Posts Tagged ‘Scott Berkun’


October 7, 2011 2 comments

Last month, I blogged about helping to kickstart Scott Berkun‘s new book, “Mindfire”. Yesterday, I received a kool e-mail from stating that all systems are go:

I also received a thank you e-mail from Scott inviting me to a party he’s throwing in Seattle:

Damn, I wish Scott lived in Syracuse, NY.

Set Your Mind On Fire

August 28, 2011 2 comments

One of my favorite authors on the topics of creativity and innovation, Scott Berkun, is about to hatch his fourth book: “Mindfire: Big Ideas For Curious Minds“.

Checkout the innovative way Scott is employing to launch the book: Kickstarter. Of course, I’ve signed up as a backer. Maybe you should too?

SysML Support For Requirements Modeling

“To communicate requirements, someone has to write them down.” – Scott Berkun

Prolific author Gerald Weinberg once said something like: “don’t write about what you know, write about what you want to know“. With that in mind, this post is an introduction to the requirements modeling support that’s built into the OMG’s System Modeling Language (SysML). Well, it’s sort of an intro. You see, I know a little about the requirements modeling features of SysML, but not a lot. Thus, since I “want to know” more, I’m going to write about them, damn it! :)

SysML Requirements Support Overview

Unlike the UML, which was designed as a complexity-conquering job performance aid for software developers, the SysML profile of UML was created to aid systems engineers during the definition and design of multi-technology systems that may or may not include software components (but which interesting systems don’t include software?). Thus, besides the well known Use Case diagram (which was snatched “as is” from the UML) employed for capturing and communicating functional requirements, the SysML defines the following features for capturing both functional and non-functional requirements:

  • a stereotyped classifier for a requirement
  • a requirements diagram
  • six types of relationships that involve a requirement on at least one end of the association.

The Requirement Classifier

The figure below shows the SysML stereotyped classifier model element for a requirement. In SysML, a requirement has two properties: a unique “id” and a free form “text” field. Note that the example on the right models a “non-functional” requirement – something a use case diagram wasn’t intended to capture easily.

One purpose for capturing requirements in a graphic “box” symbol is so that inter-box relationships can be viewed in various logically “chunked“, 2-dimensional views – a capability that most linear, text-based requirements management tools are not at all good at.

Requirement Relationships

In addition to the requirement classifier, the SysML enumerates 6 different types of requirement relationships:

A SysML requirement modeling element must appear on at least one side of these relationships with the exception of  <<derivReqt>> and <<copy>>, which both need a requirement on both sides of the connection.

Rather than try to write down semi-formal definitions for each relationship in isolation, I’m gonna punt and just show them in an example requirement diagram in the next section.

The Requirement Diagram

The figure below shows all six requirement relationships in action on one requirement diagram. Since I’ve spent too much time on this post already (a.k.a. I’m lazy) and one of the goals of SysML (and other graphical modeling languages) is to replace lots of linear words with 2D figures that convey more meaning than a rambling 1D text description, I’m not going to walk through the details. So, as Linda Richman says, “tawk amongst yawselves“.


1) A Practical Guide to SysML: The Systems Modeling Language – Sanford Friedenthal, Alan Moore, Rick Steiner

2) Systems Engineering with SysML/UML: Modeling, Analysis, Design – Tim Weilkiens

Berkun Myths

January 15, 2011 3 comments

Steven Johnson‘s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From“, seems to have garnered more accolades and publicity, but Scott Berkun‘s “The Myths Of Innovation” is also an insightful, well crafted, and surprising read on much-the-same topic. I haven’t read Steven’s book yet (it’s on my list), but I’ve read and enjoyed both editions of Scott’s book.

Here is Scott’s list of the 10 myths of innovation:

My faves are numbers 4, 6, and 7. Regarding number 4, one of my favorite quotes fits the bill:

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. – Howard Aiken

What are your faves? Are there any myths missing from the list? What do you think are the “truths” of innovation? Are they just the inverses of the list?

One-Two Punch Combo

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Check out this one-two punch combo on creativity and innovation (which fit together like hand and glove) that I randomly stitched together from Chris “The Long Tail” Anderson and Scott “Myths Of Innovation” Berkun:

Scary stuff, no? That’s why I think that the first and biggest obstacle to self-realization through the “create and innovate” dynamic duo is yourself, and not the inevitable downstream naysayers that will peck and gnaw away at your innards. Nevertheless, the second obstacle is huge too, especially if you work in a big, stuffy, corpricracy with an endless queue of risk-averse, (dis)approvers in the way.

Monitoring And Learning

December 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Courtesy of this Scott Berkun retweet,

I latched onto this Harvard Business School paper abstract:

Even though the paper is laced with impeccable math and densely “irrefutable” logic, the conclusion of “looser monitoring -> more learning -> more creativity & innovation” seems intuitively obvious, doesn’t it?

