Scope creep will kill you and any initiative. And while you already know this, it is so common in performance-minded individuals to forget this basic point and start making a program, task, or project far more difficult than it needs to be. Beware of the vortex known as scope creep as you and your colleagues can easily be sucked in.

Vortex SeaKeep your initiative simple and clear and with bite-size, doable chunks. You can even keep it contained by using the classic Phase I and Phase II method, and put off the fancy idealism until Phase II.

There are two types of people in organizations and teams: the Simplifiers and the Complicators. Unfortunately, my experience has shown me that the ratio is about 75% Complicators.  Tell the Complicators “thank you” and remember you are not obliged to make everyone happy. Any program that can be released on-time with basic functional requirements exceeded will gain more traction and win more adoption than the program that tries to meet all needs and draws out for extra months or more.

Idealism is asking for a trip into the vortex. Get a base hit first. You can think big, but don’t always swing big. Here are some practical swing thoughts:  A) After your goal or purpose is established, if your scope includes more than three to four objectives (maybe five at most), you are likely asking for trouble.  B) If you can’t deliver something measurable in 30 days, or 90 days, you are likely asking for trouble.  C) If your team grows too large and you are trying to make decisions or integrate feedback with greater than a core group of six or eight maximum, you are likely asking for trouble.  D) If your initial white paper, slide deck or proposal is greater than two to five pages, you are likely asking for trouble.

Don’t get sucked into the Scope Creep Vortex and you’ll be recognized as someone “who gets stuff done” and makes things easier for your organization.



May 12, 2014

As a corollary to a prior post I titled Site Your Source, a pet peeve of mine is that person who tries to force a point with a completely unacceptable sample size.  While siting your source is important, it is more important to draw your conclusion from a reasonable sample of the population segment you are attempting to represent.

Some statisticians think n=8 is the minimum required to draw an inference across a relatively homogeneous population. All I know is the more the merrier as people are not so similar, and the stronger you will be able to stand your position. I just want to laugh and/or cry when I ask people “how many people did you talk to?” and they reply “two.”

Your credibility will not hold up with big sweeping generalizations about “our customers, our products, or our employees” without sound data from a good sample size!

Pilot, Pilot, Pilot

December 7, 2013

I see so many new product marketing plans, and so many of these people have the big splash, or national launch, and associated exponential sales ramp built into their plan right out of the gate. It just gets tiresome. I appreciate the enthusiasm and passion, but it simply it not that easy, and acting like it is, is naive. Nine out of 10 times it won’t work the way you draw it up. Big launches take big money. Why bet your credibility and others money without more data?

So my advice is Pilot, Pilot, Pilot. Work like crazy to get a prototype with simple, non-final marketing materials and packaging, into a trial commerce setting (think lemonade stand) somewhere in a store(s), region, small group and test key attributes like: pricing, take rate, display/demo, user experience, durability, and the great unknowns that you have never thought of. Get some sales. Do it on a level where you can make mistakes and not have the public domain flog you (note: this is a downside of early online commerce). Iterate two or three times.

And do some of this before spending all your effort on a fancy website. The website won’t help make your product better in the early days. The website will, however, give the idea to others and if you have some unprotected intellectual property, then you have not helped yourself. Just build a simple site for landing, educating, and collecting interest.

After piloting you can now craft a bullet-proof business plan & strategy that is based on killer data and proven sales. Wishing & hoping is not a business strategy. Piloting gives you wisdom. You can pitch to your investors and stakeholders with confidence. You can hire employees with confidence. You can go for it with that big splashy launch. You become credible. So go pilot first …