A “Plan” May Be Defined as “Who Does What (and When)” and Answers 10 Questions


The WHAT component of plans have many terms including strategy, initiative, project, activity, and task. Depending on the audience, all may be valid. All plans, when thoroughly completed, will provide answers to the following ten questions:

WHO Does WHAT and WHEN

WHO Does WHAT and WHEN

  1. Why are we here?
  2. Who are we?
  3. Where are we going?
  4. How do we measure our progress?
  5. What is our current situation?
  6. What to we do to reach our objectives?
  7. Is it the right stuff to do?
  8. Who does what?
  9. What are we going to tell others?
  10. Will it ensure our success?

1. Why are we here?

The first question addresses the passion. While many MBA textbooks refer to this step as Mission, much of the military-industrial complex refers to this as Vision. Yet both answer this question first, which is why do we show up? Answers to this question fill in the blank landscape that provides the background to all other team development.

2. Who are we?

Frequently referred to as Values or Guiding Principles, answers to this question describe the accouterments and what weighs down the participants—ie, what do they carry with them, what do they value? Difference types of people may share similar passions, such as mountain climbing, and yet are very distinctive in their personalities (eg, rope climbers versus Sherpa supported endeavors).

3. Where are we going?

Because success is amplified when people stick together, many teams prudently select a common view of where they are headed. While many MBA textbooks refer to this step as Vision, much of the military-industrial complex refers to this as Mission. Yet both answer this question after the first question above, agreeing on where they are headed.

4. How do we measure our progress?

No proactive endeavor succeeds in a complex marketplace without measurements. While some consulting firms define Objectives as SMART and Goals as fuzzy, other firms use the exact opposite definitions. We are not biased by the term used, but agree, understand, and promote the concept that there are three different types of criteria: namely, SMART (ie, specific—frequently referred to as KPIs or Key Performance Indicators), fuzzy (may be subjective, such as a “great view at the top of the mountain”), and binary (such as, “take only photographs).

5. What is our current situation?

Frequently viewed as four lists, SWOT really contrasts two dimensions. The first dimension captures stuff the group controls, frequently referred to strengths (plus) and weaknesses (minus). The second dimension captures stuff the group cannot control and is referred to as opportunities (plus) and threats (minus). A weakness that can be fixed is NOT an opportunity. It is a weakness by definition since it is controllable. A group of mountain climbers might be agile (strength) and resource thin (weakness) while facing a break in the weather (opportunity) or an avalanche (threat).

6. What to we do to reach our objectives?

The reason for conducting SWOT analysis is to generate consensus when prioritizing hundreds of options. While there is much that can be done, we only have time and resource to manage the most important stuff. The FAST approach to SWOT quantifies the situation analysis, making it easier to develop consensual understanding.

7. Is it the right stuff to do?

Alignment needs to be performed to ensure the proper balance of what is being done to reach the objectives that have been created in order to support reaching the vision. Facilitative with an open-ended approach, as in asking, “To what extent does this WHAT support reaching this objective?” and NOT the traditional MBA approach that suggests, “Does it?”

8. Who does what?

Also called Roles and Responsibilities, once may find over fifteen documented varieties of RACI models, all promulgated by different consulting firms, all of which in their basic form communicate WHO does WHAT. The FAST approach appends the assignment with when it will be done, how much FTE is required, and how much resource will be requested—resulting in a consensually built Gantt chart.

9. What are we going to tell others?

Here is your traditional communications plan. We call it Guardian of Change to prevent the bias found in some organizations where the best ideas are NOT approved; rather the most charismatic “Champions” are approved (a scary thought if you are a stakeholder).

10. Will it ensure our success?

In your traditional “Wrap” be sure to review your work, manage the “Parking Lot” or open issues, confirm a quick communications plan, and get feedback on how you did as the facilitator. No doubt, if you followed these ten questions, the group will understand what it has accomplished.

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.

