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With structured analysis, each piece of data or single cell might be decomposed another layer. Amplify this approach even further by splitting your four cells into sixteen.

Therefore, see the chart below. We can now ask, generate, and record sixteen pieces of information on a large Post-It® for each assignment. Note how we take the four basic criteria below and expand them into four additional details (for illustrative purposes only):

Other Best Practices articles instructed that one key to facilitating effective analysis mandates the facilitator to ask open-ended questions, not simple, close-ended (ie, yes or no) confirmations. For example, and pardon the simplicity, do not ask “Does the sport of curling involve any sweat?” Someone will make a compelling argument that it does, albeit minimal perhaps. The superior question, simply re-phrased:  “To what extent does the sport of curling involve sweat? (a lot, little, or somewhere in between)”.

When building a roles and responsibilities matrix for example, the classic approach identifies who is going to be ‘Responsible’ for some apportioned activity or assignment and the appropriate single cell is given a large, red “R”.  At minimum you might ask four questions, such as:

  1. What role will be responsible for this assignment? (eg, Business Analyst)
  2. When will we reach completion? (eg, date specific)
  3. How much financial resource will be required to complete it? (eg, $,$$$)
  4. What is the estimated FTE required to bring it to completion? (FTE = full time equivalent, such as 0.25 which is one person, full-time, for three months)
Power of a Single Cell to Make Your Deliverables More Robust

Power of the Single Cell

  1. What role will be responsible for this assignment? (eg, RASI Chart)

    1. What role is ultimately being held Accountable and paying for this initiative? (eg, EVP)
    2. What role will be Responsible for this assignment? (eg, Business Analyst)
    3. What roles will be Supporting this assignment? (eg, Project Manager)
    4. What roles need to be Informed about this assignment? (eg, Customer)
  2. At what estimated point in time will we reach completion? (eg, date specific)

    1. When does concerted effort begin? (eg, date specific)
    2. What is the projected half-way point? (eg, date specific)
    3. At what estimated point in time will completion be final? (eg, date specific)
    4. When will the effort be reviewed such as Retrospective or Look Back? (eg, date specific)
  3. How much financial resource will be required to complete it? (eg, $,$$$)

    1. What are the estimated research costs? (eg, $,$$$)
    2. What are the estimated acquisition costs? (eg, $,$$$)
    3. What are the estimated operational costs? (eg, $,$$$)
    4. What are the estimated termination costs? (eg, $,$$$)
  4. What is the estimated FTP required to bring it to completion? (FTP = full time person, such as 0.25 which is one person, full-time, for three months)

    1. What maximum number of people work at the same time? (eg, Quantity)
    2. Call on which special subject matter experts? (eg, Title[s])
    3. How much FTP will bring it to completion? (eg, FTP)
    4. Codify any special issues not described above. (narrative, perhaps coded)

Having left a meeting can be comforting because the amount of detail described above is substantial, but knowing that it was consensually built and is now owned by the meeting participants is reassuring. When applied to a project plan, using questions similar to the ones shown above, you will deliver up a more detailed GANTT chart than most people build in their cubicles alone. Hand this off to an intern who claims to be “expert” with Microsoft Project Manager® and tell them to bring you back a fully resource allocated project plan so that you can go on to your next meeting.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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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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