Three steps from Surviving to Thriving!

Three steps from surviving to thriving!

Do you enjoy change? Does the unknown of tomorrow thrill you with anticipation and excitement for the surprises that await you? Are you eager and prepared for whatever the day throws at you?

I’m not.  There, I’ve said it.  Sometimes I’d rather just close my eyes and wake up in the morning and take whatever life tosses my way, one thing at a time.

As an entrepreneur, I don’t have that luxury.  Just as I’m sure you have days where you’d just rather…not. But you have to, because of responsibilities.

We do the best we can, we try to plan ahead, accounting for every eventuality and contingency, and hope that things go according to plan.  But they don’t always, do they? When things go awry as they have with the Coronavirus outbreak, we all are facing changes unlike any we’ve experienced before, and we have decisions to make.

For some people though, change is particularly hard. Making a decision with so little clear direction or reliable information can be daunting, even if you’re pretty comfortable with change. For others, it’s almost impossible to make a decision. Fear can lock them into a cycle of analysis-paralysis which is great for procrastinating, but unhelpful for decision making.

This simple 3-step process can be applied to almost any situation where change is evident or required. It can be applied organizationally, individually, whether you’re a leader or a follower. This universal approach is the first step in improving your ability to deal with change: Identify, Pivot, Adapt.

Identify

The first step is to identify the problem, and the source of the problem as best we can. In my business, classroom-based training and consulting services, the problem is obvious. Nobody wants to sit in a classroom (neither do I), and employers are actively laying off consultants first.

Identifying the source of the problem is also important because that’s how you can determine what your level of influence is. What part of the issue are you able to control? I know for example that the outbreak is like to come in waves over the next 1-2 years until a vaccine becomes available to the public at large. I know that it’s got a widespread infection rate which has resulted in businesses shutting down, mass layoffs, and an upsurge in people working remotely and self-distancing. I don’t need to know every detail, but this information alone helped me pivot.

Pivot

Pivoting is an intermediary action. When a basketball player is blocked, they pivot on one foot to shift their body in a different direction. We have 360 degrees of pivoting available to us, so choosing the direction you want to aim for really depends on the information you have available.

To help me make a direction-based decision, I use the hand method. I lay my hand flat on a surface and spread my fingers. My middle finger is the undesired direction I’m currently heading in, and that I know needs to change.  Each of the other four fingers represent four different options for changing direction.

I don’t worry that I don’t have all the information to make an informed decision…pivoting is about making a quick decision to evade trouble by retargeting myself to aim for a different outcome. Keep it high-level, broad strokes. The details come later. Can you think of four ways you can respond to the problem you’re facing?

Will one of those four “finger options” represent a higher chance of success for a better outcome? If none of the options is particularly better, then choose one randomly and prepare to pivot again. This may go on until more informed decisions can be made, or one direction becomes clearer than the others.

Adapt

Once you set a direction, make a list of all the things you need to adjust to make that direction work. 

Maybe you’re suddenly working from home 100% of the time. If you have a spouse, can you work together in the same house? What about the same room? Are you competing for resources? Do you have a quiet area for phone calls? How will you adapt your schedule? Do you have a support system in place?

For Get Up and Learn, I’ve adapted by delivering training virtually instead of in classrooms. Also, because it’s online, I’m delivering all training in 1-hour segments, which can be linked together to fill a morning or a day, delivered as lunch & learn virtual group sessions, or provided on a pre-scheduled basis for example.

Three steps from Surviving to Thriving

By following the Identify, Pivot, Adapt approach, I was able to determine the problem I was facing including a general idea of the scope, duration, and probable impact.

By pivoting I was rapidly able to determine the most at-risk direction (which was to stay the course and do nothing) as well as four other reasonable options. The best of those was to move everything online and virtual.

A lot of work went into adapting and will continue over time. The training material & resources, delivery methods, website content – all of it needed adapting as a result of the Coronavirus.

The best part is my business is well-positioned for the future and I can see many opportunities to grow that weren’t available to me under the old model. Following this three-step process not only helped me navigate the emerging crisis, but it also strengthened the business potential for the future.

Identify, Pivot, Adapt helped me determine what was right for my business, and it can help you make choices too!

Necessary Sales Pitch Section

Jim Longman, through Get Up and Learn provides consulting, contract, and training services for employers in all industries. Our soft skills training helps people develop new thinking and skills when it comes to handling change, making better decisions, and much more. For more information, click here.

