Shared Planning Assumptions Technique

planning_modelYou don’t come up with a plan by thinking, ‘What’s the best way to do this?’ You start with what you know, assembling it in your head, talking it over with others (because we formulate our thoughts better when we say them), and making special note of oddities – things that stick out as not fitting in some way. You get as clear a picture of the situation as you can, and then – usually – openings start presenting themselves. (Steven Brust)

Before selecting and proceeding with a plan, take time to find out what each of you assume to be true about the situation you are attempting to change. You will find that there is more than one perspective about the “reality” of the situation. It will save time and effort to compare critical planning assumptions now, rather than later. Then, you periodically review your shared assumptions and update them, based on feedback on how the project is going. (Sam Zigrossi)

Shared Planning Assumptions

SPA stands for Shared Planning Assumptions
. A planning assumption is defined to be any key planning factor that affects the design and outcome of the project.
. Assumptions may include factors related to external circumstances beyond the team’s control as well as circumstances within the team’s sphere of influence.
. Different team members, because of their experience and knowledge, are aware of different planning factors that other team members may not be aware of.
. Pooling the planning factors assures team members are on the same page and improves the odds of the project’s ongoing success.
. For ongoing projects the shared planning assumptions should be reviewed and updated periodically, based on changes in circumstances.

Typical SPA Procedure

Step 1. Collect and list project key planning factors from each team member for review and discussion.
Step 2. Based on discussion, add, drop, or modify the items on the list.
Step 3. Assign each item a confidence rating of 100%, High, Medium, Low, or 0%.
Step 4. Continue with the project plan and implementation, with the key planning factors included
Step 5. Update the SPA’s as needed as the project progresses; for example, when external circumstances change, or when first results are coming in.

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