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Jean McKay PuttyCove, Inc. An introduction to High Cost of Doing Nothing 4/18/2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Jean McKay PuttyCove, Inc. An introduction to High Cost of Doing Nothing 4/18/2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jean McKay PuttyCove, Inc. An introduction to High Cost of Doing Nothing 4/18/2012

2 About Jean McKay, PMP, PMRMP, MSCIS  Jean is an experienced professional with a proven track record over 20 years.  She currently holds numerous professional certifications in both Project Management and IT, focuses on Disaster Recovery Planning, Business Continuity Planning, Risk Assessment, and Technical Training.  Jean is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®, and Risk Management Professional PMP-RMP, with a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems.  Jean currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona, and is an active member of the PMI Phoenix Chapter, BPW, and Infragard.

3 Background for this work  Fifteen years of development at Stanford University  Observations or interviews with 225 executives  25 longitudinal studies of executives  In 2007, 55 formal interviews in 9 industries  In-depth study of PQ+A in two global companies Cypress Semiconductor, 1996 to 2004 Microsoft, 1995 to

4 Four deep trends  Information overload  Higher levels of complexity  Complexity is dynamic  Increased time crunch Time  The pressure to improve discussion The efficiency of typical business meetings - 4 -

5 Two factors  Two factors make it difficult to manage complexity and overload in meetings  Answers that destroy focus  Questions that lack focus - 5 -

6 When answers lack focus  Not clear  Not crisp  Not concise - 6 -

7 What’s going wrong?  She asks a precise question “What are the unit sales for the urban and suburban segments?”  He hears a generic question “Give me an update.”  He believes he’s helping the discussion by providing “valuable context” - 7 -

8 Precision Answering solves the problem  The basics of PA Answer the question that was asked Start with the core Keep it short  The benefits of PA Better focus Greater efficiency - 8 -

9 When questions lack focus  Low efficiency  No depth - 9 -

10 What’s going wrong?  We shouldn’t be asking this: What do the lines show us?  If the question in our mind is this: At the end of the quarter, what was the rate at which sales were decreasing? Is the rate of decrease slowing down or speeding up?

11 Precision Questioning solves the problem  The basics of PQ Be precise Get to the heart of the matter  The benefits of PQ Greater efficiency Better analysis

12 Precision Questioning

13 Drill-down questions fall into seven categories

14 The seven categories Our customers are spending more time on social networking sites

15 The seven categories Our business needs to start doing better security of our data

16 Let’s Practice  We will use your issue to practice the categories one at a time  Real PQ is more fluid

17 Practice: Write down an issue like one or the other of these  Use a real issue from your work  Write legibly ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

18 Instructions for two-minute drills  Find a partner to practice with.  Decide roles One person presents issue & answers questions Other person asks questions  Don’t change roles until instructed to  These are practice drills for the questioner; this will not be a fluid discussion. Real PQ is more fluid than this. Answers should be short, honest, and realistic  Please wait to begin

19 Establish the big picture 2 minute limit  Presenter starts Show partner the written statement Give an overview of your issue (about 30 seconds)  Then questioner asks Ask questions that help you understand the big picture (about 60 seconds) Big picture questions are mostly clarifications so you understand the topic Do not worry about the categories for now 2 minute limit

20 Go/NoGo questions guide energy and focus  Setting up a good meeting Who should participate? Goal? How much time? Who should tee up the issue?  Shaping the direction once the meeting begins Are we focused on the right thing? Are we asking the right questions? Should we take this off-line?

21 Reminder: these are not Go/NoGo questions  How do you track resources?  What do you mean by “complex?”  What seems to be causing it?  For now – focus only one Go/No Go questions

22 Examples of Go/NoGo questions  OK Who should attend?  Better Who knows more about this, Ellen or Bill?  OK What would be the goal of the meeting?  Better Is a half-hour enough time to both review the data and figure out the underlying causes of the problem?

23 Practice Go/NoGo questions 2 minute limit  Ask questions that would help them set up a real meeting to discuss this issue ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

24 Clarification questions sharpen the meaning  By “clarification” we mean clarification of the meaning of words and sentences  Three main types of clarification Clarifying slippery words Asking graph questions Asking pivot table questions

25 Clarification of slippery words  A “slippery” word means one thing to one person and something different to another person  OK What do you mean by “complex”?  Better Complex in what ways? Do you mean complex with respect to number of parts? Complex with respect to number of dependencies? The project has become more complex than we expected

26 Reminder: these are not clarification questions  Do you have data on your use of resources?  What seems to be causing it?  If you don’t change anything, what would be the consequences?  For now – focus on Clarifying slippery word questions

27 Practice clarifying slippery words 2 minute limit  Clarify words that might mean something different to the presenter than to you. ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

28 Clarification through graph questions  “Draw the graph” with questions When did the schedule first slip? How far have you fallen behind the original projections? Are you losing ground or gaining ground? The project is taking more time than expected

29 Clarification through pivot table questions  Pivot table questioning Picture the parts Question the parts  Examples Show it to me by ___ (gender, age, location). Where has morale been the most difficult to improve? Where has morale been easiest to improve? Improving morale is turning out to be more difficult than we expected

30 Practice graph/pivot table clarification 2 minute limit  Graph questions  Pivot table questions ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

31 Assumption questions go deep  An assumption is something that must be true in order for the statement to be true  The difficulty: assumptions are in what is not said  Useful tip: phrase your questions this way Are you assuming…?

