Mastering the First Critical Strategic Question–Part 2


The second part of Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Management Made Simple focuses in on the relationship between the four critical strategic questions and how they are captured visually in the Logical Framework approach.   As a review from the first part of his book which introduced them, those four critical strategic questions are:

–What are we trying to accomplish and why?

–How will we measure success?

–What other conditions must exist?

–How do we get there?

The first chapter of this second part focuses in on the first critical strategic question, “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”   In the last post, I discussed how the Logical Framework approach can be used by the project team to discuss the various Objectives of the project:  the Outcomes (what the project will create), the Purpose (the business need of the project), the Goal (the strategic interest of the organization in doing the project), and the Inputs (the steps needed to achieve the Outcomes).

This post will discuss how the Logical Framework approach can be used by the project manager to gain stakeholder collaboration.

1.   Problem Analysis

Rather than casting the project in terms of its Outcomes, one creative approach to discussing a project with stakeholders is to cast it in terms of a solution to a problem.    This kind of problem analysis can be used to discuss how the problem affects the stakeholder, because that will show the stakeholder that he or she will also be affected by the solution which the project will create.

2.  Logical Framework approach

Here are a list of questions that Terry Schmidt gives in his book that he suggests you ask your stakeholders in discussing the problem that your project is designed to address.    What I have done is put a column to the right that indicates which element of the Logical Framework approach each question pertains to, at least as I understand the question.

Question for Stakeholders

Logical Framework Element

What do you see as the problem?

What might an ideal solution look like?

Outcomes (the solution of the problem)
Why is this a problem and for whom?

What are the consequences if we ignore the problem?

Purpose (the business need for the solution)
What benefits will a solution bring? Goal (the strategic benefit of the solution for the organization)
How will you know when the problem is gone? Success Measures and Verification (of solution)
What causes the problem? Assumptions (what conditions must exist for the solution to be realized)

The responses can be used to fill in the LogFrame matrix by using them to put detail into the element listed in the column to the right.

3.  Other Problem Analysis methodologies

The problem analysis listed above that Terry Schmidt has devised is just one suggestion.   Other proven methodologies include:

–Fishbone or Ishikawa Analysis

–Five Why Questions (from Toyota)

–Total Quality Management tools

–LEAN Value Stream Mapping

–Six Sigma processes

Some of these methodologies, such as LEAN Value Stream Mapping and Six Sigma processes, are not as much for creating new products, services, or results, as for improving existing products, services, or results.   Their growing importance in manufacturing is recognized by the Project Management Institute by including the improvement of existing products, services, or results in the definition of a project, which used to just account for the creation of new product, service, or result.

After discussing the Objectives (Inputs, Outcomes, Purpose, and Goals), which are the answer to the first critical strategic question of “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”, the next critical strategic question is “How will we measure success”?    If you cannot come up with a concrete measure of success that is verifiable, then your problem most likely is that the Objectives are too vague.   How do you avoid that mistake of having vague objectives so that the second critical strategic question can also be answered with clarity?   That is the subject of the next post.

Mastering the First Critical Strategic Question–part 1


The second part of Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Management Made Simple focuses in on the relationship between the four critical strategic questions and how they are captured visually in the Logical Framework approach.   As a review from the first part of his book which introduced them, those four critical strategic questions are:

–What are we trying to accomplish and why?

–How will we measure success?

–What other conditions must exist?

–How do we get there?

The first chapter of this second part focuses in on the first critical strategic question, “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”

1.  Linking Objectives into Logical Levels

As mentioned in the first part, the answer to one part of the first critical strategic question, namely, “What are we trying to accomplish?” is the Outcome of the project, sometimes referred to as the deliverable.   There are two answers to the other part of the first critical strategic question, namely, the “why” part:  these are the Purpose of the project, and the Goal of the project.   The Purpose is the business need for the project, whether it be the need by customers in the marketplace for the product or the service that the project will produce, or the organization itself that will end up using the result of that project (for example, an improvement to existing processes).    The Goal is the way that the organization will profit or benefit by offering this new product, service, or result.     I say the word “benefit” because it is possible that the result may not be a profit per se, but an intangible benefit such as positive name recognition, which could happen if the organization participates in some charity event.

