April 18, 2013 1 Comment
Triple constraint theory suggests that it is not practical to expect to build the fastest, the cheapest, and the highest quality. Typically, something has to “give.” While most executive sponsors aspire for all three characteristics, the nature of group decision-making suggests that time, cost, and quality are the three most important considerations, yet we need to remain more or less flexible with time, cost, or quality.
To help groups understand the tradeoffs that need to be made, consider building a Flexibility Matrix.
All sponsors want the best, the fastest, and the cheapest but something has to give. You could never ask an executive sponsor ‘which is most important?’ because they would answer “All of them”. Therefore, we concede that quality, speed, and price are all most important, but we seek to understand where we have the most amount of flexibility, and conversely, the least amount of flexibility.
Since the sponsor may not give us their preferences, we can ask the team to build it, knowing that the Flexibility Matrix captures the group assumptions that support the decisions made.
Build the matrix factors in advance and define or explain the terms time, cost, and quality for your situation. Be certain to work the bookends and ask the team where we have the most amount of flexibility? Then the least? We know the moderate box by default since it is the only blank remaining.
This is important. After you have created the visual response, have the team convert each checkmark into a narrative sentence or statement, for example:
Schedule is least flexible because we must have the release ready by October 1.
Quality (scope) is the most flexible because we can release an upgrade or modification after December 1.
Make sure you fully define time, cost, and quality in advance of the facilitated session. For example, if we are deciding on the criteria to support a decision about where to locate a landfill (ie, garbage dump), we might define time as when the landfill opens, cost as the total cost of ownership, and quality as the impact on the environment. As such, the “answer” would likely be the opposite of the chart shown above, with time being the most flexible and quality being the least flexible.
- Four tips for better group decision-making (sashadichter.wordpress.com)
- Leading Teams When Lives Are at Stake (blogs.hbr.org)
- Decision Rules and Group Rationality: Cognitive Gain or Standstill? (plosone.org)
- 5 Evidence-Based Ways to Optimize Your Teamwork (99u.com)