 

 

 

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The pandemic is here. The luxury of time to plan has passed. We can help you stay operational…and stay safe.

The world is drastically changing and the Pandemic is now here. Municipalities no longer have the time to prepare. We are providing this information to help you Get Ready.

Get Ready is an Ontario-based company. Since 2011 we have been providing cloud-based Emergency Management, Business Continuity and Infectious Disease Outbreak programs to Municipalities, Healthcare and businesses across Canada.

Our Infectious Disease Outbreak Program has 4 main components:

  1. Cloud-based application with IDO best-practice policies, procedures, forms, signage, and communications
  2. Real-time Absence Reporting Tool
  3. Online employee Pandemic training
  4. Individual “Get Ready – Emergency” mobile App for all staff

Get Ready Programs meet CSA Z1600, Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, Ministry of Labour, PHAC and Health Canada standards.

Our cloud service maintains Federal government-protected B clearance, as well as, SOC2, ISO 27001, ISO 27017, ISO 27018 and PCI certifications.

The IDO Program is available for immediate deployment (onboarding takes 12-24 hours). The ROI is estimated to be 4 to 5 times the initial cost within two weeks of implementation.

Please contact us to learn how we can keep your staff healthy and safe and your municipality operating.

 [email protected]

1-888-217-2329

 https://getreadyglobal.com/programs-and-apps/infectious-disease-outbreak-program/

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Enterprise Security Risk Management

Perhaps you’re aware of the recent culmination of a managerial approach in the security industry. As an aside the Michael White Group has been promoting the very fundamentals of this approach for years. However, this approach changes how security has been managed for many years.

Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) is a business decision making tool. So, let’s clear up some of the confusion. This is not Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). Although utilizing the exact same risk principles as ERM, ESRM is an additional tool for ERM.

Unfortunately, more than ever, your municipality’s reputation and brand are at risk. Incorporating ESRM into your organization strengthens your municipality’s security program and puts you and the other leaders within your organization as leaders in your vertical.

Organizational Resilience Management

ESRM drives your security program in developing a stronger relationship to your municipality’s Assets and overall risk and security mitigation strategies. It allows you as the security leader to see the bigger picture.

ESRM is not something that happens overnight. It takes careful thought, planning, decision making and involves change. A cultural change. Long gone will be the days that one or two people are essentially responsible for the security needs of the municipality. It will be everyone’s task to be involved. All employees will be associated with the ESRM program and you as the ESRM leader will keep them on track to identify, reduce and mitigate risks.

ESRM creates a stronger brand for your municipality, a stronger brand attracts new business, new residence.

Ready for an enterprising change?

Should your Municipality be open to exploring the need, the application and benefits of a Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

 

 

 

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Is Road Salt Really Worth the Risk?

If you live somewhere that has a snowy winter, there is no doubt you are familiar with ‘ice-melts’ or ‘road-salts’ being used to create traction and melt ice build-up. Using an ice melt or salt makes it safer to get around outside, both on foot and while driving during these cold, snowy months. You can pick up a bag of salt at most corner stores, hardware stores etc. When a storm is coming, you’ll see fleets of large trucks spreading salt across the city streets and parking-lots alike. But – What is the ‘salt’ being used to melt the snow? Is it safe? Below we will outline 3 of the most common ingredients of ice melt products, and the potential effects on humans, children, pets and the environment.

Sodium Chloride:

Sodium Chloride is the natural mined mineral form of table salt – rock salt or halite as it is sometimes referred. Sodium Chloride is “one of the most abundant minerals on Earth and an essential nutrient for many animals and plants. It is naturally found in seawater and in underground rock formations.” Source Sodium Chloride is generally inexpensive in comparison to other types of ice-melting products, however its “lowest effective temperature [is] 20°F (-7°C), [making it a] relatively slow and ineffective ice-melter when temperatures are coldest.” Source

Section 6 from Sodium Chloride or Salt Safety Data Sheet from Compass Minerals showing accidental spill measures

Every year in Canada, “5 million tonnes of road salt is used to de-ice roadways.” Source This salt “dissolves into sodium and chlorine ions” which often make its way to waterways, posing risks on aquatic life.  Other negative side effects can include “harm […] to plant life, so it shouldn’t be used near vegetated areas.” Rock salt is also “similarly dangerous to pets [and wildlife] since it causes disorders when ingested.” Source

Calcium Chloride:

Unlike Sodium Chloride, Calcium Chloride works in quite extreme temperatures. Calcium Chloride is “able to melt ice at a lower temperature point of -20°F (-29°C) … Over exposure […] can harm lawns and other plants if deicer is over applied.” Source Calcium Chloride not only melts ice at a lower temperature but it also melts it quicker, this is due to the heat it gives off as it dissolves after contact with water. “[A] study found that at -7 C (20 F), [Calcium Chloride] has 22% more penetration after 10 minutes and 38% after 30 minutes than [Magnesium Chloride].” Source

Section 6 from Calcium Chloride Safety Data Sheet Revere Pioneer RIM showing accidental spill measures

Magnesium Chloride:

Similar to Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride also releases heat when it encounters moisture. It can work in temperatures as low as -5°F (-20°C). Unlike other forms of salt or deicer, Magnesium Chloride dissolves quickly when it is on ice, making it effective for a shorter period, in turn causing it to be more expensive. Source  However, the water created from the rapidly melting ice also dilutes the magnesium chloride at a quicker rate than other products, making it less corrosive on roads, parking lots and other surfaces.

Section 6 from Magnesium Chloride Safety Data Sheet from Innovative Surface Solutions showing accidental spill measures
Dogs playing and walking in the snow with their owners above a list of the dangers road salt and ice melt & dogs

Each of the three ice-melt products listed above have PROS and CONS when it comes to their impact on human health and the environment. While Calcium and Magnesium Chloride were oftentimes in my research being described as less harmful to the environment – as shown on the Safety Data Sheet sections above – in large quantities they can all be dangerous, especially to pets, wildlife and aquatic life. When it comes to choosing which product to use, it is best to consider your specific scenario before deciding on your ice-melt product. Location, quantity, temperature as well as checking for other toxic ingredients are all things to consider when making your decision. Many cities, businesses and environmentalists have experimented with alternative solutions; everything from pickle brine to molasses to volcanic rock! Until an alternative replaces the use of road salts altogether be sure to take the appropriate precautions when working with ice-melt/salt products this winter.

MySDS Inc. can assist you with hazardous material compliance in your workplace… contact us for more information! 1-855-282-4537 | www.MySDS.ca

Sources:

 

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Canadian Government Entities Under Scrutiny for Lax Cybersecurity

Canada’s government sector is increasingly coming under scrutiny for both lagging privacy and security both in legislation and in practice

 

In a sign of the times, figures released in February to the House of Commons reveal that the personal information of at least 144,000 Canadians was mishandled by Federal department and agencies, including the Security Intelligence Service and Department of National Defense.  The breaches were widespread, impacting over 10 separate departments and agencies, with evidence indicating that these figures are being underreported due to inadequate reporting requirements.  The Canada Revenue Agency led the pack with 3,020 identified breaches over the last two years impacting at least 59,065 Canadians. 

 

Helical’s offerings meet the “Baseline Cyber Security Controls for Small and Medium Organizations” published by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and can be scaled up according to need.  You can learn more about how we meet these requirements here or for more information about Helical, visit our website.  

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Announcement – New Online Training Program: Lean for Municipalities White Belt

Leading Edge Group is excited to announce the launch of an online Lean for Municipalities White Belt training program.

This program provides a basic introduction to Lean thinking and how it can be applied across the municipality. Upon completion, participants will recognize the relevance of Lean principles and core tools and techniques as they apply in municipal environments as well as identifying specific processes in their organization where they see an opportunity for improvement.

Volume-based corporate rates are available upon request.

Get in touch to discuss any queries about the program or to enrol and arrange payment: https://courses.leadingedgegroup.com/lean-municipality-white-belt/

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SDS Breakdown: What, When, Why & How?

What is an SDS?

SDS stands for Safety Data Sheet (previously called MSDS • Material Safety Data Sheet)

When do you need an SDS?

Safety Data Sheets are created for any product that is “classified as a “hazardous product” under WHMIS that is intended for use, handling or storage in a workplace in Canada.”

Hazardous product means any product, mixture, material or substance that is classified in accordance with the regulations made under subsection 15(1) in a category or subcategory of a hazard class listed in Schedule 2 Source

Safety Data Sheets are to be provided by the manufacturer or supplier. They can be a hard copy given in-person or mailed, or a digital copy on a USB, a disc or sent via email.  It is required that workplaces in Canada maintain an SDS library, whether hard copy or digital, and that it be readily available to all employees.