Once the Outcomes have been decided upon that are consistent with the Purpose and the Goal, then you can work on the Inputs that will create those Outcomes.   This is in reality skipping ahead to the fourth critical strategic question of “how do we get there?”  But for now, let’s just consider these four items, the Inputs, Outcomes, Purpose, and Goal and label them collectively as the Objectives.

They should be logically linked as follows:

Inputs –>  Outcomes –> Purpose –> Goal

This is visual shorthand for saying,

“if the Inputs are applied, then the Outcomes will be produced,”

“if the Outcomes are produced, then the Purpose will be accomplished,” and

“if the Purpose is accomplished, then the Goal will be achieved.”

As the fourth chapter of the first part details, there may be higher level Purposes at the level of a program, higher level Goals at the level of a portfolio, or even a higher level Vision that ties them all together at the level of the enterprise.   But for now, let’s just consider the four levels of Objectives of a single project.

2.  Linking Objectives Thematically

How are these levels linked to each other, not logically, but thematically?    For that, see the chart below:

Objectives

Level

Definition Elaboration
Goal The higher-level strategic Objective to which the project contributes by fulfilling the Purpose of the project. The 10,000-foot view.  This can be the overarching umbrella for multiple projects and programs in a single portfolio.
Purpose The impact or behavior change(external or internal) we anticipate by producing the Outcomes of the project This can be the overarching umbrella for multiple projects in a single program.

NOTE:  This is the Objective of the project that’s usually missing in strategic planning.

Outcomes The specific result(s) the project team must deliver by managing the Inputs to the project. Interim deliverables, final end products, and processes.  The project team is responsible for delivering the Outcomes.
Inputs The activities and tasks we undertake and the resources necessary to produce the Outcomes of the project. Project management software can be helpful here in implementing the plan and the schedule.

As you can see from the chart, you start with the Outcomes, or the “what” question.   Then you ask yourself the “why” question and link upwards to fill in the Purpose and Goal.    Once these are linked logically and thematically according to the description in the above chart, you then link downwards to fill in the Inputs.   

This is how you build the Logical Framework with the project team.   How do you involve the stakeholders in the Logical Framework?   That is the subject of the next post.

Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent–Part 3


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework or LogFrame Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning. The fourth chapter of his book is called “Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent”, and it takes the concepts of the LogFrame Approach that were applied to individual projects in chapters 2 and 3, and shows how they can be used at the level of programs and portfolios.   The first part I wrote last Friday details how programs and portfolios are related to projects.  The second part I wrote yesterday today details how the strategic vision of the organization percolates down through portfolios, programs, and projects, and how the LogFrame Approach can be used to make sure that they all remain connected to that strategic vision.    This third part today talks about the eight logical planning steps involved in strategic planning and execution at the level of the business unit.

Step 1–Clarify the Planning Context and Issues

Question 1:  What are your primary motivations from the planning process?  Are the primary motivations related to:

–Attracting new customers

–Improving existing procedures

–Strengthening teamwork

–Entering a new market (new to the organization)

Question 2:  What are the desired Outcomes (multiple Outcomes are possible) from the planning process?

Question 3:  Identify the “system” for which you are doing the plan.

–Intact units

–Cross-functional group

NOTE:  Sometimes you need to define what is not included in your system of interest.

Step 2:  Involve Key Players

Get input from all key players.   This means key internal and external stakeholders (customers in particular) to identify their concerns and needs.   Now the means of giving input can vary, from:

–Structured focus groups

–Customer surveys

–Joining planning team meetings

–Reviewing interim results

–Getting briefed on final results

Step 3:  Scan Your Environment

1.  Examine the plans of

–All relevant business units

–Key outside organizations

–Customer base

Extract Objectives and highlights those efforts that relate to yours.

