“Folders are bad” and other urban legends…

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Hi all

This post is somewhat related to the whole “Zen and the art of SharePoint governance” idea where the notion of a “best practice” is so culture and context dependent that the worst practice is to insist that your best practice applies universally :-).

Let me explain with this example. Consider two problem/solution scenarios, A and B.

  • Scenario A: We have a technically inferior solution with a really deep commitment to that solution by the stakeholders and participants
  • Scenario B: We have a technically superior solution with “uneven” commitment to that solution by the stakeholders and participants

Which scenario has a better likelihood of success?

Everyone I have asked this question to, has without fail, chosen scenario A.

Why is this? Because people instinctively know that strong commitment to a course of action will trump technical superiority most of the time?

Now, let me change the scenario to something a little more interesting and potentially divisive.

  • Scenario A: We have a folder based document storage solution with a really deep commitment to that solution by the stakeholders and participants
  • Scenario B: We have a metadata based document storage solution with “uneven” commitment to that solution by the stakeholders and participants

Which scenario has a better likelihood of success? I bet this time you probably feel like answering “Well, it is not that clear cut” or “Scenario A but…” or “Scenario A only because…”, etc. It seems that putting a specific, tangible example against the scenario creates the urge to question the validity of “either/or” in the scenario. This is because you implicitly recognise that there is a little more to it.

This is interesting to me because it gives away what I think is the more “correct” answer. The ideal outcome is actually a third scenario where we, as SharePoint consultants and practitioners, recognise the technical merits of a solution, and start the process of steering a group toward a commitment to that technically superior solution.

Well…most of the time anyway. 🙂

Considering the metadata vs. folders question above. Let me give you a common use-case where the metadata question actually gets murky. Let’s say you have a document library with four well defined metadata columns and have some views that are leveraging those columns. Some users are happily navigating to your site and uploading their files via the “Upload” options or the “New” option in the document library itself. In short, those users who are browser centric in their productivity habits find this to be a good solution. Let’s also say that some two hundred files have been uploaded to this library and are well classified and easy to find via the views. Below is a typical example that I doubt any SharePoint person would find unfamiliar.

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But there is another chunk of the user population who has very different productivity habits, in that they are application centric. Let’s say a user lives their life in Microsoft Word (you might scoff but plenty of people who work with a lot of documents do work this way). They start MSWord up and then decide what document to open or work with. They click the open toolbar button (or the office home button) to open a document and navigate to the document library.

Uh, oh…

  • Where is our metadata?
  • Where are our views?

image

Well isn’t that interesting. We don’t get to leverage columns and views when accessing documents in this way. All we see is a large listing of files with no metadata. If there is one thing worse than too many folders, then it is surely none at all (with several hundred files in the root folder to choose from).

So now we have a tricky balancing act. Let’s consider what to do, based around the lens of user engagement and commitment.

If you chose scenario A earlier, the technically inferior yet deeply committed option, then you may argue against bringing out the big stick and trying to force users out of their productivity habits (i.e. switch from application centric usage to browser centric usage). You would be concerned that the big stick approach may result in an erosion of commitment, leading to a lack of adoption, leading to the project being deemed a failure.

But then, if we leave it as it is, users will continue to create and manage folders to compensate for the sheer number of files. We have failed to make use of some of SharePoint’s great document management features. We risk creating a chaotic installation, where the same poor information management habits that have likely created the interest in SharePoint in the first place, actually work against SharePoint and devalue it as a platform. This would also lead to user frustration, leading to lack of adoption and project failure.

Interesting dilemma…two options and both with significant risks of an undesirable outcome. What would you do here?

For me, it depends completely on the organisation, department and user tolerance for productive distress. (Don’t worry I will define productive distress in a minute).

Learning by opportunity

When sitting around the bar with Best Practice Conference attendees and presenters in DC, a rigorous debate occurred over aspects of SharePoint branding. One particular person made a fairly generalised sweeping statement and everyone else disagreed quite strongly. The person making that statement actually knew his stuff and everything said was technically and logically correct. But the instinct that I think the rest of us at the table had developed is that the notion of “best” and “right” is actually extremely fluid. No-one disagreed with his frustration that led to his big catch-all conclusion, but we all instinctively rallied against his single “best” solution that would apply to all scenarios.

So I will tell you openly that we have clients for whom we have developed relatively sophisticated information architectures around content types, metadata, search and logical architecture of site collections and sites (Particularly for BMS/QMS scenarios). Yet we also have clients where we have not used metadata at all at first, or else it is quite piecemeal across sites or site collections. What I have come to realise is that sometimes you have to allow people to work with the technically inferior (some would say wrong) option, before you can take them to the technically superior solution with the commitment required to see it become successful.

You have to remember that you, in some way, are pushing someone out of their comfort zone. Depending on the nature of the project, those people did not necessarily ask for you to do this. Thus, push too hard and you will have chaos and pullback. Don’t push at all and you remain with the status quo.

“Obtain management buy-in” is the standard catch-cry for most methodologies, right? It is often cited as if it is the be-all and end-all critical success factor for a project success. To me, it now sounds like a cliché that you say because it is the right thing to say. The same goes with vision and mission statements. Just because you have done those things in your project charter or plan does not mean that everyone is suddenly on board. It goes deeper than that.

I believe that real commitment from the users requires them to believe that a new system will indeed make things better. If they are not convinced that the change initiative will make a positive difference to them, then you are looking forward to a chaotic project that has the odds stacked against it.

