Saturday, 18 February 2017

First Trial of the VPEC-T Navigation Map

On Thursday last, I ran a VPEC-T workshop using the new VPEC-T Navigation Map. The workshop lasted 4 hours, and the client now wants another two 4 hour sessions. The new map received positive feedback. According to one partcipant:

“The map really helped us explore each area and triggered useful thoughts”.

This is in the 2nd iteration of FIND, JOIN, SLICE. We will  complete 3 iterations of all Four Focus Areas  (including ARRANGE) within the next 2-3 weeks. This session was part of the design of a circa $4M change programme over next 18 months. We will be using many of the FiD toolset including (but not limited to) :

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

WTF is a Dyslexic Polymath?

One Saturday last January, my wife and I were visiting my cousin Andy and his family for the weekend. He and I were in his kitchen; me bending his ear about my new ‘Found In Design’ un-book idea, while he cooked breakfast.

Andy’s a smart cookie who works for Ricardo UK and someone I love to test ideas with. After ten minutes of me machine-gunning my thoughts at Andy, he rested the spatula in the frying pan, and turned to face me.

“Look, Nige, you’re a great storyteller, and I like your ideas, you know I do use one of your thinking tools, but isn’t this stuff just common sense”?

I paused for a moment mid-stream, at first not sure whether to be insulted, or pleased. I decided pleased – and with a smile retorted with a quote from Voltaire:

“Why is common sense, not so common”?

Andy glanced back down at the pan, and sighed.  He had a moment of reflection; his inner voice telling him that lives with that reality daily. I’d stated the obvious again! 

He glanced over, and with a withered smile, replied:

“Good, point..." and added,  "Would you like a sausage with your breakfast?”

A few days later I was recounting the conversation with Andy to a friend. Once I'd finished, she paused for a moment, and then laughed loudly - looking me square in the eye:

“I know exactly what he means.  It often seems to me that you end up stating the ‘bleeding obvious’, but when I think about it, it wasn’t actually obvious before you started babbling on”.

She then added:

“I think it’s the way your weird ‘dyslexic polymath’ brain works – you seem to see simple patterns that the rest of us don’t see. And when tell us a story that explains one of them, they just do seem like common sense”!

“Oh, thanks”, I said  flatly,  feeling a bit insulted, and confused.

I guess I’ve always been embarrassed about my dyslexia. This stems from unhelpful, “old-school”, teachers and, frankly, a fairly unsupportive father (who freely admits now he made a bit of a hash of parenting me). Mum, however, was different she helped me understand Shakespeare’s plays through Lambs Tales and encouraged me to write poetry, lyrics & music. She helped me tell my stories.

So when my friend called-out my dyslexia, I felt very awkward at first. But then I realized, she had a point; the way my brain’s wired does help me see things a bit differently. And I suppose my fanaticism over SIMPLICITY and PATTERN seeking might be directly related to dyslexia. I think they might be the coping mechanism I’ve used to survive, and thrive, despite my lack of academic qualification. So maybe being a ‘Thicko” isn’t so bad after all; maybe weirdly-wired misfits can help by stating the “bleeding obvious”!


Oh, and, by the way, once I’d looked up ‘polymath’ I decided I would buy my friend a pint next time I saw her.

I’d love to hear stories from other dyslexics around the Wurld!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The stories behind VPEC-T and other tools

More stories about #vpect and other tools will be covered in #foundindesign in the coming weeks. I'll be telling the story of how VPEC-T came about. It started bay in the 90's when at DHL I worked with a team of around 30 people globally on something we called Business Service Specifications. I'll explain how the "P-E-C" evolved from that, and then how that led Carl Bate and I to add the "V and T" lenses when working in Criminal Justice in 2006. By telling such stories, I hope to make the tools I use more useful to others. Some of these tools I helped create (like VPEC-T), but many of which I simply adopted, so no claim of invention, or "my IP"! Many smart people have adopted, created and refined some great thinking and designing tools - I'll be explaining why & how I've used them, along with, a few of my own.

Here's a link to a recent post on LinkedIn that gives a feel for where I'm headed: VPEC-T: A Ten Minute How To Guide and here's the new blog: The Found In Design Unbook.  

Thanks to Nick Gall (@ironick) for prompting this post.

Twiter hash: #foundindesign

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

I Don’t Call Myself An Enterprise Architect

... anymore.

A few people have asked why I call myself a Change Designer rather than an Enterprise Architect. The reason is simple: the EA label misrepresents what I do.

The popular understanding of  Enterprise Architect is:
  • attached to an I.T. view of the world - I’m not only focused on I.T.
  • often synonymous with large arcane frameworks like TOGAF - I dislike them
  • regarded as slow, top-down, big modelling upfront etc - I prefer Dan Ward’s F.I.R.E. approach.

