How to assess without any criteria

Here’s an interesting little challenge I’ve been presented with:

  • Imagine someone has found they have two computer systems which do very similar things (how they got into that situation is too long a story to relate here)
  • They would like to rationalise this into one system (for the obvious economic reasons)
  • Let’s say they assume that they want to keep “System B”, because it seems to have more function
  • However they want to understand what they might lose (or have to redevelop) by moving from “System A” to “System B”.
  • Neither “System A” nor “System B” have formally documented requirements, but both have long lists of Features (should that be “Feechurs”?)
  • Of course, because the systems were created independently, the terminology they use is different.
  • And of course the assessment has to be done quickly!

The outline of the method I’ve come up with is:

  • Develop a simple model that can be used to describe both systems
  • Use the components of the model the classify the high-level features of “System A” (the system we expect to remove)
  • Ask the question “why do we have this feature?” this gives us a “Reason or Purpose” (which becomes a proxy Requirement). System1-Feature –> Reason-or-Purpose
  • For the Reason-or-Purpose, ask the question “what feature in System 2 addresses this need?”
  • This should identify the equivalent features, and any gaps (efficiently?), providing the list of Features is reasonably complete
  • Which will then identify whether the move is a good idea and what changes are needed.

It’s still going to be an interesting problem.

On call, waiting for the phone to ring

My current situation is “betwixt and between”. One task has come to an end a little sooner than anyone involved expected (so I’m looking for other opportunities). Another project is coming to a close. I’m not directly involved, but I’ve been asked to remain available, just in case they want me for something. This is a minor problem, because it means that I should (and will) avoid driving anywhere.
While I’ve been waiting I’ve re-typed and edited a couple of hypnotherapy scripts. The process was good for me because I surprised myself by remembering substantial parts without reading them (the good old unconscious mind doing its stuff). It was also interesting to review the structure of the scripts and notice how the suggestions they convey are built up, repeated and presented in different ways. One demonstrated some interesting use of; past, present and future which I had not noticed before.
And now, having had a brief rest and looked out of the window for a few minutes, I’m going to get on with something else.

Uncertainty – one of the products of the “Credit Crunch”

I’m not going to ramble on about how tough things are. I’m probably better equipped than most to weather the current economic storm, but am facing a minor problem which gives me a little sympathy for those who are more vulnerable than I am.

In my “day job” we were engaged by a Customer to do some work, which we were assured they wanted done by the end of March (“to use this year’s budget”, does that sound familiar?). Anyway, work being scarce, we set about it with a will. Now, we are part way through (but with nothing tangible “delivered”) and the customer is delaying making decisions. They are satisfied with what has been done so far, but are taking a very long time to authorise the next step. The problem is, this means we have people idle, or shortly to be idle, and we’re all wondering whether we should be looking for other work. Naturally most of us are. I hope the situation reaches a resolution soon, and certainly before we reach a point where I suddenly have two jobs! I’ve got to sympathise with the Customer as well. Things aren’t easy for them either.

Transference and Counter-transference

I’ve just been writing a few lines about the above subjects in response to some training questions. I’m not going to repeat what I wrote here but “it makes you think, doesn’t it?”. In this case what it makes me think about is, the way, we react to people:

  • Based not on what they are, but on who they remind us of,
  • Based on the role we’ve put them in,
  • Based on the way we think they are acting towards us, or the way we expect them to act.

The terminology used to describe these phenomena can be confusing, and downright strange, but there is no doubt in my mind that they partly explain some behaviour I have seen in myself and others.

My name is “Prawo Jazdy”?

I keep on meaning to fill in this blog, and then I forget, but I just couldn’t resist commenting on this news story from the BBC:

OK, it’s harmless, and amusing, but it also prompted some more serious thoughts.

The first, oblique one, was the scene at the end of the film “Spartacus” where all the captured slaves shout out, one after another “I’m Spartacus!” in order to show solidarity with the real Spartacus.

The second, is that although it is tempting to poke fun at the Garda, we should remember that Policemen are not recruited on the basis of linguistic ability. The words really don’t look like anything recognisable in English or Irish, so if you have two people who don’t speak a common language trying to communicate using something written down, then misunderstandings will occur. And to make matters worse, in this case the Garda aren’t really that interested in the details of the driver, and the driver isn’t really that interested in being identified.

The problem is made worse, because people from Western Europe have a sort of word-blindness for things written in Eastern European languages (even if they are written in Roman script).

Third, this got me thinking: with the global nature of communication (where are you, dear reader?), we have to be careful about the assumptions we may make when reading what someone else has written. “Driving License” becomes “Prawo Jazdy” and goodness only knows what it becomes if it is written in Cyrillic (Russian Script – see how twitchy one can get!) or, even more extreme, something Asian, like Chinese.

There is an English saying “It’s all Greek to me”, meaning “It makes no sense to me”. This is all very well, but just look at it from the point of view of a “Greek”!