Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Framed! (Singh, 2006)

Dienstag, Januar 6th, 2009


Singh, Hari: Framed!; HRD Press, 2006, ISBN: 0874258731

I stumbled upon this book somewhere in the tubes.  I do admit that I felt appealed to combine a fictional narrative with some scientific subtext.  Unfortunately for this book I put the bar to pass at Tom DeMarco’s Deadline.  On the one hand Singh delivers, what seems to be his own lecture on decision-making as the alter-ego of Professor Armstrong; on the other hand the fictional two-level story of Larry the first person story-teller and the crime mystery around Laura’s suicide turn murder does not really deliver.  Let alone the superficial references to Chicago, which I rather found off putting, I think a bit more of research and getting off the beaten track could have done much good here.  Lastly, I don’t fancy much the narrative framework driven style so commonly found in American self-help books – and so brilliantly mocked in Little Miss Sunshine.

Anyhow let’s focus on the content.  Singh calls his structure for better decision-making FACTNET

  • Framing/ conceptualising the issue creatively
  • Anchoring/ relying on reference points
  • Cause & effect
  • Tastes for risk preference & role of chance
  • Negotiation & importance of trust
  • Evaluating decisions by a process
  • Tracking relevant feedback

Frame – Identify the problem clearly, be candid about your ignorance, question presumptions, consider a wide set of alternatives
Anchoring – Anchor your evaluations with external reference points and avoid group thinking
Cause & effect – Recognise patterns and cause-effect-relationships, try to regress to the mean, be aware of biases such as the halo effect
Tastes for risk & Role of chance – be aware of compensation behaviour, satisficing behaviour, cognitive dissonance, signaling of risks, gambler’s fallacy, availability bias – all deceptions which negatively impact decision-making
Negotiation & Trust – just two words: Prisoner’s dilemma
Evaluating decisions by a process – Revisit decisions, conduct sensitivity analyses
Tracking relevant feedback – Continuously get feedback & feed-forward, be aware of overlooked feedback, treatment of effects, split up good news and bundle bad news, think about sunk costs, man & machine, and engage in self-examination

Three methods for decision-making are presented in the book – (1) balance sheet methods with applied weighting, (2) WARS = weighting attributes and scores, and (3) scenario strategies.

Lastly, Singh reminded me again of the old motto „Non Sequitur!“ – making me aware of all the logic fallacies that occur if something sounds reasonable but ‚does not really follow‘.

Why does Software cost so much? (DeMarco, Tom 1995)

Mittwoch, Juli 2nd, 2008

WDSCSM? (Thumb)

Let’s start with a real classic. Tom DeMarco’s „Why does software cost so much? And other puzzles of the information age“ (

Well, it is a bit aged but given the projects I have seen, it is far from being outdated. So what is his answer? It’s Peopleware not Software and people have to function in their roles and sometimes they don’t.

DeMarco lists as root causes: Scheduling errors („The schedule is crap, when even high performers have no slack“), missing accountability by management („I don’t ask for an estimate, I ask for a promise!“), missing prioritization („All these recommendations for improving ourselves are great. But what if only one thing succeeds? What would it be?“), and the general tendency to ‚fuck up‘ the end-game (i.e. value capturing after implementation).

And of course DeMarcos specialty – Software Development Metrics. He adds the nice insight that measuring something without a clear idea how to improve on that metric is a waste of time and money. It might be worthwhile to sample business case points etc. for a while, but in the long-run only defect counts should be institutionalized.