2.  Conduct an broad-brush, external environmental scan to identify trends, events, and drivers that influence your future directions.

Identify the SKEPTIC factors to see which may impact your project during its life:

  • S (Societal)
  • K (Competitive)
  • E (Economic/Environmental)
  • P (Political)
  • T (Technological)
  • I (Industrial)
  • C (Consumer/Client)

Step 4:  Revisit Your Vision/Mission/Values

Having each unit develop its own vision, mission, and value or VMV statements allows them to appreciate how they deliver real value to their customers and to each other.

Vision means what we wish to see in the future that we can affect.   

Mission means how we will get there.   

Values are norms of conduct, such as:

  • Take responsibility for actions
  • Continuously improve
  • Focus on the customer
  • Respect each other

These values represent a shared code of conduct, and they can be made less vague and more real for by converting them into a a set of observable behaviors (do’s and don’ts).

Step 5:  Sharpen Your Goals and Measures

Examples of measures you can use are:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Provide products efficiently (delivering products on time and at reasonable cost)
  • Team effectiveness, cohesiveness
  • Utilization of best practices
  • Increased public awareness of products

These measures should ultimately support those Goals mentioned in the Vision statement.

Step 6:  Develop Core Strategies

The various Goals derived from the Vision statement need to be developed into a manageable set of strategies which collectively deliver the measurable results set forth in Step 5.   The chosen strategies should provide solutions to current problems and build future capacity.

Then you need to analyze those strategies in relationship to the success measures developed in Step 5.   Here’s a generic Strategies-Measures matrix.

KEY SUCCESS MEASURES

CORE STRATEGIES

1. 2. 3. 4.
1.  Financial
2.  Customers
3.  Operational Effectiveness
4.  Employee
5.  Community

You can put a checkmark or put a score from 1 to 5 to show the estimated degree of impact of each strategy on each of the success measures.   This will establish a strong framework for achieving superior performance and delivering outstanding customer value.

Step 7.  Turn Strategies Into Execution Plan

After the coherent set of strategies has been defined, the next step is creating an action plan and building unified implementation teams.   In order to not interfere with the regular operational work, you may stagger the implementation of the various core strategies.  Using the matrix shown above in Step 6, you can list the owner’s of each of the core strategies and list the start of their implementation chronologically, like so:

CORE STRATEGIES

1. 2. 3. 4.
Strategy Owner Name 1 Name 2 Name 3 Name 4
1st Quarter
2nd Quarter
3rd Quarter
4th Quarter

Each of these core strategies will have its own LogFrame, of course.

Step 8.  Follow Up and Continue the Process

With the implementation calendar developed in Step 7, you can have periodic reviews and refinement of the implementation plan.
With these steps, the LogFrame approach can be used to take a Vision, Mission, and Value statement of the organization, and turn it into a strategic implementation plan that can be used by various units, a cross-functional team, or any designated subsection of the organization.
This concludes the fourth chapter, and the first part of the book which illustrates what strategic thinking is and how the LogFrame approach can facilitate it.   The second part of the book delves into the four critical strategic questions that were introduced in chapter 2, and illustrates how the LogFrame approach introduced in chapter 3 can answer those questions.   It gets into the nitty-gritty detail about how to create a LogFrame for your project, so if your appetite was stimulated by the first part of the book, it’s now time to dive into the buffet!

Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent–Part 2


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework or LogFrame Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning. The fourth chapter of his book is called “Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent”, and it takes the concepts of the LogFrame Approach that were applied to individual projects in chapters 2 and 3, and shows how they can be used at the level of programs and portfolios.   The first part I wrote last Friday details how programs and portfolios are related to projects.  This second part today details how the strategic vision of the organization percolates down through portfolios, programs, and projects, and how the LogFrame Approach can be used to make sure that they all remain connected to that strategic vision.