Productive Distress

If, like me, you sometimes opt for doing things that go against what SharePoint blogs or books tell you, you simply have to provide the right sort of oversight to support your course of action. This oversight is part of the “how” that I spoke of in the secret to understanding governance post. I *know* that “client X” may only be scratching the surface of SharePoint’s capability, and it may frustrate a seasoned SharePoint professional that they are not making optimal use of what is available. But based on the nature of questions asked, we assess where they are in terms of SharePoint maturity and decide that they are not ready to jump to the deep end. Instead, we help them to work within their level of maturity and allow them to better understand their problem by learning about the solution. This small step approach allows the user base to be pushed just enough out of their comfort zone, where they are still productive and not pulling back. (Hence the term “productive distress”). Pretty soon, that productive distress is forgotten, becomes the new “business as usual” and we now move up a notch.

Repeat process as necessary. Fast forward a few day or weeks and suddenly the nature of the questions change, reflecting the improved understanding of SharePoint and its capabilities. There is a certain maturity around the questions asked, the sophistication behind the scenarios conceived and you can tell that they are now ready to move to the next level of productive distress.

So it is not really that “folders are bad” or the equally common “Keep SharePoint Designer out of the hands of mortals!” because, to repeat an oft abused cliché, they are just tools. If you can convince your users that SharePoint will improve the situation and allow them the time to adjust to the new paradigm, then they will work out for themselves whether folders are bad or not. As the scenario above demonstrates, it can sometimes depend very much on how you look at the problem. Also remember that most of the time, commitment trumps technical superiority.

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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The practice of Dialogue Mapping – Part 4

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series DM
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Three weeks ago my plasma TV broke, freeing the family from the magic spell of hi-def television. My family took the loss in different ways. My four year old was devastated at the lack of Nintendo Wii, and constantly whined about being bored. My ten year old is a bookworm anyway, and continued to be one. I suddenly found mountains of time to write, churning out three Dialogue Mapping articles that I had been meaning to write for ages.

Today the repair man came and fixed the TV. I expect that the glow of the plasma screen will once again induce that zombie-like state, where my work-rate is dependant on what show happens to be on at the time (NCIS as I write this). Luckily, this is the last article of this particular series on Dialogue Mapping for now and I might have enough active brain cells to hang on long enough to squeeze this article out.

This article builds on the last section of part three that was entitled “Nurture the holding environment”. In that section, I introduced the concept of the “holding environment” and I offered a basic example (the bus trip that was conducted prior to the Dialogue Mapping session). This concept is so fundamental and important to the success of Dialogue Mapping and projects more broadly that I want to do it proper justice here in part four.

The paradox of individuality

Put a bunch of right-brained geeks in a room to solve a problem and you will probably find that they get on relatively well. Put a bunch of creative left-brained marketing people in a room to solve a problem and you might expect the same thing. The solutions offered, when compared to each other, are likely to be quite different and will also likely be sub-optimal. For a truly good solution, we need diversity in perspectives and, although this pains me to say, marketing people are therefore actually needed. This creates a bit of a problem though with the paradox of individuality because, as geeks, we all know the notion of marketing people being needed goes against everything we stand for.

I first read about the paradox of individuality in a book called Team Talk: The Power of Language in Team Dynamics and it was described as follows:

The only way for a group to become a group is for individuals to express their individuality, yet the only way for individuals is to become fully individuated is to accept and develop more fully, their connections to the group.

What? Geeks and marketing people accepting each other as equals? Unifying the laws of physics will come sooner and this is a classic example of what Conklin calls “social complexity”. Of course, social complexity goes much deeper than geeks vs. marketing people, but one of the effects of social complexity is a distinct lack of direct communication between parties. This is because conflict is not fun and avoidance is a natural reaction to situations that are not fun.

The idea of the “holding environment” is best summed up with the image below. Here, you can see that we have an area set aside for kids to play in a safe, controlled environment.

image

A holding environment for an organisation or a team is actually not that dissimilar to the example above. You are attempting to create a state where participants can step out of their comfort zones, but at the same time, are shielded from counter productive tensions that cause paralysis, chaos and pullback.

For this reason I maintain that beer is one of the best holding environments available and it forms a key part of my professional skill set 😉

As I stated in part 1 of this series, Dialogue Mapping is a very useful holding environment on its own, but it can be augmented with other things as well and you should always be on the lookout for complimentary tools and techniques. In the following sections, I will outline where Dialogue Mapping has augmented another method, or where we have augmented Dialogue Mapping itself with another method.

Information gathering for 40+ people

There are practical limits to how many people should be involved in a standard Dialogue Mapping session. Mind you, there are practical limits for how many people should attend a meeting too and that limit seems to be any more than one person :-).

By “standard”, I mean the sort of session illustrated below. The exact number that test the limits of Dialogue Mapping varies because it really depends on the wickedness of the problem being discussed and the past history of the group. For example, one of the teams I map for consists of around fifteen to eighteen members. They are working on a particularly wicked problem, yet I can work with this group alone quite easily. This is because over time, the group has worked out their decorum for the Dialogue Mapping sessions that work for all concerned. I also know everybody on a first name basis and some of the group have become personal friends of mine outside of work. In short, people are comfortable with each other and the process, and despite things getting heated people know that it is not personal. This is a simple, yet effective, example of a working holding environment.

image

A while back, my client invited representatives from academia, charities as well as various public sector government departments, to a half day workshop on the topic of social sustainability as part of a significant redevelopment project. There were approximately 40-45 attendees who were there for the first time. There was no way we would be able to cover off the required topics using a standard Dialogue Mapping set-up. With so many people, it would be hard for all attendees to have a say in the allotted time, let alone set up the room to handle that number of people for the process.

The way we got around this issue was to run a pre-workshop session among a much smaller group, to create a series of “seed maps” for each of the sub-areas of social sustainability. By the end of this process, we had around a dozen maps on various subtopics with a few questions, ideas, pros and cons. These maps were not complete at all, but that was not the aim. Instead they were well formed IBIS argumentations.

