Steps 1 - 4
Step 1: Stakeholders
Label the top of a flip chart sheet 'Stakeholders'.
Start listing the most obvious people to be contacted for help,
information or opinions. Whose money is it? This person is the project's
'Sponsor'. Together, these are the project's 'Stakeholders' who
will contribute to, or be affected by, this project. If the list
looks like getting too long, quickly prioritize them into major
and minor players.
Step 2: Components
- Now label the top of another flip chart sheet: WORK LIST; WBS
(Work Breakdown Structure); TASKS; or TO DO list (whatever fits
- Ask for key, major, or significant work items and record all
Do not screen or evaluate. You can do that later. Get the major
ideas down quickly. You want to take advantage of the process
- Ask leading questions like:
Limit your items to around 30 (consolidate work items into groups
if there are too many). You will not usually have time to handle
more than this.
- What else is involved?
- Are there any other Items?
- Does this cover all the work involved, or required?
- Has any work been left out?
- If we did all this, would we have completed the whole project?
(or solved the problem?)
When discussion sounds like the team is really se arching for
items to add, cut off the discussion and move to the next step.
(Note: Have masking tape ready, tear sheet off the flip chart
pad, and hang sheet on nearby wall.)
Step 3: Objectives & Outputs
Normally, if you follow textbook theory, you state your objectives
first and then talk about all the work that has to be done to achieve
those objectives. However, most of the time it is difficult to get
a clear idea of the objectives (outputs or 'deliverables') to start
with, and time is wasted just arriving at a definition of what is
to be accomplished.
In any case, people find it easier to "work the problem"
by thinking of all the things that have to be done, and get that
off their chest, so to speak. Typically, everyone can think of pieces
or parts of the work that need to be done. This gets people warmed
up, and you can then arrive more quickly at a much better definition
of the project's objectives. That's why it helps to talk about work
items first (in Step 2).
- Either write down an objective or ask, "What is it we're
here to accomplish?", and "How should I word that?"
- Listen to the answers and formulate a consensus.
- Tidy up the statement of objectives, then move on to outputs.
- Define what output should result (shape, timing, format, etc.)
if it is not clear from the objective statement.
- Quickly double check your work by asking: "if we did all
of the work items (listed in Step 2), would we accomplish our
objectives? Does the statement of objectives include any (significant)
work items that we left off our list?" If so, quickly add
them to the list of Step 2.
- Immediately move on to Possible Alternatives.
Step 4: Possible Alternatives
- Label a flip chart sheet "Possible Alternatives".
Quickly but briefly list alternatives that would generally satisfy
the overall project goal. Select the alternative that represents
the most effective response.
- Ask the question: "What alternatives should we consider
as a part of the chosen work, or what things do we need to study
or evaluate?" If there are significant alternatives to some
of the major work items of the chosen project 'solution', list
them now. This will help when you come to examine any risks involved
and how these could be reduced (mitigated).
- Be aware that this step may generate additional major work items,
so go back and add them to the list of work items.
- As discussion dwindles, go immediately to the next step.