If best practices aren’t actually best, then why do they exist? What is the point of process, of practices, of standards even, if they don’t reliably produce good results? While some standards have value, and there are simple situations where there might be a best way of doing things, when it comes to the strategic work that we take on, we are far removed from those statements being true. Even when we want there to be a way of working, one that is consistent and repeatable, the reality we find ourselves in is usually very different. It helps to know what to draw on instead if we are going to be successful.
We like to think of deciding as an act of deliberate intent. In actual fact, decisions often simply happen. They emerge and evolve, or arrive at a point where they are simply accepted. All appearances to the contrary, it can be difficult to point to when a decision was actually made, how it was arrived at and by whom. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways to improve not just the quality of decisions, but also clarity in the decision making process.
If we care about making a good strategic decision, then we need a capable process to get us there. In my last article, I made the argument that if we try to move normal meeting structures online, we are likely to fail. Partly that’s a product of attention span and inadequacies in online meeting technologies. […]
I’ve been sharing some of the experiences I’ve had as I transition my approach to time management. I’m liking the system that I have moved to. While it takes a different approach to some of the principles that I use and apply, I understand the choices that have been made and why. And I can see the value of many of them. What has been most relevant in this overall transition, though, is not that I have a shiny new piece of software. The essential change is a result of developing new habits about how I use and rely on the system that I have.
Agile approaches are enjoying a very bright place in the sun. And that is to some extent deserved; they represent a very different way of working, especially when we are dealing with ill-defined problems and a need for experimentation and search. At the same time, we often define agile as needing to be different than what came before. The implication being that predecessor capabilities are inadequate, inappropriate and best relegated to the dustbin of history. The reality is very different.
Beliefs and principles are useful. They guide us when we are dealing with unknowns and uncertainty. They also get in the way, because they blind us to being aware of when they stop working. This is particular true of process, where ideology often gets in the way of adaptation and a recognition of what works here (or what won’t).