Home » Change Management » How To Make Pseudo-controversial Changes

Image: SuperHeroHype.com

Image: SuperHeroHype.com

On the subject of making pseudo-controversial changes to classic Marvel characters, [Marvel’s Senior Vice President David] Gabriel added that internet outrage is never a good indicator of what actual comic book readers and fans want. “The first thing we do is watch the sales. If you watch the Internet and the message boards, you would do the wrong thing. How Marvel Comics Alienated Their Core Readership for Profit, Emily Gaudette, inverse.com, August 17, 2016.

Getting the raw data from the project and the organization was always the best way to balance the energetic opinions of the various experts and managers.  For example, I recall hearing, week after week, that we would be ready to ship the product by the end of the week. However, it never seemed to happen.

During that same time I had dumped the defect database and had computed the average time it was taking us to fix a defect, the time it was taking to fix 95% of the defects and the trend of incoming defects from our testing efforts.  Well, it showed it was taking us some six weeks to dispose of the majority (i.e., 95% rate) of the defects that came in at any given time.  In addition, the incoming rate of defects was indeed coming down, but at the rate it was coming down we were months away from getting the last defects and then fixing them all.  The VP in charge told me “I’ve seen your data Bruce but if we don’t ship by next week, we’ll be out of business.”  

Well, we shipped about nine months late.  It took us several more years before we were split up and sold off as a business.  The emotions of the moment, even as the data was clearly showing us where we really were, kept us from dealing with reality. The reason we were sold off at a high discount was in large part because we consistently over promised and under delivered. So the VP was right, but for the wrong reasons. The customer wanted an on time product with good quality, not a promise to deliver faster than we could.

For how to deliver on time see It’s The Schedule, Stupid

Using real data from good sources helps to anchor our decision making and often, but not always, helps to settle down those emotionally driven opinions.  The trick is to dig in and then find and understand the data and what it is telling us. This helps those pseudo-controversial decisions to become objectively driven, profitable, decisions.

What data are you using to anchor your confidence in how your project team is performing?

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