Effectively building a project and a construction business starts with getting the right people on the team and then getting them aligned.
The strength of a team is not defined by the lack of problems or disagreements. The strength of a team is defined by how effectively those problems or disagreements are processed.
The 5D process can be most highly leveraged in:
- 6 Phases of the Strategy and Planning Process
- Approaching or navigating a Growth Inflection Point
- Aligning Job Role Descriptions, especially for new roles
- Aligning on the criteria used to decide "Go/No-Go" on the pursuit of an opportunity
- Developing critical thinking skills by mapping a cross-functional workflow process like change orders
The 5Ds in Summary:
- Deeply Learn: Know the topic and integration with the rest of the business and positions of everyone in the room at least 2X more deeply than anyone else. “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” - Louis Pasteur
- Discuss: Ensure that everyone in the room has the same information. Start the discussion process well before walking into the meeting by “pre-wiring” everyone. “Given the same information all reasonable people will come to the same conclusion.” - Jack Welch, Retired Chairman and CEO of General Electric (During 20 Years of the Highest Growth and Profitability)
- Debate: Prioritize the differences. Set the conditions and timeline for the debate. Set the decision process if consensus is not reached. Keep the debate professional.
- Decide: Get a decision made on moving forward if consensus cannot be reached in a reasonable amount of time.
- Deliver: Set a clear and prioritized action plan for what needs to happen next. DO IT!
Most people, especially high performers tend to move directly to 4 (Deciding) then very quickly start 5 (Delivering). Spending the right amount of time on 1 & 2 before the first meeting accelerates the delivery substantially.
The more complex and integrated the project or process is, the more time is required on 1, 2 and 3. Effective debate facilitation and behaviors should make the decision obvious.
Even if the Decision and Delivery is 100% the same, involving a slightly broader group and being disciplined about the process will accelerate their development because the process makes everyone's thought process "visible" for discussion. This is critical when it comes to preparing for succession at all levels.
The 5D Process in More Detail:
1. DEEPLY LEARN
- Gather preliminary input from all team members and other information even if it is fragmented, incomplete, or of low quality.
- Deeply learn all perspectives whether you agree with them or not, taking the time to fill in the gaps.
- Research the ideas beyond initial scope. Often, the best answers come from looking a level or two beyond what is currently defined. Cite resources so others can go back and do their own learning.
- Get all key questions answered that you have developed while learning.
- Re-write and re-organize frequently to help sharpen your own thinking.
- Create diagrams or models to better illustrate what you have learned and help others see your perspective.
- “Pre-Wire” all parties involved individually or in smaller groups before the meeting to plant seeds, set expectations, and generally help the discussion, debate, and decision process move faster. This is the opportunity to share what you have learned and see what others have been learning. This applies to EVERYONE involved, not just the facilitator of the meeting.
- Note that if you are the DECIDER, be cautious that your sharing isn't taken as direction. Focus more on asking "Good Questions" if you are in a position of authority or the DECIDER for this particular matter.
- Set target timelines for the discuss and debate phases to stay on track.
- Facilitate a detailed and thorough discussion with the team, ensuring everyone has a common understanding of all sides of the issue including the necessary context to be effective at the debate stage.
- Prioritize the key differences (if any), outlining pros and cons with quantification as you see them after the discussion. The discussion phase of the meeting(s) likely cleared up most misalignments and the debate phase may not even be applicable.
- Review against Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS) or another high-level aligning document if applicable.
- Lead an aggressive but respectful debate of the differences.
- Switch sides frequently to demonstrate your well-rounded understanding.
- Note: Have the team research "Lincoln-Douglas Debate Format" to gain an understanding of what best-practices in debate are for difficult issues.
- Establish the criteria for how decisions are made (if necessary), including constraints and who is ultimately responsible for the decision. Note that the person with decision rights to the issue may not be the highest-ranking person in the room. For example, be clear when a CEO, COO, or VP is in the room as part of a project planning process, but their role is to provide insights, not decide which may be the Project Manager's rights based on their job role description.
- Get the decision made if there is not already consensus.
- Discuss the decision thoroughly until everyone understands what the decision is and how it was made. This is about both alignment and development. Decision making capabilities can be developed just like anything else.
- Where applicable, identify any tools such as checklists, flowcharts, or worksheets that could help turn this decision made by an individual into a process. This dramatically improves scalability, succession, and consistency of outcomes.
- Identify potential actions, prioritize (P.I.C.K.) and create S.M.A.R.T. action items to turn the decision into results.
- Identify both outcome measures (results) and leading measures of the actions to get there.
- Set the operating rhythm for checking-in on progress and re-prioritization.
- Follow-up relentlessly to ensure execution.
- Discuss the action plan, responsibilities, accountabilities, timelines, and check-in points, ensuring everyone understands them. Certifying vs. Briefing is a great technique to use for this.
This process is slow the first few times you use it. We recommend building capabilities and culture using some relatively simple topics.
Hold people accountable including yourself -
- If people show up unprepared (No Deep Learning), stop the meeting and reschedule.
- If people behave improperly during the discussion or debate phase, normalize the behavior of anyone being able to call anyone else out on behavior that takes the process off track.
- If deliverables aren't being met, investigate and determine the root of the problem, including capacity, capabilities, or something else.
We use this process regularly. Please contact us at any time and we will share freely with you any lessons we have learned that may apply to your situation. The basics are all above but there are lots of nuances to each situation and team.