May 16, 2013 Leave a comment
This two-part discussion provides a method for evaluating the relative risk of a meeting or workshop.
What is Risk?
Risk is exposure to the following consequences:
- Failure to achieve benefits
- Hardware and software incompatibility
- Higher implementation costs
- Longer implementation time
- Performance that is less than expected
Risk is not “bad”—failure to understand risk is dangerous.
Risk shows up at three significant levels in a project:
- Business risk is the potential exposure to the business for an incomplete, inappropriate, or late project.
- Project risk is the likelihood of a given project failing, missing timelines, falling short of delivery standards, or grossly exceeding its estimates.
- Technique risk is the potential for failure or major problems using a specific technique or tool in a given situation (ie, workshop or meeting methodology).
We worked with Harvard Business School experts F. Warren McFarlan and James McKenney to create an algorithm that provides as assessment of meeting risk.
Meeting and Workshop Risk Components
A facilitated meeting or technique aggregates up to four discrete areas:
- Size—a measure of overall project effort, number of dependencies, and numbers and types of meeting or workshop sessions required.
- Complexity—a measure of the newness of the methodologies being used, the preexisting structure of the business requirements, and complexity of understanding the new requirements.
- Politics—a measure of the controversy surrounding the project, cooperation amongst the groups, and general tendency of the participants to involve political considerations in a solution.
- Customer Organization (ie, heterogeneity)—a measure of the size, location, and complexity of the customer organization and potential logistical problems.
Assess each area using the questions and templates that follow in part two. Meanwhile, continue reading with a discussion about mitigation actions.
When To Assess
Assess risk for every significant meeting or workshop. Perform the assessment as part of the initial preparation. Reassess risk for each stage or phase gate meeting, decision reviews, and look backs. If meeting risk is not going down as you progress through the project life cycle, your meeting or workshop is likely facing additional trouble.
Mitigating Meeting Risk
Finding that a meeting or workshop is high risk is not enough. You must do something to mitigate the risk. Following are guidelines:
- Structure more participants in your workshops. Have a speaker (not yourself) stimulate the participants with prototyping ideas and then drive additional creativity to inspire innovation.
- Use a politically savvy session leader. Develop consensus and vision building with management by conducting a management workshop to develop the purpose, scope, objectives, and vision for the new business, process, or system. Complete this workshop first.
- Conduct four to five requirements gathering workshops and then have a review with senior management to see if still on track. When scheduling workshops, schedule them from Tuesday through Friday and plan to finish on Thursday. That ensures that the participants have cleared their calendars for Friday in case the workshop runs over—otherwise, they go home early.
- Lead meetings in a similar fashion as you would for a large project. Also, schedule numerous face-to-face visits or conference calls for the preparation interviews.
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.
- 17 Valuable Tips and Essential Issues for “Chairing” Successful Meetings (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- Meetings Should Include a Communications Plan, Call it “Guardian of Change” (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- A “Plan” May Be Defined as “Who Does What (and When)” and Answers 10 Questions (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- How to Facilitate Building a Group’s Vision Using the Temporal Shift Tool (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- How to Structure and Normalize a Discussion Around a “Many to Many” Dilemma (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)