Metal worker wearing PPE at work with fumes surrounding him

What is on an SDS?

A Safety Data Sheet is separated into 16 sections, below is a brief outline of what information goes into each section.

SECTION 1 – Identification

SECTION 2 – Hazard Identification

SECTION 3 – Composition/Ingredients

SECTION 4 – First Aid Measures

SECTION 5 – Fire-fighting Measures

SECTION 6 – Accidental Release Measures

SECTION 7 – Handling and Storage

SECTION 8 – Exposure Controls / PPE

SECTION 9 – Physical and Chemical Properties

SECTION 10 – Stability and Reactivity

SECTION 11 – Toxicological Info.

SECTION 12 – Ecological Info.

SECTION 13 – Disposal Considerations

SECTION 14 – Transportation Info.

SECTION 15 – Regulatory Info.

SECTION 16 – Other Info. (Dates, etc.)

How can you manage your SDS library?

Depending on the number of hazardous materials in your workplace, maintaining your SDS library can often end up being a full-time job! Because Safety Data Sheets are not always provided as easily or up-to-date as they are required, locating the correct copy often takes research, correspondence with the manufacturer and more.

Why do you need help managing your Safety Data Sheets?

Instead of taking up the time of a valuable employee in your company, hiring professionals for your SDS Management is the best way to go. We hire a lawyer to assist with our legal matters, and a plumber to assist with our plumbing, so why not leave this to the professionals as well. Managing your Safety Data Sheets is a matter of not only compliance with legal requirements, but they also provide the needed information to keep your workplace as safe as possible.

MySDS.ca can build and maintain your SDS library which can give you peace of mind, save you money and keep you compliant!

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DRONE Survey Application Case Study

Canadian UAV Solutions

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) provide a safer and cost effective alternative to many Municipal applications such as:

Urban Planning and Corridor mapping, Road, Rail, and utility inspections, Environmental, and Landfill monitoring, Zoning And Bylaw compliance, Natural Disaster assessment, Flood Plain Mapping, Municipal Drain inspection and planning, Pre-construction planning, Construction project monitoring and tracking, Asset Management data collection and more.

Here’s a Canadian UAV Solutions Case Study:
Bay Sands Subdivision Drainage

Client:
Paul Hauser
R.J. Burnside and Associates Ltd.

Scope of work:
First phase: 80 Hectares, Orthographic Image 5cm, 3m DTM, 1m Contours
Second Phase: Additional 35 Hectares tying into first phase, Orthographic image 5cm, 3m DTM, 1m Contours
Purpose:
To identify drainage and topography for a new subdivision in Wasaga Beach.

Conditions and Requirements:
Large swaths of the survey area were heavily wooded or swampy wetlands, causing issue with accessibility and reliable survey information.
Accuracy requirements were +/-10cm on bare earth and +/-30cm in wooded/wetland areas.
(excluding bodies of water)
Previous survey crews had mapped a wooded area trails the year before,
Our survey was required to tie into past survey crew’s calibration points,
As well as embed their 150 survey shots into the final model.

First Phase Methodology and Timeline:
2 Aerial surveyors were deployed with an eBee+ RTK and R10 GPS.
Crew laid 20 aerial ground control points, distributed throughout the survey area.
Shots were calibrated to previous survey crews’ controls.
15 were used in the model, with 5 as check points.

Approximately 4 hours to lay and mark targets. 
2 flights were performed by a Fixed Wing UAV, data collection took approximately 2 hours.
Final 2 hours for target and equipment clean up.
Field work was completed in about 8 hours, or 1 work day.

Processing took a single GIS Photogrammetrist 4 days to build, edit and QA/QC the 3D model.
The first phase was completed in less than a week, approximately 5 business days.

Second Phase Methodology and Timeline:
After speed, accuracy, and price of first survey, R.J. Burnside was able to commission an additional area to be surveyed.
2 Aerial surveyors were deployed using a Phantom 4 RTK and R10 GPS.
10 aerial ground control points were laid throughout the area.
Calibrated to our own controls from phase 1.
6 were used in the construction, 4 as check points.

Approximately 2 hours to lay and mark targets.
2 flights were performed by a Multi-Rotor, data collection took approximately 1 hour.
Additional hour after data collection to clean up equipment and targets.
The field work was completed in half a working day.

