How to Converge Your Brainstorming Input—Key Measure (continued)


Brainstorming‘s third activity, frequently called ‘convergence’, may take the form of decision criteria. Criteria can take different forms, as shown below.

Purpose

Here we define how an organization will measure its progress as it reaches toward its future vision.

Defined—key, measures, objectives, goals, and considerations:

  • A key is something of paramount or crucial importance.
  • A measure is a standard unit used to express the size, amount, or degree of something.
  • An objective is a desired position reached or achieved by some activity by a specific time. Objectives provide measurable performance [ ≣ ].
  • A goal is a directional statement that may remain fuzzy or subjectively measurable [ ☁ ].
  • A consideration is an important management issue, constraint, or concern that will affect reaching the objectives
    [ ✓ ].

Rationale

Key measures must support measurements toward the vision of the organization. They enable a group to better shape and define the most appropriate strategies, activities, or tactics (ie, WHAT to do to reach the vision). In the Six Sigma arena, objectives are frequently referred to as CTQ, or Critical to Quality measurements.

Expected Output

Clearly and properly defined objectives result from this step, along with a list of goals and other considerations.

  • CTQ would substitute the following questions for the SMART test:
  1. Is it specifically stated with upper and lower specification limits?
  2. Is it directional so that we can objectively determine whether it is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?
  3. To what extent is it linked to specific customer needs connected to the objectives of the project?

Method

Use ideation to develop candidate key measures: Describe the rules of ideation in Brainstorming. Define the terms (generally—methods of determining progress). List all candidate measures, perhaps stimulated by voice of the customer or customer types, and focus on items that overlap. When the group exhausts the list, review each candidate and separate into potential categories by coding them as shown. objectives [ ≣ ], goals [ ☁ ], and considerations [ ✓ ] Review potential objectives [ ≣ ] and make them SMART. Do not show the SMART definition however until after you have captured the raw/ draft input. Consider using homogenous break-out groups to convert raw input into final form, SMART objectives (ie, Specific, Measurable, Adjustable [and challenging], Relevant [and achievable], and Time-based). Separately list and fully define the remaining goals and other important considerations.

Remember friends, nobody is smarter than everybody. For detailed support, see 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).

Five Compelling Business or Organizational Reasons to Hold a Facilitated Session


Purpose

The most important action most people take every day is to make choices, to decide.  Productivity is amplified if decisions are properly made about when to work alone, speak with one other person, or to pull together a group of people, typically called a meeting.

The advantages to a facilitated meeting or workshop include:

  1. Higher quality results: groups of people generally make higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group.  Facilitated sessions encourage the exchange of different points of view enabling the group to identify new options, and it is a proven fact that any person or group with more options at its disposal makes higher quality decisions.
  2. Faster results: facilitated sessions can accelerate the capture of information, especially if the meeting participants (aka subject matter experts) arrive prepared with an understanding of the questions and issues that need to be discussed.
  3. Richer results: by pooling skills and resources, diverse and heterogeneous groups develop more specific details and anticipate future demands, subsequently saving time and money in the project or program life cycle.
  4. People stimulate people: properly facilitated sessions can lead to innovation and the catalyst for innovative opportunities because multiple perspectives generate a richer (360 degree) understanding of a problem or challenge, rather than a narrow, myopic view.
  5. Transfer of ownership: facilitated sessions are oriented toward further action by creating deliverables that support follow-up efforts.  Professional facilitators use a method that builds commitment and support from the participants, rather than directing responsibility at the participants.

Description

Conducting facilitated sessions includes preparatory time, actual contact time during the session, and follow-up time as well.  Therefore, successful sessions depend upon clearly defined roles, especially distinguishing between the role of facilitator and the role of methodologist (that are also discrete from the role of scribe or documenter, coordinator, etc.).  Carefully managed sessions also embrace ground rules to ensure getting more done, faster.

