Build Platforms, not Solutions

I say this quite often but have never written about it: Build Platforms, not Solutions.

It became clear to me when I was in that middle-stage of project/developer evolution that it was much more efficient to build a platform than a one-off solution. It’s way better than the idea of custom developing new solutions for every problem that you deal with.

The idea of platforms really hit home on a project where I had developed an expert system and needed a way to get information out of the system. My “solution” was to create an object-oriented, tree-walking method that would extract only certain objects …blah, blah, blah… And then an engineer said to me: “Oh – why don’t you create a report writer!”. Always in plain site but invisible to me, that suggestion opened my eyes.

The idea is to extrapolate the problem to the next higher level and create a more universal tool to solve the immediate problem as well as similar problems. Better yet, make that a part of a whole bunch of common solutions in the form of a platform.

It’s always easiest to solve the problem at hand with the quickest and surest solution. If you take the time to look at the problems that you are solving you will likely find a number of separate solutions that, taken together, will comprise a platform for a wide range of applications.

“Build Platforms, not Solutions.”
~Bob Reid

Promoting Projects to Success

Yea Team!

The first step in a successful project, other than how it supports strategy, is to sell the project throughout your organization – up front and often. Once it’s fully supported and underway you’ll want to continuously promote progress and keep the team inspired.

Here are a few ideas to create awareness of your project and keep momentum.

  1. Get on the agenda of departmental meetings and talk up your project.
  2. Give the project an unfamiliar or catchy name that piques curiosity.
  3. Put a large project chart somewhere visible, near the team, and mark it up to show progress.
  4. Have team offsite meetings where you can focus only on the project (phones off!).
  5. Create a project logo.
  6. Get items printed with the Project Logo – like coffee mugs or tee shirts.
  7. Have a Project Launch! – but not too soon – and only one.
  8. Get logo stickers printed for the team’s laptops.
  9. Make 4 Dummies book covers and use for in-progress team awards.
  10. Celebrate early failures as learning experiences. Don’t be punitive.
  11. Use any excuse for food and beverages – often.
  12. Make progress updates in a company newsletter or blog. Start a project blog.
  13. Speak about the project at a conference (great for recruiting, too).
  14. Promote the fact that team members got some time off after the project crunch. Then – everyone will want to join your next project.

If you promote your project enough and recognize your team’s contributions you will have a line of people wanting to join your team.

Please let me know what ideas have worked for you for promoting projects and getting the best people on your team. Thanks!

“Focus on appreciation as much as achievement.”
~Tim Ferriss

Outsourcing Innovation

Does your workplace encourage innovation? While you might rightly answer yes, you may unknowingly use practices that discourage opportunities for innovation. This post is about common practices that, while effective, may actually remove the best opportunities for new ideas. Continue reading

Reid’s Laws of Project Management

40 Years of Project Learning

Reid’s Law #1 – Never Outsource Strategy.

Law #2 – The Law of Project Persistency: A project will persist as long as there is corporate will for the project.

Law #3 – Innovation is inversely related to outsourcing.

Law #4 – Requirements Documents are DOA.

Law #5 – Just because it’s possible doesn’t mean you should.

Law #6 – Everyone is a designer, especially in a design review meeting.

Law #7 – One good programmer will accomplish more than 10 mediocre programmers.

Law #8 – PM-101: Timeliness, Quality, Cost is all that you can control.

Law #9 – Projects exist for 3 reasons: ROI, Regulatory Compliance, Political Will.

Law #10 – Project Priorities: Strategy First, Client needs second, Solutions third.

Ground Hog’s Day – Again

“Perfect is the enemy of the good.” ~Voltaire
Done is Better than Perfect

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Assumed Strategy

Everything that I consider about web design and development comes with the assumption that you are operating from a well defined strategy. Whether you’re a freelancer or corporate web manager – if you don’t have a strategy, you’re just building web pages.
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