Categorize as Quick Wins, Tried and True, Wild and Crazy, or Hail Mary Passes


The Payoff Matrix shown in the “two by two” below provides the classic means of prioritizing your options. Using return (ie, Impact of the Solution) and investment (ie, Cost of Implementation, typically time or money) as the criteria dimensions, it sorts your options into one of four categories:

  1. Quick Win (aka, Quick Hit)
  2. Major Opportunity
  3. Special Effort
  4. Time Waster
Return on Investment Payoff Matrix

Return on Investment Payoff Matrix

Perhaps a more engaging and stimulating way to frame the options, substitutes Probability of Success for the investment or cost dimension. If so, the updated matrix would look something like this:

  1. Quick Win
  2. Tried and True
  3. Wild and Crazy
  4. Hail Mary Pass
Probability Based Payoff Matrix

Probability Based Payoff Matrix

Method

Once you have built the options, code them onto small Post-It® notes. Typically alpha coding (ie, A, B, C, etc.) is preferred to numeric coding (ie, 1, 2, 3, etc.) so as not to permit any subtle bias about the relative importance of each. Consider iconic coding as an alternative to strip away all possible bias (ie, ✚, ♢, ✇, etc.)

Place your dimensions on a large white board. Facilitate from the zero point, or middle of the matrix and work one dimension at a time, asking is it more or less than others previously posted, until the groups is satisfied with the array.

Alternative

Break your team into three groups and have each group complete their own coding, probably on a large sheet (ie, 50cm * 75cm) and bring all three matrices to the front. Create a fourth and final matrix by merging the three, facilitating discussion about the differences until the group is satisfied with the final array.

Next Steps

Complete your prioritization effort with two more steps: assign roles and responsibilities for further development and conduct a Guardian of Change to agree on what participants will tell others after your meeting has concluded.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove 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’re 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.

Does a Facilitator Need to be a Subject Matter Expert? (Content vs. Context)


Some of the best facilitators are NOT Subject Matter Experts within the topic and scope of the discussion; however, NOR can they afford to be subject matter ignorant. They need to be subject matter conversant and understand the terms being used and the relationship of those terms to the deliverable, but they do NOT have to have an ‘answer.’

Effective Facilitators Avoid Content Kowtow by Participants

Effective Facilitators Avoid Content Kowtow by Participants

For example, this author facilitated sessions in North America, Europe, and Asia with radiologists and directors of radiology for a manufacture to help them design their next generation of CT (Computerized Tomography) scanners. While NOT a physicist or radiologist, with strong preparation to understand the basic and essential principles of operation, we were highly effective at facilitating discussions around pain points and possible solutions.

Neutrality, curiosity, and willingness to challenge assumptions are far more important facilitator skills than being expert on the topic. Without the humility that encourages one to ‘seek to understand rather than being understood’, participants will drop out, go quiet, and disengage because they are thinking: “If this person (the leader or facilitator) already has the answer, then why are they seeking out my opinion?”

The better challenge or question may be, “What is the unit of measurement for distinguishing between ‘subject matter expertise’ and ‘subject matter conversant’?” For us, the answer is simple.

Before the session begins, the facilitator and participants ought have properly prepared. Optimal preparation includes writing down the meeting purpose, scope, deliverables, and simple agenda before the meeting begins. Make sense? Hopefully you understand that the facilitator, at minimum, better know the reason of the meeting, WHY it is important (ie, purpose), WHAT will be covered and NOT covered during the meeting (ie, scope—that is necessary to prevent meeting scope creep, the number one killer of meetings), WHERE the group is headed (ie, the deliverable or what DONE looks like), and HOW they are going to get there (ie, the agenda or prepared structure).

Therefore the unit of measurement becomes the glossary or lexicon. To what extent does the facilitator understand the terms being used in the prepared meeting purpose, scope, deliverables, and simple agenda? To what extent does the facilitator’s understanding of those terms harmonize with the understanding of the participants, their culture, and the project team or work that must occur after the meeting concludes? To what extent do the participants share the same or identical meaning of the terms being used?