We then printed each of these maps out at large size. Initially each map was pinned to display boards, and when the attendees arrived they spent time wandering from map to map, examining the argumentation while mingling with other attendees. Below is a photo showing some of the seed maps prior to the attendees arriving.

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Below is a diagram representing the table arrangement for the workshop. We started with a half hour overview and introduction as to the purpose of the workshop and why they had been invited. At this point, we removed four of the maps from the display boards above, and put a map on each table. We explained to the group that each table had a unique map on it and each map was on a particular topic. At this point attendees had the opportunity to move to a table where the topic was of most relevance or interest to them.

image

Each table contained copious amounts of marker pens. I then took the stage and explained the basics of IBIS grammar to the attendees and explained to them that we wanted them to start adding ideas to the existing maps. I did not belabour the grammar, nor did I expect them to suddenly know how to do IBIS properly, but what I made clear, was that I was going to walk from table to table and interrupt if I felt the additions to the map made no sense or were ambiguous in some way.

The group had just under an hour to work on each map and at the end of the hour, we removed the updated paper maps and replaced them with the next four from the display boards. The process was then repeated and I walked from table to table, asking for clarification or calling out implied questions on parts of the maps that made no sense to me. Interestingly, IBIS novices seemed to have little problems with the usage of ideas, pros and cons, but they would forget to make the underlying question explicit. I would ask them what was the question being answered by a particular idea and would write the question into the map and redraw the lines.

After the third iteration of this process we were done. The last half an hour was a “Where to from here?” session and an opportunity for the group to provide feedback to the organisers of the workshop.

After the workshop was completed, I took all of the updated paper maps and added the additional rationales into the seed maps in Compendium. The process was surprisingly quick because the majority of the additional argumentations that were added were actually pretty good IBIS form. I think that having existing argumentations on the seed maps made it easier for attendees to add rationales that looked similar to what was there already. It wasn’t perfect IBIS by any means, but it was not a difficult task for me to refactor the additional information without losing any of the intent behind the rationales.

For the record, additional workshops were conducted, but these reverted to standard Dialogue Mapping workshops with a subset of the attendees who had specialised skills and knowledge in the topic area. But what this particular process demonstrated was that with a little planning a single Dialogue Mapper could still manage to capture quality rationales from a very large group in a short space of time.

Dialogue Mapping with a facilitator

Dialogue mapping for a large group can be augmented with a facilitator and I have done this a few times. For a large group, this can be very helpful because the mapper can concentrate on capturing the dialogue and less on directing the meeting. Equally though, a facilitator can actually make the process more difficult. The key to a facilitator situation working is when the facilitator either knows IBIS or has been present in a number of Dialogue Mapping workshops and understands how the process works. This is because the facilitator is usually facing the group like the mapper, asking probing questions, directing the course of conversation and therefore is not looking at the map or listening in terms of IBIS translation of the dialogue. As a Dialogue Mapper, it is important for participants to verify what you have captured is correct, and if the facilitators are not following the map, they can easily get in the way of this verification process.

Facilitators can also get you into trouble at times because they can sometimes be conditioned to traditional meeting decorum where topics are allocated at particular times with an agenda that can preclude deeper exploration of a topic. Dialogue Mapping is a rich enough container to allow a group that deeper exploration, but this is not something that some facilitators are used to. One prime example that sticks out in my mind to this day was a workshop where we had a lot of options to explore. Conscious of the agenda, in an attempt to make the process more efficient, the facilitator asked the group whether any of the options had any “fatal flaws” that enabled that option to be quickly discounted. It soon became apparent (in a negative way) that one person’s “fatal flaw” was diametrically opposed to another person’s “fatal flaw”. This attempt to shortcut deliberations backfired badly and resulted in this line of question being completely abandoned.

This is a great example of the importance of nurturing the holding environment (lesson nine from part 3). After this “fatal flaws” episode, I deliberately stopped mapping while the group resolved the fatal flaw issue and resolved to try a different approach. This subsequent approach proved to be much more successful and we never deviated from it after that. “No fatal flaws” became a bit of a mantra among this group.

A key to working with a facilitator is to remember the lesson on confidence and assertiveness from part 3. Just because a facilitator is directing the meeting and influencing the direction of the conversation, it doesn’t mean that the mapper is purely a scribe. Work out a system with the facilitator where, if you raise your hand or signal in some way, you are not ready to move on straight away. Another technique that I have used in a large group situation was to assign someone else the traffic warden role, where if I am having trouble keeping up with the various conversations, and my eyes are on the map, they can call the group to order.

Dialogue Mapping, in tandem with another Dialogue Mapper ,can work very well and I have done many times with my colleagues at Seven Sigma. In this situation, you are both thinking in the IBIS grammar and both of you are mentally unpacking the conversation, although only one of you is actually performing the mapping. We have used this technique with particularly good results in SharePoint requirement gathering workshops, where one of us asks the questions and the other performs the mapping.

Dialogue Mapping and Debategraph

Compendium is one of several tools that can be used to create and render argument grammar like IBIS. For me, Compendium is the absolute best for Dialogue Mapping. Being a desktop application, I do not need internet access and once you are proficient with it, Compendium is very fast. This is of course, the biggest factor for Dialogue Mapping live. You do not want to be hindered by the limitations of the software tool that you are using.

I noticed that some CleverworkArounds readers created IBIS maps in Visio and were also using mind mapping tools after I published the “One best practice” series. But the problem is, although you can technically make an IBIS map, those tools would never work in a live session because of how slow it would be to add rationales to the map. Seriously guys, it might be technically possibly but do not attempt to use those tools live.

