Collaborative problem solving with affinity diagrams

Not many people seem to know what an affinity diagram is, but most project teams seem to have used them. So maybe I am using the wrong term for the process of “writing ideas on a post-it note and then whacking them up on a wall”.

In my defence though, most seem to have mixed experiences with workshops where they put all their ideas up on a wall. It seems that many workshops involve people brainstorming (or “brain-writing”) ideas on post-it notes and then all putting them up on a wall – but then the workshop ends. The facilitator says something like “thanks – now we will take all this away and get back to you” and the rest of the crew wonder what is going on.

So this article describes a process that can be applied to apply a useful structure to “putting ideas up on the wall”. I will be using the fictional BA team that I have used in a couple of recent posts and I will see if we can help them solve their problem

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A course on change management in the real world

I spend a lot of time training teams in new approaches like agile development, but most of this training is about new techniques themselves rather than the process of managing the adoption and acceptance of those techniques.

I also spend a lot of time coaching project managers in how to run more effective projects, but I find that a lot of my time is spent on helping them to deal with internal politics, resistance to their projects and communication issues – which do not form part of most project management courses.

As a result I believe there is a need for good training in the area of managing change.

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Would you hire a project manager to plant a tree?

Many great ideas fall on deaf ears. So organisations bring in project managers to make sure we implement good ideas properly.

Good project managers define and clarify the idea, break the idea into features and then deploy the features into production. But quite often, people just don’t make use of the shiny new features they have been given.

Which is another way of saying that the great idea fell on deaf ears. So some organisations bring in change managers (and trainers and technical writers) to make sure people understand the new idea.

Good change managers make sure that the project is visible to stakeholders, supported by the important stakeholders and that the features being deployed are explained properly to the users. But quite often, the users go back to their old ways after a week, or they complain about the new features and the “stupid” projects that created them.

Which is another way of saying that the great idea fell on deaf ears.  So what goes wrong? Why do so many good ideas fail to get adopted?

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Assessing a team’s readiness to adopt agile practices over coffee

I just finished an article on assessing the likelihood that a team will successfully adopt a change, such as a new process.  So this arrtice provides an example of how the approach I discussed might work in practice.

Lets say that my client, Jenny, wants to implement “Agile practices” in her organisation.  So she buys offers me a cup of coffee in return for a 20 minute consultation.

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Rating a team’s readiness for change

I have just written a couple of articles about understanding a team’s existing world. But how does that relate to the likelihood of a new initiative being adopted?

How do we actually know if a particular group will accept, adopt and sustain a new way of working? And what can we do to increase the likelihood of successfully implementing the change?

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The 7-S framework (+2) for evaluating change readiness

I recently explained the “Arenas of Change”  approach that I often use to understand a team and its environment. So I thought it might be a good time to discuss another approach that I often use – the 7-S framework developed by McKinsey Consulting.

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The Arenas of Change for assessing change readiness

To communicate effectively, you should align your message to your audience. And to drive effective change, you should align your change to the drivers and constraints faced by those you are planning to impact.

But, as I discuss in a long-winded recent article, that is easier said than done. And unfortunately my solution here is just as long-winded as the last article.

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Is change hard because people are stupid?

When I first got involved in projects, I used to get frustrated that people so often did the opposite of what was needed. We would roll out a new tool, and they would go back to manual processing; we would roll out a new process, and they would go back to making errors and causing themselves problems.

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