Noise Factors vs. Control Factors

@rjs posted a really good post on Noise factors vs. control factors (23. Noise factors vs. control factors). I was interested in hearing Ryan’s (and others) thoughts on how this may or may not relate to Shape Up, specifically the section around scope hammering “Decide When to Stop | Shape Up

For me, it sounds like the noise vs. control discussion is firmly planted in the shaping/framing work phase, rather than in scope hammering.

So a work planning framework vs. a work completing framework. But maybe it can/does apply (which is what Ryan states at the end of his post) there as well. Anyway, interested in other thoughts on this!

I think in both cases you’re defining the shape of the work. Even in the building phase, when scope hammering, the team are making changes to the overall shape of the produced thing — even more so when they come across an unforeseen interdependence.

I’ll admit though, I still find it difficult to reach for this as a tool in my day to day shaping. Like Ryan says in his post it pretty much never gets spoken about in software circles and all the examples are manufacturing related. I really liked how he shared a practical use of it in his case study of writing a pattern language video. Would definitely like to see more on Taguchi systems and how they can be used as a tool in software design.

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Thanks @JoshAntBrown for the perspective. It got me thinking a few random thoughts:

  1. If the “No Gos” section of a pitch is where you define the initial noise factors for that work
  2. Appetite is a key variable in categorizing factors as noise vs. control
  3. Whether finding lots of noise factors in the scope hammering phase is a feedback loop to initial pitch (shaping) quality

I think I’m on the same page with you in terms of the language though. The closest software analogy I could think of that addresses “noise vs. control” is “out of scope vs. in scope” but the latter is also loaded with some particularly subjective/non-shaping-friendly baggage. I like the added precision that noise vs. control brings, but training a shaping team to think in those terms seems necessary.

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