Don’t Design By Consensus.
Building consensus in a project is important because it gets people on the same page and ensures that they will be ready to participate and contribute. Recalcitrant individuals and groups can damage a project. This can be prevented to a large extent by including representatives from all quarters, and factoring in their needs and concerns.
However, if you have to wait for consensus to make your major design and architecture decisions, you may be waiting a long time. Project experts and mangers can do the most by exercising leadership. Most participants want and need to be heard and have an input on issues relevant to them, but they are not qualified system designers, and won’t commit on major decisions because they don’t understand all the implications. Design by consensus is not an efficient or effective way to build a system.
Know What You Don’t Know – and Get Answers.
Knowing what you don’t know is often more important than knowing what you do know. Sometimes people will admit “I am no expert,” and yet insist on pushing for a particular solution, often against the advice of experts. The experts are not always right. People may have a true instinct or a personal vision, which trumps all the experts. However, other factors and motives may be behind someone who insists on an approach, such as stubbornness, narcissism, cronyism, or nepotism. People may simply be unaware of their limitations, and they just try to make the best of things they don’t understand very well.
It is important to do a self-assessment on one’s knowledge level, and to seek help and support in areas where one falls short. As Benjamin Franklin’s maxim teaches us, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Solicit and take good advice.
Form a Complete Picture of the Challenge.When planning a project, make sure to consider and weigh as best you can all the elements involved, including integration with other systems, data population and connections, risks associated with unknown factors, quality documentation, test and correction procedures, system benchmarks and audits, training, knowledge transfer, maintenance, and upgrades. These elements may seem daunting, even overwhelming, when the project is already large in scope. However, if they are included in the planning, they can generally be handled smoothly in the course of events. Otherwise elements not factored in ahead of time may prove disruptive.
See Blog Entry: Due Diligence System Questions for more information on this topic.
The Due Diligence Checklist to Be Continued in Part 3.