One size does not fit all and this is especially true of sense making tools. There are actually two main audiences for maps like this. Those who create the maps and those who consume the maps. The key point is that the ultimate audience for any map is quite often not the group creating the map in the first place. The whole point of capturing rationale is to make visible the process that a group went through when working on a problem, which ultimately shows why a particular decision was made or why a course of action was taken. Those who want to review the rationales are a very different audience to those who made the decision and wish to demonstrate justification. Just because the tool works well for the problem solving process, does not automatically assume that the tool is then best suited to the communication of that rationale to a wider audience.

Compendium maps work brilliantly well during the Dialogue Mapping process and from a broader communication point of view, work exceptionally well when detailed maps are printed onto large sized paper. But as a communication and distribution tool, Compendium is weaker than some of the alternatives. Compendium maps do not translate overly well to the web at this point, and asking all interested parties to install compendium is out of the question. For the sake of article length, I will not go into detail why this is, but to appease the Compendium fanbois, this is direct feedback from my clients and not just my opinionated rant.

For communicating the rationale that has come from Dialogue Mapping sessions to a wider audience, Debategraph is ideal. Unlike Compendium, Debategraph is a cloud based argument visualisation tool, designed to leverage the freeform updating capabilities of a wiki, along with the rigor of an argument grammar much like IBIS. Debategraph does not use a top down or left to right visualisation method. Instead each node is at the centre of the screen and surrounding issues, ideas, pros and cons surround the node, requiring the user to click nodes to explore further argumentation.

The beauty of Debategraph is the combination of its argument navigation, along with the streaming view of related content as shown below. My clients absolutely love the stream view because it is so simple for people to explore and work with. The ability to embed a map at any point in the debate on any web site is also pretty handy and I have pasted a sample map below to illustrate this. Click a node on the left pane (the “*” means there are sub arguments) and the content in the right window will change, based on which argument node is currently being examined.

Compare this to Compendium maps, where additional rich content like images, documents and the like are treated as additional nodes in the map. As you can see in the example below, it is possible to integrate rich content into the map very easily, but that rich content is linked in the same manner as the argumentation itself. Debategraph on the other hard, separates the argumentation from the supporting content and I think that this works much better and supports a richer form of argument based content delivery.

image

But once again, use the best tool that fits the purpose. From a dialogue and rationales collection point of view, Debategraph is an excellent way for a bunch of geographically dispersed people to debate a particular issue because the map will refactor on the fly as people self-contribute to it. But I personally would not use Debategraph for the Dialogue Mapping process, because it is not as fast as compendium and it is not as easy to view the map in full context as shown above. The over-arching point with all of this is that if the rationale has been captured in the first place, there are many ways to make creative use of it.

Note: To be fair on the Compendium makers there are many excellent examples of Compendium being used for some pretty impressive things. I am talking here specifically about online collaboration and communication to a wider audience.

Conclusion

This series of posts has examined the practical aspects of Dialogue Mapping, explored some of the techniques that I have used to augment it. Although I do not intend to write any more articles on this topic right now, the series is by no means complete. This is an ongoing learning process for all practitioners of this craft and I am sure that other Dialogue Mappers have tried different techniques than those that I have covered. (Some interesting things are happening on the SharePoint integration front too, which should enrich this experience even further, but that is a whole separate topic 🙂 )

But one final request. If you have used techniques such as these to enrich the experience for participants, then I’d love to hear from you. Even if it is not for Dialogue Mapping, any technique that is inclusive and augments the holding environment, please drop me a line or leave a comment.

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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The practice of Dialogue Mapping – Part 3

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series DM
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Hi there and welcome to part 3 of my series on the practice of Dialogue Mapping in the real-world. To recap, in part 1, I provided a brief overview of Dialogue Mapping and in part 2, I described a common real world usage scenario that we perform fairly often as SharePoint consultants.

The rest of this series will change tack a little. In this article I am going to describe a very different Dialogue Mapping scenario to you. This was a huge challenge and a large leap from what I described in part 2. There were some wonderful lessons learned from this work which I will cover off here.

The most “wicked” problems are not technical

My first Dialogue Mapping gig where I was not a subject matter expert also happened to be a real baptism of fire. Here was a problem that I had no understanding of, no discipline knowledge and no sense of background history of the project, the dynamics of the group, nor any idea of the positions of stakeholders on the problem.

By this time my IBIS fluency was pretty much down and I felt very confident with the usage of Compendium. I had not yet travelled to the USA yet to train under Jeff Conklin directly, but I carried his book around with me, and had read it many times over. I had performed Dialogue Mapping many times, however until this point all the projects or subjects that I was involved in I knew a lot about. This time I felt very vulnerable. Your domain knowledge is a form of armour, and it was unsettling to know that you’re going in stark naked. I was intimidated, yet excited at the same time.

So imagine this scenario. There was myself, a facilitator, and *fifteen* strangers sitting across from me. This was double the group numbers of the typical IT scenarios I had previously mapped. I remember emailing Jeff for advice when I heard that there would be so many and I recall him saying that 15 was a lot of people for a newbie. What was I in for! 🙂

Little did I know at the time that this group had been meeting for quite some time before that, but were really struggling on a complex urban planning issue. When I say complex, I mean complex in a social way, rather than technical. Interestingly, the issue was not a technically complicated issue at all. Anybody could have sat in the room and understood most of the dialogue (not necessarily the full context but you would not be completely blinded by science). What made this particular issue complex was the fact that the group members came from several different organisations, representing some quite diametrically opposing viewpoints. In part 2, I wrote about how it was hard enough just to get one IT department to come to the party and that was just one department of a single organisation – sheesh! If you have complained about organisational silos and think it is hard enough to get some degree of consensus within the realm of one organisation, imagine it when over a dozen representatives from different organisations are involved, organisations that straddle the full spectrum of public and private sectors, as well as the community.

