The 70-year squeeze

1951 saw the worlds first commercial business application.

J Lyons and Co. automated valuation jobs, then payroll. Then a few other companies, who didn’t have computers, wanted to borrow their machine. So J Lyons established a ‘Bureau Services’ division (which could arguably be the earliest IT consulting company).

Since then, the 3rd Industrial Revolution has been in full-flow with a very prominent theme.

The definition of standards:

  • 1956 – Software Engineering
  • 1957 – BCS
  • 1961 – TQM
  • 1963 – IEEE
  • 1969 – PMI
  • 1970 – Waterfall and Agile
  • 1978 – JAD
  • 1980 – SSADM
  • 1986 – Six Sigma
  • 1987 – ISO
  • 1988 – Spiral Model
  • 1989 – CMM
  • 1991 – RAD
  • 1992 – V-Model
  • 1996 – Prince 2, PMBOK and Scrum
  • 1997 – UML
  • 1998 – RUP
  • 2003 – Agile Alliance and IIBA
  • 2005 – BABOK

That’s our immediate past.

The 70-year squeeze of frameworks, methods, models, approaches, processes, notations, languages, and more. Relentless standards that draw lines in the organisation, best practices which work within these boundaries, and detailed procedures to follow along.

The space for creativity has been removed and how you do what you do is shaped for you, squarely.

You’re conditioned to think inside a box.

The 9th stakeholder

A couple of years ago I experimented with a new personal assistant.

Amy Ingram helped me to schedule meetings. Amy learned when, where and how long I liked to meet.

But what made Amy different was that Amy is an email AI scheduling assistant.

Machine learning.

But there was also some big human learning too…

From the beginning of the relationship, I was learning how to interact with Amy to ensure understanding. Requests being asked and answered, communication sent back and forth.

Then at one point during a conversation, Amy stopped me in my tracks…

Amy said, “One way is to shoot me an email “Amy, please cancel this meeting.”

That one word in there.


Did I need to say ‘please’? This is an AI interaction. How had I been interacting up until this point? Had I been all ‘computer-like’ using command language such as, ‘Cancel Meeting’? Was my human behaviour (ironically) being adjusted by a machine?

Just what is the protocol for interacting with AI?

Interestingly I had been communicating politely, quite unconsciously, as the conversation with Amy unfolded naturally.

Amy has a last name, Ingram. Amy engages in conversation. Amy needs to be communicated with clearly. Amy asks clarifying questions. Amy learns. A relationship was established. I minded my Ps and Qs.

Whether as a ‘User’, a ‘Developer’ or a ‘Tester’, AI is your next stakeholder.

Soon we’ll be working together, side by side. AI will be a colleague. AI will have their own views, needs, processes, requirements and rules, etc.

This world is heading somewhere and how you work is going to change.


The T-shaped metaphor has been about for some time – being a strong person with specialist depth and generalist breadth.

People are recruited accordingly:

  • A+ years of work experience in B role
  • Must have C degree in D specialism
  • At least E years experience in the F industry
  • Experience working in a G environment
  • Practical experience of working with H method

And then a subconscious bias kicks in where managers choose people like themselves. Meaning the same people are hired, again and again – gingerbread people cookie cutters.

Which often leads to a place of confirmation bias, creating a culture that reinforces the same way of doing things and affirms the same belief systems at play.

That approach worked, somewhat, during the Knowledge Age. But it’s blunt now, as this next shift – the Conceptual Age – is calling for sharp innovation.

Innovation is not down to you or me. It’s down to us. As true creativity comes from a place diversity. From having a room full of individual experiences and different ideas – a gingerbread house.

What can you do to start building a team shaped for the future?

Creative stuff

It’s been proven again and again that there is no correlation between creativity and intelligence. That doesn’t exist. Intelligence is no indicator of creativity.

And there’s absolutely no physiological evidence indicating that a highly creative person has a different brain structure than somebody who isn’t. We’ve all got the same stuff.

What does matter is being exposed to lots of stuff, to lots of ideas.

You’ll be more creative the more ideas you’re exposed to and you’ll be less creative depending on how few ideas you’re exposed to.

And we see this in everyday life.

When people ask us, how do I do something and you give them an answer. And they say, “Wow that’s amazing.” But it’s not amazing at all. It’s just that you’ve done it before. Or you know someone who has. Or you’ve seen it done.

So the more things you know about the more creative you’re going to be.

The most creative people in the world are simply people who are surrounded by other people who know a lot of stuff. And know lots of different stuff from lots of different areas.

So there can be no substitute in any business for widely exposing people good ideas. Even bad ideas. Just expose people to stuff.

Project waters

The scope of a project is usually approached from a two-dimensional viewpoint – in and out, within and beyond, what will be done and we will not.

And is often closely followed by a shallow caveat that says something along the lines of – ‘Anything that is not explicitly stated as in scope is considered out of scope.’

But for this statement to hold water, the potential for everything must be explicitly considered.

Things like:

Brands, divisions, roles, processes, functions, applications, integrations, activities, deliverables, migrations, and the list goes on…

Business, system and project are good lenses to look through when defining scope.

One should only ever dive into the deep.