A recent experience reminded me of an older truth – when you are discussing the cost or delivery date of software with your customer:
The first number or date a customer hears is what they will remember.
It doesn’t matter that they pressed you for a rough guess;
It doesn’t matter that you stated assumptions that are wrong;
It doesn’t matter that you set context, conditions, or caveats;
That first number will stick with your customer and be the reference for any other number you provide them later. When you come back with the real estimate and the number is less favorable than your first guess (it almost always is), then you have a problem. Now you are giving the customer bad news, not refined information.
Continue reading "(Mis-) Setting Customer Expectations" »
I remember a brainstorming meeting a number of years ago where my company was looking for new revenue opportunities for our products. The company president was leading the meeting. I suggested an outline of an idea and the president immediately responded with “we have already tried that before and it doesn’t work”, then moved on to request other ideas. My enthusiasm level went down as I didn’t get to complete my proposal. This continued with a few more people suggesting ideas and the president offering instant negative judgments that killed many ideas before they were explored. Ultimately, the brainstorming session only produced a few ideas very similar to what we had already tried.
Fortunately, effective approaches to brainstorming exist. As important as selecting an approach is getting agreement by the participants to use the same approach. Selecting the approach should be the first step at any brainstorming meeting.
To have an effective brainstorming meeting that generates many new and unexpected ideas, follow this rule: Cleanly separate idea generation from idea evaluation. Do this for two reasons. First, idea generation uses a different part of the brain from idea evaluation. When people are critiquing ideas, they reduce their creative abilities.
Continue reading "Brainstorming about Brainstorming" »