There were simply so many stakeholders and interconnected issues that it was very hard to not get bogged down into tangents, repetition and frustration. Now, imagine eighteen months of this environment and the stressful social complexity impacts.

This is a long-term project that I am still involved with, so I will not be taking you through the specific details of this project just yet. Rest assured though, it has been such a great experience that I will write about it in detail in the future. For now, I will focus on lessons learnt so that others aspiring to perform this craft can learn from my own experiences.

People often tell you the best way to learn is to dive right in, and Dialogue Mapping is no exception. No sooner than I had put up a “what should we do…” type root question, it didn’t take long for debate to get … shall we say … rigorous! So I will go over some of the key lessons that I learnt from this experience thus far.

Lesson One: Confidence and assertiveness

The first thing that I had to contend with was not being in control of the conversation to the same extent as before. As previously stated, with SharePoint workshops I tend to direct the flow of the workshop as a mapper and as a subject matter expert. But this scenario was very different. I didn’t know the topic area at all and therefore some of the terms and acronyms made no sense to me. Also being new and unused to the decorum of the group, I erred on what I thought was politeness, rather than annoy the group by being direct and at times, interrupting them.

This, in my opinion, is a mistake and does a disservice to the other participants. It is also probably the most common thing a newbie mapper will experience when starting out, especially with a new group. As a result, the mapping in this first workshop ebbed and flowed. There were a few times where I was mapping the conversation really well, and the participants really engaged with the argumentation as it unfolded on the screen before them. Participants gestured to the map and asked me to add additional arguments and issues to what had already been built there. I could literally hear some of the initially sceptical, suddenly have that magic moment where they see it working. But at other times, during, say a particularly contentious issue, the conversation would fly at a rapid rate of knots. With so many people in the room, many wanted to have their say on these topics. This led to:

  1. Side conversations started up
  2. Some participants looked away from the map, and started debating directly to each other

As soon as one of these happened, and especially with the latter, I, as the Mapper, had no hope of following the conversation. As you might expect, I would lose focus and the quality of what was captured suffered (hence lots of idea nodes with no connections to anything). The focussing power of the map would be diminished and the wheels would start to fall off.

So remember this above all else. No matter what you do, you must be confident and assertive from the very start to keep the group focussed on the map. Don’t be afraid to interrupt someone to clarify a point, or pause them before they go too fast. If someone else starts to interject, interject back and make it clear that you will get to them as soon as you have finished capturing what someone else has said.

Here is the other critical thing: You must be consistent. It is the first ten to twenty minutes that will set the tone for the rest of the session. This is where people will implicitly learn the decorum of a Dialogue Mapping session and know what to expect. Your actions as a mapper, during this period, is critical to the overall quality of the session. Start it well and it will generally end well.

Jeff Conklin, of course, offers advice for this in his wonderful book on how to dealing with this. But of course, in the heat of dialogue, all of that advice goes straight out the window as you struggle to keep up with the rapid fire dialogue heading your way. Reading about how one should dialogue map is one thing, doing it is another. This is why I call Dialogue Mapping a craft and leads me to my second lesson learned.

Lesson Two: Remember that one guitar lesson you had? (Be realistic)

I think just about everybody at one point has had romantic notions of being a rock guitarist, banging out the blues like Clapton or blistering solos like Kirk Hammett or Brian May. A surprisingly large number of people have actually bought a guitar at some stage in their lives and have tried to live the dream. Most give it up once they find that the gap between their ability to play a G chord and their dream of playing the solo to Hotel California stretches to the moon and back. Inevitably, many guitars ends up collecting dust in the attic, along with the home gym set and many other items that were bought from late night infomercials.

You will hit this with Dialogue Mapping. Remember that wicked problems breed social complexity. Some problems may have some stakeholders with diametrically opposed views and discussion can be quite heated. The romantic notion of your group suddenly solving their wicked problem from your wonderful dialogue mapping has to be viewed with the reality that you still have to learn the G chord and audience can be fickle.

Thus, as far as audiences go, don’t go playing a stadium gig until you feel that you can handle sitting in the corner of a local bar or the school disco. In other words, start small and work your way up. A small, successful meeting will help you develop your style, confidence and then empower you to take on larger groups.

As Ali-G would say, keep it real.

Lesson Three: Stick to your domain of knowledge (at first)

This is a logical extension of lesson two, and also a tricky one because it can be just as much of a worst practice as a best one. This I suspect is probably a lesson on where Jeff Conklin or other dialogue mappers may disagree with me. One of the transitions that you have to make as a mapper is to move from what I would call Issue Mapping to real Dialogue Mapping. Just because you are doing mapping in front of a group, doesn’t actually mean you are necessarily “dialogue” mapping. Dialogue Mapping is often called “Issue Mapping with facilitation”, and when you work within your domain of expertise and you are a mapper as well as participant. Therefore you are not an impartial facilitator. This is the situation I described in part 2 and discovered very quickly, that pure dialogue mapping was much harder and mentally tougher.

But in terms of developing your skills, you will have good results when you are working in an area that you know well. You don’t have to worry about the meaning of acronyms and half of the questions you have likely heard before anyway. Remember though, that in a way it is kind of cheating because you are in effect, using the craft to get people to confront questions that you want answered. But it is an important stepping stone and will help you master lesson 4.