1.  Outcome, Purpose, and Goal of a Project

Remember that the first critical strategic question at the level of a project asks

What are we trying to accomplish and why?

Well, the “What are we trying to accomplish” portion of this critical strategic question corresponds to the Outcome of the project, in other words, what product, service, or result is the project designed to create?

The “and why?” portion of this critical strategic question actually encompasses two concepts.   The Outcome of the project is designed to fulfill some business need, either out in the marketplace or even within the organization itself.  That business need corresponds to the Purpose of the project.

In addition, the Outcome of the project is designed to accomplish some strategic goal of the organization so that, for example, if the Purpose is achieved, revenue will flow into the organization and make a profit.   The Purpose of the project can be internal or external to the organization; the Goal is always internal to the organization itself.

2.  Linking Projects into Programs through a common Purpose

The business need of one project can be related to the business need of another project.   For example, in constructing an airplane, each system of the airplane can be designed as a separate project, and these projects are coordinated into a common Program.   They have a common Purpose, which is to create a high-quality aircraft.   The systems not only have to work well on their own, but they have to work well together.   The reason for integrating them into a common Program will create some strategic benefit for the organization as well, because there will be cost savings if parts are shared between systems, and there will be fewer mistakes in the manufacturing process if the engineers who work on the design of the various systems communicate well with each other from the start.

3.  Linking Programs into Portfolios through a common Goal

Although the design of a helicopter, a commercial aircraft, and a fighter jet may be very different, because they are all designed to fit different business needs, they will have a common strategic goal in making more profitable the company which makes the aircraft.   So a Portfolio links Programs together through a Common Goal.

4.  Linking Goals into a Strategic Vision

The financial goal of profitability is one of the most common goals of an organization, and it is often referred to by the phrase “the bottom line.”  However, there are other possible “bottom lines” or strategic goals and ways of measuring them.   Here are five possible strategic Goals/Measures for an organization.

Type of Strategic Goals Possible Measures
1. Financial Goals Rate of return, profits, sales growth, cash flow, savings
2. Customer Goals Numbers, satisfaction level
3. Operational Effectiveness Performance indicators (hotel occupancy, mean time between   failure, efficiency ratios)
4. Employee Goals Number, turnover, skills growth
5. Community Goals Impact on local community

What could link these various Goals together?   The strategic vision of a company, which should be the responsibility of a CEO to create and then share with the organization.   Ideally, all of the above goals that are relevant to an organization should somehow be included in this strategic vision.

If the strategic vision is written in clearly and compellingly, it should be possible to make sure that it is harmonious with the various strategic Goals of the Portfolios, the various Purposes of the Programs, and the various Outcomes of the Projects.

How to do this?  The next post covers the eight logical planning steps involved in making sure a strategic Vision of an organization gets transmitted and translated to it various units.

Integral Life Practice–Chapter 6: The Body Module


The purpose of the Body Module is to introduce you to practices which cultivate your health by taking care of the matter of your gross physical body.   But beyond this, the module introduces you to the other bodies that are also vital for one’s health, the energy in your subtle body, and the causal body of stillness within which the other two bodies rest.

1.   Three Bodies

In the same way that your consciousness normally has three states–waking, dreaming, and deep sleep–your body also has the corresponding gross, subtle, and causal bodies.    Remember the distinction in the quadrants between the interior and exterior dimensions of reality?   The interior quadrants are the ones are the left, and the exterior quadrants are the ones on the right.

Each state of consciousness is an interior dimension which has a corresponding exterior form or dimension that is referred to as a body.   Let’s take a look at each of the three states of consciousness in turn and the associated form or body which encapsulates them.

this post to be continued

Within Walking Distance–Living A Twilight Zone Episode


Last summer, I moved from Southern California back to the place where I grew up, which is called Homewood, Illinois, a suburb south of Chicago. Recently, I have been starting to watch a series of classic science fiction programs that appeared in the 1950s and 1960s on television and in the movies.     No such collection would be complete without The Twilight Zone, and our local library just happened to have The Definitive Edition, which was released in 2004, and which contains not only the original episodes of the series, but also some additional material such as commentaries by some of the actors who played the roles and occasionally even a discussion by Rod Serling himself.

