Archives for posts with tag: Commitment

How many new things, initiatives, projects, behaviours have you started and abandoned? How many worthy departures without a destination?

All of us have things we started and didn’t get finished. We left it and it went to waste, or it became overgrown or out of date and we couldn’t re-use, regenerate or recycle it.

We might have learned something, and that’s good, but we’ve lost something too. Time, for sure, our nerve maybe, something else.

There’s a cure for this. Finish! Finish something! Get it done! Start small, with a small project you know you can complete if you re-prioritise and apply yourself. Then finish something else small, then something else after that.

Get that finishing feeling. Be a finisher, a closer.

Winners don’t always finish first, but they do finish.

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Whenever we want to improve at something, or fix something, we devise a plan – or an expert helps us do so. Then we have to commit to the plan. This is true for almost any change management exercise in business, which is another way of saying anything worth doing in business. Change is a constant after all.

This also applies to diet, exercise and health of course. It I want to get fitter, stronger or faster, I get a training program. If I’ve had an injury, an operation or an illness, I get a rehabilitation or recovery programme.

Let’s say you have a bad back, and you want to strengthen the lumbar region, improve your posture, or avoid slouching in your seat. You get some exercises.

But what’s the point of exercises that advise you to do them three times a day? We’re busy people and unless we do this stuff for a living it’s hard enough making time to do them once a day. Three times a day is too much of an ask.

I’ve had a few calf strains the last few years, and I’m advised to do sets of balancing and hopping exercises, three times a day. I’m usually good the first day or two, then I settle at one a day, then 3 times a week when I remember, for a few weeks until I decide I have recovered. Then I reoffend. My point is, I could probably spare 40-60 mins first thing in the morning and get it all over with in one go, but I can’t spare 20-30 mins spread over 3 instances in a 24-hour period. As George Herbert Walker Bush used to say, not gonna do it.

I know, if I was more organised, and maybe set my phone to remind me several times during the day, that I might increase my chances of success. I also know that there is a purpose to doing the exercises a few hours apart on a regular basis. What I don’t know is how you stay with the regime in a non-life threatening situation when you’re a busy person with demands on your time.

What do you understand by the term ‘product roadmap’? There are lots of definitions, some narrow and some broad, some internally focused and some market- or customer-focused. And how detailed should a product roadmap be? Should it pin your detailed colours to the mast, or should it be high level, allowing you room for manoeuvre?

I think that over time B2B customers have become somewhat desensitised towards product roadmaps. This is especially true in the software industry where the sheer complexity and number of moving parts, combined with the influences of individual customers, conspire to make roadmap projections aspirational at best and at worst downright misleading and fictional.

The pressures on the business in a dynamic landscape are changing all the time, and I’ve seen businesses where products or product enhancements have arrived 2 or 3 years after they were advertised to come on stream.

But back to product roadmap definitions. The one I use when asked this question defines a product roadmap as a plan of product or platform developments, delivered through a release mechanism – which could be a few or several times a year – through properly managed projects and programmes. After all, you’ve got to be sure that all the parts of the business can fulfil their element of the whole product solution. In other words, the roadmap should really be about when new releases are delivery ready, not sales ready. By all means seed the market, and build the demand to allow for the natural lag of a sales cycle, but publish your roadmap based around genuine availability.

Customers love to see detailed roadmaps, but only if you actually can commit to the associated timings, otherwise the trust quickly evaporates. Just like in sales, you’re only as good as your last quarter. Software development never seems to build in any buffer for the inevitable bumps in the road – probably because the front of the business is pushing for the earliest possible delivery date – and when those bumps occur, it’s very hard to get back on track. That’s why I fall back on the principle of under-promise and over-deliver to customers, and pushing back to the business. The customer comes first, so I’m in favour of high level roadmap pronouncements that strike the right balance between demonstrating progress and allowing wiggle room, so you can be on time, on brief, and maybe even on budget.

If you’re going to do something, you have to give it 100% or your investment won’t get the benefit you hope for.

Sport is a good example of this in many ways. If you’re going to tackle someone, commit to the tackle otherwise you’ll end up not committing and getting yourself hurt.

Compromising, hedging your bets, trying it and seeing what happens. These are really ways of avoiding a decision. They are succumbing to the fear, uncertainty and dread, rather than making the effort, doing the homework and studying the research. And then committing.

I was reminded of this recently while on holiday. There was a ‘bouncy island’ as a guest attraction in the hotel pool. Think of a bouncy castle, but with bouncy palm trees and bouncy treasure chests. The kids and some of the parents were getting stuck in, pushing each other off the island into the pool and generally having great fun. I was happy to read and enjoy it as a spectator sport.

Finally, after about 2 hours of being encouraged to join in, I gave it a try. After about 60 seconds of being Mr Nice Guy, a child – with sharp nails, it transpired – got pushed into me in the kerfuffle and scratched off the top of my nose.

My own fault. I was patched up and got stuck in after that. It was great fun.

One footnote to add: there’s always an exception to every blog post rule. One of the dads decided it would be great fun to dive off the top of the slide at the end of the island, rather than sliding down the slide – which is why, he now realises, it’s called a slide – and cracked his head open on the floor of the shallower-than-thought pool. Off to hospital he went for 5 stitches, but it could have been a lot worse.

The commitment was there, but not the planning.