- Thinking outside the square
- Individual cells in a table, grid or matrix
- Features in an organisational structure
- 3-level hierarchy
Use of coloured text, coloured backgrounds, size, connecting lines and content sequencing lets me develop a code to expand my use of the square as a planning tool.
Some examples of my use of the Square
Thinking outside the square: this is a commonly used planning tool – indicating the benefit of recognizing obvious or obscured boundaries to current thinking. However, the planner is still ‘in the square’.
Even better is placing yourself as planner or observer ‘outside the square’ to that you are able to objectively consider what’s inside the square. You can then draw one or more squares on the same page to explore and understand alternative or opposing perspectives, possibilities or outcomes.
I need to see as much planning material on one page as possible – that’s simply how my mind works. As you can tell, I use a lot of A3 paper – and whiteboards – in my planning efforts, both for myself and with clients.
Individual cells in a table, grid or matrix
Individual cells seems to have lost some of their use and usefulness as planning tools with the coming of Excel – where the focus is on the total spreadsheet rather than on individual items within the spreadsheet.
Cells can collectively form a table, grid or matrix – without losing their uniqueness.
When I’m using a grid to analyse stakeholder relationships, there will three headings within each cell – the first to identify the stakeholder, the second to jot down key words to describe the purpose of the stakeholder relationship, and the third to jot down key words to describe the quality of that stakeholder relationship: a ‘stakeholder’ is any individual, group or entity that has either a stake or an interest in the internal or external affairs and activities of an organisation.
When the analysis is completed, and there can be over 30 stakeholders in any one organisation at any one time, I develop a second table to assess corrective action required to remedy ineffective or deficient stakeholder relationships, terminate unnecessary or surplus stakeholder relationships, or identify additional stakeholders with whom to build a relationship.
Features in an organisational structure
I often use square ‘post-its’, each identified as one component in such a structure, and try several positions for these until deciding on the placement of each ‘post-it’ so that the structure easily and adequately displays lnes of accountability and reporting, lnes of communication, dlegations of authority, and iternal and external relationships
The 3-level hierarchy
This is my favourite Quality Management tool. I don’t know the origin, but I do know that it is simple, effective and reliable.
As an example, I may develop or be provided with a number of Critical Success Factors – these are factors which, if not functioning or operating to the desired level of performance, effectiveness and quality, may place the organisation – or any aspect of the organisation – at risk.
When formally identified and broken down (using the 3-level hierarchy), each critical success factor can be monitored to ensure successful processes, procedures and outcomes. They collectively form the basis for quality management and control of the organisation’s total functional and operational activity.
In the process of introducing total quality control, each critical success factor should be analysed for comparison with best practices or accepted standards of quality. Continuous improvement to strengthen or ensure the satisfactory achievement of each critical success factor is a basic characteristic of total quality management.
Each critical success factor is broken down, using the 3-level hierarchy:
- Level 1 = the definition of the critical success factor
- Level 2 = a set of components which together comprise the definition, and
- Level 3 = a set of elements for each component by which it can be recognised, monitored or evaluated.
Each component (with its own set of elements) is an identity in its own right which will be affected by, and can itself affect, the quality of the organisation’s activities and functions.
The 3-level hierarchy can be adopted as:
- an internal quality assessment tool,
- an internal quality improvement tool, or
- an internal quality management tool
This series of ‘planning tool’ articles consists of:
- Step 1 – how and why planning tools can be my simple, effective and reliable planning tools – including a circle, triangle and straight line (uploaded 23rd May 2012)
- Step 2 – Triangle (uploaded 7th June )
- Step 3 – Straight Line (uploaded 13th June)
- Step 4 – Circle (uploaded 20th June)
- Step 5 – Square (uploaded 26th June)
- Step 6 – Arrow
- Step 7 – Table
- Step 8 – Symbols