SMART Versus DUMB Criteria


Purpose

The intent here is to illustrate the difference between clear, or SMART (Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Relevant, and Time-based) definitions and criteria contrasted with unclear or DUMB (ie, Dull, Ubiquitous, Myopic, and Broad) definitions and criteria.

An Unclear Business Definition
(Example of DUMB Customer ID)

“The ID of the customer”

A Clear Business Definition
(Example of SMART Customer ID)

“A twelve character code that uniquely identifies a customer for our business.  The code will be displayed on all customer shipments and invoices.  Customers and customer service representatives use this code to resolve shipping or invoicing issues.  Finance uses this code to track customer sales performance.  Marketing uses this code for determining customer segment and group performance.  Sales uses this code to identify products purchases by customer.”

The code consists of the following:

  • Character One—either the letter “I” for customers internal to the company or the letter “E” for customers external to the company
  • Character Two—either the letter “U” for United States customers or the the letter “M” for multi-national customers without corporate headquarters in the United States
  • Characters Three and Four—two letter state code for the United States, Canada, and Mexico or two letter country code for other countries
  • Characters Five through Ten—system-generated numeric ID that is to unique to each customer
  • Characters Eleven and Twelve—system generated numeric ID that is unique to each customer distribution center

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

How to Facilitate Requirements Gathering (Primer Only)


Purpose

To support any type of descriptive or prescriptive build-out of a process or series of activities, and to prevent omissions.

Rationale

Groups have a tendency to forget activities or events that occur less frequently, particularly activities that support planning and control.  The following helps to squeeze out potential omissions.

Method

The developmental support steps are:

  • Determine the business purpose of the process or functional area.  Strongly suggest using the “Purpose is to . . . “ tool.
  • Next is the first activity of the brainstorming method—List.  Label the top of the flip chart with “VERB NOUN” and ask the group to identify all the activities that do or would support the business purpose created in the prior step.  Enforce the listing and capture them only as Verb-Noun pairings.
  • Use the Plan➠Acquire➠Operate➠Control life cycle to help stimulate thinking about what activities may be missing.
  • You should find one to two planning, one to two acquiring, bunches of operating, and at least one to two controlling activities for each business process or scope of work.
  • After identifying the various activities (sometimes called “sub-processes” by others), convert the verb-noun pairings into “use cases” or some form of input-process-output.  Build one use-case for each pairing.
  • Consider assigning the SIPOC tables (a form of use case) to sub-teams.  Demonstrate one in its entirety with the whole group and then break them out into two or three groups.
  • For each activity, build a narrative statement that captures the purpose of the activity, why it is being performed, then:
  1. Continue to identify the specific outputs or what changes as a result of having completed the activity.
  2. Link the outputs with the customer or client of each; ie, who is using each output.
  3. Next identify the inputs required to perform the activity.
  4. Finally identify the sources of the inputs.

An illustrative SIPOC chart is shown below.  SIPOC stands for the Source of the input, Input(s) required to complete the activity, Process (ie, our activity), Output resulting from the activity, and Customer or client of the output.

Summary of steps to be included in this sequence 

  1. Identify the activity (ie, process) and its purpose or WHY it is performed.
  2. Detail HOW it is or should be performed.
  3. List the outputs from the completed activity.
  4. Link the outputs to the respective clients or customers.
  5. List the inputs needed to complete the activity.
  6. Identify the source(s) for each of the inputs.

Success Keys

Keys to success building clear definition of “requirements” mandate using a visual illustration or template.  Additionally,

  • Have the group pre-build all the potential sources and customers of the process and code them so that when you build the SIPOC tables; the group can refer to the code letter/ number instead of the full name (thus substantially speeding up the method).  As you discover new sources or customers, simply add them.
  • Learn to ‘shut up’ after asking questions and seek to understand rather than be understood.
  • Write down participant response immediately and fully.
  • Provide visual feedback, preferably through modeling.
  • Advance from activity identification to the inputs and outputs required to support the activity; then associate each with its sources and clients (SIPOC).
  • Separate the WHAT from the HOW.

Simple Agenda

You may consider using this method with a simple agenda that could look like:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of __________
  • Activities (NOTE: Take each “Thing” and ask—“What do you do with this thing ?”—forcing “Verb-Noun” pairings.  Test for omissions using the Plan ➺ Acquire ➺ Operate ➺ Control prompting)
  • Value-Add (ie, SIPOC)
  • Walkthrough
  • Wrap

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify the skills of a facilitative leader.