8 Meeting Purposes: What Tasks Are You Asking Your Group To Accomplish?


Effective meetings are first based on clear line of sight to the end result, preferably something that can be documented.  All too often meetings are held with the intent of determining WHAT the deliverable ought be for a group of people, clearly a sign of weak methodology.  Here are some of the most common reasons for meetings and some of the benefits or problems associated with each.

Meeting Types

  • Analysis—highly complex situations may require multiple subject matter experts.  Frequently experts have their own vernacular or vocabulary, and a meeting is appropriate to homogenize understanding and agreement.  Have you ever run a meeting with PhD engineers and creative marketing folks together?  Sometimes it sounds like they are from different planets.
  • Assignments—structured meetings or workshops provide an excellent means of building agreement around roles and responsibilities.  When embracing our popular FAST technique, you can leave the meeting with a consensually built GANTT chart, estimation of resource requirements, and approximation of budget needs.
  • Decision-Making—since resources typically fall short of the demands, prioritization is critical for high group performance.  No team has the time or resource to do everything.  Consensual understanding around prioritization provides one of the best justifications for hosting a meeting or workshop.
  • Idea Generation—the reason that groups are smarter than the smartest person in the group is because groups create more options than simply aggregating the input of participants.  Many of the best ideas did not walk into the meeting; rather they were created during the meeting, based on stimulation from others.
  • Information Exchange—by far and away the most common reason for meetings is also one of the worst possible reasons for justifying a meeting.  With instant access and electronic filing cabinets, coming together face-to-face is a very expensive way to exchange information.  A better justification would be to address questions about clarity, agreement, and omissions of related information or the impact the information ought have on the behavior of participants.
  • Inspiration and Fun—meetings can be effectively used to both reward, incent, and incite but usually on a large-scale that involve complimentary events or sessions that also involve learning and building teamwork.
  • Persuasion—probably the worst reason for holding a meeting is to convince other people to change their behavior.  There are three primary forms of persuasion; namely identification (eg, advertising), internalization (ie, long-lasting), and forced-compliance (ie, “gun to the head”).  Meetings are sub-optimal for all three forms of persuasion, and therefore are rarely successful at persuasion.
  • Relationships—simply pulling together people face-to-face provides the glue that can pull people together and get them to work more cooperatively.  Frequently venting, or managing conflict, can result in increased effectiveness.  Probably the best time to invest in face-to-face meetings is when people don’t agree with each other and need to both reconcile their points of view and agree to move on.

For what other reasons have you found yourself in a meeting?  What other reasons do you think exist to justify a meeting?  We would love to receive your answers to this question.

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.

Related articles

 

Mission or Vision—What is the Difference?


An MBA graduate from a prestigious east-coast school told us recently that he “learned more about strategic planning in the past two hours than during my entire MBA curriculum.”  While humbled, we are not surprised, since most people are confused about the difference between the terms ‘mission’ and ‘vision’.  Their confusion is promoted by some of the greatest minds of our ‘liberal’ academic world and its sometime opponent, the ‘conservative’ military-industrial complex.  The confusion is also promulgated by some of the world’s largest and most influential consulting firms (the same ones that have brought us over 15 varieties of a roles and responsibilities tool; including RACI, RASI, RASCI, ARCI, etc. (see Transform Your Responsibilities Matrix into a GANTT Chart)

In fact, the argument is dispatched quickly by avoiding use of the terms mission and vision. Rather, substitute the nature of the questions they attempt to answer, if you seek to dispel the confusion.  One term represents sentiment that answers the question “Why do we show up (or, Why are we here?)?” and the other term represents sentiment that answers the question “Where are we going?”  With this logic, the natural sequence is to know where we are before we discuss where we are going.

Mission or Vision?

In many textbooks, strategic planning begins with mission (ie, Why are we here?) and yields to vision (ie, Where are we going?).  The military-industrial complex answers the same questions, in the same order, but uses the opposite terms.  Note that the NATO armed forces have a vision of “liberty and independence” that explains their existence.  When threatened however, they go forth on a “mission to (insert location; eg, Iraq).”

