Hats as a Service: Improving Knowledge Flow (1/2)

When knowledge flows openly and all participants are involved. To reach this effectiveness, I offer the following HaaS method for you to use as you see fit.
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Background:

In 1985 professor Eduard De Bono published his book “Six Thinking Hats”, and introduced to the world a new system of improving thinking processes, group conversations and analysis of situations. 32 years later, his system still proves its merits. In this article, I present an enhancement, that combines the current “[Everything] as a Service” concept and the “Six Things Hats” system, creating a powerful strategy for discovering additional vantage points in complex systems.

“Hats as a Service” relies on the basic premise that each stakeholder has valid input in the system analysis process. Please note that I am using this phase here to make a focused case for this approach. You can extrapolate it to other phases in the full life cycle, and scale it as needed, adjusting to the team. My view is that each complex system (and they are all complex) is actually a system of systems. Meaning, a composite of sub-systems. Thus, each stakeholder, even if he/she is part of a sub-system, contributes to, and is responsible for, the success of the complex one as well.

Before we dive into examples and usability, here are a few basic principles that you are requested to adhere to:

– Ask with intent to listen.

– Do not judge the participant’s input.

– Humble yourself to become a subject-matter-expert of learning over a subject-matter-expert of IT/Process/Finance etc. Participants already recognize your expertise; now they want to share their own.

Hats as a Service – Improving Flow of Knowledge in Meetings

I have participated in a meeting, or two, in my life where not all participants were active contributors of knowledge. Considering the cost of a meeting, [sum of (hourly participant salary)] * [hours], that might be considered a bit of a waste of resources. In contrast, I see a meeting as reaching its full potential once the participants not only contribute their own knowledge, but also actively seek others’ input. That is when knowledge flows openly and all participants are involved. To reach this effectiveness, I offer the following HaaS method for you to use as you see fit.

Preparation: Ahead of the meeting, decide on the roles or functions that should be represented. As the meeting starts, explain the concept of HaaS and hand each participant a label (paper, a sticker etc.). You can assign a person the same role as his/her everyday job or a completely different one. It is for you to decide.

In Action: During the meeting, ask participants direct questions based on their labels, thereby preventing islands of quiet (and zoning out) in the meeting. See examples below. Also, as the meeting evolves, allow flexibility; participants should be allowed to switch assigned labels and even utilize blank ones if new perspectives are discovered.

Examples:

“Mr. A, though you are a developer, as your assigned role of a guest: What is the easiest method to submit a complaint?”

“Ms. B, though you are a manager, as your assigned role of a front desk attendant: What is the easiest method to produce and assign a guest badge?”

Etc.

The answers might surprise you, and they are usually all good ones.

Please share your insights and experiences, as you see fit.

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I write to share my experiences and insights and to encourage knowledge sharing. You are invited to share your thoughts and insights in the comments.

As a consultant, I assist organizations and business to implement lean, nimble and efficient IT solutions. Please feel free to reach out to me if you want to implement these tools in your organization, or as a guest speaker.

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