I use the title Change Designer because:
  • They are two simple words, that together, explain what I do - I Design Change (transformational or otherwise).
  • They don't t limit me to only focus on I.T. - but, at the same time, they don’t exclude I.T.
  • Much of my thinking and toolset come from the world of “Design Thinking” (and Systems Thinking, Complexity Science etc.).

I guess I’m lucky in the sense I’m unemployable now, partly due to age but mostly due to temperament! :-) I’m more choosy about the things I work on where and when. All this means I don’t need to splash “Enterprise Architecture” and TOGAF all over my CV to find the next gig - and if I did, I’d probably not meet the client’s expectations!

Follow #foundindesign on Twitter to see what I'm up to these days.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Found In Design

I've finally got around to shaping-up the sequel to "Lost In Translation" - the working tilte is "Found In Design".

I've decided to take, what you might call, an "unbook" (as in not a book) approach to this one. I will be writiing and sharing early drafts on a blog with the intent of gathering feedback as I go. All under Creative Commons :Attribution + ShareAlike License.
It may well end up becoming a book - and you could be one of its authors
So please do drop by the Found In Design blog and send me your thoughts, comments or reactions.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Navigating VPEC-T

Here's the poster for a VPEC-T thinking framework master class focused on knotty problem solving & design innovation.

The aim of this map is to provide a starter-for-ten checklist of things you might consider when doing a VPEC-T analysis/design - whether sitting at your desk or in a workshop. A full poster size version is available for workshops. Please complete this 3 minute survey for a free copy.


Nigel (@taowtit).


More about VPEC-T in 10 minutes.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

VPEC-T My Favourite Quotes

“VPEC-T is based on a profoundly radical philosophy of plurality. Instead of a single centralized value system (as found in top-down command-and-control organizations), we expect to find a range of different (overlapping, conflicting) value systems. Instead of a single coherent set of policies, we expect to find complex interaction between different kinds of policies (commercial, security, safety, corporate responsibility, and so on). Instead of a simple set of routine events, the post-modern organization is faced with a dynamic set of emerging events. Instead of a rigid set of database records, systems content is rich and evolving. And finally, the whole human activity system is underpinned by a complex set of trust relationships between people and organizations”.
- Richard Veryard.

"There is original and very useful thinking underneath the name [VPEC-T] that I think will change the way information systems are developed over time.”

“And just one final point about that name.  It's actually very useful.  “VPEC-T” turns out to be a compressed mental checklist that can quickly be played back in your mind in meetings, as you write up the findings of a study or as you discuss the information system ‘to be’".
- Roy Grub.

“This is a genuinely different way of looking at information systems. Much of architecture and requirements analysis is focussed on the "how" rather than the "what". This book redresses the balance and provides a novel way of understanding how people and organisations interact and what information systems need to do”.
- Simon Tait.

“A simple and elegant approach to allow people who happen to be buildng IT architectures, to talk meaningfully with the the business people who are paying for it. It's a new way to (begin to) fix an old problem. An IT architecture that ignores people will be both complex and unworkeable. VPECT encourages people type discussions around trust and values in a way that architecture frameworks ignore. An excellent tool, whose application is underestimated by it's authors in areas way outside of IT architectures”.
- Peter Drivers.

“I've used VPEC-T as an internal approach to driving questions and conversations as opposed to 'throwing it on the table' - my thoughts are that asking people to think hard about their business problems etc is enough to ask without the cognitive burden of a framework (no matter how simple!). But then being an employee as opposed to a consultant means that the discussions tend to be looser, shorter and less formal than it might be as an outside consultant”.
- Mike Burke.

“Overall it was a great way of describing the business context we were operating in, and gave us a solid foundation to start requirements analysis and architecture from. Certainly we were better served by the output of this analysis than we would have been with a list of affected IT systems, or current state processes”.
- Doug Newdick.

“The most important part for me was the VT. It allowed for better conversations with clients and other stakeholders through refining my understanding of the context, relevance, responsiveness, timeliness and other business level ilities. This allowed distilling a better architecture once lensing through PEC which I see very much as technology level concerns.

It's a very useful thinking framework to focus on actual value. It is very effective at nurturing sustainable productivity and works very effectively when combined with data driven analysis”.
- Darach Ennis.

“Trust is the cornerstone for all relationships and must be firmly established in order to ensure any exchange of dialogue. It is the most difficult element to obtain, yet it is the single most important element in the [VPEC-T] model. Trust is best established by keeping one's word and completing the actions for which you have committed ('doing what you say you will do'). Often, participants in a project will have a positive/negative trust reputation that must be understood as part of the communications process. Ways to establish and maintain credibility (trust) with other parties include transparency of purpose and full disclosure of goals and expectations (no 'hidden' agendas)”.
- James Kuhn.

Twitter tag: #vpect

Please take a look at the work-in-progress VPEC-T Metro Map.