Lesson Four: IBIS grammar in the reptile brain

IBIS is the grammar that you use to map discourse. When mapping rapid-fire contributions from a group of people, they do not want to sit and wait for you to mull over whether their statement was an idea followed by a pro or an inferred question with an idea. If you find yourself having to do this, it is like trying to play a song on guitar and having to consciously think about how to play that G chord. Just think about how much you’d enjoy a Metallica concert if James Hetfield stopped every minute or so on a hard bit of a song and said “Wait, wait.. I’ve done this before… ok, hang on…oops, sorry”. This translation needs to burn itself into your reptile brain so that the process is as automatic as possible. To do this, you need to initially not worry about getting up in front of a group. As Conklin suggests in his book, listen to interviews on the radio or take an article, pull out its main points and create an IBIS map for it. There are a zillion ways to do this.

For all of you SharePoint people, a really excellent, highly relevant way of practice that I use, is to sit in the audience of a presentation at SharePoint Saturday or a conference and issue map the presentation. Below is a sample of some of the sessions where I have done this and the image after that demonstrates how much rationale I captured in the “NZ Web Standards and SharePoint” session.

image   image

Another great way to learn is to send one of your maps to an IBIS practitioner and let them pull it to bits. Even those of us who have done this for a while need that constant reinforcement and feedback. Like any grammar, different things can be written in different ways and one person’s IBIS will not always look like someone else’s. (There is another blog post in the works that will show this in a funny way). At various times I have sent maps to Conklin for constructive feedback (and then ducked for cover! – hehe)

Finally, if you are serious about this and like what you are reading, then do what I did – the 5 week Issue Mapping webinar based workshops that Jeff Conklin runs, or if you are in Australia and want something local, then contact me for a half or full-day in-house Issue Mapping intro workshop. Both will not teach you to dialogue map, but by the end of them you will dream in IBIS 🙂

Lesson Five: IBIS translation in the reptile brain

Once the language of IBIS is familiar to you, you can take any argumentation and form a consistent IBIS map. You then have to learn how to listen very carefully because that is half the art. Now you have to take prose and pontification by participants and somehow unpack the points made, articulate them into a summary, and form an IBIS based model in your head, and then commit it to the map.

This can be hard – very hard, and it is nigh on impossible to do without applying what I told you in lesson one. A dialogue mapper is not superhuman and does not have photographic memory. The skill you are developing here is one where you pick out the IBIS elements of some dialogue quickly, as well as knowing when to interject to make sure you do not miss anything.

A great example of this working is when someone has stated something, and although I cannot remember all points, I know that there was a question and three ideas offered. I might pause the conversation before it goes too far and say something like “Ah, that was important and I need to get this right. I heard you say three things there. You questioned the idea of X, and you offered an answer with 3 pros. One was Y, and what were the other two again?”

Conklin explains meeting discourse and question types in his book and the aforementioned workshop in a lot of detail. But once again, to apply it to a real-world situation can only be done by practice (and more practice). The absolute best way to do this is to watch an experienced dialogue mapper perform this and look at how they handle the situation, which brings me onto lesson six.

Lesson Six: Observe

One of the most enjoyable training experiences of my career was to travel to the picturesque town of Annapolis and learn dialogue mapping from Jeff Conklin himself. Up until then, I had been practicing the craft, but after those two days, I returned as a much better practitioner.

The single most important part of the time spent there was when we, the students, dialogue mapped each other as we discussed a real-world issue. We each sat in the hot seat for fifteen minutes or so, trying to map the discussion. We were all being completely evil, deliberately starting side conversations, interrupting and interjecting, playing the role of the dominant type A style participant, jumping all over the place and, overall, just being as difficult as we could.

Unsurprisingly, we all sucked big time trying to dialogue map this. However, when Conklin took the floor, we then saw how exactly Dialogue Mapping was done and what twenty years of practice does. He effortlessly brushed off our attempts to trip him up by observing all of the lessons that I have thus far described, but also with some subtle tricks that we didn’t even notice until he told us afterwards.

After Conklin had wiped the floor with us, so to speak, we all got to have another crack at it, with the benefit of observation and hindsight. This time the difference was significant in our performance and the way that we each handled the “mob”.

Moral? The very best thing you can do is to be involved in a Dialogue Mapping session where it has been done well. Watch carefully what the mapper is doing and how they are conducting themselves and the process.

Lesson Seven: It will make you tired

If you think of all the various things that you have to do simultaneously (for examples listening, understanding, mapping, and managing the group) during Dialogue Mapping, it is amazing that anyone with a Y chromosome can manage it, given that men usually cannot multitask at all. (Case in point: If sport is on the radio and my wife is speaking to me, one of them has to be switched off…Sorry honey 🙂 ).

When you are first learning this craft and you are going to be up in front of a group, plan for only an hour or so. While you have to think quite consciously about things, it will exhaust you even more. Once things become more automatic, you can go for longer. From my own experience, the limit for Dialogue Mapping a big group on a really wicked topic would be about four hours at the absolute maximum. (Usually by then the participants also need to take a break and sleep on it anyway).

Some sessions can be intense, and you, as a mapper, need to be switched on for that entire time. You are listening carefully to every person speak because you are trying to form it into IBIS. So unlike everybody else who can sit there and look interested, yet be mentally switched off, you have to be interested by definition.

One thing about this is that, while you are in the zone, you don’t need coffee. When mapping, you have enough endorphins racing around your system to keep quite alert, but as soon as there is a break, you can find that you will feel quite tired at times, and a well timed coffee can be very handy (real coffee, of course – none of that instant junk!)

The one thing that compensates for what Dialogue Mapping can take out of you mentally, is that exhilarating experience when the group is really getting into the process and the positive feedback that you receive when a really well formed map has been developed.

Lesson Eight: Learn to love “transclusions” and CTRL+R

I thought that I would drop in a left-field lesson learned at this point that is still very important.