I took out the first volume that covers Season 1 of the Twilight Zone and sat down to watch it on Thursday night. Coincidental to this, a classmate from the high school I went to, Homewood-Flossmoor High School, announced that he was going to be in the Chicago area this weekend, and wanted to know if those in the class of 1975 who lived in the area wanted to meet at a famous local pizzeria called Aurelio’s Saturday night.    So my mind started reaching back into the past, recalling those high school days which are approaching four decades ago, when I decided to watch the Twilight Zone episodes.

One of those episodes was “Within Walking Distance”, starring Gig Young who  played Martin Sloan, a harried New York executive who decides that he needs a break from the stress of corporate life and returns to his hometown.   He has his car serviced at a gas station outside of town, and decides that, since it is only walking distance to town, he will take a walk to see what the old town is like.    He doesn’t realize that he is walking not just in space, but in time, because by the time he gets to the town, he has returned 30 years into the past.    What struck me was, when he got to the outskirts of the town itself, the sign read, get this, “Welcome to Homewood“!

He met his parents, and then he walked to a merry-go-round in the town park where there is some sort of fairground set up.   There he sees his younger self on that merry-go-round and he tries to run up and talk to him.    The boy is frightened and tries to run away, only to slip and fall off and hurt his leg, which instantly causes Martin Sloan as an adult to have the same injury!

In the end scene with his father, Martin Sloan decides that his quixotic campaign to revisit his youth is not necessary to recapture the vividness of life, which can be found in any age and in any location, if you are just willing to look with the right attitude.

In the commentary to the episode, Rod Serling was speaking at a lecture in 1975 in Sherwood Oaks College after a showing of the episode, and he pointed out the ways in which the script was, from a writer’s standpoint, flawed and how he would have improved it if he were writing the same story idea then.     So Rod Serling was in an odd way echoing the experience of Martin Sloan by revisiting his own past as a writer, and seeing the ways in which the 1959 self had matured as a writer and as a human being.    He said he would not have been able to review his own early work with such as a detached point of view as he was able to at that moment if he had been asked to do it even, say, 10 years earlier.    But now, enough time and, more importantly, enough growth had occurred that this was now possible.

And in watching the episode and then the commentary, I was echoing the experience of both Martin Sloan AND Rod Serling.   I had lived in this town from the 1960s when I was a child, until the 1970s when I went off to the University of Illinois.   Since then, I have lived in Germany, Japan, and in the United States on both coasts.   Only after being requested by my father to come back to Homewood to help him deal with some health challenges did I come back to the town I had not lived in for close to 40 years.    I did so because I was in transition, looking to change my career, and therefore was not tied down to staying where I was in Southern California.

When I came back it was strange to live in the same town I grew up in, but with all the neighbors but one having passed away or moved away.    But some things were the same:   there were children playing in the neighborhood, going to local events such as parades, and enjoying the holidays of the year, just like when I was a child.   But these were the next generation of children, and I got to experience their joy of being vicariously as I watched them living in the moment.   Since my father’s health recovered, I also got to experience his living in the moment as well, as he enjoys whatever time he has left.    So as Martin Sloan discovered, the joy of life can be found in adulthood just as in childhood, if you have the ability to look at it with a sense of gratitude.   And like Rod Serling, I have discovered that time and the phenomenon of personal growth allow you the distance you need to embrace the past–so that you can then let it go and move on.

Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent–Part 1


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning.    The fourth chapter of his book is called “Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent”, and it takes the concepts of the Logical Framework Approach that were applied to individual projects in chapters 2 and 3, and shows how they can be used at the level of programs and portfolios.    This first part discusses the general concept of programs and portfolios, and why the LogFrame Approach can be used for them as well.

