March 28, 2013 7 Comments
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:
- Why are we here?
- Who are we?
- Where are we going?
- How do we measure our progress?
- What is our current situation?
- What to we do to reach our objectives?
- Is it the right stuff to do?
- Who does what?
- What are we going to tell others?
- 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 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 a facilitative leader.
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