Min Specs

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

Overview

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

Start:

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.

Setting:

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).

Materials:

Notepad to record Min Specs.

Time/Steps:
  • 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.

Tips

  • 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.

Resources

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

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