1.  Programs and Portfolios

According to the 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide©, a program is defined as

A group of related projects and program activities managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.

portfolio is defined as:

Projects, programs, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives.

As an illustration, let’s take the design of an aircraft.    The design would involve individual design projects for the various major parts and systems of an aircraft:    the fuselage, the engine, the electrical system, the hydraulic system, etc.   These individual projects would be coordinated by a program, because they would have to be coordinated in such a way that the various systems fit together in a logical way to form a single, functioning aircraft.    Now a manufacturer like Boeing will have different types of aircraft:    helicopters, commercial jets, and military jets, all of which serve different purposes, but which all must be made in such a way that they satisfy the companies that buy them and the company’s own financial goals of turning a profit.    All of the different types of aircraft, the design of which would each be handled by a separate program, would fall under the same portfolio.

In a memorable quote from Terry Schmidt’s book, a project manager is like a circus performer who is juggling three balls in the air:    the constraints of time, cost and scope.    A program manager is like a circus troupe of performers who are all juggling, but occasionally will swap balls, bowling pins, or whatever it is they are juggling.   To extent this metaphor even farther, the portfolio manager would be the circus ringleader who is handling all of the circus acts, all with the intent of making sure the audience is happy (the business case or purpose) and therefore that the income from the ticket receipts keeps coming into the circus.

2.  Corporate Strategy

Starting at the top, corporate strategy begins with the vision set forth by the CEO and it cascades down through strategic business units or SBUs.   This vision is guided by conversations with various stakeholders (including stockholders), and the corporate strategy ends up as strategic initiatives or portfolios.   Each portfolio is then broken down into programs and projects that become the vehicles for putting the strategic initiatives into effect.  

In the same way, that the LogFrame can make sure that a project’s Outcomes align with the business case or Purpose and the organization’s strategic Goal, the LogFrame can make sure the projects and programs align with the strategic initiatives or portfolios and even the central strategic vision of the CEO.    How it does so will be the subject of the next post.

 

Introducing the Logical Framework in Project Planning–Part 4


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning.    The third chapter of his book is called “Introducing the Logical Framework”; it takes the Four Critical Strategic Questions discussed in chapter 2, and shows they are captured visually in the Logical Framework or LogFrame.   The fourth part of this chapter discusses the fourth Critical Strategic Question.

1.    How Do We Get There?

The Outcomes described in the first column are also called deliverables, and they are nouns.   How do we get these Outcomes?   By doing activities, which are verbs.   

This is normally what people think of as Project Planning, the breakdown of deliverables into the activities to produce them.   This is the last element, however, of Strategic Project Planning.    Here’s an analogy to distinguish Strategic Project Planning and Project Planning:   Project Planning is where you construct a ladder to get to your Outcome, with the rungs on the ladder being the activities you need to perform in order to get to the top of the ladder.   Strategic Project Planning is where you strategically place the ladder so that it is up against the correct wall.  In too many projects, as in life itself, more attention is paid on climbing the ladder than on figuring out where the ladder is against the right wall.    With Strategic Project Planning, you know that your efforts to get to the top are going to take you to the right place!

2.  The Fourth Critical Strategic Question and the LogFrame Matrix

Objectives

Success Measures

Verification

Assumptions

Goal

Measures of Goal Achievement

Verification of

Measures of Goal Achievement

Goal

Assumptions

Purpose

Purpose Measures

Verification of

Purpose Measures

Purpose

Assumptions

Outcomes

 

Outcome Measures

Verification of

Outcome Measures

Outcomes

Assumptions

Inputs

How?

 

Who?  Where?

 

When?

The answers to the fourth critical strategic question are placed in the row at the bottom of the first three rows.  The first column, the Objectives of the project, are the answers to the first critical strategic question; the second and third columns, the Success Measures and their Verification, are the answers to the second critical strategic question; the fourth column, the Assumptions, are the answers to the third critical strategic question.

