Tools and Techniques

At advocus we assume that every client is different and we do not have a ‘one size fits all’ mentality. 
Our involvement will be tailored to your situation.  However we do have a number of change management tools that
we use depending upon your circumstance. We actively encourage clients to learn how to use these tools during the
course of any project or assignment......and to actively use them as part of their day-to-day activities 

Click on the 'tabs' below to expand the selections

1. Visioning workshop

We believe that successful change comes from all of the key players ‘buying in’ to the change vision. This workshop is all about that – taking the project sponsor’s vision, shaping it and sharing it, so that it becomes the team’s vision. The key elements of the workshop are:
• Describing the sponsor’s vision
• Noting individuals expectations of the vision and the ‘road to travel’
• Agreeing the
objectives of the vision – plotting against a Goals Grid
• Surfacing
consequences and concerns of realising the vision
Describing success measures for the vision – prioritising for clarity – using the Football Scoring Matrix
• Typing the project – plotting against
Project Type Grid and review

When these elements are considered with all the key players present then
the vision becomes more powerful and shared.

2. Planning workshop

This takes a Visioning Workshop to the next level – taking the team’s vision and then establishing all of the activities required to realise it.  The activities are then linked, sequenced, owners agreed and time estimated with the whole team present – resulting in very powerful peer motivation.

The key elements of the workshop are:
• Describing the vision together with expectations, objectives, consequences, concerns and success measures
• Confirming the type of project to be undertaken – see
Project Type Grid
Generating ideas for project activities using Silent Brainstorming
Clustering project activities under generic groupings
• Establishing activity
Sequencing activities [See Interdependency Clockface]
• Defining
activity ownership
• Estimating activity durations
• Mapping the critical path
• Agreeing
how this plan will happen and who will make it happen
• Reviewing
outstanding concerns
• Confirming
next steps

When these elements are considered with all the key players present then the project plans becomes more powerful, shared, and owned.

3. Determining objectives using the "Goals Grid"

Defining change objectives at the outset is critical to success. This tool allows the team to surface what they want to achieve, preserve, eliminate and avoid during a change initiative. Fred Nickols developed the tool in 1992 – you can read more about it by clicking here

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4. Determining the "Project Type"

One of the more established ways of describing projects is a typology that maps the interaction of uncertainty and technical difficulty. Knowing both ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it’; or more importantly knowing how much you know about these two elements. The typology was developed by Eddie Obeng in the Project Leader’s Secret Handbook.

The typology asks two questions:
• Are you clear about what to do (the outcome to be achieved)?
• Do you know how to do it (processes, methods, experience)?

This tool helps to position every member of the team in terms of their likely experience of the required change. It also highlights the type of external help you may require

Painting by Numbers
Traditional project management works well when both ‘what’s to be done’ and ‘how to do it’ are well understood by all key stakeholders including the client and the project team. Closed projects (painting by numbers) can be fully defined, estimated, planned, etc. There are low levels of uncertainty and ambiguity, risks are largely known and manageable. Value is largely achieved by delivering the requirements on time and on budget.
A typical software project of this type would be installing a software upgrade into an office where the same upgrade had been previously installed in several other locations.

Going on a Quest
In these projects, the objective is clear but the way to achieve the objective is uncertain. At the end of the day, success or failure is clear cut; the objective has been achieved (or not). The challenge is optimising the way forward. Process and system improvement projects tend to fall into this category. The objective is to reduce processing time by 20% – this is easily measured on the completion of the project. The difficulty is knowing what’s the best way to achieve the objective. Improving the user interface, simplifying the work flow, speeding up network traffic and processing times or a combination? Ambiguity is low – we know what’s needed, uncertainty is high – we are not sure how to achieve it.
Before committing major resources to the main work of the project adequate time has to be allowed to prototype solutions and test options before a final design solution can be determined and then implemented. The project needs to be developed in phases with go/no go gateways as the design is firmed up. There are risks associated with any creative design process and most software projects are ‘quests’ requiring creative solutions to identified problems to achieve the desired objective.

Making a Movie
In these projects the tools and techniques are well known but the final outcome is uncertain. Only after the project is complete can the results be measured and the success or failure of the project determined. Most culture change projects and marketing projects (and making movies) are in this category. The tools to be used including: training, communicating, advertising, etc are well known and the traditional (if not optimal) mix of techniques understood for most situations. What no one can predict is if the ‘public’ will acclaim the final result, merely accept the final result or dump the final result.
Traditional project management is not enough in these projects; there is a continual need to measure results, feedback information and adapt the mix of activities to optimize the likelihood of success. The key value measurement is attempting to answer the question is it worth spending more or should we cut and run? Efficient stakeholder communication and relationship management is crucial. Whilst there will be some outstanding successes (block busters) and some total flops most projects in this category finish somewhere in the middle. The art is spending just enough effort to achieve an acceptable outcome – dealing with shades of grey.

Lost in the Fog
This project is a journey towards a desired new state. No one is sure of the optimum outcome, or how best to achieve it. The only option is to proceed carefully, stop at regular intervals to check exactly where you are and re-plan the way forward. Exactly the way you navigate through a thick fog. Both ambiguity and uncertainty are high.
Project management is about making sure at each ‘stop point’ the value achieved to date is locked in and then refocus on the next increment. Agile software development is ideal for this type of project. Each iteration builds new capability and value and the learning provides a platform for the next iteration of development.
Management is both easy and difficult. It is easy because there is no point in setting fixed plans (you have no idea what to plan). It is difficult because decisions on value and whether to stop or continue are subjective and need to be made in a collaborative environment of trust. Traditional measures of success such as on-time and on-budget are largely meaningless; typically there are no statistics to base this type of measure on. Consequently these projects are the realm of cost reimbursable contracts and partnerships; stakeholder relationship management, and a clear understanding of value are the only effective tools for building to a successful outcome.

