Monday, 5 October 2009

Personal Kaizen

Today was the first Monday of the month and that means a quick check on my CPD and my personal Kaizen. So, what did I plan to do over the last month to try and improve things and how did it turn out? The plan was:
  • Use Outlook tasks to set deadlines with/for other people.
  • Create "vision boxes" to create very obvious visionary metaphors for new projects.
Additional things I've tried as the month rolled on have been:
  • Twitter
  • Google Reader
The reason I tried the Outlook task thing was to see if I could extend the useful leverage I've been getting from email flags and tasks to other people by handing tasks out: this didn't really work and I'm not so surprised in hindsight, as the way in which and the tools we use to organise our time vary from person to person. So, that's in the can, but I still need a way to communicate deadlines and milestones between interested parties on a project: more on that later.

Vision boxes are an idea I got from Sanjiv Augustine's Managing Agile Projects book and I'd say it's too early to tell whether they can have a profound effect on my work and those around me. I personally found the act of creating the box incredibly useful, as it focused my mind on exactly and succinctly what a project's purpose is. If asked by anyone, I can deliver a sharp one-liner that gives them the idea immediately. Also, I tried to write four or five bullets on the back of my boxes and I put quite a lot of effort into making these tangible things of genuine value to the user that I can measure. These are now core values on one of my project, and I've never had those before, so let's see if they help us to focus on delivering value: they stay on the list.

Moving on to Twitter, you probably think I'm a complete retard for not being on there from the off! But there you go, I don't seek to spend my life on the bleeding edge. My experience so far is that I'm finding it hard to filter out the noise, but having said that, it's shown me dozens of good posts and pointed me to plenty of new blogs to read. The real problem I can see with this model though, is that all of this extra content takes time to read! But I'll take the rough with the smooth and carry on tweeting.

Related to starting to read a lot more content on't'inernet has been Google Reader and I have to say that I think it's just brilliant! I've found it extremely easy to use and it makes the initially frightening volume of information seem quite manageable. I've also started sharing among colleagues when we find relevant and useful items. Of course this feature becomes obsolete once we're all reading the same blogs and there's nothing new to share. Nonetheless, Google Reader is definitely staying on my bookmark bar!

So, I've found a couple of things that have been useful and closed the door on a couple of non starters: a successful month I'd say. The agenda for the next month (to start with) is:
  • Stick with the "vision boxes" and see if the derived project values help us (well, me) focus on delivering value rather than features.
  • Try out a Google Site for sharing information among groups I'm part of at the IMechE EMHD board.
  • Try driving project work assignment, deadlines and milestones with our internal Sharepoint. This is mainly driven by a Kanban board, but I need to try and work in scheduling, meetings and other planning issues also.
Until the next time, ttfn.

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