Assume that the top leaders in your org embrace the idea and sincerely want to put it into action to detach the group from the status quo and propel it toward excellence. Well, fuggedaboutit. The scores of mediocre middle managers within the institution who do the monitoring will instantaneously switch into passive-aggressive mode and thwart any attempt to institute the policy. They’ll do this because it will most likely expose the fact that they are not only suppressing creativity and innovation where the rubber hits the road, but they are not adding much value to the operation themselves. How do I know this? Because that’s what I’d feel culturally forced to do. But not you, right?

Fierce Protection

December 6, 2010 4 comments

Delicious, just delicious. Pitches from Fred Brooks, Scott Berkun, Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister, and Steve McConnell all in one place:  the Construx (McConnell’s company) Software Executive Summit. You can download them from here:  Summit Materials.

Here’s a snapshot of one of Fred Brooks’s slides that struck me as paradoxical:

So…. who’s the “we” that Fred is addressing here and what’s the paradox? I’m pretty sure that Fred is addressing managers, right? The paradox is that he’s admonishing managers to protect great designers from…… managers. WTF?

But wait, I think I get it now. Fred is telling PHOR managers to “fiercely” protect designers from Bozo Managers (but in a non-offensive and politically correct way, of course). Alas, the fact that this slide appears at all in Fred’s deck implies that PHORs are rare and BMs are plentiful, no?

How do you interpret this slide?

Accept And Continue, Or Accept And Change

October 22, 2010 Leave a comment

If you’ve acquired a “bad rep” in a group, regardless of whether you think it’s deserved, it doesn’t matter how you present issues, problems, ideas, or solution options to anyone who perceives you as a “bad” person. Your ideas could have the potential to increase the group’s material or spiritual wealth, but……… fuggedabout getting any help from the “good” people. The “good” people are, by definition, those in positions of power who control the resources of production.

Once you understand the key principle of bad_rep == no_help, the first thing to do is get over any frustration and angst that you have from being “unfairly” adorned (how dare they!) with a scarlet letter. It’s out of your control, bozeltine. The next thing to do is to decide whether:

  1. to continue on being authentic, reinforcing your “bad rep” perception (if so-be-it) and knowing full well the consequences of your M.O.
  2. to attempt to force yourself into something you’re not. You know, morph into a “good” person so that the “bad rep” perception slowly dissolves in the minds of other “good” people.

I recommend continuing on and doing your thang as only you can do. You see, once your “bad rep” image gets burned into the UCB of one or more “good” people, it can never be erased. That’s because…… and here comes the usual acronym-laden rant that you may have been waiting for…… “good” BMs, CGH’s, SCOLs and BOOGLs are hoarders. They can add images and perceptions to their UCBs, but since they’re infallible, they are incapable of periodically re-assessing its truthiness and cleaning house. Like the Hotel California, “stuff can check in but it can never leave“.

I hate people who think in terms of “us and them”. You know, people like me. – Bulldozer00

Late Breaking News: After I wrote and queued up this vitriolic post, I discovered that one of my heroes, Scott Berkun, wrote a similar, but much more elegant, less offensive, and insightful one. Check it out here: “How To Keep Your Mouth Shut“, and be sure to watch the classic video snippet he points you to. It’s arguably the best caricature of a BM ever created.

Ego To Talent Ratio

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

In Scott Berkun‘s “Managing Breakthrough Projects” video, Scott concocts a metric called the Ego-To-Talent ratio (ETTR). Here’s my highly unscientific and speculative curve that plots ETTR versus position on the company org chart.

See that bozo on the chart? That’s me. Where are you?

Innovation Types

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

In the beginning of Scott Berkun’s delightful and entertaining “Managing Breakthrough Projects” video, Scott talks about two supposed types of innovation: product and process. He (rightly) poo-pooze away process innovation as not being innovative at all. Remember the business process re-engineering craze of the 90’s, anyone? Sick-sigma? Oh, I forgot that sick-sigma works. So, I’m sorry if I offended all you esteemed, variously colored belt holders out there.

According to self-professed process innovators, the process innovations they conjure up reduce the time and/or cost of making a product or performing a service without, and here’s the rub, sacrificing quality. Actually, most of the process improvement gurus that I’ve been exposed to don’t ever mention the word “quality”. They promise to reduce time to market (via some newfangled glorious tool or methodology) or cost (via, duh, outsourcing). Some of these snake oil salesmen dudes actually profess that they can  increase quality while decreasing time and cost.

The difference between a terrorist and a methodologist is that you can negotiate with a terrorist – Unknown

Most process improvement initiatives that I’ve been, uh,  lucky(?) to be a part of didn’t improve anything. That’s because the “improvements” weren’t developed by those closest to the work. You know, those interchangeable, fungible people who actually understand what processes and methods need to be done to ensure high quality. All that these highly esteemed, title-holding, mini-Hitlers did was saddle the value makers and service providers down with extra steps and paperwork and impressive looking checklists that took away productive time formerly used to make products and provide services.  Process Innovation is a high-minded, overblown way of saying process improvement. Process improvement is a high-minded, overblown way of saying “kill the goose that laid the golden egg before it lays another one“.


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