Framing the problem

Oh wait, isn't this blog supposed to talk about tech? Well dear reader, you would be amazed to know that most of the Information Technology (IT) projects/initiatives fail. In fact, the chances of a project succeeding is lower than calling heads in a coin flip. Here a good summary if you want to read more: Why No One Can Manage Projects, Especially Technology Projects.

If you google "why IT projects fail" you will get a fair amount of articles listing the main reasons. One that is super common in all of those lists is: not having a clear goal and objectives. So let´s try to do better here and spend some time (a.k.a. this blog post) shaping the problem better. After all, as Lewis Carroll said: "If you don´t know where you´re going, any road will get you there". The great thing about this quote is that it applies to everything: career, investing money, deciding to have a kid or in this case creating a blog!

"No no no, we are Agile here sir, I don´t have time for this please get out of my way and stop impacting my team velocity with this objectives thing, let me build stuff" a common phrase from a tech manager somewhere who does not get Agile and thinks that having a board on Jira is being Agile. NO IT IS NOT. Using a software like Jira to manage the team work or picking a method like Scrum won´t help without a culture change!

OK now that we got that out of the way, let´s go back to having a better sense of the problem, hopefully you saw in the Hello World post the "motivations" behind this blog, but that alone isn´t enough to start the Build-Measure-Learn cycle (which I first got in touch while reading the book "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries) and we are currently running here. Yes, I say we because you too are part of my little experiment, I built this blog, now we are measuring the results before the learning phase that will help me decide what to do next: Another post? Shut down the blog? Which social media should I invest more? What about starting a podcast? So many questions that need answers!

There are several tools/frameworks out there that can help with framing the problem. All of them goes around four main concepts of a "Strategy on a page": Root Purpose, Business Definition/Selling proposition, Target Customer Segments and Goals/Metrics. This is hardly a novel concept, but it falls into that category of common sense that is not so commonly done (great tagline that I copied from the article above).

Below are a few that I tested or used in the past that resonate with the Strategy On One Page concept:

Well, just because I listed them it doesn't mean I tested all of them for the blog use case in this post :P. I picked my favorite one: the Lean Canvas. I also like the Golden Circle a lot (to prove my point I actually mentioned it in my previous post) and I think it helps with the Root Purpose and Business Definition/Selling proposition but I feel like it is not as structured as the Lean Canvas and without proper guidance it will fall short on Target Customer Segments and Goals/Metrics.

Here is the Lean Canvas I filled for this blog:

<Drumroll for suspense.... click on the image to open in a new tab>

Lean Canvas
Lean Canvas template from Miro

You will notice that most of the things I listed in the motivations cards were transported to the corresponding blocks in the Lean Canvas template but there are new elements here that enriches the discussion and help with setting better goals/objectives which is exactly what we wanted (remember?! first paragraphs here in this post)! Also, the Lean canvas help with some valuable input for the Build-Measure-Learn cycle (I feel like I need to go deeper on the matter but I don´t want to highjack the post, so spoiler alert: I just decided on another future blog post about: Build-Measure-Learn cycle).

Some things that I want to highlight from filling in the template:

  • There is the "hidden cost" of my time that I will spend putting this blog online or writing posts. This takes place outside of my working hours and my dad hours so they are very limited and compete with resting or watching tv or reading (I too have to take some sleep so it won´t compete there). Also, it is difficult for me to put a "price tag" on this hours as they are so precious!
  • I tried to avoid at maximum the usage of vanity metrics but... oh boy... it is difficult! Figuring out metrics is probably where I spent most of the time while filling in the template
  • In most of the lean canvas examples that are out the, if you take a closer look at the "high level concept" you will find a 'like' mention (e.g.: like Uber but for <insert your business case here>). I added one for the blog as well: "like but for me". It is not a comparison by any means because I do not think I accomplished 0.01% of what Fowler did and my influence compared to his is even lower. Dude, this guy wrote great books, helped write the Agile manifesto, coined the term microservices, he is a legend! Yes I am a fan and if you are still thinking it is a competition I declare: I lost it! I kept the "like" in the canvas as a reminder of great content posted online that I like reading and has a good amount of influence in my views

What about you? Have you used any of those frameworks that I listed? Or, have you used another one that you like and it is not listed here and you recommend?

Let´s engage and have a good cup of coffee to discuss!

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