Any type of descriptive or prescriptive plan, process, or series of activities can then be illustrated with a simple process flow diagram. A process flow diagram describes WHO does WHAT by WHEN, in support of some agreed upon purpose. Therefore, here is a simple method you can use as your planning agenda.

Rationale for Agreeing on a Simple Planning Agenda

Groups have a tendency to forget activities or events that occur less frequently, particularly infrequent or irregular activities that support planning and control. The following helps to squeeze out potential and costly omissions.

Your Simple Planning Agenda for Agreeing on WHO Does WHAT by WHEN

You may consider using this simple agenda with a brief discussion of the supporting method that follows:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of __________ (topic, sphere, or business area)
  • Activities
    (NOTE: Take each “thing” from the purpose statement above and ask—“What do you do with this thing ?”—forcing “Verb-Noun”)
  • Sequencing
    (NOTE: Test for omissions using the Plan ➺ Acquire ➺ Operate ➺ Control prompting)
  • Value-Add
    (NOTE: eg, SIPOC)
  • Swimlanes
    (NOTE: eg, process flow diagram)
  • Wrap

A Planning Agenda Method Builds Agreement on WHO Does WHAT by WHEN

The MG RUSH Professional Facilitative Leadership manual provides additional developmental support on the steps below.

  • Determine the business purpose of the planning area, product feature, process topic, or functional sphere. Use the “Purpose is to . . . So that . . . “ tool.
  • Next use brainstorming method—List. Label the top of the flip chart with “VERB-NOUN” and ask the group to identify all the activities required to support the business purpose created in the prior step. Enforce the capture as verb-noun pairings only.
  • Use the Plan➠Acquire➠Operate➠Control life cycle prompt to stimulate discussion about missing activities.
  • Demand at least one to two planning, one to two acquiring, bunches of operating, and at least one to two controlling activities for each business topic.
  • After identifying the various activities, convert the verb-noun pairings into “use cases” or some form of input-process-output. Build one use-case for each pairing.
  • Continue assigning SIPOC tables to sub-teams. SIPOC stands for the Source of the input, Input(s) required to complete the activity, Process (ie, our activity), Output resulting from the activity, and Customer or client of the output. Demonstrate one or two in entirety with the whole group and then separate the participants into two or three groups.
  • For each activity (ie, verb-noun pairing), build a narrative statement that captures the purpose of the activity (ie, WHY) and HOW it is being performed, then:
    • Identify the specific outputs or what changes as a result of having completed the activity.
    • Link each output with the customer or client of each; ie, who is using each output.
    • Next identify the inputs required to support the activity.
    • Finally identify the sources for each input.
Illustrative SIPOC

Illustrative SIPOC: Planning Agenda Yielding WHO Does WHAT by WHEN

Summary of steps to be included in this sequence

An illustrative SIPOC chart is shown below based on a mountain climbing metaphor. The focal verb-noun pairing is “pack supplies”.

  1. First, identify the activity (ie, process) and its purpose and discuss WHY it is performed.
  2. Next, detail HOW it is or should be performed.
  3. List the outputs from the completed activity.
  4. Link the outputs to the respective clients or customers.
  5. List the inputs needed to complete the activity.
  6. Identify the source(s) for each of the inputs.

Planning Agenda Success Keys for Agreeing on WHO Does WHAT by WHEN

Therefore, to build a clear definition of “requirements”, provide a visual illustration or template. Additionally,

  • Have the group pre-build all the potential sources and customers of the process and code them so that when you build the SIPOC tables, the group can refer to the code letter/ number instead of the full name (thus substantially speeding up the method). As you discover new sources or customers, simply add them.
  • Learn to ‘shut up’ after asking questions and seek to understand rather than be understood.
  • Write down participant response immediately and fully.
  • Provide visual feedback, preferably through modeling.
  • Advance from activity identification to the inputs and outputs required to support the activity; then associate each with its sources and clients (SIPOC).
  • Separate the WHAT (ie, abstract) from the HOW (ie, concrete).

Related Articles

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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