Project Planning

Purpose

An effective decision-making project should help you find what works. By using the website to manage your project, you can follow best practices in all project phases - from defining a consulting question to presenting the key insights. Instead of spending your time collecting advice, you can focus on the most important aspect of your project: making decisions.

Present

Current reality we face

Decisions

Change in our work

Future

Outcomes to achieve

The change we want to deliver in our organization can be divided into three phases: the current reality, the decisions we make, and the future we want to build. If we know “what works,” our decisions will shape the future in whatever direction we define. Therefore, a good consulting question requires the community to consider changes needed today in order to achieve the desired outcomes of tomorrow. Collective insights that directly shape decisions convey a successful project.

Defining the Right Question

Asking the right question is critical for an effective project. You will be asked to define a question after you launch a new site or create a new project. Here are 3 steps that can help:

1. SET OUTCOME

Consider the future you want but cannot fully control. Remember: if you don’t know where you are going, different paths can take you there.

2. DEFINE DECISION SCOPE

What kinds of decisions might you make in light of the project? Which resources, guidelines, and structures are open for discussion?

3. WRITE A QUESTION

Link your decision scope to the outcome (“What can we change in [scope] in order to achieve [outcome]?”)

Start With an Outcome

An outcome is the future we want to create, of which we do not have full control. We may change our spending priorities, operations guidelines, or procurement rules, but we can't force clients to buy products or citizens to recycle. Therefore, defining your outcomes is imperative for your project; only after you define the ideal end result can we ask what should change in the present.An outcome is measured by the impact on stakeholders, not by the success of our actions. An outcome develops without our full control; it is shaped by many other societal forces. An outcome takes time to achieve. We can only really measure it after 3-5 years.

An outcome is measured by the impact on stakeholders, not the success of our actions.

An outcome is not in our full control, as it is shaped by many other forces in society.

An outcome takes time to achieve. Only after 3-5 years we can really measure it.

New tenants embrace affordable housing

Outcome Indicator

Newly published RFPs build new houses

Output Indicator

For example, the U.S. Department of Education defines its outcome as a higher number of underprivileged pupils succeeding in school. The DOE plans to achieve that outcome by hiring teachers with higher degrees. If the action of hiring teachers is wrongly defined as an outcome, then the recruitment will become the goal, instead of the performance of the pupils.

Define Your Decision Scope

A decision reflects the change we can deliver in the present to get results in the future. It is vital to define in advance what is open for discussion, in order to generate actionable insights from your knowledgeable crowds. Decisions can be defined in terms of resources, guidelines, or structures. We should ask ourselves: What budgets can be repurposed? What contracts can be modified? What orders and guidelines are in place? What can we change in our organizational structure?

A decision changes something in the organization - whether it's resources, guidelines, or structures.

A decision is fully controllable and can be made with the authority you already have.

A decision is about the present state of affairs and can be delivered almost immediately.

At least 70% of the affordable houses will be assigned to young couples

Clear Decision

We prioritize young couples in the assignment of affordable houses

Unclear Decision

For example, a business would like to reduce churn rate of users. The Head of Customer Success defined the budgets and guidelines that are under her authority. The stakeholders were asked about things that can be modified, and they refrained from mentioning other loyalty barriers, such as the product itself or its pricing policy.

Write the Question

A good question triggers participants to consider present changes that can lead to a desired future. For instance, how should we train our workforce (decision scope) to increase revenues per employee (outcome)? As another example, what changes are required in our marketing strategy (decision scope) to attract young citizens to our events (outcome)? Here are some tips that can help:

The question should communicate what success looks like and which resources or instructions are open for consideration.

Good questions are about the future, NOT the past. It's the best way to avoid the blame game and power struggle.

It's always best to begin your question with words like “how...” or “what does it take...” Don’t ask yes/no questions.

We recommend asking the question to 3 people before launching the project. Did they get it?

After your project launch, we will present to you well-defined questions that different organizations have asked. Here are some examples:

We want to make sure that every citizen can profit from the digital world. How can we achieve this goal?

The volume of recyclables has dropped significantly in the previous year. How should the municipality increase the number of residents recycling the appropriate recyclables?

We want to satisfy customers. How can we change our procedures in order to both improve our services and retain and grow our customer base?

How can we modify our community meeting activities in order to grow the number of young members?