We illustrate this importance by challenging you to explain the difference between a ‘goal’ and an ‘objective’. To us, they are NOT the same things. We prefer an operational definition suggesting that ‘goals’ are directional and somewhat fuzzy. For example, a mountain climber may have a ‘goal’ of getting some good photographs when they reach the summit. An ‘objective’ however is truly SMART—ie, Specific, Measurable, Adjustable (our preferred deviation from Deming’s original definition of Achievable), Realistic, and Time-based. For example, a mountain climber may need to be sheltered in a tent and sleeping bag at 3,000 meters by 17:00 before a storm blows in or they risk freezing to death.

Some culture define ‘goals’ and ‘objectives’ the opposite of our preference, defining ‘objectives’ as fuzzy and goals as SMART. A good facilitator is agnostic, and can use either set of definitions, but knows the importance of determining the optimal definitions BEFORE the meeting begins. They are responsible for controlling the context (ie, contextual expertise) and not the content (ie, subject matter expertise).

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove 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’re 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.

Secret Sauce Part 3: Clear Thinking, Active Listening, & Prepared Structure


The secret to leading more effective meetings and workshops reminds us to put a CAP on wasted time and energy by embracing three behaviors:

Prepared Structure

Prepared Structure

  1. Clear thinking (ie, yields consciousness)
  2. Active listening (ie, yields competence)
  3. Prepared structure (ie, yields confidence)

The effective meeting leader learns to cap waste—to maintain control over direction, environment, and contributions of meeting participants. To be highly effective, requires a servile attitude. Here we cover the third item, the missing ingredient in most meetings, referred by us as “Prepared Structure”.

Prepared Structure

A leader should be disciplined and not unstructured. Prepared structure when working with groups, teams, and meetings refers to discipline, or the order of things. Meeting and workshop structure is like a road map for a trip. You can always take the scenic route or a detour, but you need a clear directive to know where to return.

Ironically, the more structured the meeting, the more flexible you can be. Without structure, or a road map, you can never tell exactly where you are, or more importantly, how much remains to be covered. With structure, you can divert from your plan and take the scenic route knowing that if the team runs into a dead end or gets bored with the scenery, you can always return to your map and planned guidance.

Left to their nature, groups tend to start “solving” before they complete proper and rigorous analysis. The leader needs to play the role of a process police person, and should never be too nice. Teams do not want a nice leader; rather they want a leader who will get them where they are going, on time, and within budget. “Nice” can take place after the meeting is over, in a different role.

Naturally the situation demands professionalism, respect, and common courtesy—but leading is not like having a group of friends, rather it is a group of associates, bound by a common cause.

The nature of building consensus mandates that we seek understanding first about WHY we are doing something. If we cannot reasonably agree on WHY something is important, it is highly unlikely that you will later arrive at consensus. We define the term consensus as something “you can live with.” It does not mean “favorite” nor does it necessarily imply total agreement. It does mean that everyone agrees to support it, and that no one will lose any sleep over it.

Agreement would be like everyone playing the same note on the same instrument. That would be boring after a while. We are seeking harmony, or better yet, the harmonization of different notes being played on different instruments—something akin to music, whether a symphony or hip-hop.

The leader dictates tempo, volume, and who plays when. The leader does not however pick up an instrument and start playing on behalf of the meeting participants. It is the participants’ responsibility to play their instruments. It is the leader’s responsibility to provide cohesion.

Once you get a group to agree on why something is important, next you guide them through the appropriate analysis. There are numerous approaches and tools to consider using. There is usually more than one right answer (or option).

Each option brings a discrete risk-reward that you need to consider, in advance—ie, prepared structure. WHAT type of analysis is best suited for ‘this’ group, given constraints, assumptions, urgency, etc?

The last thing a groups needs is for their leader to turn to them and ask them HOW they want to continue. They need a leader with a strong spine who will tell them HOW TO proceed; what is the question being asked, how it will be answered, and how does the answer support next steps and the deliverable.

Most forms of effective leadership sequence the WHY of understanding before the WHAT it means or WHAT can we do to support it. For each fact or piece of evidence that supports understanding (WHY) there can be more than one implication. Therefore, learn to separate the WHY and the WHAT and structure them separately.