Related articles

 

How To Actively Listen


“Talking is what I do, but listening is my job.”
Ryan Seacrest
 

Active listening is the most important tool for effective facilitation. As an active listener, you feedback (replay, restate) what the speaker has offered to the group. It serves several purposes:

  • Often, the participant is formulating thoughts on the spot and the playback helps one to further develop the thought process.  The act of communication affects what is being communicated.
  • Participants experience being heard—listened to.
  • Separate the arguments and opinions from the participant so that everyone can join in.
  • To reflect effectively, you need to understand the essence of the message inherent in each participant’s message.
  • You express an attitude of openness and listening.

Four Steps

People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Active listening requires four discrete steps.

  1. CONTACT—connect with the participant who is speaking. Eye contact. Open posture. Nonverbal responses.
  2. ABSORB—take in all aspects of what is being said, implicit and explicit.  Nonverbal clues. Do not judge or evaluate.
  3. REFLECTIVE FEEDBACK—mirror, reflect, or feedback what you have heard and why the contributor claims to be valid.
  4. CONFIRM—receive confirmation from the speaker that you heard the participant’s message accurately. If not, start the method over again at the beginning by having the speaker restate their view.

Feeding Back

“To listen with understanding means seeing the expressed idea and attitude from the other person’s point of view, sensing how it feels to the person . . . This may sound absurdly simple, but it is not.”
—Dr Carl R Rogers

Reflection

 

Providing feedback or reflection captures the single most important part of active listening. Reflection can be either oral or visual. Reflection distinguishes active from passive listening, where people conversationally move from one statement to the next without verifying that content has been understood.

While verbatim are frequently preferred, optionally provide feedback and confirm content with one of these three techniques.

  1. Synthesize—shape fragments into a whole, work through the stream of consciousness found in group discussions.
  2. Summarize—much communication occurs without foresight. Often more words are used than necessary. When you summarize, boil it down to its essence or core message, ideally to the point of isolating the key verb and noun components first. Participants more frequently argue about adjectives and adverbs.
  3. Paraphrase—saying, repeating what the participant(s) said using somewhat different words while preserving the original meaning or intention.

When providing reflective feedback, depersonalize the content with your rhetoric. Do NOT say ‘You said . . . ‘  Rather, convert their statements with integrative rhetoric such as, “We heard . . .”

Strive for completeness when providing reflection. Try to avoid the general ‘Does everyone agree with THAT?’ by replacing content for the impersonal pronoun “that”. For example, ‘Does everyone agree that torture can be consciously objectionable?’ works better because participants now better understand the exact reflection.

Why It Works

Active listening is a powerful tool because it builds relationships between participants. Exercising active listening sets an example for all participants and lays the foundation for clarity and understanding.

Through a confirmation process we are permitted a clearer and potentially deeper understanding about the assumptions that different perspectives embrace in their decision-making. In other words, it makes it easier to see the world through others’ eyes.

Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

The Role of Session Leader


You can complete a project without facilitation, but you could also cut your own hair.
—Various

Session Leader

You have a multitude of tasks to perform during the workshop.  Success of the facilitator’s effort is dependent upon your skill, knowledge, and abilities as a session leader.  The session leader’s role includes both the traditional role of “Facilitator” discussed below and the role of “Methodologist” discussed on the next page.

Responsibilities

Context is the key responsibility of the session leader, frequently called a facilitator—responsibilities include:

  • Actively listening to the discussion and challenging assumptions.
  • Creating synergy by focusing the group and using your facilitation skills to enhance communications.
  • Ensuring that all participants have an opportunity to participate.
  • Explaining and enforcing the roles.
  • Keeping the group on track.
  • Managing the documenters and the documentation process.
  • Observing the group interactions and adjusting when necessary.
  • Questioning to achieve clarity—aiding communication between participants and yourself.
  • Recognizing disruptive behavior and creating positive corrections.
  • Working to resolve conflicts that arise.

Key Element

Your role is to create an environment where every participant has the opportunity to collaborate, innovate, and excel.  Observing the team’s progress helps you understand the dynamics of the group and how your approach enhances or detracts from the final output.

The Group Dynamics

  • Ask yourself the following questions while observing the group:
  • How do they communicate?  Eye to eye contact?  Soft spoken?  Yelling?  Gestures?  etc.
  • In what order do they speak?  Primary, secondary, who backs who up?  Who always gets interrupted?
  • Who appears to influence group direction the most?
  • Who are these people talking to?  Are they looking for supporters?  Do they attack certain people or groups?

Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

 

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