Intro | Steps 1-4 | Steps 5-8 | Finish | Evaluation

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

  1. Now label the top of another flip chart sheet: WORK LIST; WBS (Work Breakdown Structure); TASKS; or TO DO list (whatever fits best)
  2. Ask for key, major, or significant work items and record all suggestions.
    Do not screen or evaluate. You can do that later. Get the major ideas down quickly. You want to take advantage of the process of 'brainstorming'.
  3. Ask leading questions like:
    • 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?)
  4. 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.
  5. 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).

  1. Either write down an objective or ask, "What is it we're here to accomplish?", and "How should I word that?"
  2. Listen to the answers and formulate a consensus.
  3. Tidy up the statement of objectives, then move on to outputs.
  4. Define what output should result (shape, timing, format, etc.) if it is not clear from the objective statement.
  5. 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.
  6. Immediately move on to Possible Alternatives.

Step 4: Possible Alternatives

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Be aware that this step may generate additional major work items, so go back and add them to the list of work items.
  4. As discussion dwindles, go immediately to the next step.
Introduction  Introduction

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