The final part of structure is the HOW we are going to act upon the WHAT we are doing—accomplished. Again, for each WHAT there can be more than one HOW, and you need to lead a group through an understanding of its options. Generally speaking, the WHAT is abstract such as “pay bills” while the HOW is concrete such as “write cheques.”

In summary, the trivium of team discipline is:

  1. WHY is something important?
  2. WHAT are we going to do to support it?
  3. HOW are we going to get it done?

The brainstorming method likewise follows the triumvirate form of discipline. Its three steps are frequently called:

  1. Diverge (Input)
  2. Analyze (Analysis)
  3. Converge (Output)

The executive decision-making process follows a similar threefold discipline, although expressed in completely different terms:

  1. Facts (What?)
  2. Implications (So What?)
  3. Recommendations (Now What?)

Be a disciplined leader and know your structure before the meeting begins. Once you develop awareness about where you are leading a group, rigorously apply the discipline of structure to decide how you are going to lead them.

Secret Sauce
Summary

You will be incredibly successful when you CAP waste and prepare yourself and your participants thoroughly with:

  1. Clear thinking (ie, yields consciousness about WHY it is important)
  2. Active listening (ie, yields competence about WHAT could be done)
  3. Prepared structure (ie, yields confidence about HOW is will happen)

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove 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’re 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.

9 Components of a Structured Approach for More Effective Meetings & Workshops


A facilitated meeting or workshop technique provides a structured environment designed to extract high quality information in a compressed timeframe. It uses visual aids and a team environment to accelerate projects and amplify the quality of the decisions, outputs, deliverables, and outcomes.

The major components of the FAST facilitative leadership technique include:

  1. A model life cycle and methodology that eases adapting FAST to a variety of planning, analysis, and design methodologies
  2. An intensive educational forum providing the necessary facilitation and communication skills, tools, and an understanding of facilitated meeting roles—not dogma or other inflexible, guru-like perspectives
  3. Collaborative activities designed to encourage discovery and promote innovation
  4. Stress-tested workshop and meeting approaches molded to fit most projects situations
  5. Proficient leadership, based on critical skills such as:

    A Structured Approach for More Effective Meetings & Workshops

    A Structured Approach for More Effective Meetings & Workshops

  1. Project management and risk analysis support
  2. Reference manual and alumni membership and resources
  3. Ten uniquely defined roles including session leader, documenter(s), methodologist, business partner, technical partner, executive sponsor, team members, participants, coordinator, and observers
  4. Unique visual and illustrative communication aids called upon appropriately by a trained and certified FAST session leader.

Is NOT

A structured meeting or workshop is NOT a replacement for analytical methodologies. It works with methodologies to generate a uniform voice by providing an efficient two-way flow of information, from one person or group to another. Information developed with a consensual method provides value by becoming the foundation for additional information gathering, development, and decisions.

Session Leader

A neutral session leader (ie, facilitator/ methodologist) provides the keystone for structured workshops. The session leader understands the preparation requirements, group dynamics and appropriate methodology. The session leader is responsible for the managing the approach—the agenda, the ground rules, the flow of the conversation, etc—but not the content of the discussion, or even necessarily the project(s) being supported by the discussion and decisions.

Effective Facilitator

Various academic research has found that the most effective type of facilitator was one that actively elicited questions and responses from the quietest participants to enable a balance among the players. Effectiveness is best achieved by building a safe and trustworthy environment, one that provides “permission to speak freely,” without fear of reprisal or economic loss.

Defined Products

The type of documentation they generate drives workshop techniques. Some use templates to organize the notes taken during a workshop. The information collected starts out as raw or draft notes. Draft notes provide formal input to the project process. However, the meeting or workshop is not synonymous with the project, rather it compliments additional tasks and activities performed before and after the meeting or workshop, typically by the project team. A clear and consensually agreed upon path of next steps and “WHO does WHAT and WHEN” becomes the most common deliverable of meetings and workshops.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove 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’re 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.

