The virtual AI4PM MoTIS team has delivered its report

The MoTIS project team I was asked to tutor in June delivered its conclusions during a one hour Zoom meeting yesterday. About 20 people were present, including the MoTIS course director in Paris and the project sponsor and client in Montreal.

The ESIEE version of the report was submitted last night.

The client’s version will be delivered tonight.

The 6 members of the team were too modest to include their bios as part of their report. I will therefore ask them to include in their report a link to this page, on which the bios will be available soon.

I have a feeling their report will travel over the internet and it would be appropriate that future readers should know a little about the authors. And the sponsor.



Publié dans Controverse, ESIEE, MOTIS, Programme-Anti Programme, project management | Laisser un commentaire

Virtually everything…no…everything virtually

It’s a privilege to be here in the Pyrenees, tutoring a group of 6 MoTIS students, all in lockdown in Paris, with a very busy but very committed, professional and generous project sponsor in New York.

For years I would kick off the tutoring of these June projects with an informal meeting at the ESIEE coffee bar; around the aluminium tables, with sunshine pouring in. I’d start by catching up on what they’s done in the last 4 months. Then I’d say :

« I’ll be taking a minimal intervention approach. You’re bright and should know what and how to work. My advice is: Firstly make sure you really understand what the sponsor wants. That’ll take a while. Check it out with him by sending in early prototypes and getting his reactions. Ignorance at the start is nothing to worry about. Secondly, set up a nice visual management workspace on one of the walls the wall of room 162, so I can wander in and see how it’s going. On it should be a timeline with major events and a Kanban system of some sort with « to do », « doing », « done ». I’m available 24/7. Thirdly, don’t organise yourselves too rigidly too early, but don’t leave it too late. Perfectionists and control freaks beware! Fourthly, here’s my phone number. You can contact me any time if you think I can add value either on management or on content. Finally, from time to time we’ll meet to see how things are going. »

In the virtual world there was no coffee bar but a Zoom meeting, arranged by the team and which started punctually at 7 pm and went on for an hour.

I’m pretty confident it’s a nice team. During the final day of our PM course in October, these students were in teams which wrote pretty good and attractive handbooks on agile project management in 6 hours, via three short sprints.  In November, they were very active in the 6 week Turku School of Economics online course on IS project management, and did weekly virtual project work in multicultural teams which never actually met physically.  In January they did a first project where they learned how to improve teamwork by awareness of their Belbin, MBTI, communication, learning and conflict management styles. They did good programme anti programme analysis (which I have not yet commented on in depth although I should have 6 months ago!). Three days before project kick off they’ve already made one WhatsApp group that includes me, and a shared Google drive.

At this point my overall RAG dashboard is green.

Publié dans agile, ESIEE, MOTIS, project management | Laisser un commentaire

Global Coronavirus Controversies (16) Big anti-programme kicks in

The UK government finally launched its COVID-19 tracing app this morning but sadly it  crashed more or less at launch.

Perhaps it was just a beta test version with a big user community although that would be a brutal way of spreading the agile projet management message to the general public.

Let’s hope it will be up and running smoothly fast.

In any case I feel and sympathy for the poor, stressed out project teams that have been rushing this through in the past couple of months. It must be difficult for them.

Publié dans Controverse, Covid 19, Innovation, Programme-Anti Programme, project management | Laisser un commentaire

Global Coronavirus Controversies (15) : wise words

From the composer Arvo Pärt

Most of all I like the idea of carving pews that no-one will see. Intrinsic motivation. My strongest memory of Isaacson’s bio of Steve Jobs (which I read twice and is now in the good hands of Jean-Marc at ESIEE) is Jobs’ obsession that the invisible inside of objects should be as beautifully crafted as the visible outside.

Publié dans Controverse, Covid 19, ESIEE, Innovation, science | Laisser un commentaire

Global Coronavirus Controversies (14) : when is it about antiprogrammes?

This morning listening to the radio I heard 3 examples of programme-antiprogrammes (PAPs) noted them down. Over breakfast I wondered why they struck me as PAPs and not as controversies?

A teacher’s union official was explaining why he was resisting the idea of allowing kids to go back to school

A health professor was explaining why he had started wearing face masks in public.

An airline CEO was explaining why 14 day quarantine for travellers from other countries should be removed.

Their explanations were littered with allies, antiprogrammes and reference to evidence. I could see them doing their best to try to move the cursor from left to right, from « fiction » to « fact ».

So to come back to the difference. I’d say I think controversy when it is the impression of atonal, polyphonic sound of  tangled up issues, questions and disagreements which predominates. A bit like this.  Whereas programme antiprogramme is where you can perceive a recognisable melody building up. A bit like this.

Just a thought.  More later.



Publié dans Controverse, Programme-Anti Programme, science | Laisser un commentaire

Global Coronavirus controversies (13) : tribal roots?

Legend has it that the whole controversy mapping process started when the young Bruno Latour flew back from the Cameroon, where he was about to start anthropological fieldwork. Where, he thought, can I go to study the opposite of a tribal society?

He ended up in California at the Jonas Salk Institute in La Jolla and published in 1979 with Steve Woolgar the book Laboratory Life  (my edition of which is somewhere in a container near Paris).  Based on painstaking, systematic ethnographic observation of the Salk research lab and their brilliant insights, the authors show how scientific facts are constructed. Not just in the lab with reagents, instruments, hypotheses, formulas, data, observations and the like, but in the scientific community with previous researchers, contemporary colleagues, rivals, conferences, publications, etc.

