Tool: How to analyze and understand your leadership project

By Erik Korsvik Østergaard, 28. October 2019

If you want to engage your peers, your managers or your colleagues in leadership activities, you need to establish a mutual engagement and willingness to do so. That starts with a good understanding of the challenge you are tackling – or the opportunity you want to exploit. And that starts with analyzing it, so that you can convey the message and start the change. Actually, this is part of steps one and two in a leadership development program.

Here follows my personal tools and thinking patterns, which I have gathered and refined over the past two decades as business consultant, project manager, and people manager.

It also contains three acronyms, that has stuck with me: SCQA + ADKAR + STCQRR

Find your why

Start with Why – and value

Answer these questions, so they can clarify your focus:

  • That is the purpose of your activity?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • What opportunity are you exploiting?

Avoid falling in the product trap and be madly in love with a product or a tool. Any activity should be decoupled from that, and instead focus on capabilities, challenges, and value creation. Use the Impact Story as a great way to start.

Then, describe the value you want to create, both non-tangible value (capabilities, emotions, interpersonal etc.) and tangible value (profit, market share, growth, products, KPIs etc.):

  • What benefit do you want to realize?
  • What value do you want to create?

Understanding the situation – SCQA

Ask yourself: What dependencies are there to between your purpose and the five areas of your organization? Does the situation affect the purpose and direction, the tactical execution, the innovation and production, your culture, your organization or your leadership? And does it require changes in these places?

I always document it by using the SCQA:

  • What is the Situation? Describe your context as sober and honest as possible. What is the business situation, the market condition, the employee situation, the funding situation etc. Describe key figures and vital signs.
  • What is your Challenge? Describe what hinders you or challenges you from doing what you want – or describe the opportunity you want to exploit. What problem are you solving, and why does it arise. What impediments are there? What dependencies are there – and what requirements on other parts of the organization are needed?
  • What Question do we seek to answer? Formulate your quest, your curiosity, or your project objective/mission. The Design Thinking approach is great here: “How might we”-questions are a great way to do frame how you want to address the challenge.
  • What is our hypothetical Answer? Describe what you expect to create/establish/make possible/obtain from solving the challenge. AND make sure do describe your Definition of Done: When is the problem solved? When can we say we’re done?

Understanding the organizational change – ADKAR

Make sure to describe your change. Are you pushing or pulling the change?

  • What changes? What stays the same?
  • Is it driven by internal or external forces?
  • Is it planned or unforeseen?
  • Is it simple or complex?
  • Is it small or massive?
  • Is it slow or fast?
  • And what “collateral damage” will we accept, e.g. people leaving the organization, missed deadlines, higher cost in a period etc.?

I like to use the ADKAR model to analyze the situation in the organization and describe the proposed activities.

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to make the change stick

What is the situation for each of the five ADKAR elements? What should be done to change or develop the situation?

Describing your proposed activity – STCQRR

Make sure to describe your project/activity through all six angles: STCQRR

  • What is the Scope?
    • Organizational scope: Who and what is affected? Use the blast radius-tool for this.
    • Activity scope: What activities do you propose to initiate?
    • Delivery scope: What do you expect to deliver? A document? A feeling? A skill? A tool? Or?
  • What is the Time frame?
    • How long time do you expect your project to last?
    • What phases to you go through?
  • What is the Cost?
    • What is your estimate for internal cost and external cost?
    • What is your estimate for other elements like software, material, experiments etc.?
  • How do you ensure Quality?
    • What processes do you apply?
    • What conversations do you have – and how do you apply the learning?
    • How do you measure progress?
    • How do you measure the value, that you want to create?
    • When are you done?
  • What Risks are there?
    • Use the structure:
      There is a risk that [something happens], leading to [a not-so-good situation].
      The probability for it is [low/medium/high]. The impact is [low/medium/high].
      To mitigate it, we [do something].
  • What Resources do you need?
    • Who do you need, when, and for what?

Conveying the message

You need to communicate with two groups of people: Those that makes the decision and provides the investment for it, and those that are affected.

In both cases you need to understand:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What are their preferred channel (email, phone, PowerPoint, meeting, etc)?
  • What are their communicative preferences? Do they look for business cases, money, profit, numbers, dates, feelings and emotions, stories, competitions, logic arguments, a narrative and a good story – or a mix?
  • What noise filters will there be when you send the message to them?
  • How do you ensure a good feedback loop, so that you know that the message is received the way you want it?
  • What noise filter do you have yourself?

Finally, work together!

Be sure to create the analysis and presentation with someone. Thinking out loud is a great way to create better solutions and consistency, and to identify mistakes.

We call it “rubber ducking“.


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