Monday, October 28, 2013

Artistic Optimization

I suppose that from a certain perspective an analyst can argue that success really depends on the optimization of the person. In other words if you focus on optimizing your self, then everything else will follow naturally. Here is a cogitation I had a couple decades ago where I explored this in greater detail. Basically, you spend your time....


Everybody has their own individual needs for time allocated to each of these items in order to feel comfortable. If you have too little of an item to do you will either search for something to allocate more time to it, or you will feel uncomfortable. If you have too much of an item to do you will either find a more efficient way of doing it, or you will feel uncomfortable. You can not become more efficient with an item until you are willing to find more of the item to fill the time you need allocated to it.

Some general excuses that folks use to rationalize their inefficiency are:
+ I already have enough work to do and would not be comfortable with more.
+ I do not want to be more efficient because then I would not have enough to do.
+ I am already satisfied with the time I ave allocated to these items.
+ I feel uncomfortable allocating more learning, creating, or playing time to become more efficient.

Here are hints on how to become efficient across the dimensions of your activities.

Learn Learning: do you keep your eyes open for more efficient ways to gain information?
Teach Learning: do you share your good sources of information with others?
Organize Learning: do you track where to go to find things out?
Review Learning: how long until you realize that an old source of information is obsolete?
Create Learning: do you imagine a better way to learn something and then seek for that method?

Learn Teaching: What inhibits your sharing your sources of information?
Review Teaching: is the information you share still accurate and do you teach it well?
Create Teaching: imagine -- who might benefit from your knowledge?
Play Teaching: do you share what you know anyway?

Review Organizing: are your current methods of organizing still efficient?
Create Organizing: what could be the ideal way for you to organize? Can you find help?
Play Organizing: do you experiment with your current methods?

Review Reviewing: can the information pass though fewer hands? Can it be created more accurately to start with?

Create Creating: do you think of /how/ you want to create? Might there be better ways?
Review Creating: why are you locked into your current methods of creating things?
Play Creating: do you experiment with the means by which you create?

Review re-creating: do you organize your creating in the first place?

Teach Investigating: do you share your investigating techniques?
Organize Investigating: do you keep track of your methods?
Review Investigating: are there more efficient ways for you to investigate?
Create Investigating: might there be better ways to investigate? Who provides them?
Play Investigating: do you experiment with new ways to analyze your information?

Teach Playing: do you share the things that provide you with new thoughts?
Review Playing: do you realize your old habits are no longer fun?
Create Playing: do you imagine techniques that might develop new ideas?

You rest most efficiently when you have nothing to do.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Artful Choice

While sipping my morning coffee in a Starbucks I overheard a building contractor say, “Good fast or cheap… choose any two.” I recognize this aphorism as a common quandary that binds all designers together whether we work on architecting buildings, developing software, or drawing illustrations.

So how do you approach an intelligent method for making that choice? It seems to be a decision that definitely happens early in the software development cycle, usually during the initial architectural and interface planning.

In a earlier post I discussed the other half of the meta-surrounds of a project; here we look at how to go about approaching choices that affects the first half. I will begin with quite a concrete explanation — a description that makes the process sound precise and analytical. Implementing it is more an art than a craft, and hence it is easier to begin by explaining its craft-like aspects.

Imagine if you will a triangle with each corner labeled: one is quality, one is speed, and one is thriftiness. Your project will end up as a dot somewhere within this triangle, but for now you just want to be able to draw a circle identifying the target area for where you wish to land.

To draw this circle however you need a side step to another chart: the one that maps your company’s strategic plan based upon its competitive position and the growth stage of its industry. The proximity to the thrifty vertex depends on whether your company is “harvesting” and winding down or if it is growing explosively in a new industry.

The proximity to the quality vertex depends upon how you are positioning yourselves in relation to your competitors, the talent pool that you can draw upon, and if such quality provides a material advantage at this stage of industry development.

Finally the proximity to the speed vertex depends upon the urgency of implementing your strategic plan, typically higher at the industry start and end-points than in the middle.

So now that you’ve got your general target the art kicks in: typically none of this is something that you can explicitly relate to your staff. Instead you guide the developers toward the circle within your triangle by your plans, attitudes, and actions: you try to instill the habits in them that will land the project at its goal. Good, fast, or cheap? Choose the appropriate mix.