We want more people to participate in our events and activities. What changes will enable us to increase the number of applicants?

Setting Questions On Your Website

Adding Background Information

For you to be able to garner advice from your community members, they must understand the issues in the broader context. The more background information you share with them, the better participants can reconstruct your knowledge, challenge your thinking, and help you create change. Here's some content you might want to include in your project background:

Framework

What motivated you to launch the project? How do you define success? When will you make decisions? Why and how can this project help?

Knowledge

What data, research, or experience currently exists? What was considered effective, and what failed?  What best practices, locally and globally, have been established?

Resources

What documents, websites, graphs, and databases can help us understand the field? Feel free to share Excel files and prior research.

Examples From Existing Projects

Here's some background that proved to be valuable for the project and inspiring to the participants:

Austin, TX: How can we increase recycling?

1776, DC: How can we better utilize our space?

Cities Summit, TLV: How can we better engage people?

Adding Background Onto Your Website

You'll need to write the project background (which will be shown in your project homepage) and a short project description (which will be shown in your site homepage). If you write the short description, it will be included in the invitation emails sent to participants. If you choose not to include the description, we will show the first sentences of your detailed background text in the site homepage.

Edit project texts: Enter the project, go to the admin interface, click “Settings” on the left-side menu, and select “Description.” You can edit the project name, the detailed background, and the short description.

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Add videos, images, & links: Enter the project, go to the admin interface, click “Settings” in the left-side menu, and select “Texts.” You can copy and paste links to websites, images, and YouTube videos into the background text.

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Questions & Answers

How can I add videos, images, documents, and links into the project page?

Enter the project, go to the admin interface, click “Settings” in the left-side menu, and select “texts.” By clicking on the top toolbar (above the text), you can copy and paste links to websites, documents, images, and videos into the background text. If you integrate a website or a document, move to "Target" and select "Another Window." If you integrate a video, we recommend using center alignment. See video for details.

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How can I change the abbreviated text of my project in the site homepage?

Asking the Right People

To refine the wisdom of crowds, you should engage with different stakeholders who have an eclectic scope of knowledge about your desired outcome. We always recommend defining a list of specific people, and then inviting them to share advice. You should target groups that may be affected by your decision-making (clients, employees, citizens, etc.), groups with knowledge and experience regarding what works (academics, alumni, experts, etc.), and groups that hold authority to deliver change (legal consultants, accountants, etc.).

Who will be affected?

Teachers know how to reduce violence in our schools. Employees know what will help them advance professionally.

Who knows what works?

Your alumni know the field. Academic scholars are familiar with best practices and global trends.

Who needs to approve?

Your colleagues, budget managers, and accountants are your partners. They have knowledge worth collecting.

How To Create the Wisdom of Crowds

American Journalist James Surowiecki already emphasized the need to synthesize between different worlds of content and different levels of seniority, in order to champion collective opinion, rather than single ideas. Our experience shows that participants' different perceptions and ideas create powerful insights:

Here are Surowiecki's four conditions, defined in his “Wisdom of Crowds” (2004):

Decentralization requires the knowledge of people from different seniority levels (senior managers, junior managers, and ordinary employees).

Diversity requires the knowledge of people from different professions and departments (customer managers, IT professionals, and clients).

Independence requires the knowledge to be given before participants are exposed to the advice of their peers. This is how the tool was designed.

Aggregation requires the ability to synthesize all advice into bottom-line insights (similar to pricing in markets and voting in elections).

Examples For Groups

Here are some examples of stakeholder groups that you may want to target, depending on your organization:

Service recipients, citizens, employees, managers, nonprofits, cities.

Residents, legislators, policemen, local organizations, business owners.

Current & former clients, contractors, employees, managers, leaders.

Current & former members, leaders, providers.

Service recipients, employees, managers, board members.

Manage Groups in Your Website

Questions & Answers

What is the benefit of managing users in groups?

Grouping enables the website to better engage different groups of people in order to generate new thinking. Individual groups working independently can often stifle creativity. In addition, allocating members to groups enables you to monitor the source of the insights (who said what?), track patterns of participation (who answered more?), and communicate differently to various stakeholders.

How can I merge groups together?

What happens to members when you delete them from a group?

When you delete an entire group or individual group members, the members will remain in the project. However, they will be reassigned to the default group. You will not be able to restore the original group; this action is irreversible.

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