Four Important Steps Toward Building a Meeting Agenda Owned By Participants


Purpose

This approach builds the meeting purpose, scope, session (ie, meeting or workshop) deliverables, simple agenda, and potential participants.

Building an Agenda

Building an Agenda

Method

Do the following:

  1. Write down your deliverable and strive to get examples! Deliverables illustrate the required documentation and needed information. What are we producing? Show participants examples if you are building a model. Align with the enterprise and business unit strategic plans to help reconcile tradeoffs in your decision-making process.
  2. Quantify impact from the meeting on the program and articulate the project or meeting scope. Identify the level of detail desired, the type of session (planning, problem solving, design, etc.), and what to accomplish in the workshop. Understand what might be excluded (due to scope); or what the purpose and scope are NOT.
  3. Identify and compose the simple steps that enable you to organize the known information,identify the missing information, and produce the deliverablesidentifiedpreviously. Rely on your organization’s methodology or life cycle. The best sources for your draft method are (in order of preference):
    • Proprietary or in-house life cycle
    • Team charter, prior work, or FAST cookbook agendas
    • Experience—look at past successful workshops (or CoP; ie. community of practice), ask, “What questions need to be answered to satisfy the purpose of the workshop?” Consider the Single-Question approach.
    • Talk to the project manager, technical partner (ie, the methodologist), or other organizational experts.
    • Go to a library or bookstore but do NOT rely on Google®.

For Lean or Agile also consider

  • Existing enterprise systems or processes (life cycle)
  • Architecture infrastructure (consider drafting a baseline architectural pattern)
  • Scoping/ phasing (what high level information is known)
  • Consider existing process models, high level ERD, and actors’ security/ policy

The three steps in the method above yield a DRAFT simple agenda; 
ie, simple meeting or workshop agenda.

NOTE: Identify the known information at the start of the proposed workshop. Some information was probably built before this workshop. It may be output from prior workshops. It may be planning or scope documents. This information should only be reviewed and not built from scratch, if acceptable.

  1. Identify the most appropriate participants. Identify what knowledge or expertise each needs to bring to the workshop. Determine how much of the agenda the participants understand and can reasonably complete in a group environment. Identify what issues they have—do they need team building or creativity or some management of behavior?   

Find someone who will provide resistance at the meeting so that you can learn to anticipate challenges that will develop. You may not want to avoid the issues because they need to surface; however, you do not want to be surprised or caught off guard.

Walk through the steps to see if you can produce the desired results with the proposed participants. Do the steps allow the group to build on prior work without jumping around? Are the steps logical? Will the deliverables be comprehensive?

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

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’re 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.

10 Excellent Guidelines for Students & Teachers: Justice, Peace, & Delight


Found the ten rules below and had to share, especially Rule Eight.  Since most of us play many roles in life, all of us at one time or another are student, teacher, parent, child, etc., thought you would appreciate them as well.

John Cage, an avant-garde musical composer inspired Sister Corita Kent. As an unlikely ‘regular’ in the Los Angeles art scene, the nun was an instructor at Immaculate Heart College and a celebrated artist who considered Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller and Cage to be personal friends.

In 1968, she crafted the lovely, touching Ten Rules for Students and Teachers for a class project. While Cage was quoted directly in Rule 10, he didn’t come up with the list, as many website sites claim. By all accounts, though, he marveled at the list.

Sr Corita Kent

Sr Corita Kent

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.

HINTS:

  • Always be around.
  • Come or go to everything.
  • Always go to classes.
  • Read anything you can get your hands on.
  • Look at movies carefully, often.
  • Save everything, it might come in handy later.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

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’re 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 You Can Lead a Group in a Complex Situation to Prioritize and Decide


This quantitative approach to SWOT was developed by Terrence Metz while at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Traditionally, SWOT is a narrative method for describing a current situation. It is typically used in strategic planning, but it also is used in product development, annual planning of projects, or current situation analysis. We have used the following quantitative approach whenever you are faced with prioritizing among hundreds of options.

The following is a simplified approach.
In our FAST curriculum, we explain quadrant analysis, baselining, temporal shift, group personality, and other esoteric factors.