32 Common categories of assumptions “I’m looking for the solution to the problem of…”  Existence Are you assuming a problem exists?  Uniqueness Are you assuming there’s only one problem?  Measurement Are you assuming you can measure improvement?  Value Are you assuming it’s bad?  Time, Constancy Are you assuming the problem isn’t changing over time?

33 Practice assumption questions 2 minute limit  Are you assuming...? ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

34 BCQs ask for evidence  Two main types of BCQs Questions about the validity of the data Questions about the credibility of the sources of information

35 BCQ: questions about the validity of DATA  Not How do you know that’s true?  OK What’s the data?  Better How complete is the data? How accurate is the data? Is the sample representative of the population? Is the sample large enough?

36 Practice DATA questions 2 minute limit  Ask questions about the validity of their data ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

37 BCQ: questions about the credibility of the SOURCES of information  OK Where did you hear this?  Better Did you hear it from somebody who was on the project at the beginning? Do you have 100% confidence in what they are telling you? Should you check with other people who were on the project at the beginning?

38 Practice SOURCE questions 2 minute limit  Ask questions about the credibility of their sources of information ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

39 Establish the big picture – switch roles 2 minute limit  New presenter Show your written statement (about 30 seconds)  New questioner Ask questions that help you understand the big picture (about 60 seconds) Big picture questions are mostly clarifications Don’t worry about categories, this is so you understand the topic

40 BCQs ask for evidence  Two main types of BCQs Questions about the validity of the data Questions about the credibility of the sources of information

41 Practice BCQs – DATA and/or SOURCE 2 minute limit  Ask about validity of data  Ask about credibility of sources of information ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

42 Cause Questions  Questions about causes help us control  Here are five precise why’s What triggered this (an event)? Is there a root cause (a condition of vulnerability)? What is the mechanism (how does it work)? What are the drivers (pushes)? What are the inhibitors (pulls)?

43 Cause questions  OK Why were our initial expectations so unrealistic?  Better Was the root cause that fact that this was a different type of problem than we have seen in the past?  OK Why is it becoming more complex?  Better What are the main drivers of complexity?

44 Practice cause questions 2 minute limit  Root cause? Trigger?  Drivers? Inhibitors?  Mechanism? ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

45 Questions about Effects help us predict  When thinking about the future, we tend to oversimplify  This 3x3 matrix helps us be more precise Best caseWorst caseMost likely Short term Medium term Long term

46 Effects questions  OK How long will it take?  Better Worst case, how long will it take?  OK What will be the result?  Better What will the long-term consequences be?

47 Practice effect questions 2 minute limit  Ask questions like this: Suppose you don’t change anything. In the ___ term, what’s the ___ case for ___? ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

48 Questions about Action  There are many more options than “what should we do about it?” What is our strategy? What tactics will we use to enact our strategy? What is our plan for the coming week? Is our goal a root cause fix? Or is it just containment?

49 Practice action questions 2 minute limit  Ask questions like these: Can you do a root-cause fix on this? Should you just try to contain it? ___ is more complex than expected. ___ is taking more ___ [time, resources, etc.] than expected

50 Benefit of PQ  What is the benefit of making our questions more precise? It helps us analyze our work in new ways Our meetings become more efficient The level of critical thinking goes up

51 Tools, not rules

52 Precision Answering

53 PQ can’t get very far without PA In the first video, Jordy does not hear the Precise Question He hears, ‘Tell me a story’

54 Precision Answering solves the problem The basics of Precision Answering Answer the question that was asked Start with the core Keep it short

55 Focus on Precision Answering  PA: Conveying only the important information in a crisp, clear, and concise way

56 Three basic rules of PA  Answer only the question that was asked  Start with the core  Keep it short

57 Three basic rules of PA – Rule #1  Answer only the question that was asked Don’t answer the question you wanted them to ask Don’t answer the question you think they should have asked Make sure you heard the question If the question isn’t clear to you, clarify

58 Three basic rules of PA – Rule #2  Start with the core Core answers go right to the point  Common core answers Yes No Number Date Single point Bullet points I don’t know + next step

59 Three basic rules of PA – Rule #3  Keep it short Many times the core answer will suffice At most, add one or two additional points When adding necessary information, use bullet points when possible  There are three top concerns...  We have two options

60 Additional options  Clarify the question  Redirect the questioner  Add qualifiers  Do a torpedo alert  Anticipate the next question, only when obvious  Keep the discussion moving forward

61 Find the precise answer  Q: What’s the status of the project?  A:Well I made the phone calls to our customers that you asked me to. I think people were in general pretty positive, though ABC Retailer had some concerns about the timing, but I think we can work around their schedule by doing a phased implementation of the plan. The rest of our customers are fine with the schedule, so I think we should be on schedule to deploy next month, with again the exception of ABC Retailer which will deploy the system in the next two months

62 Core answer plus information

63 Find the precise answer  Q: Why did the schedule slip?  A:I want to say that we have been working very hard to make the schedule, but as you know the schedule is very aggressive and we are working on a new system, so we are doing our best. We have been having some problems integrating the new system with the manufacturing process. We are not sure, but we think it has something to do with an incompatibility between the new system design that used an XYZ process and our manufacturing design that used the old ZYX process, but at this point it is just a guess

64 Single point answer plus I don’t know

65 Practice Precision Questions & Answers  Visit  Skill Sharpeners that build skills  The PQ+A 1 day Workshop Teaches four things:  PQ  PA  plus two additional techniques Workshop creates high impact three ways:  Focuses on real issues  How to make practical application  Post-workshop s to deepen the learning

66 Thank You !  Questions? Contact me!   Call:  Website:  LinkedIn:   Ask better questions and give better answers


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