aarrgh! all of the purists say! Death by PowerPoint. Yup.
But one of today’s realities is that many managers expect to be “briefed” and expect it to be done in a conference room with a projector and… PowerPoint.
Getting them to sit down and go through a single sheet of A3 paper is going to be a stretch at best. So let me propose an interim.
Five slides, six at the most.
No fancy headings, logos, etc. They take up space and distract from the message.
Simple text. No animation. Pictures, graphs to make the points.
The slides are:
Background / Current Condition
Briefly cover where we are, and why we are talking about this right now.
Back up your assertions with data and facts. Note that, in my context, a “fact” is something you can see, observe, sense, touch. The data must be explained by the facts.
What is this going to look like when we are successful?
The target is binary. It is verifiable as “met” or “not met.” It does not include vague words like “improved” or “reduced” which are subject to interpretation.
What is keeping us from hitting the target right now? What is in the way? What must be solved, what barrier must be cleared, what factor must be eliminated?
Clearly demonstrate that dealing with these issues will allow reaching the target.
Countermeasures / Implementation
What actions will be taken to deal with the issues or shortcomings?
When will they be taken?
Who will take them?
When will they be checked for successful implementation?
For each one, what is the predicted effect if it works as planned?
How will you check the actual effect?
Do the cumulative predicted effects of your countermeasures add up to enough to close the gap and reach the target?
If not, then what else are you going to do?
Results / Follow-Up
What actually happened?
If When things got off track, what is the recovery / correction plan?
If When actual results were different than planned, what else are you going to do?
Did you reach the target? If not, what else are you going to do?
It’s the thinking, not the format!
Do the headers change sometimes? Sure, but the intent is:
What is happening?
What do you want to happen?
What is the gap?
What will you do to get it there, and how will you check that:
- You did you you planned.
- It worked like you expected?
This is a leader’s tool
If it is done well, and done correctly, it is done the way John Shook describes it in his new book Managing to Learn. But don’t confuse the size of the paper with the structure of the thinking. Get that right. Worry about the sheet of paper later if you must.
When encountering resistance, a good teacher knows what things can be left for later, and which ones are critical to get right.