SWOT analysis begins by defining each of the four areas – Strengths (what a group controls and does well), Weaknesses (what a group controls but does not do well), Opportunities (situations, events, etc., outside control of the group that provide unique opportunities for growth, change, etc.), and Threats (changes or competitive forces that may adversely impact the group). Brainstorm each list separately. Analyze each list (PowerBalls is a good tool here) to prioritize to about six of the most significant factors each.

Build a matrix (see illustrations below). Opportunities and Threats on top with Strengths and Weaknesses down the side. Explain the scoring process to the group. Each member gets “9” points (it is an arbitrary number and you may change it if you want more or fewer points). They assign the points based on the impact or leverage that each strength or weakness has relative to each opportunity or threat. The higher the impact, the higher the number. Ensure that they don’t just spread them evenly – it should be based on a business understanding. Collect the scoring. Using a spreadsheet (alumni may download), calculate the final scores for each intersection, each column, each row, and each quadrant.

Review the scores with the group and highlight the quadrants, rows, and intersections with the highest scores. Summarize from the list and have the group convert the most impactful concepts into a narrative action plan.

One Person Example
A fictitious software company employee looks at its strengths as: experience, good people, creative ideas, and product integration. Its weaknesses are newness to market and development time. Opportunities are integrated products, new market, and extensive market research data that is available. Threats are recession, other large competitors (eg, Microsoft), and hardware manufactures. The one person may scores it as follows (scored from 1 to 9, with 9 indicating greatest impact):

Fictitious Individual Scoring Sheet

Fictitious Individual Scoring Sheet

Analysis
The scoring indicates the most important strengths are their product ideas and integration. The weakness making them most vulnerable is their development time. The most favorable opportunities are integrated products and growth of computer use.

Thoughts
Strengths matter if they help take advantage of an opportunity or fend off a threat. Weaknesses matter if they prevent a group from taking an opportunity or making them vulnerable to threats. Opportunities require some strength to take advantage. This matrix helps to highlight which strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats require strategies.

Eleven Person Summary
Here is a real life example with eleven participants. Note that the moderate strengths and weaknesses had little or not impact on the plan.   Participants largely weighted their most significant strengths and weaknesses to develop actions.

Actual Eleven Person Team, Aggregate SWOT Scoring Summary

Actual Eleven Person Team, Aggregate SWOT Scoring Summary

Quantiative SWOT analysis helps focus future efforts – products, projects, strategies, and actions. It takes a few hours to complete, but it is worth the effort.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

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’re 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.

Establishing Common Purpose Provides the Secret to Building Consensus


Always remember, ask WHY before WHAT before HOW when you want to lead a group of people to shared understanding. Success begins developing common ground as to WHY a group has come together to plan, analyze, or design. Use of our Purpose Tool quickly builds an integrated viewpoint that coalesces the intent and purpose behind anything—from a  large organization to a small product or process.   Only with an appeal to WHY something exists can we lead a meaningful discussion on WHAT we should do to support the purpose.

Common Purpose

Common Purpose

Create clear deliverables before your meeting, but start your meeting either building or confirming the purpose of the object of your deliverables. For example, if building consensus around a simple decision such as a gift for someone retiring, determine the purpose of the gift before prompting for options and criteria. Some in the group may be serious while others could treat the gift as a “gag” (ie, comedic relief). Best to reach understanding about the purpose of the gift before launching into gift ideas.

Contrasting the abstract with the concrete yields insight about the simple difference between WHAT and HOW. WHAT groups may need includes decisions, plans, and amplified understanding. Any discussion about deliverables such as decisions, plans, and prioritization should always appeal to WHAT is required to support WHY the common purpose exists and align with WHY it is important.

Likewise, detailed design and HOW things get done may also appeal to WHY it exists. In a safety-sensitive culture for example, risk of injury and potential damage to health, safety, or environment must be reconciled with WHY something exists. To prevent 100 percent risk abatement may be too expensive, so strive to reduce as much potential injury as common sense, timing, and budget allow.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

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’re 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.

