onsdag 14 juni 2017

WMQ - The Planning-Execution Method

WMQ (short for "Week-Month-Quarter") is a way of breaking down work and making forecasts for its completion. It is a technique that I invented and have used for a couple of years now, first for my personal work but more and more for my clients who work in all fields: sales, management, marketing, administration, development, maintenance and so on.

It is basically a kanban system but where work (or rather: goals) floats towards you from the right to the left. This can feel awkward at first, but the effect is that the further to the right you look, the more you look into the future.

So, the leftmost column is the done column, and the column to the right of that is the column for the current week. We aim for putting things in the current week column that should be completed in the current week. Normally, the WMQ isn't for keeping track of tasks (work) but of goals (accomplishments and deliverables). The difference can be subtle to some but really gives focus on value rather than on effort.

The column after that is for weekly goals that is meant to be accomplished in the coming weeks (up to 3 weeks ahead maximum). The column should be prioritized so that the most important stuff goes first. I often divide the "Coming weeks" column into sections, the topmost section being for the next week, the section under that for the week after that, and so on. This gives some kind of forecasting ability.

The column to the right of the "Coming weeks" column is the "Coming months" column, and the column to the right of that would be the "Coming quarters" column. I usually divide them into sections for each coming month and quarter as well.

Now, the stuff you put into the "Coming quarters" column can, and often should, be big, bold and a bit vague. The quarter perspective is more about strategic goals, effects, and impacts, even though there can be very specific goals there as well.

When the future quarterly goals are approaching the current quarter (which is handled in the "Coming months" column) you need to look at the goal: will you be able to accomplish it during a single month? Often you will need to split the quarterly goal into smaller monthly goals that you can put in the different sections in the "Coming months" column. A monthly goal needs to be more specific than a quarterly goal, so you may have to refine your completion criteria for the different monthly goals you replace the quarterly goal with.

The same thing happens when a future monthly goal approaches the current month (handled in the "Coming weeks" column): the monthly goal may need to be revised and splitted into a couple of weekly goals. Make sure that the weekly goal is refined so that you actually can accomplish a couple of them during a week, and check that the completion criteria actually is explicit. There should be no question what to do with the weekly goal or if it is done or not.

Using this system one can handle large and small things, vague and specific, and work in an agile manner while still be able to make forecasts.

The system can be expanded with a column to the right: "Coming Years", and if you have a lot of small things to do you can also handle days. Just rename the "Current Week" column to "Coming Days" and insert a new column to the left of it that is called "Current Day". Personally, I have seldom seen the need for that but some clients have had it during the years.

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