Double VPEC-T

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Richard Veryard

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Sep 25, 2009, 3:28:55 PM9/25/09
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I was talking to someone this week about using VPEC-T to plan a
consultancy intervention into a large client organization. We realised
that we needed to use the VPEC-T lens twice - firstly to look at the
consultant-client engagement and secondly to look at the client
problem space. So we have two separate instances of the VPEC-T lens,
but obviously (well at least I think it's obvious) there are strong
dependencies between the two instances.

This is the kind of thing I mean when I talk about reflective practice
- the ability to reflect on ourselves and how we are working, as well
as looking outwards at the target system. I think VPEC-T has a lot of
power to be used in this way. Does anyone else have any experience of
this?

nigel green

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Sep 26, 2009, 3:47:23 AM9/26/09
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Yes, we have been doing 'Double VPEC-T' on a couple of engagements but I hadn't fully considered the 'reflective practice' meme but will now! I like the idea of giving it a name - this fits in nicely with my mental model of VPEC-T Use Patterns - i.e. The REFLECTIVE PRACTICE (RP)' Use Pattern. Richard I know your not completely comfortable with my 'Rows' but if you could go with me on this for a minute, what do you think the RP Use Pattern rows/CcC would be? Maybe:
  • Stakeholder communications
  • Key Messages and Outcomes
  • Client Politics
  • Rules of engagement
  • Change Agenda
  • ???
I think about the main topic first e.g. 'working with ACME co on XYZ project' then I think about applying VPEC-T (often to the target problem at a very rough back-of-a-napkin way). Then I'll start to think about the engagement and work with one or more colleagues on aRP-like VPEC-T analysis by drawing a grid on a white board with a column for  V,E,C and T. respectively. At this point the rows are blank and as we discuss ideas we start to populate row headings. After that we move along rows and start to populate cells (usually by each writing our thoughts on a post-it). Our thoughts are framed by the row heading (Cross-cutting Concern) and the column heading (VPEC-T headings) - often there appears to be a big imbalance between cells in terms of the number of thoughts per cell but equally often as we push the thinking harder we find each cell has at least one post-it. This 2nd push often seems to drive-out new insights particularly around the relationship between a thought in one cell and the thought in another. Any insights/key points are noted on a flip chart as we go. (This seems to be the case for any use of VPEC-T BTW). Once one row is 'complete' (usually time-boxed) we go on to the next row and repeat until all rows have some post-its. We then look across the complete grid of cells to see if we can establish any new insights/points by looking at the relationship of any cell thoughts to any other cell thoughts and duly note significant observations on the flip.

I'm not wedded to this approach/method but my experience so far is that it has proven useful to me and others (both fellow consultants and, for target content, clients). My approach to use of VPEC-T in what we might call a  'DESIGN TIME'  Use Pattern is quite different and a much more internalised process initially.

I'd really like to hear about how others apply VPEC-T - do you use something other than my grid approach and, if so, what are the pros and cons? Maybe you do something more akin to the 'Threads and Beads' method described in LiT? (I reserve use T&B to certain business analysis situations, usually to understand how 'services' will support a business theme/strategy - a 'BUSINESS SERVICE ANALYSIS' Use Pattern).

Nigel.
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Richard Veryard

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Sep 26, 2009, 5:00:23 AM9/26/09
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On Sep 26, 8:47 am, nigel green <nigelpsgr...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> Yes, we have been doing 'Double VPEC-T' on a couple of engagements but I
> hadn't fully considered the 'reflective practice' meme but will now! I like
> the idea of giving it a name - this fits in nicely with my mental model of
> VPEC-T Use Patterns - i.e. The REFLECTIVE PRACTICE (RP)' Use Pattern.
> Richard I know your not completely comfortable with my 'Rows' but if you
> could go with me on this for a minute, what do you think the RP Use Pattern
> rows/CcC would be? Maybe:
>
>    - Stakeholder communications
>    - Key Messages and Outcomes
>    - Client Politics
>    - Rules of engagement
>    - Change Agenda
>    - ???
>

When I read a list of issues like this, I can see that each item on
the list might be important, but I have no confidence that this list
has identified the most important issues, either in general terms or
in relation to a specific situation. So the list looks pretty
arbitrary. Some people would call it a laundry list - it just gets
more and more things added to the end of the list, and then we decide
the list has got too long so we cross a few things off or try to
combine several items into one. This kind of thinking is very common,
but I experience it as the very antithesis of systems thinking.

nigel green

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Sep 26, 2009, 12:22:33 PM9/26/09
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Your answer is critical and not very helpful. It would be more constructive if you offered an alternative technique  for 'qualifying' the list. Maybe, as Chris Bird suggested on a call to me today, that we should be considering the use of two different lenses rather than 'add' missing dimensions to VPEC-T?

n.

Richard Veryard

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Sep 26, 2009, 7:43:19 PM9/26/09
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On Sep 26, 5:22 pm, nigel green <nigelpsgr...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> Your answer is critical and not very helpful.

I trust that the totality of my contributions to this discussion is
perceived as helpful, even if the critical nature of some of my
contributions outweighs their helpfulness.

> It would be more constructive
> if you offered an alternative technique  for 'qualifying' the list. Maybe,
> as Chris Bird suggested on a call to me today, that we should be considering
> the use of two different lenses rather than 'add' missing dimensions to
> VPEC-T?
>

I like the idea of using a second lens to produce the "rows".
Actually, some of the rows look as if they could have come out of
CATWOE. (Stakeholders, rules of engagement, politics, and so on).

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