We’re focused on the wrong thing. The problem isn’t tech. It’s not project governance. It’s how our brain works.
Less Than $1 Million
7 out of 10 fail
Larger Than $1 Million
19 out of 20 fail
* McKinsey & Oxford found that 1 out of 6 large projects go so badly they threaten to bankrupt the business.
* From The Cost of Poor Software Quality in the US: A 2020 Report by the Consortium for Information & Software Quality.
Neuroscientists have discovered that our brain cuts corners. Humans evolved to ignore details. We treat them like they’re irrelevant.
We only care about the point, or moral, of a story. That cripples our ability to communicate the details that are critical to every IT project.
Now that we know what’s going on, we can put safeguards in place to ensure that critical details don’t get overlooked.
Neuroscientists have also discovered that our brain stores all information in models—like holograms in our head. These models aren’t optional. They’re mandatory. We can’t think without them.
In fact, “thinking” only happens when we move around in a model.
If we aren’t given a model to work with, we must invent our own.
And the models we invent are as unique as our fingerprints.
IT project teams must have a common model, if they’re to have
any hope of keeping everyone on the same page.
Models contain everything we know about a topic—like tigers. We can’t remember everything, so we boil it down to a story summary.
Stories are short—usually not more than seven elements. Stories are inaccurate, incomplete, and prone to error during recall. Stories usually misrepresent reality.
That sounds bad, but from an evolutionary perspective, it’s irrelevant. All that matters for our survival is that we remember the point of the story, “Tigers are dangerous.”
An expert’s mental model gets bigger and better, but their story (their summary of that model) stays the same. That’s a problem, but something else happens that impedes communication even more. Our brain reconfigures itself and creates new circuits that are dedicated to automatically processing the information associated with our expertise. Experts can unconsciously respond 3,000 times faster than a layman. That’s great, but it comes at a price—our memories about that topic get deleted. The greater our expertise, the more details we internalize, and the more we forget. We can act fast, but we can’t explain why we did, what we did.
The first people a project team turns to—the Subject Matter Experts—to learn everything they need to know about a process, are the very people least physically capable of sharing what they know! There’s only one way to help an expert remember—get them ‘moving’ around in their model. Movement = Awareness.
…If we’re going to open lines of communication between two groups who struggle to understand each other and share business requirements, we need to give the business and IT teams three things:
We have that solution—and we’ll give it to you for free—if you commit to learn how to use it.