Good, better, best solutions

In retail, people often talk about a product and its position in the market as either ‘good’, ‘better’ or ‘best’.

Heinz position their baked beans as the best. HP might decide not to invest the considerable resources it would require to challenge Heinz’s positioning and instead position their baked beans as ‘better’. The supermarket own brand baked beans would be positioned as ‘good’. (Supermarkets also very successfully introduced a ‘basic’ level to this hierarchy and I can remember as a student being able to buy a tin of baked beans for 9p).

This hierarchy of perceived value can be applied to building solutions to a problem. There could be a good solution, a better solution, and the best solution. The higher up the hierarchy the solution is the more costly, complex, time-consuming it’s likely to be, but it delivers more value than the lower solutions.

Knowing what a ‘good’, ‘better’ and ‘best’ solution looks like helps with plotting the future of the solutions. A good solution might be enough for now but a better solution will be required within a year.

Good, better, best… but never perfect

Baked beans can be good, or better than good, or the best, but never perfect. Are perfect baked beans an impossibility?

Solutions can be good, or better than good, or the best, but never perfect. Can the perfect solution exist?

From a Zen point-of-view, ‘perfect’ is a fixed, dead state, unable to grow, evolve, or improve, so the solution may be perfect right now but as life and the world moves on it becomes out of date and no longer perfect.

So the perfect solution would need to evolve into different solutions to meet different needs at different times. It’s complexity increases as it evolves, and that complexity comes with a cost that makes the perfect solution unviable.

Maybe ‘good’ is good enough.

Certainty and uncertainty in value and duration

John Cutler tweeted about how he approaches forecasting with a team, and shared a Google Doc explaining the method.

Certainty and uncertainty in value and duration

One the second page was this:

Certainty and uncertainty in value and duration

This is important. It made me realise that initiatives can / should be considered / assesses / prioritised / forecasted on how certain or uncertain the value they will deliver is, and how certain or uncertain the duration is. Initiatives of unknown duration and unknown value are high risk compared to those of known value and known duration.

So, we need to have a reliable method for forecasting cycle time (not estimating effort time) to arrive at a known duration, and for establishing value (including cost of delay) as a known quantity.

Making these method of prioritisation explicit, reliable and robust is vital for across the organisation (not just within the digital department or within the scrum team) in order to be part of the mind shift towards delivering value continuously.