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Fuzzy isn't easy for anyone. Len Sweet, my mentor in my Doctoral work used one of the magic eye images to give us a reminder to go fuzzy, not looking for one solution. But perhaps more importantly to take something as a whole and not dissect it. Fuzzy means learning to "stand under" something rather than understand.

One thing I have been wondering about that you bring up, Bob...Are those who can really come to terms with the fuzziness the product of intense, under the fire, frightening as hell, kinds of experiences...who have to make something happen.
Does someone who can stomach the possibility of failure need to have looked in the face of fear and failure before? Kind of do you need to know hunger to know when you are hungry.

Carol Murchie

I worked in a product development infotech company many eons ago, and I recall us dreaming up the dual system of creating/innovating/experimenting in what we would call "the sandbox". Products for which we had actual revenue coming in could not be in the sandbox, they needed to go through a lean production facility in a tightly controlled timeline. The problem I ran into is telling marketing/sales that sandbox projects cannot have launch dates until we were ready to take it out of the sandbox and it could go through routine production without grit breaking down the machinery, so to speak.

I guess it is the eternal tension between "create" and "productize".


If these haircuts do work, I suspect that it is due to blind luck more than anything else.

As my personal experience mounts, it becomes clear that innovation is something that cannot be fully described, defined or forced. Innovation does not follow a timeline. It is something you'll know when you see it.

The true nature of innovation often upsets management, the bean counters, etc. because it cannot be controlled well.

Innovation needs to be fully embraced, in all its messiness, if real progress is to be made.

Daniel Christadoss

Some companies use the fuzzy front end very well.No haircuts are allowed till feasibility studies are completed. They actually delay the haircuts till the contract is awarded to the vendor. This is when the fuzzy front end streamlines itself into a finely pointed tail. Engineers of well designed projects will even allow for some deviation from original specs if it is in the interest of the project.

Zack Grossbart

As a software engineer I experience the the "nice haircut" phenomenon with the scrum project management process. Scrum (and every other software engineering project process I've worked on) help you get from point A to a well known and well defined point B. They all assume you know what you're going to do and just need to work out how you're going to do it.

This style matches the second half of most software projects, but not the first. The first part of a new project is all about innovation and pushing the team. Project processes stifle that creativity. The project becomes much more predictable, but also less innovative.

Giving those early fuzzy days a haircut is a good way to get from point A to point B, but it almost guarantees you'll never see points C, #, or 27.

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