Two final thoughts
The skills required of a project manager change from largely technical if the project is ‘painting by numbers’ to almost completely relational to manage a ‘walk in the fog’.

Both the client/sponsor and the project team need an understanding of the type of project and agree to configure the project management processes appropriately. The more uncertainty and ambiguity, the more important the project  client is to achieving project success!

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5. QCT (Quality x Cost x Time) triangle

Understanding the quality x cost x time priority of a process or project is very important, as is the understanding and viewpoint of all participants.
It defines how the process or project is organised and operated. Using the
QCT Triangle helps to demonstrate the current view of each participant. After all individual views are plotted on a common triangle then discussion can take place as to why there are differences, whether the differences matter and what the commonly agreed view should be for the whole process/project as it moves forward

Example for a process below:

A,B,C,D are individual participant views
Red Dot is consensus view

In this example all participants agreed that quality was more important than cost for this process........ but there was disagreement about whether quality was more important than time. Following discussion the group finally agreed that time was more important the quality, and time and quality were more important than cost. This agreement then allows the process to be organised and run to those priorities with common understanding.

This triangle tool can also be used to instigate a discussion about the unique selling proposition (USP) for a business. The three corners of the triangle being represented by product, service and price in this case.

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6. TPDR (Think – Plan – Do – Review) Double Diamond

All good processes and projects should always follow a sequence of events.
Some activities must be performed before others – there will be dependencies!
We believe strongly that the sequence of events should always demonstrate that
thinking comes ahead of planning, which comes ahead of doing, which comes ahead of reviewing, and that if any one of these four activities is missing then the process or project is likely to be flawed, to some degree.
Using the
TPDR Double Diamond helps participants in a process or project to understand this sequence of events and also the existing situation.

Here's an example for a process we were involved in improving:

Pre-Existing [In Use] Process

Think Plan Do Review - Correct

Post Implementation "New Improved" Process

Think Plan Do Review - Incorrect

In the above example, the existing situation was that the thinking activity was not given enough attention, the doing started way too early (or the planning way too late!!). Planning decisions sometimes occurred after the doing was supposed to be finished and the time and effort allowed for reviewing the finished entity was too little.
Plus ,critically, each of the four elements overlapped significantly.
The result of these failings was that the output of the process was of moderate quality, cost more than necessary and finished in a panic. Using the Double Diamond helps promote better understanding of sequence of events and supports change to improved performance.

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7. Prioritising using the Football Scoring Matrix

We believe that successful change includes a good understanding about which elements are the most important and which are the least important. It can be very unhelpful for all aspects of a change project to be assigned equal importance, especially if by default.
We use an easy but effective tool to prioritise objectives or elements in a project. It is called
The Football Scoring Matrix.
Each task is treated like a football team that have to play each other once. Six goals (points) are scored in each match and the result depends upon the relative priority. 6-0 means that the first task is totally dominant in priority teams, whereas 3-3 means that both tasks have equal priority. All the matches are scored and recorded in a matrix. The task that scores the most goals overall is the highest priority and so on. An example of a completed matrix is shown below. It methodology may seem overly simplistic, however it consistently produces good outcomes, very quickly.

In this example Task 2 has the highest total score and is therefore the highest priority element of the project, whereas Tasks 3 & 6 have the lowest total score and are the equal lowest priority tasks. They could be separated by reviewing their individual match score, however in this case they cannot because the individual match score is a 3-3 draw!

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Download blank prioritising matrix

8. Interdependency ‘Clockface’

Establishing interdependencies between all the activities in a change programme is crucial. If it's not done then quality will suffer, time will drift, costs will escalate and conflict will result. Using the ‘clockface’ is a fast, efficient and effective means of the team creating interdependencies.

All major activities of a plan are written on a sticky note and placed around the edge of a flipchart. Each and every pair of activities are then considered for a dependence between them, and if a dependence exists then it is recorded as an arrow between the activity sticky notes - the arrow pointing from the earlier activity towards the later. When this has been completed for all activity pairings then a sequence of activities can be extracted and any conflicting interdependencies resolved.
An example is shown below:

9. Silent brainstorming

You must get ‘buy in’, but how do you get it? Mostly by ‘active listening’ to the team members ideas. Silent brainstorming is a great method for this.

Silent brainstorming requires that all members of the group write their ideas on the defined subject on sticky notes – one idea per note. They do this together but silently and privately for a short period (15-20 minutes is usually enough for any subject). Following this all members read out their notes slowly one-by-one and the only questioning allowed from the group at this stage is to clarify understanding not challenge! The listening individuals may be prompted when listening to generate new ideas themselves – they should add these new ideas to the notes they have already written.

These ideas then can be used as a starting point to generate a future plan or project or process or whatever. The key benefit is that everyone has had their input and feels listened to. Once members of a group have done this then they can be more positive and proactive in participating in the building of the future. Without such an activity individuals can feel excluded and ignored; this can result in objection, opposition or lack of participation and commitment to the future and change.

10. Explicit ownership

How often does a change stumble due to lack of ownership of activities? Often is the answer!

We facilitate explicit ownership during all of our workshops and other interventions.
We are very consistent in this respect!

Our belief in explicit ownership is exemplified in the anecdote ‘Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody’ which can be found on the Checklists and Tips page – click here to read it.