Essentially at this stage you are creating the skeleton or super structure of the project. You should identify each main event in your project (an event is a major step or milestone in your project).
At this stage it is worth brainstorming the events with colleagues to make sure that you have covered every event.
The Osborne Parnes method
The type of brainstorming that most people are familiar with, a group of people around a flipchart shouting out ideas. Like all brainstorms there is more to it than random association. The following guideline will help you to run a productive meeting.
Start with a question
Never brainstorm a general point, e.g. Heinz Beans. Ask a specific question “What are all the things we must do in order to deliver Project x on time?” In Project Management brainstorms the questions should be on identifying all the things we need to do to complete the process.
Let people know in advance
Take advantage of your groups subconscious and let them know the question in advance; this helps people to start turning over ideas before you’ve even started. The days or hours leading up to the brainstorm are just as important as during the workshop.
Plan your group
Think about your group; try not to fall into the trap of having the same people attend every session. Select an outsider to add some freshness of approach. Even bring in a team building company to break down group barriers and help build a project team rapport. Only people who are interested in the outcome and sufficiently motivated should be included. In project planning brainstorms “outsiders” can bring useful input and a fresh pair of eyes, or extra experience to the problem.
Have a group leader
Ideally the project leader or owner should be the person to run the brainstorm. However, it takes a confident facilitator to lead the group. You may want to give the job to someone with suitable talents.
Set a target and a time limit
Brainstorms or ideastorms work best with a sense of urgency and pace. Set a target for the number of ideas you want to reach and a time limit to do so. Try to make the target a stretching one, this helps to keep people focused and to push them beyond their usual thinking patterns.
Record every idea
Make sure that you record every idea to the flipchart/whiteboard, this helps to spark further ideas. Also, failing to record ideas is a form of criticism (It implies that the idea is not good enough to be recorded).
- Ideas should be short, specific, action oriented
- Encourage succinct ideas framed as an action statement.
- Keep the pace going
- It is up to you to maintain a good pace.
For more great brainstorming ideas check out my training tools section.
The Fishbone analysis is a very efficient and effective way of getting to the root cause of the problem. It is a means of mapping the problem backwards from symptom to route cause. Similarly in Project Management the Fishbone technique encourages us to start with our goal in mind and then to work backwards to a starting point.
The key element to project management is understanding your outcome and working on how you get there. When placing the events in order, a fishbone diagram will help you to create a clear outline of your project.
Download Fishbone Diagram (word template)