Prove and consolidate the outcome pictures

Check similar pictures appearing for multiple objectives. Review each picture on its own. Review the pictures in each cell. Review the line of outcome pictures for each objective. Review the collection of outcome pictures as a whole. Sub-objectives can be useful. Small is beautiful. Appearance counts.

What to read first: Qualities of the outcome pictures

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You have drawn lines of outcome pictures. This optional stage will prove that the outcome pictures are ready for the first risk assessment of your business plan.

You will benefit from proving and tidying the outcome pictures. The benefit is less from building your own assurance, and more from sharing that assurance with others. The important others will be your team and your boss.

You can make this stage fairly brief, with a view to undertaking further review and refinement later. You can catch up on work not done in this stage, when you are identifying and analysing individual risks.

You will be rewarded by spending the extra time early. Getting the pictures right now will make the risk analysis stage cleaner, quicker, and more reassuring.

If your set of outcome pictures is to be used by others, or to be seen by a substantial audience, the benefits are bigger. You will get the extra benefit by doing the systematic review and editing before your audience sees the pictures. The other risk steps won’t have to wait for your review and editing.

You might want to recruit a risk specialist for the consolidation and polishing work, even if they don’t go to the full-scale formal review. The polishing work does not need your expert knowledge of the business. Their specialised skills might help with presentation and credibility.

Working on your picture collection usually makes it smaller and simpler. You will generally prefer to fit your pictures into a matrix on one page. Your first draft picture collections probably won’t fit on a page. If that’s a problem, see below for ‘Small is beautiful.’

These steps all help to prove that your collection is ready to use. Each step has drill-down links to more detail, if you need it.

Check similar pictures appearing for multiple objectives.

If similar pictures appear in different places, it means that either

  • at least one of the pictures is not aligned with its objective, or
  • the objectives are overlapping or dependent.

Before digging any deeper, consider whether there is a need to re-organise the objectives, or whether to move (or remove) one of the pictures.

Review each picture on its own.

If you’re not happy that each picture works in these ways, the way to get to the outcome picture is through asking ‘so what’ as many times as necessary.

Review the pictures in each cell.

A cell contains one or more pictures of a success/failure level on the same objective.

Review the line of outcome pictures for each objective.

Review the collection of outcome pictures as a whole.

  • Sometimes a positive objective is the complement of a negative objective and the outcomes can be merged into one sequence for one objective. That is a primary method for making your collection smaller (see below).

The order of your own review and change activity isn’t too important, and may well loop around.

Sub-objectives can be useful.

Reviewing continuity across cells can be easier if each objective is split into sub-objectives, each representing one aspect of the outcome.

If you are using a vertical column of cells for each objective, you may find it convenient to add a horizontal breakdown by sub-objective.

Example of sub-objectives in a vertical column

If you have your whole picture collection in a large matrix, with objectives on the vertical axis, sub-objectives fit better as extra rows within each objective.

Example of outcome picture collection with sub-objectives (A3 PDF landscape)

Small is beautiful.

On the other hand, you may want to have your matrix fit on one normally-sized page. In that case you would not show sub-objectives at all.

Example of one-page outcome picture summary (PDF A4 landscape)

I have generally found it useful to create a full version, and to maintain a parallel ‘executive summary’ version on one page. The full version usually has sub-objectives. The one-page version leaves out the sub-objectives, and other detail to the extent necessary to match the one-page format.

  • The objectives and success-failure levels always match one-to one across the two versions. Sub-objectives are summarised into the objectives.
  • You might not show the outcomes better than success, if they will not be appreciated by the audience.
  • The short version might abbreviate the objectives to short labels. That would save space and reduce the word count. Once you have pictures of planned success, those success pictures are more vivid and informative than the original definition of the objective.
  • The pictures in all cells can be summarised and aggregated. You can compromise precision and completeness in the one-page summary.

It would undermine the core purposes of the picture collection if the summary did not show the picture of success, the worst imaginable outcomes, and at least some of the pictures in between.

Readers should know that the short version of the picture collection is just that, and that the full version is loaded with rigour, detail, and precision. You may even want to bore them with some details of how much work you put into it.

You can make the one-page matrix of outcome pictures look like a typical consequence scale or matrix, of the kind your audience has seen before.

Appearance counts.

Your picture collection will have more assurance value if it is tidy and presented well. And that’s just the assurance value for you. For other people, appearance and clarity can make all the difference to how your risk assurances are received.

Make sure that anyone seeing the picture collection will understand how it works, what it is, and what it is not. It is a replacement for a consequence scale or consequence matrix, specific to your work unit. It is not a ‘level of risk’ matrix or a risk register. You know that already, but those are the other items your audience may be expecting to see.

Drill-down articles

Picture review

Review each picture on its own. Each picture must be fully defined. Each picture must describe the outcome, not something the on the way to the outcome. Each picture must describe the outcome, not an indicator of the outcome. A picture may refer to future prospects as they will look at the end of the planning period. Each picture must become factually true or false, regardless of point of view. Each picture should produce an emotion, instantly. The picture should match the way the year is remembered in the future. Each picture shows the period outcome, not a specific incident during the period. The period outcome can be an accumulation of specific incidents. If you keep the success and failure levels, make sure the picture matches the level.

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Cell review

Cell review: checking multiple pictures for the same outcome on the same objective.

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Objective-level review of outcome pictures

Any outcome on the objective must match exactly one cell. Pictures in different cells generate different emotions. Pictures in different cells might lead to taking different paths in strategy, controls, or consultation. No pictures are missing.

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Review of the whole picture collection

Sometimes a positive objective is the complement of a negative objective, so the two lines of outcomes can be merged into one sequence.

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Parent articles

Qualities of the outcome pictures

The pictures must be of different outcomes, and evoke different feelings. Draw the destination, not the journey. Ensure that the collection of outcome pictures is realistic in view of recent history, and in view of what the organisation expects. Even the most unlikely outcome pictures are important as possibilities. They illustrate vividly what won’t happen. Ask smaller work units inside your own to define objectives and draw pictures in the same way. This is a good time to compare the re-generated objectives and pictures with the original business plan. You can compare your objectives and outcome pictures with those of lower- and higher-level work units.

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Index to the topic Risk in work unit business planning

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