Processing, editing and QA/QC was completed in 2 days by a single GIS photogrammetrist.
The second phase was fully completed in less than business 3 days.

Summary:
We were able to provide accurate data where it was near impossible to obtain with a ground crew.
Was done in a similar amount of time as a standard ground survey, however the number of crew required was significantly less, and thus reflected in considerable savings. (enough to extend the survey area)
QA/QC reports a RMSE on check points found on bare earth and wooded areas no greater than 6cm on the Z and 3cm on the XY, well within specified accuracy requirements.

Testimonial
Paul Hauser – R.J. Burnside & Associates Limited
“A few years ago, Burnside decided to explore the potential applications of a Drone Survey. We contacted Canadian UAV Solutions to do a pre-construction scan of a project which was about to get underway. Within about a week we had our topography and site imagery from the day of the survey. The topographic information was very dense, which provided our engineers ample data to produce an accurate drainage plan. A normal ground crew would have struggled getting GPS lock in this dense forest, and cannot provide the imagery data which has been useful to identify feature locations.
Since then we have used Canadian UAV Solutions for various municipal construction projects and plan to explore drone applications further.”

Should your Municipality be open to exploring a more efficient mode of data collection, contact Canadian UAV Solutions today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

 

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3 Potentially Deadly Injuries to Avoid this Winter Season

  With the cold weather here and only getting colder, it is important to remember some safety tips around the workplace for the changing seasons. Below we outline some of the increased risks that come with the winter weather, how to prevent them, and what to do if you suspect them in yourself or a co-worker.

1. Slip and Falls

 although this may seem obvious, slip and falls are still a major cause of workplace accidents in the winter. In Canada over 42,000 workers get injured annually due to fall incidents. With around 17,000 of them resulting in lost-time injuries. With 67% of these being falls “on the same level” (with the remaining 30% being falls from heights). Source It is clear that ice and snow will increase the likelihood of these incidents.

Preventative Measures:

  • It is crucial that snow be removed from walkways and areas used by workers, and that ice be treated with some form of anti-slip coverage – whether it be sand, rock salt or something of the sort.
  • Non-slip footwear – many workers will have to work with slippery surfaces while out on the job. The right footwear choices can help prevent slipping on icy surfaces, such as work boots with a heavy tread, or even a removable tread can be placed over your footwear for added traction (please ensure your winter footwear meets your workplace standards prior to purchasing)

Protect your body – with the cold temperatures it is imperative that workers wear the appropriate clothing to stay protected. Layering your clothing allows you to remove and add layers as you begin to warm up or cool down. Wool is an excellent material to include in layering as it stays warm even when it gets wet. It is easy for workers to forget the potential dangers of working in cold temperatures when they are working hard, and their body has warmed up from physical labour but Hypothermia and Frostbite are very real dangers.

2. Hypothermia

– caused from a dangerous drop in body temperature. Hypothermia accounts for approximately 8000 deaths per year in Canada “Normal body temperature averages 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. With hypothermia, core temperature drops below 95 degrees. In severe hypothermia, core body temperature can drop to 82 degrees or lower.” Source

Warning signs:

  • Shivering, one of the first warning signs that your body is getting too cold and you should seek warmer shelter, when shivering becomes violent or stops, cause for worry increases
  • Grogginess, inability to pay attention or think clearly
  • Slow, shallow breathing leading to little or no breathing as severity increases
  • Slow, weak pulse leading to weak, irregular or non-existent pulse

What should you do:

If you suspect yourself or someone is suffering from hypothermia get them to a warmer/dry location as soon as possible and call for emergency help. Keep the person in a horizontal position and warm them with blankets or skin to skin body heat. If they are conscious give them something warm to drink. When hypothermia is severe people can actually appear to be dead so it is important to keep warming them until help arrives! Source

3. Frostbite

– is caused by the freezing of your skin and the underlying tissues. Source Frostbite most commonly occurs on hands, feet, noses and ears. Frostbite can range in severity but it is never something to be taken lightly. In severe cases nerve damage, blackening of skin and skin infections can occur.

Warning signs:

  • a prickly burning sensation, leading to numbness
  • discolouration of skin – blueish/white or grayish/yellow, hard or waxy-looking skin
  • clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
  • blistering after rewarming, in severe cases Source

What should you do: (as recommended by the Government of Canada)

Passive warming – move to a warm room, wrap yourself in blankets or reheat your body by skin-to-skin contact with another person

Active warming – this can be done along with passive warming. Add heat directly to the frostbitten area. The idea is to thaw the injured skin as quickly as possible without burning yourself. Thawing frostbitten skin is very painful so the injured skin should be placed in water that is just above body temperature. Do not rub, massage or shake the injured skin because that can cause more damage.

