and require more fuel. Any tail wind will push him along quicker and require less fuel.

There are many crosswinds in life and work. Our moods, office politics and ability to name a few.

So when we do set a goal, why do we aim for the destination and expect to get there?

By the time these crosswinds have buffeted any particular initiative, the outcome is at best misleading and at worst disappointing.

What crosswinds are blowing in your organisation and which way are they blowing?

Aim high. Push the boundaries. Expect better.

The inspiration for this metaphor comes from this post on Brain Pickings, and in particular the video of Viktor Frankl.

The example of pilot navigation is close to my own heart. Thinking of the crosswind metaphor, being able to identify it, and to call it out is important and necessary. It all boils down to one word.


Context is everything.

Teacher and Student

In March 2003 I was working at as an Junior Implementation Consultant specialising in Oracle Financials, a large Enterprise Resource Planning product in the same space as SAP.

I had been in this role just over 9 months.

Everything was new to me. The role of a consultant, the product, the projects themselves, and the tasks I was required to complete.

On one occasion I was asked to deliver training for the Accounts Payable (AP) module. My role was to teach the current AP team in Singapore how to use the new module starting 1st April.

There was one problem. I barely knew anything about Accounts Payable processes, let alone the module and how it functioned.

Continue reading “Teacher and Student”

Documentation – Get it out of you head

What is the purpose of documentation? It has a bad rap. People avoid it. Think of it as bureaucratic. Red tape. Just bad. A waste of time. Avoid it at all costs.

Yet it does have a purpose. I believe it does.

You have to get what is in your head out. In words if that works for you, or pictures, or any other means. You have to get it out of your head, externalise it, so that you can truly understand what you think.

And secondly so that you can better explain it to other people.

If you are not doing these things then how do you know you are building the right thing? Or solving the right problem?

I can hear someone answering ‘prototyping’ to that question.

And it part they are correct. But there is value before you start the prototype. Before you expend effort.

In some disciplines they use wire frames and outline sketches. And I think that counts as documentation to me. But in the corporate worlds I have worked that rarely happens. Because it’s a ‘waste of time’.

Kind of like the waste of time building something no one wants or uses is …

My point is that documentation, in whatever form, suits the situation and your own mental models, adds value.

And we do not work in isolation. We all work in a team of some sort. And the team needs to share and learn from each other.

So get it out. Get it on paper or a wall of wherever. Just get it out of your head.

Nothing to explain

“The deeper truth is that there is nothing to explain.”

-Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow

I love this quote. Our desire to search for a cause or explanation is so hardwired.

How much energy is spent rationalising (rational-lies) and justifying an outcome that is simply the result of a small statistical sample?

It is about People not Technology

The tweet below encapsulates where I believe we should be heading in the enterprise software space. We continue to place too much emphasis on the technology and features. Not on the how people will use it, or whether people will use it.

We continue to place too much emphasis on technology and features. Not on how people will use it, or whether they will use it.

The future must belong to those technology and software companies that get this. Those that understand that the technology must get out of the way.

The best project I have been involved in was a Finance Transformation Program. It included change management specialists, process specialists, and systems specialists. All working together on an ERP implementation.

However, the outcome and the experience was very different from a ‘traditional’ ERP implementation. A significant focus on process first, and system second. The ability of this approach to shift the mindset of the users, particularly early on, paid dividends later.

However, there is way more to the tweet from Jeremy. His reference to an ecosystem is also important. It is important to understanding how it all connects, relates, and works together to get the result you want.

Don’t be oversold a siloed solution you may or may not need.

The Influence of a Category

“There are no seems in a rainbow and yet we see them anyway. This illusion is based in biology and refined by language and culture.” – Peter Morville – Intertwingled

Perhaps it is a little obtuse standing on its own.

This is a reference to the arbitrary nature of categories and how their influence on our mental models and paradigms.

We create categories through our language and from our culture. Then we see the world through those categories. However, these categories are not real. We chose them. We learned them.

If we could easily create a difference set of categories for colour, and if we could get these accepted internally, then we will see these new colours when we look at a rainbow.

In a conversation listen to the language around you and try to understand where these categorisations come from. Do they help or hinder? Have they had to evolve?

When talking with a client or stakeholder try to use their own categories to build rapport and understanding.

But never forget their power or influence and think about when they may need to change if you want to transform the status quo.

Why am I committing to write this blog?

Because I need to clarify my own thinking and perspective.
Because sharing these thoughts, opinions and ideas with others, to be clarified, understood and challenged moves us, and me, forward.
Because we should be brave and prepared to take a different view. We should explore and find out what others believe and how they think.
I believe:
  • We should always seek to understand.
  • We should constantly question everything.
  • We should challenge our assumptions and admit our biases.
  • We should try to empathize at every turn.
  • We should be fearless of failure.
And finally because everyone and everything is connected – and not many people truly get that.