Preston Smith's Corner

How do I find truly valuable development process improvements?

June 1999 Quick Tip

Many managers chase the “best practices” that helped someone else months ago. Why not find your own?

Start by identifying gaps between what you are doing now and what you think might be possible, based on what you read, the conferences you attend, or just your gut feeling. Don’t judge these gaps yet, but create a second list of the things your organization should be doing differently, based on either your gaps list or – again – your own intuition. Lastly, build a third list (the hardest one) of what you, personally can do in the next thirty days to initiate improvement in apparent areas.

Now map these three lists onto a cost-benefit map (See such a map). Interpret cost on this map broadly, including not only procurement cost, but also training, and even any required cultural change.

The low-cost, high-benefit quadrant on this cost-benefit map I call the No-Brainers. Because we all have brains, these easy opportunities were probably exploited long ago.

Your third list will generally map into the low-cost, low-benefit quadrant, called the Quick Hits. These are like the kindling that is essential to get a campfire started.

The high-cost, high-benefit quadrant is your Investments area, which is analogous to the logs on the campfire – lots of staying power, but in need of the kindling to ignite them. The items on your second list often map here.

Finally, the high-cost, low-benefit quadrant is the “No Way” one. Your first list (gaps) is likely to land here. However, don’t discard these sleepers. Often, they have great potential value. Once you see their potential, these may migrate to your Investments quadrant.

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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