Shrinkonian Exercises.This is a list of the exercises described on The Project Shrink. Exercises for project teams and stakeholders.
They are Shrinkonian Exercises. Storytelling. Play. Maps. If you would like to know more about one or more of the exercises, don’t hesitate to contact me.
This is a multi-media storytelling exercise. The reason why your project exists, is because it has to fulfill a goal, create an end result. In bootstrapping lingo that is The Quest, the pursuit of something worthwhile. The goal of your project or organization is a powerful mechanism for alignment. Everyone is working towards the same result. But first you have to make sure they all have the same understanding of what “done” looks like. That is the purpose of this exercise.
In this exercise we use the power of storytelling to interactively create a cunning plan. Although, now it’s called an Adventure Map. Every project is a journey. It is never a straight line. You have to conquer obstacles, replan, regroup, rethink and change course. Imagine your project as a map through unknown territory in search for The Goal. The map reflects the storyline of the project. The episodes of the project life cycle. The glory days of starting the project. The period in which the project was under attack by vicious stakeholders.
The normal Adventure Map has a focus on events, the Stakeholder Adventure Map does focus on, you’ve guessed it, stakeholders. Stakeholder analysis is a technique to identify and analyze the stakeholders surrounding a project. It provides information on stakeholders and their relationships and expectations. A proper analysis of the stakeholders will help you to construct a project approach suited to the situation and will allow you to negotiate better with the stakeholders.
The trip along the Yellow Brick Road from the Wizard Of Oz is long. Just like your project. With a lot of turns and twists. And mountains that block your view. From where you are standing you cannot see the end. How do you know you’re on the right track. You don’t want to travel a long distance to notice in the end that you went the wrong way. And people tend to get nervous when they have no idea of how far they are. Like stakeholders in a project. In this exercise you align the perception the stakeholders have of your journey.
When you conduct a project within a larger organization (the host organization) you might feel like an explorer at first. Like the famous explorers from the old days, you can follow two strategies on arrival: mix with the locals or directly plant your flag. In this exercise you focus on your strategy when arriving for the first time in the organization for an intervention.
In this exercise you create a The Travel Guide To … [your organization]. A travel guide contains The Story of the company. It contains the essence of its culture. Creating The Travel Guide is an awesome exercise for any one planning a change in an organization. It assists storytelling and the discovery of culture. By playing with the elements of the culture from the organization and discovering our own relationship with them, the group culture emerges.
Your ragtag crew needs some kind of protection. If you’re on A Big Adventure you need a support structure. Projects create change. Change makes waves through the organization. And change creates stress for people. Your project is a temporary structure within the host organization.
In this exercise you discuss with the group how the ideal tent would look like. What kind of material? What information can get out, or what information should stay in the tent? What would you pack? How do you make sure you can get along on a small confined space for a period of time?
Different expectations of the end result among stakeholders and project team members can be a huge problem in projects. There is even a famous cartoon about this: it is about the customer expecting a swing on a tree, and all the different interpretations of it by others. If your project is suffering from something similar, you can use this cartoon as an exercise to raise awareness and discuss the different expectations in a non-threatening way.
This is an awesome exercise to create a shared vision and approach within your team, suggested to me by Kimberly Wiefling.
“… I sometimes ask a team to imagine that they are a vehicle on a journey, and to silently draw that vehicle and that journey as they perceive it . . . all team members drawing on one piece of paper together in silence. It’s interesting, and often amusing, what comes out of this exercise – snake pits, volcanoes, “Road out
A project has its own culture. This culture can be very different from the organization it is operating in. How do you make sure the project culture isn’t crushed by the larger organizations’ culture? And how do you make sure that project team members are still welcome in the organization when the project is done? That is the focus of this exercise.
The Project Chronicles.
During the project a Travel Journal is written which contains updates on the adventure. Stories enhance the culture. The habit and ritual around updating the stories enhance the culture. (Detailed description coming soon.)
Projects take place in a historical context, a context that can provide good stories about priority, purpose and legacy. What project lead up to this one? Which projects will be done after this one? Why wasn’t this project done before? (Detailed description coming soon.)
This is an adaption of the famous Six Thinking Hats especially for Project Managers. As a project manager you get all kinds of problems to handle. Assessing the situation is, in my personal experience, the most difficult part. It is the old saying: knowing the problem is half the solution. In this dynamic world full of changes no two situations are alike. To be able to handle project situations you need to have a flexible mind; you have to be able to switch your ways of looking at reality in order to get to the true problem. A great tool for creative thinking and problem solving: De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats. Each hat has a color which stands for a certain state of mind. By changing hats you should use a different mindset when looking at a problem.
If you would like to know more about one or more of the exercises, don’t hesitate to contact me.