Friday, 17 May 2013

Complexity is .. er.. complex!

I seem to be mired in complexity these days - very exciting though must admit - closet (or not) problem solver at heart you see.

In past posts have focussed on how on the current project we are going about defining the requirements for a very complex revamp of an asset management system. This has used the concept of 'viewpoints' to build up the requirements and ensure as comprehensive a coverage of system functionality as possible. What was than new word I learned - ah yes - equifinality!

All well and good but then the question was asked - what does all that mean - which seemed reasonable to me. What do I get and when do I get it? Which means having to think through the outline design and high level system architecture - to answers the "what I get" question- and production of an outline programme plan - when to I get it. Logical again!

But - where do you start? How do you then start to put an outline design together? The design team all have different views on timescales and exactly what can be delivered when. Data team running ahead of architecture team running ahead of process modelling - not to mention how are we going to control and manage acceptance of whatever it is is produced! Just where DO you start?

The answer again - equifinality - starting to like this word even more! This time though used in a different context. This time used as a focussing tool - a lens as one of the team explains it - to help focus in on particular aspects of the system design and build. Trying to specify the design of the whole system in one go or even think about how the whole works just blows your mind - yes, but, if this, and if that, and if the other - people disappearing up their own exhaust pipes left right and centre - others sat there fish like, mouth open, eyes agog, what does it all mean, anyway what's on the telly tonight.

So to drive the thinking a Star Trek Management decision was made - a Top 5 would be selected for the team to focus on - make it so number one. A Top 5 what though? The Top 5 'things' of course - go and find out what they are! This has cause a lot of hand wringing, what Top 5 - that's the wrong Top 5 - we don't have the right priority Top 5. However, miraculously, running numerous workshops over the past could of weeks has shown that there actually was a consensus on a Top 5! Key items and dependencies drove everyone to the same set of Top 5 'things' - you could have written them on the back of a fag packet in Top 5 minutes but the real value I have seen is in rallying the team around some common themes - driven by a final outcome - equifinality focussing in action!

So we are now up and running putting together outline timescales for delivery of our Top 5 and drawing boundaries around what can and can't be delivered in these timescales.

There could of course be another Top 5 next week ;)

Onward and upward.....

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