Salk discovered the vaccine against polio, which « was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the world until 1955 when the Salk vaccine was introduced, and epidemics were increasingly devastating in the post-war United States »{source}

At time of writing there are reported to be 120 Covid-19 vaccine ongoing projects. It is an entire controversy galaxy.


Publié dans Controverse, Covid 19, Programme-Anti Programme, science, Uncategorized | Laisser un commentaire

Global Coronavirus controversies (12) : 673 years ago…

…the Black Death hit Europe and many died. Here is an interesting historical account which includes some observations on the effects of such pandemics on inequality.

Publié dans Controverse, Covid 19, Programme-Anti Programme, science | Laisser un commentaire

2020 ESIEE Controversy exhibition starts today and you have 3 days to vote

Since 2018 and 1000 km north of the here in the Pyrenees, Lionel Villard and his team of controversistas have done a marvellous job on the ESIEE controversy course. Lionel upgraded the old online tools two years ago so that when lockdown started last March all 300 ESIEE first year students plus course teachers switched over seamlessly to Zoom and Blackboard.

The teams have worked hard.

ESIEE Contro online May 2020

ESIEE is of course closed, so for the first time this century the walls are not alive with dozens of posters (like they were a few years ago) , but you can see the results of this year’s projects here and you can vote for your favourite poster until Sunday night.




Publié dans Annonce, Controverse, ESIEE, Innovation, Programme-Anti Programme | Laisser un commentaire

Global Corona Controversies (11): Galileo’s legacy

In the early 1980s, those very old days when I felt almost as young as my ESIEE students, I taught an elective called Science Fiction and Utopia in which students wrote short SciFi stories but also read aloud parts of Bertolt Brecht’s play The Life of Galileo. This morning on the BBC was the actor who should have been onstage this week as Galileo in the Chichester festival. He read an excerpt from the play which is about the famous 16th century controversy which opposes Galileo and « modern science » against the Catholic Church. Under great pressure and threat of torture from the Church’s Inquisition, Galileo recants and publicly proclaims that the Sun is not the centre of the universe.

The original version of the play ended with that speech. But in 1946, Brecht added this postscript, which was often performed as an epilogue. The aged Galileo says to his young student Andrea Sarti:

« As a scientist I had a unique opportunity. In my day astronomy emerged into the market place. Given this unique situation, if one man had put up a fight it might have had tremendous repercussions. Had I stood firm the scientists could have developed something like the doctors’ Hippocratic oath, a vow to use their knowledge exclusively for mankind’s benefit. As things are, the best that can be hoped for is a race of inventive dwarfs who can be hired for any purpose. »  {source here}

So what better way to start the week than to explore the controversy which Hanna pointed out to me in her message last night. Is there really such a thing as Covid-19?

Publié dans Controverse, Covid 19, ESIEE, Programme-Anti Programme, science | Laisser un commentaire

Global Corona controversies (10) a first list

It’s taken me a long time to sort these out. This list of more or less controversial issues is quite simply based on an inventory of articles and reports I’ve read in certain papers over the last 6 weeks.  I have not yet attempted to map anything.  However I can see 4 groupings.

Firstly, what we could call biological controversies related to the spread of CV in the human body.  Secondly, social controversies concerning the person to person spread of CV. Thirdly political controversies related to the diffusion of CV through rural, urban, regional and national communities. Finally geopolitical and health controversies connected to the global spread of CV.

Loosely speaking a controversy is a discussion between different types of human actors  based on their differing interpretations of evidence concerning a particular issue.

So, in a controversy a given problem/question/anomaly/puzzle/difficulty is being examined/discussed / investigated/resolved on the basis of data/evidence via a more or less heated and passionate conversation/debate/argument/dispute/ in order to help us deepen/improve/ our knowledge/understanding or to allow/reach/ facilitate/deploy a decision/action/policy (or simply to resolve a dilemma) and thereby « improve » the world.

The four groupings below are peppered with controversies (to which I will add your suggestions in italics where possible).

a) The biology of Covid-19: What is it? How does it affect the body? What symptoms does it provoke? What are its origins? How to fight it? How to prevent it?

b) The sociology of Covid-19: Is it? (Thank you Hanna) What is it? (added 12th May) How and where did it start? How is it transmitted biologically? How is it transmitted socially? How can transmission be hindered? How can it be prevented and stopped? How can it be tracked? How can it be modelled? How can it be measured? How can it be reported?

c) The politics of Covid-19: What is it? (added 12th May) How can the spread best be limited within real (local, regional, national) communities? Why are there differences between nations? How to keep the economy going? How and when to loosen (local, regional, national) restrictions? What type of post-Covid 19 communities (local, regional, national, international) are desirable and/or possible?

d) The geopolitics of Covid-19: What is it? (added 12th May) How did this pandemic spread? How did various international communities respond? What type of global post Covid-19 world is desirable and/or possible?

Next, I will try and provide some examples of actual controversies for each of the four groupings In parallel, I will do my best to aggregate the references.

I am very tempted to start by tweaking Bruno Latour’s (1989) imaginary agent 009 and the Soviet Union missiles example which I exposed in 4 instalments (1)  (2) (3)here last month.

Meanwhile, please respond and react so that I can adjust, alter and improve the framework. I will add your suggestions (if I see a way of doing that) as I receive them.

Publié dans Controverse, Covid 19, Programme-Anti Programme, science, Uncategorized | Laisser un commentaire