A metaphor about symptoms and root causes

During one particular rainy season, Owen’s ceiling started to leak.

Upon investigation, he discovered that the source of the leak was an old, overflowing bathtub in the attic. The previous owner must have placed the old bathtub in the attic to catch the drips from the roof.

This solution had worked well, for many years, until that particular rainy season when the rate of rain out-paced the rate of evaporation.

We can probably assume that the person didn’t actually believe that a bathtub in the attic was the right fix.

But given the choice of having the leak continue, this quick-fix didn’t seem like a bad idea.

And since the “fix” worked reliably for many years, it’s easy to understand why resolving the root cause never became a high-priority. 

HT: David Owen

Four handles

There are a limited number of levers that will bring the benefits you seek to serve.

  1. You can increase revenue
  2. You can reduce costs
  3. You can improve service
  4. You can ensure compliance

Every promise you make fits in, sits across, or hangs off these four handles.

The PMI effect

The public presentations that I’ve given over the last 10+ years can (mostly) be found here.

One that you can’t find there, is one I presented in 2017 at the worldwide PMI Virtual Business Analysis conference. And the response since has been incredible.

And by response, I mean gratuity.

Over 800 people have taken the time to say “thank you”. Even now, over 3 years later, people continue to pause for a moment afterwards and leave a comment.

The presentation has been viewed over 22,000 times, almost the same number as this popular one here on Slideshare. Yet on PMI’s Project Management platform, the community makes the effort to appreciate the work.

You can spend time crafting something of value that contributes yet receive minimal attention. Yet on the same professional platform have a simple selfie rewarded with 100 likes.

Wheres’ your community?

The simple stakeholder promise

Here’s a template, a three sentence stakeholder promise you can run with:

  • Who is it for? ________________
  • What do they want? ________________
  • Why is it important to them? ________________

And you thought that all you were here to do was write documents.

The apprentice’s dilemma

The apprentice team were given restaurant space in Manhattan, New York, and a single day to get it ready: cuisine choice, chef selection, and interior design. The challenge was to win a Zagat survey competition. The project leader wasn’t paying attention, though.

Two members of the team met with Zagat representatives beforehand and reported to the project leader that their concept was a bad idea. The team stuck to their plan.

The restaurant opens; the decor’s stunning. The menu offers clever Asian fusion. The staff are neatly dressed, ready to serve, but no ones biting.

After the challenge, the team were beating themselves (and each other) up, and the project leader was fired.

An hour spent outside in the restaurant, observing the people in the neighbourhood would have revealed the market.

“We’re doing this.”

It’s possible that your product isn’t as good as the market wants it to be. But it’s also entirely possible that you failed to understand who it was for in the first place.