Trans-what? Don’t worry – I don’t know why they called it that either. Ted Nelson, who also coined the term “hypertext”, came up with the name but I think the day “transclusion” sprung to mind, he was having an off-day. I asked Conklin what it meant and he said “It’s technically accurate … an "inclusion" of material *across* (‘trans’) several documents”. When I whined about the geekiness of the name he added “There was a time when the word "hypertext" was a wacko term for geeks, you know”. Damn! He’s got me there.

My explanation that will suffice for now? Transclusions is a fancy way of describing the process of breaking your big map up into smaller, linked up sub-maps. I have also heard it referred to as chunking, and when maps get too big, this is a necessity. (For the hypertext nerds that is somewhat incomplete but suffices for this point).

The compendium software that I choose to use for this work also has a great feature in it. Your map is re-drawn automatically when you hold down the control key and press R. I am now in the habit that after entering a node or three, I redraw the map via this method to keep it all looking orderly. That way, if there has been a lot of dialogue captured, you do not end up with a messy, cluttered map that participants find hard to follow. Like lesson number three and four, stopping conversation while you refactor a messy map will cost you group momentum so ideally if you have gotten into the Control+R habit, all you have to do is a quick transclusion at an opportune time.

The best time to perform a map transclusion is when a thread of discussion has been exhausted and the group has moved onto a new idea or area in the map. A trick I learned from Anapolis was to sit up and say something like “Okay, let’s just pause for a minute.” (Holding up my hand), congratulate the group on the quality of what they have captured and then say something like “Let’s just put this stuff into its own pigeonhole, so we can now focus on X idea”.

Lesson Nine: Nurture the holding environment

Okay, so if there is to be one big serious lesson learned, it is this one. To make the point, I am going to quote Heifetz and Linsky from their excellent book Leadership on the Line. You can read a PDF press release here, specifically the section entitled “Control the temperature.”

Changing the status quo generates tension and produces heat by surfacing hidden conflicts and challenging organizational culture. It’s a deep and natural human impulse to seek order and calm, and organizations and communities can tolerate only so much distress before recoiling.

If you try to stimulate deep change, you have to control the temperature. There are really two tasks involved. The first is to raise the heat enough that people sit up, pay attention, and deal with the real threats and challenges facing them. Without some distress, there is no incentive for them to change anything. The second is to lower the temperature when necessary to reduce a counterproductive level of tension. Any community can only take so much pressure before it becomes either immobilized or spins out of control. The heat must stay within a tolerable range—not so high that people demand it be turned off completely, and not so low that they are lulled into inactivity.

Heifetz and Linsky talk about maintaining the “the productive range of distress” but I have heard many metaphors like this. Another I like is “creative abrasion”, coined by Leonard and Swap in their excellent book When Sparks Fly . Both are essentially talking about making the whole environment conducive to getting the best out of the participants.

The key takeaway is this: Each group is different and each situation is different. In the normal discourse of the meeting, there will be times where the group works together in almost perfect unison and times where one wrong word will destroy that balance and require the group to stop, reset things and move forward. This is not about IBIS either. The fact is that over time, a particular pattern will emerge in the decorum of the sessions, where conducting the sessions or approaching the mapping in a particular way, will work consistently well for the group.

Let me give you a classic example that was absolute genius on the part of my client who did exactly this. Before Dialogue Mapping for a group of concerned residents who were facing the prospect of significant change to the amenity of their homes, a bus was hired and the residents were taken to an area where a similar urban transformation had been made ten years before. We all walked around the area for an hour, soaking in the vibe, learning about the history of the area, how the area was redeveloped and how certain planning challenges were overcome.

This allowed the participants to get a real sense of the issues they needed to confront, and they felt it with all senses, sight, sound and tactile, rather than some cold, rather detached room with a projected map on the wall. Later, when I dialogue mapped the session after the bus tour, the group did a fantastic job and the quality of the rationale that was captured was much richer and faster, through that sensory immersion that took place before the mapping process began.

So just remember, Dialogue Mapping is a great holding environment in the sense that Heifetz and Linsky talk about. It is a wonderful “rich container”, as Conklin puts it, for fostering and maintaining creative abrasion. But as the bus ride example shows, there is a lot of things that you can combine with it to enhance the experience further.

More examples like this will be covered in part 4 of this series.

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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Am I a Business Analyst? What about those calling themselves BAs?

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Hi

I attended and spoke at the Perth Business Analyst World Conference this week and really enjoyed it. This was a bit of a departure from the SharePoint events that I normally frequent, and I really didn’t know what to expect. Certainly, not having to fly 30+ hours just to speak is a big plus 🙂 The recommendation to the organisers to consider me, came about via Craig Brown, who has a very popular project management blog that I follow. Thanks so much Craig, I owe you a beer when I am in Melbourne next.

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The conference report…

My talk was actually *not* about SharePoint and instead I was able to focus on more of my material on wicked problems, the shared understanding/shared commitment principle and then, the sense-making tools and techniques that I use to help bring this about. I was also able to demo the fruits of a very exciting, non IT project that I have been working on for a long time (more on that in a future post).

Despite my “This ain’t my normal crowd” trepidations, the feedback was great and the best thing to hear from participants, was that for many, it was stuff they have never heard before. That, for me, was really satisfying because I like the notion of presenting new ideas that actually have some decent practical examples to back them up. (This is something Andrew Woodward and I have in common. We love academic rigor for what we use, but it has to have been used in the real world with tangible success). Although I know that some people will disagree with the methods that myself and my colleagues use, I was able to demonstrate what I think is some pretty compelling case studies that support them.

What was interesting though, was that the examples and case studies were able to support what a lot of the other presenters had to say as well.

Ann Smith of Black Circle for example, had a great talk that was essentially about human cognition; essentially the wiring in our brains that serve to explain why big, fat documents are often not good ways to convey information. (Being a practicing dialogue mapper, no arguments from me there!) I am a nerd for this sort of stuff, having written previously on behavioural styles, learning styles and organisational culture, and Anne offered some new, interesting things that I have previously not considered or covered – more blog fodder for CleverWorkarounds, methinks.

