This series entitled ‘Process Power Tools' will introduce you to some of the most useful tools to leverage throughout the stages of a process engineering project using the CapTech Process Engineering Methodology. This blog is the second in the series of five, which began an introduction to The CapTech Way for Process Engineering, and highlights typical tools to use in each stage. We will have three subsequent blogs detailing an individual tool used in one of the other stages

Process elicitation is an extremely creative skill but there are tools and structure which will ensure stakeholder buy-in, reduce the opportunity for missing/overlooked information, and allow for immediately-displayed progress. Sounds too good to be true? – Well it's not, but it does require the correct approach to utilizing tools, like the Nominal Group Technique (NGT).

So what is NGT? It is a brainstorming and decision-making method for use among groups who want to make their decisions quickly while including everyone's opinions. This is extremely valuable when there is someone in the room who may dominate the conversation or direct the group down a path that will leave other stones of the process unturned. Additionally, NGT helps avoid the group think mentality that usually takes places in group process elicitation as it can be done anonymously. The anonymity can ensure that you capture the ‘true working process' and not a ‘by the book' process. NGT works best with groups of 3 to 10 and may lose some value while trying to manage larger groups. NGT can be paired with another Lean/Six Sigma tool called Multi-voting or can be used separately. We will be explaining how to leverage the Nominal Group Technique during the Current State Analysis stage. In our next blog, we will explain the use of Multi-voting as a ‘Power Pool' for the Define Vision stage.

Setup:

  • You will need a room that your team can own for the duration of the current state phase of the process.
  • We recommend use of SmartSheets, which essentially function as moveable whiteboards which is important because you will leave them up and move them around the room to group ‘like' processes. Leaving these on the walls with the processes on them will be your visual guide and evidence of immediate progress
  • Post It notes and markers for participants to write with. You can use different color Post It notes/ markers to represent different parts or applications of a process.

Steps:

1. Introduction and explanation

The facilitator welcomes the participants and explains to them the purpose and procedure of the meeting. They hang the SmartSheet on the wall, or reference the wall space being used, and pass out the Post Its and markers to the participants explaining any color significance of Post Its or marker color.

2. Determine start and end points of process

As a group, decide where the process starts and stops so the scope of the discussion is defined. These start and end points should be written in a way that sets the expectation for the level of detail in each step, and should be actionable items using verbs in indicate the action. You should not spend more than a minute or so on this as a group, because as they start to write the steps of the process and you order them on the board, the true start and stop will become clearer and these can be adjusted.

3. Silent generation of ideas

The facilitator asks each participant to write down all the steps in the process between the start and end points. During this period, the facilitator asks participants not to consult or discuss their ideas with each other. Silent idea generation lasts approximately 10 minutes. While participants are writing down the steps on the post it notes the facilitator should be placing them at the anticipated correct position on the board, Any cards that are placed by the facilitator in this phase can be stuck in a parking lot somewhere on the board.

4. Logical Process Step Groupings

The facilitator will then lead the group in organizing the process steps by stacking duplicates, placing steps in sequence and adding necessary decision points. Focus primarily on organizing the steps, because you will grab more details in the next phase of this NGT approach. This phase usually takes around 10-15 minutes.

5. Process Creation

The facilitator will put another SmartSheet up on the wall and go through each Post It sequentially, gathering more detail about each step. The Facilitator will focus on collecting the correct wording, and drawing the proper diagram shapes around each Post It (aka, box for process step, parallelogram for data, diamonds for decisions, etc..). Any newly identified steps should be documented on a new Post It. During this phase you really draw out the flow, which usually takes the most time at 20-30 minutes.

6. Process Validation and Time Capture

At this point you have a completely diagramed process, which can be validated with an additional walk through with the participants. Traditional process elicitation approaches don't usually allow for a completed process to be created in your first meeting which causes many iterations and meetings with your client to reach a final product. With this approach it is clearly laid out in front of them, for their validation before any time is spent creating it in your modeling. Also, while validating, you should gather rough time estimates from the participants for each step. Write the times on the Post Its so you can pinpoint where the most time is spent and really jump into specific areas where you think your team can provide the most value and perform time studies in later project phases.

Now all that is left to do is record your processes in any modeling software before moving on the next phase ‘Define Vision' of the CapTech Process Engineering Methodology. In our next blog we will explain Multi-voting, a Process Power Tool of the Define Vision phase.