When there is a discussion around making improvements to anything, trouble starts when we don't have a shared understanding of the outcomes. For example, speculating that something can be done or that something should be stopped in pursuit of improvement has difficulty maintaining traction in the absence of a framework for that discussion.
The discussion falls into he said, she said style or I'll tell you a story (anecdote) of how this worked for me and it'll work for you.
Over the years I've been trained to work on proposals, provide training materials, write guidance documents, and other outlets - PodCasts, conference presentations - all designed to convey a new and sometimes controversial topic. Connecting agile and earned value management is the latest.
There are several guides that have formed the basis of my work. The critical success factor for this work is to move away from personal anecdotes - although those are many time used inside a broader context to make the message more personal. Rather start with a framework for the message.
A good place to start is Cliff Atkinson's Beyond Bullet Points. It's not so much the making of Power Point briefings, but the process of sorting through what are you trying to say. Version 1 of the book is my favorite, because it was simple and actually changed how we thought about communication. Here's a framework from Cliff's 1st edition.
So when we hear about we're exploring or all we want is a conversation and at the same time the suggestion - conjecture actually - that what we're talking about is a desire to change an existing paradigm, make some dysfunction go away, take some correcrtive action - ask some importanrt questions:
- Is this a framework for discussing these topics? Are we trying ti understand the problem before applying a solution?
- When applying the solution based on the understanding, is there any way to assess the effectiveness of the solution? Is this solution applicable beyond our personal anecdotal experience?
- Cam we analyze the outcomes of the solution applied to the problem and determine if the solution results in correcting the problem?
- Do we have some means of evaluating this effectiveness? What are the units of measure by which we can confirm this effectiveness. Anecdotes aren't evidence.
- And finally can this solution be syndicated outside the personal experience? That is are our problem areas subject to the same solution?