Related to:
July 6 2010 09:31 AM

Take a look at the current initiatives or internal projects within your company. Would they be best described as a pond or a river? Although ponds are nice to look at, the water is stagnant and algae are forming. In order to maximize the investment in the initiative, the team needs to create a river of information and ideas. All of this can be accomplished with items that are already on hand: sticky notes, markers and a large wall.

The first area that we will look at is communication. The following will help your company determine the necessary communication and organize it as a chart on the wall. On the left side of the chart place a vertical column containing various people or groups. Along the top of the chart place an event or document in a horizontal row on each sticky note. The important part of this exercise is what is at the intersection between the two.

Next, use one of (5) characters to represent the interaction. Place a "T" on a sticky note to represent someone who turns in or is responsible for the item above. An "A" is for action on the document or event. A "C" represents someone who needs to be consulted before the event takes place or the document is submitted. An "I" is someone who is informed after the event. Lastly, use a blank space if there is no interaction. Use this method to reduce over or under communication by clearly charting out the necessary items.

The second area is breaking down the work into manageable pieces. At the top of the wall place a sticky note with the main project or initiative. Just below it place a series of sticky notes in a horizontal row listing the major items. This could be a series of deliverables or phases of the initiative. As an example, if developing a training course was the project, the various sections might be: identify need, develop course material, and teach course. Below each of these items, list the activities needed to accomplish it. Continue to breakdown the work to a level that each note can be distributed as an individual task. Although this exercise sounds simple, it allows the team to see the big idea behind the project or initiative.
The final piece of work to keep the project flowing smoothly is planning. Based on the work that has been completed, the sticky notes can be arranged in a series of steps. On the left side of the wall start with one or more of the major items. Next, build out the series of activities to the right by asking the following questions: "What happens before or after this event?" and "Do multiple items precede this activity?"

Using the items that are on hand, three things were accomplished. A communication plan was determined for the work, the large initiative or project was broken into smaller pieces, and finally the work was planned out. They will help increase the flow of information and help the team complete their assignments. The end result is a flowing river and a positive impact to the bottom line.

Michael Warber is a business improvement consultant with Siemens in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. His past experience has been as an engineer and project manager on numerous projects for FedEx, UPS and the USPS. He will be speaking at the Parcel Forum this October on maximizing the ROI on employee suggestion programs.