I have a thought on surfacing the assumptions. Consider the use of a
fishbone diagram. Although usually linked to root cause work, I think
that the use of an Ishikawa can lead to everyone involved bringing to play
their ideas about what prevents current implementation or deployment of
your specific "effort".
At the head of the fishbone, you may wish to write a statement which will
provoke wide-ranging responses. For example, the statement or question
might be "An untried effort with global implications and application is
difficult to implement".
Then, your four major "bones" or axes are people, plant, policy and
procedure. You will be answering the question "Why?" down about five
levels. The first level "why" is already built into the axis. That is,
if someone writes a concise sentence or phrase for the Policy axis, Policy
itself is a "reason"--the first level "why". The concise statement
written by the contributor is then the second level "why".
This activity can be done by a group of about eight or so together,
although contributors world wide may be asked for short, concise phrases
or words responding to the fish head statement. These are then collected
and placed on the diagram by the facilitator.
The diagram itself should occupy a wall, possibly composed of several very
large sheets of paper taped together onto which the main, horizontal
backbone has been drawn, with the statement in a rectangle at the far
right of the backbone. From the spine, two axes extend upward and to the
left, like fish bones, while two such axes extend down and to the left.
Label each axis at its far end with its name: plant(physical); policy;
procedure; people, each word in its own rectangle.
As principal contributions are posted up--say, on sticky notes (3M)--the
group decides where best they belong. There may be overlap in theme, but
that will point out your target items for focused work later on.
As the contents of the Post-It notes are actually transferred by hand on
to the large paper atop lines extending out from the principal axes or
bones, and when that task is finished, the next level of "why" is asked
about each entry. These are written on lines "branching" out from the
previous level "why" statement. Etc. Etc.
I believe you'll find that you will uncover a great deal about your
project which will allow you to focus on the vital few. It's critical to
have a facilitator who keeps it moving, shares the actual writing on paper
with others, and is unstintingly aware that ALL responses are to be
accepted without argument. These are, after all, the assumptions you're
Good luck. I hope this may be of some value.
-- Barry Mallis Total Quality Resource Manager MARKEM Corporation Keene, NH 03431 firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 603 352-1130 ext. 2578 FAX: 603 357-3665