Archive for January, 2016

Siren Songs

In Book 12 of the Odyssey there is a scene where Circe draws Odysseus away form the crew and warns him about the island of the Sirens who’s inhabitants have caused the ruin of many sailors.


I am reminded of this story whenever organizations are tempted to jump to technology solutions before thorough analysis of a process issue.  In situations where the stakes are high and there is pressure to solve the issue quickly it can be easy to be seduced by the possibility of time savings, but plenty of projects have suffered delays or failure from this temptation.

“If we do not understand the end we will make a wrong use of the means.” –Thomas Merton

20160105_111643Process problems can only be solved if there is careful and complete analysis.  Successful analysis depends on effective communication with all involved parties.



The dazzle of a new system or process can allow us to forget that processes and tools should serve the people doing the the work.  As the 1st principle of Agile asserts:  Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools.  Remember this  when solving a process issue.




Every weekend I play pick up soccer with people from Africa, North/Central /South America, Europe, Asia and the mid east, no matter the weather.  I have wondered why this works.

It is not Elysium. There are  strong personalities, and conflicts emerge, yet they never disrupt the game.  Sure, its just a game where the results don’t really matter, but  I can assure you we would all stay home on those cold, winter days if it was not important.  (Yes, we have brought snow shovels and cleared a space to play.)


Its ridiculously simple. We come together for a common purpose, and it is important enough to each of us to set aside egos, ideologies, belief systems and blame/shame habits to make this work.

As a company leader do you understand the organization’s purpose? Have you made it clear?  Would it be important to you if you were not the leader?

As an employee, have you taken the time to understand the organization’s purpose?  Is it important to you?

Setting Enhancement Priorities

first-pants-then-your-shoesYou have just implemented a system.   As always, the schedule forced the delay of some of the features and most are OK with that… for now.

The list of enhancements is long and includes both the requests of the patient user community, and the perhaps less patient executive team.  The executive list should get the same level of scrutiny as the user community list.  If there are objective measures behind all of the enhancements then it will make the conversation less tricky.  If not, then it is time for a Crucial Conversation.  If the executive list is implemented blindly without a comparative analysis of all of the enhancements, then there is a real risk of undermining the corporate objectives and any hope of confidence from the user community.

While you go about setting enhancement priorities, make sure the rigor behind the process of determining the priority is at the top of the list.

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Dan Clark

Dan Clark

Principal of Bowline Consulting, process designer/fixer, wireless telecom veteran, addicted pick up soccer player, fly fisher, backpacker, beer brewer, guitar player, choir singer, recovering bag piper

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