Thus you fill out the matrix with the first column, then the second column and third column, by answering the first and then second critical strategic question. then the fourth column,  by answering the third critical strategic question, and then you finish by filling out the fourth row under the first three rows by answering the fourth critical strategic question.   Thus the LogFrame Matrix takes you visually through the journey through these all four critical strategic questions.

3.  CONCLUSION

The four critical strategic questions 

1.  What Are We Trying To Accomplish And Why?  (Objectives)

2.  How Will We Measure Success?  (Measures and Verifications)

3.  What Other Conditions Must Exist? (Assumptions)

4.  How Do We Get There?  (Inputs)

are captured visually in the LogFrame Matrix, and thus it allows you to create in real-time at a kickoff meeting a strategic map, which you construct starting in the following way:

–from the Outcomes, moving up to the Purpose, and Goal (collectively referred to as the Objectives)

–from the Objectives, moving to the right to the Success Measures and their Verifications

–from the Objectives, moving all the way to the right to the Assumptions

–from the Outcomes, moving down to the Inputs

There will be several linkages created, both horizontally, vertically, and diagonally (the Inputs plus the Assumptions in the Outcomes column will yield the Outcomes, the Outcomes plus the Assumptions in the Purpose column will yield the Purpose, the Purpose plus the Assumptions in the Goal column will yield the Goal).    Thus it ties together into a single Logical Framework.

In the same way that you create a Logical Framework for a single project, you can create a Logical Framework for a group of projects that tie them together into a single project, or a group of projects into a portfolio.   That is the subject of the fourth chapter of Strategic Project Management Made Simple, and will be summarized in the next series of posts.

Introducing the Logical Framework in Project Planning–Part 3


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning.    The third chapter of his book is called “Introducing the Logical Framework”; it takes the Four Critical Strategic Questions discussed in chapter 2, and shows they are captured visually in the Logical Framework or LogFrame.   The third part of this chapter discusses the third Critical Strategic Question.

1.    What Other Conditions Must Exist?

No matter what you do inside your project, there are factors outside of the project which may affect the project either positively or negatively.   These factors are referred to as risk factors.    Technically speaking, the factors can be positive or negative, but the conventional meaning of risk covers the negative factors; the positive factors are usually referred to as opportunities.    A typical risk factor for the project, let’s say, of holding an outdoor picnic would be if it rains on the day of the event.    How do you handle these risks?   With a risk response, which is something you prepare ahead of time so that if the risk occurs, you can handle it.    In the case of the “rainy day” risk, you would have an alternate venue that is indoors ready to be used if it rains on the day of the event.

2.  The Third Critical Strategic Question and the LogFrame Matrix

Objectives

Success Measures

Verification

Assumptions

Goal

Measures of Goal Achievement

Verification of

Measures of Goal Achievement

Goal

Assumptions

Purpose

Purpose Measures

Verification of

Purpose Measures

Purpose

Assumptions

Outcomes

 

Outcome Measures

Verification of

Outcome Measures

Outcomes

Assumptions

The answers to the third critical strategic question are placed in the column to the right of the first three columns.   The first column, the Objectives of the project, are the answers to the first critical strategic question, and the second and third columns, the Success Measures and their Verification, are the answers to the second critical strategic question.

Thus you fill out the matrix with the first column, then the second column and third column, by answering the first and then second critical strategic question. and then the fourth column,  by answering the third critical strategic question.    Thus the LogFrame Matrix takes you visually through the journey through these three critical strategic questions, and the comparison between the right column and the left column allows you to check to see whether

–if the Assumptions regarding the Outcomes are valid, then the Outcomes will be achieved

–if the Assumptions regarding the Purpose are valid, then the Purpose will be achieved

–if the Assumptions regarding the Goal are valid, then the Goal will be achieved

3.  Conclusion

The LogFrame matrix is just a visual way of representing the linkages between the answers to the four Critical Strategic Questions.     The answers to the first three Critical Strategic Questions fill the top three boxes of the first, second, third and fourth columns of the LogFrame matrix (except for the very topmost box, which is for the labels “Objectives”, “Measures for Success”, “Verification” and “Assumptions for the various columns).