A facilitator is not biased toward one definition over the other.  They are biased however to maintain consistency within the organization and culture they are serving.  Since confusion exists in most organizations, an important part of the preparation activity involves building the lexicon or glossary for your meetings and workshops that homogenizes operational definitions and ensures that they are applied consistently, within and between your 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 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.

 

Responsibility Matrix, Agenda Design, and Parking Lot Management


Borrowing an idea from one of our favorite blogsters, Martin Webster, Esq., and coupling it with our original material and American spelling, we offer you a reminder about three popular posts from our 2011 series.

  1. Transform Your Responsibility Matrix into a GANTT Chart — Frequently we don’t get much actual “work” done in a business meeting, rather we learn, decide, and agree on activities that need to be completed after the meeting. There is no better instruction set anywhere on HOW TO facilitate consensual understanding about roles and responsibilities than this tool that we built from the sweat and tears of experience.
  2. How to Design an Agenda — Twelve simple steps are provided to help you design an agenda beginning with the meeting purpose and ending with refinement of the agenda based on input you  should receive in advance from your executive sponsor, project team, and meeting participants.
  3. How to Manage the Parking Lot and Wrap-up Meetings — Again we find that many readers are seeking better ways to convert meeting discussion into action. The result from many productive meetings can be summed up with four words: “WHO DOES WHAT & WHEN.
  4. As a bonus, the Project Manager Hut asking us to contribute our content on “How to Build Stakeholder Analysis.” After all, it’s all about ‘satis-delighting’ our stakeholders.

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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How to Manage the Parking Lot and Wrap-up Meetings


At the conclusion of your meeting or workshop, review the outputs and deliverable (eg; decision, actions, information, priorities, reports, etc.), created during the meeting. Ensure that the pieces fit together and form one cohesive product. Use the documentation generated during your meeting to structure a quick walk-through. Review it, do not relive it. If the walk-through includes process (ie, a bunch of sequenced activities), insert some real-life examples to see how the sequence of activities performs.

Action Items

GANTT Chart

Use an action item step in every planning or problem-solving workshop.  Have your group list the action items that they have already agreed to or will undertake—starting with tomorrow. List the items, clarify them, have someone take responsibility, and have the group assign a deadline (month, day, year) for the action to have been completed.  Consider applying the RASI tool (Transform Your Responsibility Matrix Into a GANTT Chart) to convert your action items into a project plan.

Absence or silence is unacceptable during assignments so do not permit making assignments to someone who is not attending the meeting, either live or virtually.

Open Issues
(Parking Lot)

There are various ways of describing open issues that develop during meetings. Other terms used by organizations include Issue Bin, Coffee Pot, Water Cooler, Elevator Speech, Limbo, Chestnuts, Popcorn, and our favorite, Refrigerator (a term used in the Middle East because the items temporarily stored there can be preserved and cooked up later). Regardless of the term you use, or the phrase that is embraced by your organizational culture, open issues need to be managed properly rather than left unattended as a list of items without context or assigned next steps.

Complete your open issues step after the review of completed items and assignment of action items. During the meeting, record open issues as they arise. Now, review each open issue. First make sure the open issue remains valid. Over the course of meetings, some open issues are no longer “open” and if so, they can be deleted or marked accordingly (eg, OBE = Overcome by Event, or taken care of). Append each open issue with the following:

  • The issue status—along with a complete, coherent statement of description
  • Who is responsible for communicating back to the group on the status of the open issue (frequently viewed as who ‘will do’ or complete the open issue)
  • When completion is expected (month, day, year)
  • How progress or completion will be communicated to your group of participants
  • Give the file a name so that future ‘searches’ are made much easier
  • Consider email size limitations, file naming conventions, and file-server security restrictions

Alternatively

To – By – For

A simpler method for managing open issues is called the “2 by 4.”  Meant to connote a standard piece of lumber, the method suggests a quick, tripartite approach—namely:

  1. To:  Do what ?
  2. By:  Who and when ?
  3. For:  What purpose or benefit ?

Evaluation

Obtain comments on the method you used during your meeting (ie, the agenda steps) and your (ie, facilitator or session leader) performance.Use the evaluation questionnaire described in the FAST Continuous Improvement section or create two “plus” and “delta” columns to capture what went well and what could change to improve the next meeting. Others terms used to describe the “Plus/Delta” tool include OFI or an Opportunity for Improvement, “Benefits & Concerns” (also known as the “B’s & C’s”), “Star/Delta”, and Appreciative (+) or Opportunistic (-).