A Simple Agenda for Agreeing on Who Does What to Support an Articulate Purpose


Purpose

To support any type of descriptive or prescriptive build-out of a plan, process, or series of activities which can then be illustrated with a process flow diagram.

Rationale

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

Simple Agenda

You may consider using this simple agenda with a brief discussion of the supporting method that follows:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of __________ (topic, sphere, or business area)
  • Activities
    (NOTE: Take each “thing” from the purpose statement above and ask—“What do you do with this thing ?”—forcing “Verb-Noun”)
  • Sequencing
    (NOTE: Test for omissions using the Plan ➺ Acquire ➺ Operate ➺ Control prompting)
  • Value-Add
    (NOTE: eg, SIPOC)
  • Swimlanes
    (NOTE: eg, process flow diagram)
  • Wrap

Method

The developmental support steps are covered in depth in the FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership Manual. Here is a brief summary for your quick reference:

  • Determine the business purpose of the planning area, process topic, or functional sphere. Strongly suggest using the “Purpose is to . . . So that . . . “ 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 required to support the business purpose created in the prior step. Enforce the listing and capture them as verb-noun pairings only.
  • Use the Plan➠Acquire➠Operate➠Control life cycle prompt to help stimulate discussion about activities that are missing.
  • There needs to be at least one to two planning, one to two acquiring, bunches of operating, and at least one to two controlling activities for each business topic 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 SIPOC tables (a form of use cases) to sub-teams. 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. Demonstrate one or two in entirety with the whole group and then separate the participants out into two or three groups.
  • For each activity (ie, verb-noun pairing), build a narrative statement that captures the purpose of the activity (ie, WHY) and HOWitis being performed, then:
    • Continue to identify the specific outputs or what changes as a result of having completed the activity.
    • Link the outputs with the customer or client of each; ie, who is using each output.
    • Next identify the inputs required to support the activity.
    • Finally identify the sources of the inputs.

An illustrative SIPOC chart is shown below based on a mountain climbing metaphor. The focal verb-noun pairing is “pack supplies”.

Illustrative SIPOC

Illustrative SIPOC

Summary of steps to be included in this sequence

  1. Identify the activity (ie, process) and its purpose and discuss 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

To build clear definition of “requirements”, provide 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 (ie, abstract) from the HOW (ie, concrete).

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

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’re 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.

When Quality Decision Making is Not Enough and Speed of Action is Required


According to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, “Power is no longer simply the sum of capability and capacity but now, disproportionately, it includes speed—speed of action but especially speed of decision making.” (source: WSJ, Voices on the Future)

Race Against Time

Race Against Time

For any consensual and well-informed decision however, consider at least seven agenda steps to ensure a FAST quality decision:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of the scope or object of the situation
  • Options
  • Criteria
  • Decision
  • Testing
  • Review and wrap

Do not forget to begin with the purpose of the decision or you risk combative participants with competing purposes. Also begin with WHY the situation is valuable or important before you being your analysis or WHAT discussions.

Embrace the rules of ideation when capturing options—no discussion, high energy, etc. Set them aside and immediately develop an understanding of the decision criteria. General Dempsey added that “Countering the need for speed is often the paralyzing volumes of information, which often create an illusion of control and optimal decision making.” Here is why we rely on subject matter experts, to translate the volumes of information, into the most important considerations.

Most importantly, understand how you plan to scrub the criteria and what tool is most appropriate for your situation. In our FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership curriculum, we look various methods to galvanize consensus around decisions including:

Throughout the decision step, get the group to first deselect and agree on sub-optimal options so that the number of viable options is reduced, increasing the likelihood that the group will better focus on the best candidates. Do not allow any tool to make the decision for you, but allow tools to help you de-select.

For testing, take the decision and compare it with the purpose developed in the second step of the agenda. Determine to what extent the decision supports the purpose. If the harmony is strong, the meeting is over. If there are disconnects, revisit both the purpose statement and tentative decision with questions about clarity, omissions, and deletions, until you have developed a decision that the participants can “live with” meaning they will support it and not lose sleep over it, even if it is not their ‘favorite.’

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

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’re 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.

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