Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Apps vs Total Solutions

With the introduction of smart phones apps emerged and flourished. There is an app for everything you need and if it isn't yet today, very likely tomorrow.

The power of apps is basically due to the high ROI, not just in financial terms. Most apps are easy to use, cost little to nothing and do the job you want it to do. If you don't like it, or have no longer a use of it, fine discard it.

But without realizing it, we are changing the way we think and act. The Apps will have very profound and deep impact on how we go about things in every aspect of life.

Project Management, ISO21500 and app-like thinking and acting
I can't help to talk about ISO21500 the guidelines for Project Management. I can imagine that quite a number of people think ISO21500 is the most bureaucratic nonsense ever to be invented. In 10 years time when hopefully ISO21500 is nicely integrated into normal project management, like with ISO900x in production and service industries, there will still be people who think and feel like this.

Anybody who knows a little about ISO standards and guidelines can tell you that ISO is really about three things:
  • tell what you do
  • do what you tell
  • be able to proof it
ISO doesn't tell you what to do. Many ISO standards do contain expert opinions from all over the world on what can be done, but it is up to the people to decide what to do and what not to do.

When writing the Self-declaration for ISO21500, now under review by the Dutch Norm Committee for Projects, we had a brief discussion. The discusion was about granting points to every question. And if you scored a minimum of x points you were entitled to award yourself compliant with ISO21500.

Fortunately, this was quickly dismissed. For ISO is not about that you meet 80% of all the questions, it is about meeting 100% of the questions that are relevant. And if it is only one, be it that one. If its all of them, then its all of them.

ISO21500 allows tailoring for every project. More so, if you want to run part of it using PRINCE2 and another part via SCRUM or according to PMI-BoK, or whatever it this is fine. And this I think will make ISO21500 a good environment for app-like thinking and acting. 

Who would have imagined, ISO, a so called bureaucratic thing, liberates to use app-like approaches!

Schools of Thought and app-like thinking
In a recent discussion on TOC (Theory of Constraints) different schools of thoughts arose. Some favoured more one kind, others strongly opposed. Some would claim that the real TOC was to be found and guarded by TOCICO. Then there are discussions of course on another scale: TOC vs Lean or TOC vs Lean Sigma, etc, etc.

I have seen similar discussion with respect to PRINCE2. I know it starts to become an issue, although much better handled I have to say, within Cynefin.

All I know is that I don't know anybody smart enough to a) develop an all encompassing view that is the single truth and b) who can successfully sell it to everybody. It would be actually pretty scary. Too quickly some historic events come to mind when somebody gets very quickly a large mass of people behind them.

But also in business. Large organizations seldom to rarely can innovate. They have all the resources, all the smart people, knowledge and experience that his hidden under lock and key for us and yet real innovation comes from the edges. From trials-and-errors in garages and small rooms. Many of which will fail before even known, but some succeed and can grow. This has been what has happened for a long period of time.

But will the app-like thinking change this? Large organizations, in whatever form, be it a university or a supermarket, they are Schools of Thought. Webshops pop-up, new services, new products. Probably these webshops are just the frontrunners of the app-like thinking.

I wouldn't be surprises that large organizations will become much more conglomorates of small very flexible and fluid suborganizations. In essense it is already there otherwise it would be impossible to do large scale projects. But I have a sneaky feeling that this app-like thinking will make some big changes as well.

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