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.

Related articles

Transform Your Responsibility Matrix Into a GANTT Chart


Create a GANTT chart when the discussion or meeting deliverable focuses on WHO is responsible for WHAT; aka, Responsibility Matrix or Roles & Responsibilities (see below). The person that steps up to accept ‘Responsibility’ is likely the best person to have a clue about estimating WHEN something may be completed, HOW MUCH extra money may be required to complete it, and the HOW MUCH estimated labor (FTE) is required.

When the session leader records these four inputs (responsible party, approximate cash or assets required, estimated due date, and how much approximate labor), the project manager and project team have the basis for a GANTT chart—lacking only the arranging of precedents and antecedents, and making adjustments to the first estimates provided. Not only has the facilitator enabled the team to draft its GANTT chart, they have also helped the team to build a consensual view, not a myopic view from one person’s office or cubicle.

The WHAT actions or assignments may take the form of strategies, initiatives, programs, projects, activities, or tasks. As you increase the resolution from the abstract (eg, strategy) to the concrete (eg, task), expect to increase the resolution of the role or title of the responsible agent. For example, strategies may be assigned to business units while tasks may be assigned to individuals.

We are now aware of at least twelve (12) different flavors of the Responsibility Matrix.  While we support any may be effective in your culture, beware of the “C” as in consult because the term is a contronym and one can never be certain if assigned a “C” if they are giving you something or you are supposed to give them something. Here are the documented types, and undoubtedly there are many others:

  1. RACI, (Responsible, Accountable, Consult, Informed),
  2. RACIA, (Responsible, Accountable, Consult, Informed, Approve),
  3. RASI, (Responsible, Accountable, Supports, Informed),
  4. RASCI, (Responsible, Accountable, Supports, Consult, Informed),
  5. PARIS,
  6. ALRIC,
  7. RASCIO (ResponsibleAccountable, Consult, Informed, Omitted),
  8. LACTI (Lead, Approve, Consulted, Tasked, Informed),
  9. AERI (Accountable, Endorsement, Responsible, Informed)
  10. ARCI (Accountable, Responsible, Consult, Informed),
  11. RACI-V
  12. CAIRO

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 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.

Related articles

Faciliter—”to render easy”


With this initial blog we have launched compelling content about the dynamic role of a facilitator into the interactive world of instant communications.  This blog site will anchor feeds to Linked-In, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Facebook, and potentially more than 300 other sites for seekers of improved leadership skills.

The challenges of modern/ facilitative leadership

Topics soon to appear include:

  • Precise questioning technique,
  • Rhetorical precision and the cost of a single word,
  • Speaker challenges,
  • The Tao of facilitation,
  • Turning your responsibility matrix into a GANTT chart, and
  • and some valuable review of current research and empirical studies

The first known use of the term occurred in France in 1611 (think Renaissance). At the time, the transition from the Latin adjective “facil” or easily accomplished or attained can be likened to the transliteration of Google from a noun into a verb.

Our purpose for this blog is similar, to make it easier for you to make it easier for others to make , explain issues and positions, create and understand options, and more informed decisions.

Our FAST+ curriculum has always defined the term “consensus” as a condition one can support and not lose any sleep over. We aspire to make it possible and easier for you to help others reach consensus while never yielding to the easy answer. Rather we intend to enable and empower you to help your groups create, innovate, and breakthrough the barriers of miscommunication, politics, and perceived intolerance.

Much depends on you and your attitude. By subscribing to this blog you will embrace the attitude of ongoing learning and improvement, the most effective attitude to be a facultative leader in this new millennium.  We look forward to your comments, replies, and subsequent challenges—and ask that you forward this material to all session leaders, even if they are not FAST+ certified facilitators.

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.

Related articles

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