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Disciplined approaches to achieving objectives

Working effectively

To efficiently achieve consistent and correct outcomes organisations have to get their people to apply well proven practices. Leaving it to individuals, forcing them to create a personal approach, allowing them to do what they are used to, is a recipe for highly variable results. Good practices need to be deployed.

A scarce commodity

Unfortunately, the effective use of good practice is often lacking. Many operations wrap themselves in the cloak of the latest approaches and methods, but, despite all the right ceremonies and buzz words being used, things are not great. Look beneath the surface, look at the actual content of what is being done and you find a cosmetic situation. The implementation of the approach lacks the real, often hard to state, characteristics of a good execution of the approach.

Regrettably, this is particularly true in the testing and assurance space. In this space not only is there sparse application of what practice there is but also the issue that very little, fit for purpose, practice has been codified.

Codifying good practice

Codifying a good practice involves capturing and communicating a multitude of things:

  • A definition of the “outputs” of applying the practice in terms of their scope and content.
  • Measures and criteria that can be applied by those doing the work, or others, to measure the quality of the “content” of the outputs.
  • The key activities, along with their interdependencies and feedback loops, that should be performed in order to have a good chance of achieving the right quality of outcome.
  • What raw information needs to be located and used to drive the activities.
  • The principles that should be applied when making decisions or defining intermediate of final output material content.
  • An explanation of why this is the right way to do things.

All of this needs to be done in a way that is domain agnostic. Good practice, drawn from experience in one or more domains, has to be expressed in ways that are transferrable across domains. If the expression is coupled to a particular domain then it leaves the reader to unpick the fundamentals from the situation specific bits and then it hardly represents a transferrable good practice.

Deploying good practice

Deploying good practice is a challenge all of its own. Traditional approaches, issuing document templates and mechanistic procedural guides, lead to mechanistic, ill informed, action.

When people are asked to do things without both a clear definitions of what good will look like and without ways of personally assessing the “standard” of their work in progress they can hardly be blamed for unknowingly delivering work that falls short of expectations.

Even given these targets and measures their end output will fall short unless they have a good understanding of the principles they need to work to, an understanding of what is to be done and how best to do it. To avoid mechanistic behaviour deployment of good practice requires developing the knowledge of the people doing the work and, also, ensuring people are not asked to do work that demands a greater knowledge and understanding than they have, themselves, been established.

Introducing and Sharing Practice

Here we intend to introduce and share practice. Introduction may simply identify where organisations need to establish practice or it may outline the high level nature of a good practice. Going further, if we have something codified that we able to share then this section is where we will share it.