Min Specs

Specify only the absolute MUST DOS and MUST NOT DOS for achieving a purpose


Min Specs are the fundamental elements that are required to achieve a purpose with increased autonomy and responsibility. Unlike a larger set of requirements, the choice of minimum basic rules encourages a group or an individual to perform tasks with authority and freedom. Two to five Min Specs are a sufficient number of enabling musts to encourage innovation.

How to use it

  • Find what is absolutely essential to achieve success.
  • Open up to new possibilities.
  • Reduce front line frustration and free people from micro-management.
  • Focus or redirect resources and energies where it matters.
  • Help guide scaling up and spreading innovations with fidelity.

How to apply it


Participants are invited to create their Min Specs, i.e. a list of DOs and DONTs that they must adhere to, in order to achieve their purpose.


Participants sit around tables. Work is carried out first individually, then in groups of four and at last as one large group (1-2-4-All).


Notepad to record Min Specs.

  • 5 minutes to create Max Specs – a broader list of DOs and DONTs.
  • 15 minutes: Small groups test each item against a purpose statement to verify if it is fundamental to achieve the stated purpose.
  • 15 minutes: A second round of spec testing may be needed.
  • 15 minutes: Using 1-2-4-All, compare and consolidate across small groups.

How to adapt it

  • Elicit a second round of testing to reduce the list to the least number possible of Min Specs: “If you followed all the Min Specs except this one, would you achieve your purpose? If so, cancel it from the list.”
  • The use of Simple Ethnography or Five Whys may reveal implicit Min Specs.


  • Start with a complete list of DOs and DONTs and include as many as possible.
  • Be ruthless in eliminating the superfluous DOs and DONTs – don’t allow max specs to creep in.
  • Do extra rounds as needed.
  • Make them official – live by them.
  • Participants should adapt them to their field experience.
  • If groups are having difficulty, help by clarifying the purpose.


  • Paul Plsek in Edgeware
  • Alison Joslyn “Business Turnaround: from Lagging to Leading the Industry”.
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