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What do you focus on?

Using simple maths to explain how we can focus on the wrong things, especially focussing on detail at too early a stage.

This is a small presentation that I use to explain integrative design to a non-technology audience. I use it to help people reflect on whether their work/tasks are of value.

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What do you focus on?

  1. 1. l: t: @alanward What do you focus on? 1
  2. 2. l: t: @alanward Let’s try a question What’s 10 divided by 3? 2
  3. 3. You can choose from these answers 7.83214 l: t: @alanward 3
  4. 4. l: t: @alanward Which one did you pick? Ask yourself why you picked that one. 4
  5. 5. This is accuracy vs precision 7.8321 This is precise 4 This is accurate* l: t: @alanward 5
  6. 6. Most people are uncomfortable choosing 4 Depending on your rounding rules, 3 Could have been a more comfortable answer l: t: @alanward 6
  7. 7. l: t: @alanward But no-one… …picks 7.8321 We all know this is wrong. 7
  8. 8. But it has more decimal points… Wrong. 7.8321 is precise but inaccurate. Therefore it has more detail, so it must be the right answer. l: t: @alanward 8
  9. 9. l: t: @alanward This can be used against us. A person can provide information with a level of precision, to imply that they have done the work necessary to be that accurate. 9
  10. 10. l: t: @alanward Always value accuracy over precision 10
  11. 11. l: t: @alanward Why is it important? Too much precision early on is an indication of underlying problems 11
  12. 12. In the early days of any project 7.8321 Not here 4 This is where you want to be l: t: @alanward 12
  13. 13. 4 3.3 3.33 3.333 l: t: @alanward Start broad, but as accurate as you can be Add more detail as you progress. 13
  14. 14. l: t: @alanward If you’re starting at 7.8321 Then there’s too much detail without knowing how what you’re doing will integrate into the rest of the solution. 14
  15. 15. l: t: @alanward Risk The risk is that one part of the change* is operating at too low a level of detail. Conversations become confused. Timelines become complicated & non- deliverable. People become frustrated. * Could be organisation, portfolio, programme, project, sprint, etc 15
  16. 16. l: t: @alanward Proceed to the next level of detail together 3 3.3 3.33 3.333 16
  17. 17. That cylinder fits into part of a larger design that needs to accommodate its size. “But I’ve been asked to…. produce a cylinder 78.321mm diameter with a tolerance of 0.1%” l: t: @alanward 17
  18. 18. Too much detail required too quickly. “But I’ve been asked to…. produce a 12-month project plan, complete with resources & dependencies. Yet the overall design hasn’t been signed off.” l: t: @alanward That’s a problem. 18 It could be used for rough estimates, e.g. how much could this programme cost us?
  19. 19. l: t: @alanward Back to the original question: What do you focus on? 19
  20. 20. l: t: @alanward Always prioritise accuracy. Do as much as needed to be consistently accurate across everything you’re doing. 20
  21. 21. Increase precision together. Don’t go into detail in silos. Remain accurate throughout. At every level of detail. l: t: @alanward 21