Have you really thought through the implications?


Solution effect illustration_LWelcome to our first ‘tool of the month‘.

Each month we will be looking at a different tool to make your collaborations more inspirational and effective.

Each tool is designed to increase participation, and to build better outcomes with greater ownership for making them happen. Each is easy to set-up and use, totally free, and can make a big difference to the feel and engagement of your meetings.

Our hope is that you will make a pledge to yourself to find an excuse to try out each tool of the month and see its potential in the difference it makes to your team and its outcomes.

The first tool is designed to make it more likely that what your team is seeking to do will actually happen. Too often change stalls and implementations have problems for unforeseen reasons – but unforeseen does not always mean unforeseeable.

The Solution-Effect Diagram (sometimes called the Reverse Ishikawa Diagram, after its inventor) is about taking some time to think about all of the potential implications arising from a change – good and bad – and then using this insight to fix those things that might undermine your success and gain full benefit from those things which can make a positive difference.

The tool template is shown below. It can be easily added to a virtual white-board, or printed large-scale and stuck on a wall (or indeed drawn up on flipchart paper on the wall).

SolutionEffect_iFrame_Template

The basic idea is that the proposed change or solution is written into the ‘head’ (the box on the left-hand side) and then the legs are labelled with potential areas of impact (perhaps stakeholder groups, or business goals/values, or project objectives, or a mixture, …).

People then brainstorm all of the potential implications the change/solution may have for each of these areas, both positive and negative, and stick them onto the diagram (usually on sticky notes physically, and by typing in virtually). Potential positive implications should be coloured green in some way, and negative ones red.

Once they have done this, there is a short period of clarification to check people understand what they all mean, and then a period of prioritisation where the group selects things that they intend to do something about.

A good way to prioritise is to give everyone three sticky dots (or virtual stars) and ask them to select up to three things which they personally feel are practical to address/enhance and which will make a big difference to success if they are attended to – and stick a dot on each of those.

The group can then discuss which of the priorities should receive attention, and how: who; what; when etc. The result will be a more robust implementation with greater commitment and confidence in the people responsible to make it happen.

It may seem a bit of an investment to take about 30 minutes to develop the Solution Effect Diagram, but it is far less than the consequential costs of delays and fixing issues after they happen, and any actions taken as a result of prioritisation will be cost-effective anyway (or you won’t do them).

Furthermore, the tool enables quiet voices and reservations to be better heard and addressed, and thereby builds a greater sense of teamwork and pride in the solution.

For more information see Solution Effect Diagram in the Meetings Clinic where you can also download copies of the Templates.

If you would like to see the Solution Effect Diagram in use in a virtual environment, and understand how you can replicate this yourself, please join us in one of our free training webinars.