Weekly Read Week #7
Alright, the holidays are clearly in the rear view mirror and we’re legitimately into the first quarter of the year. Which means back to business. I’m currently reviewing different editors to see who is going to be the right fit to help move the project through this next important phase. More updates on that to come. For this first entry of the month we’ll head back to Chapter 3: “ A small number of people, carefully selected, well trained, and well led, are preferable to larger numbers of troops, some of whom may not be up to the task.”
With that, let's dissect the advantages for Arch and how they fold into their vision of building bikes "that have to make you giggle when you ride them."
As I noted earlier, the first bike which was built somewhere between 2007 - 2008, turned out to be a prototype which allowed Keanu and Gard to work through their design and engineering philosophy. They didn't move into major production of that model until late 2014 - that's six to seven years between prototype and going to market. Can you imagine the difficulty you'd face in keeping a large team of designers/engineers focused on a single product for that length of time? The natural inclination to build something new and keep up with the prevailing industry trends could easily overwhelm a product and take it in a direction completely different than initially conceived.
Parkinson’s Law of Triviality is a concept put forward by Cyril Northcote Parkinson - in its simplest form, it’s an observation about the human tendency to devote a great deal of time to unimportant details while crucial matters go unattended. In some circles, it’s also known as “bikeshedding” a reference to Parkinson's observation of a committee organized to approve plans for a nuclear power plant. As Parkinson noted, the committee devoted a disproportionate amount of time to relatively unimportant details -- such as the materials for a bicycle storage shed -- which limited the time available to focus on the design of the nuclear plant.
It's clear from the outset, that these bikes were being built to a very specific standard. Unlike, the more readily known and mass-produced motorcycles which need a broader appeal - these bikes were aiming for a "sensation", that a very select group of riders would understand and appreciate. Remember, this is an $80,000 purchase - so we aren't talking pocket change. Remaining true to your vision is a difficult undertaking under the best of circumstances, consider what happens each time a new individual is added to the mix. You run the risk of having that original vision diluted with new ideas and input that pull you away from the original outline, for all of you in Project Management roles you'll recognize it as "scope creep".
You need a team that's dedicated more to the goal then they are dedicated to their own personal ambitions. The team has to realize that everyone’s success is interconnected and with smaller teams that is easier to police from within the team itself. As the teams grow in size, you will inevitably have situations where new team members are far removed from the genesis of what’s going on - that distance usually results in feelings of being left out or ignored. Which results in decreased motivation and potentially lower effort all the way around. To be clear this is not to say you can't accomplish this with a larger team; if you look at the number of people involved in putting the first man on the moon I think you'll find there were hundreds if not thousands involved. But that was a once in a lifetime operation, most companies are not tackling anything as daunting as space travel.