Severe frostbite requires immediate medical attention. While you are waiting for help to arrive begin treating it with passive and active warming. Source

The Ontario Government's legal requirements for employers to train staff of hazards specific to weather conditiions

Winter weather brings the fun of many winter activities but also the risk of the injuries listed above. It is important to remember these safety tips while at work and at home this winter. With the proper care taken all three causes of injury can be greatly prevented.

Stay WARM and SAFE this winter season.

Sources:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/environment/extreme-cold.html

https://canadasafetycouncil.org/the-cold-facts-on-hypothermia/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/frostbite/symptoms-causes/syc-20372656

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-hypothermia#1

https://www.wsps.ca/Information-Resources/Topics/Slips,-Trips-and-Falls.aspx

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IT Projects & Black Swans

Have you ever been involved in an IT project that was difficult and resulted in a less than optimal outcome? I still joke about being a survivor of a large-scale IT implementation project. That was more than ten years ago and the memories are still fresh and painful. That is not to say that all IT projects end in disaster and I have seen a number of IT projects succeed in my career. Still the stigma remains and there is ample anecdotal evidence in the workplace that IT projects are particularly prone to failure.

Does this belief hold up under more rigorous scrutiny? According to Oxford University professor Bent Flyvbjerg, who has spent his career studying this subject, IT projects are actually not the worse type of project. He found that globally, across all industries, the percentage of projects that come in over-budget are:

Ø  50% of IT projects

Ø  60% of Energy projects

Ø  70% of Dam projects

Ø  90% of Olympic Games[1]

So only half of all IT projects come in over-budget. That somewhat mixed news for IT projects is tempered, however, by the obvious fact that IT projects are much more prevalent. IT projects are happening every day in organizations all over the world while large energy projects, dams and Olympic games are much fewer in number and less frequent.

In another study, Flyvbjerg and his colleague Alexander Budzier, focused solely on a sample of almost 1,500 IT projects.[2] The projects in the study included enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, document management, and other management information systems. Many of the projects looked at were in the US public sector but surprisingly the results showed little difference when compared to projects in the private sector or other locations around the world.

Here is what they found:

Average IT project cost overrun is 27%

While that average might not seem alarming what they were startled to find, and what that average was hiding, was this reality:   

1 out of 6 IT projects had cost overruns of 200%

1 out of 6 IT projects had a schedule overrun of 70%

That means nearly 17% of all IT Projects are nightmare projects or what they call “black swans”.[3] Using a term popularized by best-selling author Nassim Taleb, black swans are “high-impact events that are rare and unpredictable but in retrospect seem not so improbable”.

There are many reasons for this high rate of IT project black swans but Flyvbjerg and Budzier point out a common finding was that sales and product development engineers and managers often have less than adequate skills in implementing the technology itself.  

The end result of these IT black swans is usually the same: increased financial pressure, reputational damage, and often loss of jobs, particularly those deemed responsible for the project. If a private sector organization is already weak before the black swan, the black swan IT project can often be fatal to its very survival. In the public sector, the organization survives but the public is left to pay for the mistakes through additional tax burden.       

To avoid becoming the next IT black swan case study, Flyvbjerg and Budzier say that we should always assess our organizational readiness through a 2-part stress test before beginning our next large IT project:

1.       Can the organization afford the cost if our largest IT project goes over-budget by 400% or more and if only half the benefits are realized?

2.       Can the organization absorb the impact of having 17% of all our medium sized IT projects coming in over-budget by 200% and missing the project deadline by 70%?   

These scenarios seem far-fetched when viewed at the outset of the latest IT project but the records show they happen all too often and no organization or industry is immune.  

As I said at the outset, many IT projects do succeed coming in on-budget and on schedule. According to Flyvbjerg and Budzier, the IT projects that are successful all share these common 7 key characteristics:

1.       Stick to the schedule

2.       Avoid scope creep

3.       Break the project down into manageable pieces

4.       Have the right people

5.       Minimize turnover of team members

6.       Align with business needs

7.       Focus on single objective and measure all activity against that target

  

  


[3] Nassim Taleb, “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”, Random House, 2007

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