Understand what has inspired your work

It is important to know the reasons behind your work, so that you can head off in the right direction. Knowing who has commissioned or inspired your work and understanding what they care about will help you to tackle the problem.

When to do it

This should be one of the first things you do.

How to do it

You should:

  • know what has started the work, such as

    • sudden-onset or slowly emerging crisis

    • efficiency drive

    • political commitment

    • change in regulation

    • team plan

  • examine any statements on your commission for information about

    • the circumstances

    • what should change

    • requirements

    • limitations

  • explore this further with the people that commissioned the work.

Try this activity

This activity will help you uncover the reasons behind your work. It will give you a prioritised list of goals and things to achieve.

Time, space and materials

  • 30 minutes to 1 hour

  • any space with a wall, sticky notes, paper and pens for a face-to-face event

  • or for a remote event use a video conference and online whiteboard that will take the place of the wall and enable participants to add and move online ‘sticky notes’

People to include

  • the people who commissioned the work, the senior responsible owner, the policy, product, or service owner

  • a facilitator to provide the instructions

  • keep this to a small group (5 to 7 people)

Instructions

The purpose of this activity is to understand the goals of your work.

  1. Everyone write an imaginary letter you would send to the project team several months after the work is complete. Congratulate them on what a brilliant job they did. Remind them what they have done and what they have achieved. The letter only needs to be 1 or 2 sentences long. You have 3 minutes.

  2. Each person read out their letter in turn. Everyone else should write down the key characteristics about what was done and what has changed on sticky notes. You have 1 minute per person.

  3. Everyone should now write an imaginary letter to yourself that your boss or someone you are keen to impress will write to you, several months after the work is complete. They will congratulate you on what a brilliant job you have done. They will say what you have done and what you have achieved by commissioning and enabling this work to be done. Your letter only needs to be 1 or 2 sentences long. You have 3 minutes.

  4. In turn, each read out your letters. Everyone else should write down the key characteristics about what was done and what has changed on sticky notes. You have 1 minute per person.

  5. Everyone should now stick their notes to the wall. Read other people’s notes and group similar ideas. Separate the things that were done from the outcomes that were achieved. You have 3 minutes.

  6. Vote for the things you think are most important. You have 5 votes to distribute however you like. Spread your votes around or put them all in one place, it is up to you. Make your vote by putting a big dot on the note. You have 1 minute.

  7. You now have a prioritised list of goals for the work.

Tips

Extend the conversation by asking if this gives an accurate reflection of the commission.

Next steps

Use the goals that you have identified to begin writing a more detailed scope for your work - see the chapter: Examine your problem.

Further reading

Find out more about this topic by searching the internet for: