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Says Sheila Roberts, Director of CUPE International. CUPE, an Accredited Training Organisation (ATO) with APMG International, delivers Facilitated events and Facilitation training based on the Process Iceberg approach developed by Tony Mann. CUPE specializes in Project, Programme and Portfolio Management (PPM) and facilitation supports the delivery of these PPM levels.

While considering how the Process Iceberg approach supports PPM, I realized that there is a close fit as, essentially, any facilitated event is a project and so to deliver a successful event you also need to deliver a successful project. Consider the approaches of Process Iceberg and then look at the project management elements to see how it works.

I think we can use an iceberg diagram here and then see if we write on it or under it.

Objectives and tasks – for any project the objectives and tasks to be undertaken need to be clear and worthwhile. Business Case – Why and what

Process and tools – we need the right project management method, tools and techniques to use to deliver the project. Plan - How

Communication and interpersonal – ineffective communication gives rise to many risks and issues in projects – Communication plan

Individual preferences and types – assembling a project team which utilises people’s strengths will improve delivery – Stakeholder engagement and organisation structure

Neutral emotions – a project needs objectivity and focus to ensure it is delivered correctly. – Delivery and review

This means that we can review each layer of the iceberg in more detail from a project (as well as programme and portfolio) perspective.

Process Iceberg identifies that 80% of issues in facilitated events are avoided if the Objectives, Process and tools layers are undertaken well. The objectives need to be clear and well defined. In a project this is through the business case which justifies the start, continuation or stopping the project. Unless everyone in the project understands WHY the project is being done they will find it difficult to be committed to delivery on time, to budget and at the agreed quality.

Once the objectives, or business case, are clear an event or project needs to be designed with the appropriate process, tools and techniques. This means focussing on how we will achieve the objective of the event; it may mean creating an agenda for an event which utilises a number of tools and techniques. In projects we need to plan the project with the appropriate method and tools being used. Different deliverables will require different approaches. For example a website is best suited to an AgilePM approach while a construction project will benefit from the PRAXIS Framework.

Now an event agenda or project plan has been developed there is a need to ensure it is communicated to everyone involved (the stakeholders) and there is a shared understanding of what needs to be done, by when, by whom and to what criteria. Appropriate use of language, technical terms and a balance between visual and textual data all contribute to enabling all recipients to have a shared understanding. Good communication ensures that differences of interpretation or prioritisation result in fewer risks and issues causing problems to delivery.

Personal preferences and types is based on understanding the individual preferences, perhaps using Myers Briggs preferences or Belbin roles, so that the project team utilises strengths and designs process to enable everyone to participate. The format of the process is a part of ensuring stakeholder engagement. Enabling some individual input, such as brain dumping, prior to a group activity, such as brainstorming, can enrich the discussion and allows every voice to be heard. I am not suggesting that projects can only be delivered if each team members personal preference and type is known, only that clear preferences should be taken in account in the project design.

Neutral emotions may seem to be less applicable to projects as one might assume that huge enthusiasm helps to deliver a project well. While motivation of those who will deliver parts of the project is a part of project management, blind enthusiasm or negativity do not help the project. A balanced approach which encompasses realism and a positive attitude toward achievement works well in projects. Negativism will hamper delivery while blind enthusiasm will mean that issues are missed or the project continues when it should be amended or stopped.

For more information, about facilitated events or project delivery, contact the CUPE Team by visiting their website here, emailing enquiries@cupe.co.uk or by phoning 01202 555711. 

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