The next post will cover the answers to the fourth Critical Strategic Question and where they are placed in the LogFrame matrix.

Introducing the Logical Framework in Project Planning–Part 2


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning.    The third chapter of his book is called “Introducing the Logical Framework”; it takes the Four Critical Strategic Questions discussed in chapter 2, and shows they are captured visually in the Logical Framework or LogFrame.   The second part of this chapter discusses the second Critical Strategic Question.

1.   How Will We Measure Success?

In the first question, “What are We Trying to Accomplish and Why?”, you decide what the Outcomes of the project are (what it is the project will create), what the Purpose of the project is (what business need will it fulfill), and what the Goal of the project is (how it will profit the organization).

Goal

Purpose

Outcomes

 

The second question takes each of these elements and asks, “How Will We Measure Success?”   In other words, at the end of the project, how will we be able to definitively that the project was or was not a success.    These metrics for success are the conditions that you will expect to exist when you declare the Outcomes achieved.    The three most frequent metrics are in terms of

  • Quantity or Cost
  • Quality
  • Time

For the Goal of the company, delivering a project within budget, on schedule, and with a specified level of quality are the general measures of success.    For the Purpose of the company, you need to describe the metric to describe the changes that will occur because of the project.    For the Outcomes of the project, you need to describe the performance specifications as to what the completed deliverables will look like.

After figuring out what the Success Measures are, you need to consider how you will verify those metrics when the project is done.   This is important, because you may need to set up a data source now to use as a baseline before the project starts so that you can compare it to another set of data after the project is done.   For example, let’s say your project is going to introduce a new marketing campaign for an already existing product, and that your Success Measure is “increase sales of the product by 10% within 6 months of the launching of the new marketing campaign.”   Your verification will probably be “sales records”, but if you just check the sales records 6 months after the new marketing campaign is done, you won’t be able to tell whether there was a 10% increase or not.   You will have to set up the sales record baseline at the time the new marketing campaign is launched, in order to be able to set a baseline against which you will measure the sales increase 6 months down the line.

2.  The Second Critical Strategic Question and the LogFrame Matrix

Objectives

Success Measures

Verification

Goal

Measures of Goal Achievement

Verification of

Measures of Goal Achievement

Purpose

Purpose Measures

Verification of

Purpose Measures

Outcomes

 

Outcome Measures

Verification of

Outcome Measures

The answers to the second critical strategic question are placed in the two columns to the right of the Objectives of the project, which as you may recall from the previous post, are the answers to the first critical strategic question.   The success measures are put in the column to the right of the Objectives, and the verification of the success measures are put in the column to the right of the Success Measures.

Thus you fill out the matrix with the first column, then the second column and third column, by answering the first and then second critical strategic question.    Thus the LogFrame Matrix takes you visually through the journey through these two critical strategic question, and the comparison between the right column and the left column allows you to check to see on the Objectives.    If you can’t come up with Measures that are specific enough, it is probably because the Objectives are not specific enough.

If you decide to take an outing on Sunday to a place which all the family will enjoy, you cannot put the phrase “someplace nice” into your GPS and expect it to come up with a specific destination you can go to.   You have to come up with a place that fits the criterion for “nice” with every member of the family, and each person may have a different definition of what that means.    In a similar way, you have to come up with a definition of success that is specific enough that, once the Objectives are met, everybody can agree that the project was successful.

3.  Conclusion

The LogFrame matrix is just a visual way of representing the linkages between the answers to the four Critical Strategic Questions.     The answers to the first two Critical Strategic Questions fill the top three boxes of the first, second and third columns of the LogFrame matrix (except for the very topmost box, which is for the labels “Objectives”, “Measures for Success” and “Verification” for the various columns).

The next post will cover the answers to the third Critical Strategic Question and where they are placed in the LogFrame matrix.