August 28, 2014 1 Comment
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.
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.
You may consider using this simple agenda with a brief discussion of the supporting method that follows:
- Purpose of __________ (topic, sphere, or business area)
(NOTE: Take each “thing” from the purpose statement above and ask—“What do you do with this thing ?”—forcing “Verb-Noun”)
(NOTE: Test for omissions using the Plan ➺ Acquire ➺ Operate ➺ Control prompting)
(NOTE: eg, SIPOC)
(NOTE: eg, process flow diagram)
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 HOW itis 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”.
Summary of steps to be included in this sequence
- Identify the activity (ie, process) and its purpose and discuss WHY it is performed.
- Detail HOW it is or should be performed.
- List the outputs from the completed activity.
- Link the outputs to the respective clients or customers.
- List the inputs needed to complete the activity.
- Identify the source(s) for each of the inputs.
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.