Why Projects Without Business Cases are Shot Down

I just had a customer attempt to start a project without a business case. Such projects are usually driven by the desire to use a specific technology and with a vague idea that this would somehow benefit the end user.

If the IT department is strong, some of these orphan projects get started. They might be successful. However, since the organization has no idea of the business benefit, it is blind luck if the benefits exceed the cost.

If the business prevention department (compliance/legal) is strongest, they are shot down. There is always a reason not to make any changes. A project without a business case can be mortally wounded by any objections about compliance, GDPR, security, etc.

That is why every project needs a business case. It prevents IT from wasting money on something that will not add value, and it prevents compliance & legal from killing projects with a positive business impact.

Do your projects have solid business cases? If not, get in touch, and I’ll help you.

A Value-Destroying Technical Innovation

The important part is not the technology itself. It is how it interacts with its surroundings.

The big Ethereum upgrade (aka “The Merge”) seems to have been successful from a technical standpoint. But it seems that the Ethereum community focused on the enormous technical challenge of merging the existing Ethereum blockchain with another without stopping either. The problem is that changing from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake turned Ether tokens from a currency into a security. When you “stake” your Ether, you earn interest. And suddenly, the Ethereum ecosystem is subject to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules. Consequently, Ether is down 26% this week.

You can implement highly advanced technology with enough skill, time, and money. But unless you have someone skeptical think through how your tech will interact with its environment, all of the tech wizardry might go unused. It might even be destroying value as the Ethereum Merge did.

You Need an Agile End Result More Than an Agile Process

An agile development process is not important. An agile end result is. If your organization realizes a benefit from an agile methodology, that only helps you during the relatively short development process. But if you build something that can easily be re-configured and changed, that benefits you for the year or decades that you are running the system.

You would think that a digital billboard would be agile. The whole point is that it can display whatever you want. But German advertisers and shops have just realized that their display screens have very narrow agility. A new law requires these energy-guzzling billboards to be switched off at night to save electricity. It turns out that all the devices were built on the assumption that they would always be on, and they do not take kindly to store employees simply yanking the power cord when they go home.

To achieve agility in your products and systems, you need to avoid hard-wiring your assumptions into them. The only thing you can safely assume is that everything will eventually have to be changed.

Add Some Control to Your Life

Are you in control of your life? Many people feel that life is coming at them faster than they can respond. That leaves you with a feeling of being stressed and overwhelmed. That decreases your happiness, negatively impacts your health, and causes you to make worse decisions.

One way to add some control to your life is to start each day by deciding on one task you want to complete that day. If your most important task is one that cannot be solved in a day, you can decide that your task for the day is to work on the larger task for one hour. Agile teams start their day with a stand-up because it works. You can do your own personal stand-up, too.

Are You Prepared?

This morning, the citizens of Ukraine woke up to the sound of a Russian invasion. After weeks of saber-rattling, some people were prepared and some were not. You might not live in a place where a Russian invasion is likely, but you can still be affected by natural and man-made disasters. Even if you are not consciously thinking about it, your unconscious mind is continually evaluating your risk.

The better prepared you are for the unexpected, the more your mind will be is at ease. The events of today are a reminder to find out how to prepare yourself. In Sweden, every household recently received a 20-page folder called “If crisis or war comes.” Find the official recommendation for emergency preparedness from your local authorities and prepare yourself a little better. It will calm your mind.

Plan Your Life

Have you planned next week? People who don’t spend some time thinking about their future often experience that all weeks feel the same. That feeling can accumulate to general dissatisfaction with your life.

It’s each to prevent this. Simply write down in your calendar what you intend to achieve next week. Because the world runs on a weekly cycle, making weekly plans is a good way to keep your life moving forward. The end of the week provides you with some spare time, and is a good trigger for planning.

People who make specific plans achieve more. Decide today what you will achieve next week.

Plan Your Travel

Start planning your next trip. The antidote to lockdown cabin fever is to imagine a trip somewhere. You’ll be able to travel again this year, even if you probably won’t have the whole world available. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you spend time planning your trip.

Choose a destination and start researching. Since we’re only imagining at this time, you are fortunately free to skip the frustrating part where you search for cheap airline tickets. But find a hotel or Airbnb for your imaginary trip, and find out what you want to see and do.

Imagining a better future where you can travel again will lift your spirit. And once you’ve made the plans, your trip is more likely to actually happen.