Much effort may be provided before the session to ensure high productivity, including:

  • Researching both methodological options and content to be explored
  • Review and documentation of minutes, records, findings, and group decisions that affect the project being supported with this particular meeting or workshop session
  • Completion of individual and small group assignments prior to sessions

When conducted properly, meetings with groups of people are strenuous for everyone involved, which is why they may be called workshops or workouts.  Therefore, avoid an overly ambitious agenda and plan for at least two, ten-minute breaks every four hours. Use our FAST ten-minute timers to ensure that breaks do not extend to eleven or twelve minutes. Strive to provide dedicated resources, such as a facilitator professionally trained in structured methods.

Discourage unplanned interruptions, especially through electronic leashes. “Topless” meetings are increasingly popular, meaning no laptops or desktop devices (eg, smart phones) except for accessing content needed to support the session. “No praying underneath the table” is another expression used to discourage people from using their gadgets on their laps, presumably beyond the line of sight of others, when in fact, everyone can see what they are doing anyway. For serious consensual challenges or multiple day sessions, sessions should be held away from the participants’ everyday work site to minimize interruptions and everyday job distractions.

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.

How to Facilitate Building Perceptual Maps


Illustrative Perceptual Map

Purpose

To help a team compare and prioritize its options using visual display support in a directional, perhaps less precise, manner.

Rationale

To stimulate discussion and solicit supporting views about both why options should be placed in specified areas and which options may demand more or less urgent attention and care.

Method One

After you have helped the team build their options (eg, actions to take), consider arraying them along the Payoff Matrix dimensions that include: 1) Ease of implementation, and 2) Impact of the solution.

  • If you have dozens of options, consider using a large wall display.
  • You may want to use Post-It® notes because discussion will lead to moving around (relocating) some of the options.
  • Be careful to know how to illustrate and define “High” and “Low” and to the extent possible, draw from your personal metaphor or analogy (Agenda discussion point in the FAST curriculum).
  • Use active listening and challenge frequently to discover evidence that can be used to support beliefs and claims.
  • The illustration below is called a “Two-by-Two” although it can be simply modified by adding a moderate dimension, making it what others call a “Nine-Block Diagram” (or “9 Block Diagram”) shown at the bottom.
  • In Six Sigma, comparisons are made of the CTQs (Critical to Quality) with the improvement or weighting factors.

Illustrative and Generic Payoff Matrix

Method Two

You can also facilitate building a perceptual map by creating the following:

  • Identify two dimensions that most affect the decision or situation.
  • Typically array from low to high but be prepared to define what is meant by “Low” or “High” (see PowerBalls).
  • If you need to use a third dimension, such as quantity, then consider varying the size of the symbol by cutting the Post-It notes so that width, height, or shape equates to the third dimension.
  • You might consider using different colored Post-It notes that relate to a third dimension such as large, medium, and small.
  • The alternative shown next is the Nine-Block Diagram that provides an additional, third sector of information contrasted to the Two-by-Two up above.

Nine Block Diagram

 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).

How to Facilitate Building Force-Field Analysis


Purpose

This facilitative tool modifies and strengthens the comparative approach called “pros & cons.”  It helps groups prioritize and identify opportunities for improvement, especially with project teams.  Force-fields help groups organize their thinking and encourage thoughtful exploration.  Once the forces are identified, the group can analyze their impact, leading to ideas and actions that reinforce the positive and mitigate the negative forces.

Method

This exercise begins by identifying the objectives, or CTQs (Critical to Quality), or targets.  Next, for each objective or discrete variable (typically provided in a list, slide, or hand out), ask the following questions:

  • What is hindering us from reaching this target (negative)?
  • What is helping us move toward this target (positive)?

Given that you have created two new lists (ie, positive and negative forces), adapt the Peter Senge philosophy that it is easier to remove obstacles (the hindrances) than to push harder (supportive forces).  Focus discussion on what we can do different to overcome the hindrances or obstacles, but focus the discussion on one at a time. For each hindrance there should be more than one action that could be offered or considered.

Once the actions have been identified and agreed upon, it may be necessary to prioritize them.  If so, use the FAST technique’s PowerBall or Perceptual Mapping tool to accelerate consensual prioritization.

Notes

See how the first list of objectives generates two lists (ie, support and hindrances) that are then consolidated into one action list, as shown in the following diagram:

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.

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