Product Management: When less is more [3/n]

Part 3

Keep it simple!

I was reading one of my old school papers about the PDCA principle on quality management, and thought that it’s worth mentioning how it can be generalized on almost every step of the Product Lifecycle Management.

PDCA, also known as Deming’s cycle, stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act. Although, it sounds obvious, you can’t imagine how many people miss these essential steps!

There is also a variant that I like a lot, which is the OPDCA. In this case, the O stands for Observe. Let’s break it down through examples:

Observe: study your environment, your competition, your existing resources (human capital,  your current resources, your potential ones, etc.) Be smart and time-efficient during this step.

Plan: define WHAT do you want to do and WHEN you want it to be done.

Do: I guess (and hope) that I don’t need to explain this one. Just remember to keep it simple by using approaches/tools that will allow you to recover easily/efficiently when you make mistakes (and yes, you will!)

Check: have tools/metrics for testing and validating what you’re doing.

Act: if your check results are not good enough, reiterate. The key phrase: do your checking results match WHAT you want, and if not when will it be the case?

And then you can reiterate. Hence the cycle.

This iterative approach, although it goes back to the 50’s, is the closest thing to current day Agile methods. Both approaches can coexist perfectly.

A fun fact worth mentioning by A. Morrison et al. : “One VP of engineering, obviously oblivious to Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle or, as it is known, PDCA, thought the letters stood for Please Don’t Change Anything”.  Please, DO NOT DO THAT!

So keep in mind:

  • Analyzing the environment and the requirements is essential
  • Making mistakes is perfectly normal and natural. Repeating them is … well, you know … To quote one of the most brilliant minds of humanity: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  • Use the bugs: you cannot prevent ALL the bugs, but you can make your system antifragile* by allowing your self to benefit from them efficiently. Think about how to give your system the ability to report errors and how they can be fixed simply instead of spending too much time bullet-proofing it.
  • Live communication is fundamental, written communication is vital!
  • To quote Einstein once more: If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. Meaning: If it’s too complicated to be explained, review it and start over.
  • Have a mid-term analysis: short term is simply not smart, long term is not always practical.

To be continued.

* Antifragility is a philosophical concept introduced by N. TALEB explaining how there are systems that can benefit from randomness and error. A great book that I highly recommend!
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