razor cuts - a blog about managing projects, people, and the communication between them.

Warm Bodies – availability bias and the productivity myth

Warm Bodies – availability bias and the productivity myth

Behavioural Economics is the study of why real people make the choices that they do – as opposed to the soulless rational actors, or ‘econs’ that have formed the basis of economic theory for the last century.  The field has exploded in scale in the last 10 years, boosted by bestsellers like Freakanomics, Nudge, The […]

Mind the gaps

Mind the gaps

When starting a new engagement, or a new role, the question that’s most often in my mind (apart from ‘where’s the nearest decent coffee shop?’) is ‘how can I add the most value here?’ Around a decade ago I worked at a client where project managers were a new thing – the management team had […]

The balance between security and usability

The balance between security and usability

‘Security isn’t a dirty word Blackadder. Crevice is a dirty word, but security isn’t.’ General Melchett, Blackadder Goes Forth   Like Health & Safety, security is easy to blame for life’s inconveniences; from ‘security theatre’ at airports, to unnecessarily complex requirements for accessing everyday services online. Security plays an ever more visible role in our […]

Learning Curves

Learning Curves

A couple of weeks ago I started an engagement for a new client on a big high-profile project. Whenever I start a new gig I think about a lunchtime conversation I had in a pub in my early twenties with an old friend: we’d both just started jobs that felt like a big step up […]

Making something that people want to use

Making something that people want to use

When we work in corporate IT most of us don’t create things that people want to use. We work on things that people in charge of a budget want their organisations to have. This could be because: It looks like it might make some money It fits within the organisation’s strategy; One of the senior […]

‘But I’m not technical’

There is a huge variety in the pursuits in which we can become accomplished – programming, carpentry, car mechanics, the piano, writing, cricket, and so on. Each one requires dedicated attention, and years of practice, but some get much more appreciation than others. It’s probably because when someone plays a beautiful concerto, you know that […]

The Doing Gap

The Doing Gap

I spoke at an Ignite event recently as part of the Bath Digital festival. The Ignite format (5 minute time limit, 20 slides that transition automatically every 15 seconds) challenges you to distill what you want to say, and focus on the core of your message. I’ve been wanting to talk about the transition from […]

How do you solve problems?

How do you solve problems?

In an interesting meeting recently I was asked an interesting question: ‘how do you solve problems in a programme environment?’ Like many people who make a living from getting stuff done, problems are an everyday thing: they’re just part of the rich tapestry of projects, and indeed – life. I wrote about problem solving a […]

Learning Lessons

I come from a family of practical people: entrepreneurs, farmers, teachers, engineers, and so on. People who get stuff done. I’ve read two books recently that made reflect on practicality (and my family), and the role of failure in forming experience. As project managers we often use building analogies, and the books in question: How […]

Simplicity as an Outcome of Thinking

Simplicity as an Outcome of Thinking

The concept of simple is all around us – the rise of Apple means that our exposure to a beautiful design ethic is ever-increasing. A lot of companies want to take a shortcut to compelling design by imitating Apple, but there’s a great quote from Steve Jobs on the reason that’s hard to do: ‘When […]