Cascading Framework

There is no substitute for an improvement plan that is integrated to business needs, and with buy-in from all involved. Of special importance is a plan for transitioning requirements, to strategic intent, to tactical action. Here is a framework that we find useful for creating such a plan.

Cascading FrameworkProgressing through these steps as a group is very effective. However, the same outcome can be accomplished by working with individuals. Asking each to contribute to specific tasks. Working with people individually takes longer, but 'buy-in' from people from multiple groups is possible.

Some explanations of the elements:

The Objective is created by answering three questions:

What is the Problem/Opportunity (in business terms)?

1. Why it is a Problem/Opportunity?
2. Why Solve the Problem (take advantage of the opportunity/)? 
3. What happens if we don't solve it?

Experience teaches that people answer question #1 with symptoms, which actually belong to question #2. By wrestling with these three questions, people gain insights into the underlying business conditions.

  • Goals overcome the problem or take advantage of the opportunity. Each goal has an 'operational definition' associated with each statement (5 to 8). Each with a scale of 1-10, and identifying where they are now, and where it is reasonable to be at a specified time (e.g. - one year).
  • Indicators (Attributes) are value-added characteristics that support the goals. Again with definition, a scale, current status, and future objective.
  • Performance Profile - not all attributes have the same influence towards the outcome. Attributes are assign values, and weighted by importance or impact. Then attributes are prioritized.
  • The Intent Model is a series of statements of 'active verb - measurable noun' about the functions, not activities, of the objective. Arranged in a 'How-Why' relationship (it looks like a flow chart in reverse). Once completed, several matrixes can be mapped to the base functions. Responsibilities and costs are two popular matrixes.
  • Alternative Solutions is a series of divergent-convergent activities to devise several solutions. Each with data tied to the previous Goals, Indicators, and Performance Profile. Plus risk factors are identified and assigned.
  • Finally, an Implementation Plan is created for deploying the chosen solutions.

In a group format, the same people who create the Objective, Goals, Indicators, Performance Profile, and Intent Model are not usually the same people who investigate the Alternative Solutions or create the Implementation Plan. Frequently multiple events are used. Each lasting 3 to 5 days, with time for Pre and Post activities between events.

When these events are used to recover a troubled project, the feedback we get is 'We wish we had used this at the beginning of the project.' When used up as part of a project kick-off, people are amazed by how quickly the project becomes focused. How what appears as very difficult task becomes possible.

Facilitation of groups through these steps is crucial. Challenging assumptions and exploring possibilities is difficult for a group to accomplish on themselves. Outside guidance is invaluable.

 Dave Nave & Associates 2019   -