Another highlight,the Western Power Business Transformation project, presented by Lorraine Pestell was also fascinating (I have a weakness for voice of the customer type sessions and this was no exception). Many of the strategic challenges that they are facing, such as sustainability and the changing business/regulatory environment, is very similar to the work I am doing elsewhere and it was great to see how Lorraine and her team were approaching the challenge and has given me some ideas and approaches to take back with me to my clients and projects.

The BA identity crisis

But back to the question suggested by the title of this post. There were some panel and round-table sessions about the topics of what actually *is* a BA, how you validate or recognise BA excellence, and the perennial BA versus PM turf-war debate.

Up until this time, I had actually never considered myself a BA because I had never actually given it any thought! As a self employed consultant, the only thing that matters is doing a good enough job to keep people wanting you to come back. So to that end, I didn’t worry so much about what I was called, provided that my clients were happy and the invoice was paid. But even if I wasn’t a consultant, I think that role titles often do not reflect reality and they also have a pigeonholing effect, depending on the attitudes and perceptions of what others think that role entails. Many position titles were discussed, “Solutions Architect”, “Business Architect”, “Change Manager” and some that were so pretentious that they bordered on wanky. More fancy words with no more clarity. No wonder many BA’s are struggling a bit for a sense of identity.

What I noticed when talking to the conference participants was that some attendees spoke from a lens where they seemed to feel that it was incumbent on them to provide a “translator” role between IT and “the business”. After all, nerds and CFO’s can’t communicate right? Enter the BA to ask questions and solve problems.

I have no major objection to that notion at some levels, but it is that *precise* mindset that makes me think “Well, I am definitely not a BA.”

Why? It was the notion that this “translation” was based on being the go-between from IT and the business. Thus, taking what one party says, transforming it and then passing it to the other party. As a result, BA’s are acting as a listener and interpreter, yet relaying second hand messages (messages that may be very different originally) between parties.

I personally balk at this. In fact, it really grates on me. By that definition, I don’t think I am a BA at all.

Interestingly, other topics of conversations were around “Well, how does a BA fit into Agile?”, “Is there a place for the BA in an Agile world”, and the like. What was interesting, and somewhat concerning, about these conversations was that those BAs who tended to think of themselves in terms of this “translation” role, really did not have a great grasp on the underlying principles of what we now call “Agile”.

Although Agile means a lot of different things and there are different sub-methods applied, these BAs got all focussed on the processes of Agile. They overlooked the fact that the process is actually the means to an end and it is the end-game that they have overlooked. Agile, (okay well Scrum anyway) attempts to use process and rigour (yes, rigour!) to make a project as conducive to shared understanding as possible. Probably the best thing that Agile does, above all else, is put diverse people in the same room. That alone will make bigger understanding breakthroughs than anything else!

Business Analyst KPI – shared understanding?

So, why am I not a BA?

My methods for translating are fundamentally inclusive. In other words, I do not “translate” anything, “take” it to another party and “relay” through my own words (and lens). I feel that despite all best intentions and whatever diagramming or modelling tool that you use, when you do this, you will always still find that you have your own cognitive biases that will not necessarily deliver the shared understanding that you think you are delivering. Instead, what I do is provide a rich container for a group to explore an issue together. In the same way that Agile tends to like all project members and stakeholders to be in the same room, Dialogue Mapping puts everyone in the same room and provides a suitable container for handling dialogue in a much better manner than traditional meetings and workshops.

If you agree with my previous assertions that a lot of the visible causes of project failure (scope creep, vague requirements, etc) comes from a lack of shared understanding among participants, and that BAs identify themselves as the bridge between IT and “the business” (which by the way is an insultingly gross simplification), then isn’t the ultimate KPI for the BA is to create and maintain that shared understanding? If not, yours is just another opinion that is counted no more or less than anybody else’s. Are you signal or noise?

So, in my humble opinion, the role of the BA is not to be the go-between from disparate stakeholders. Instead, it is your ability to create the sort of conducive holding environment that enables project participants to achieving shared understanding. How you do that is completely up to you of course, and if you have managed to progress a group from an agreed undesirable present state to a desirable future state, then your methods are totally validated.

Get over titles…

Now, if you call yourself a BA and think I am picking on you because you feel that you are the translator, don’t feel bad because plenty of PMs are guilty in their way too. In some ways, I feel that business analysts only exist as a career because enough people with the “Project Manager” title thought that time and budget alone were the only factors in project success. Some PMs who disagreed with this, felt that solving the problem was also critical, gravitated to the discipline of what we now label as “Business Analyst”. Some application developers that felt there was more to life than cutting code and made a similar gravitation. Put a bunch of like-minded people together and soon enough we have a “cool kids” club and lo’ and behold, we have a new discipline with a new set of titles.

(“Information architect” is a more recent example of this phenomenon than “Business Analyst”).

But, let me tell you something else about this title misconception. For a BA to label all PMs as interested only in time and budget is an insult to those PMs who actually understand that achieving and maintaining shared understanding is the end-game. The truly great project managers who I have had the pleasure of working with were actually leaders, not managers. They have all of the same characteristics of what makes a truly good business analyst: Critical thinking, soft-skills and most of all, a great radar for determining when stakeholders are not aligned and doing what is necessary to rectify the situation. They do not always dive into process and structure because their particular body of knowledge told them to. Instead, they have coffees, drink beer, conduct lunch-time workshops with free food and beverages, mediate, essentially whatever is needed to oil the cogs of dialogue that prevents something small becoming something nasty later.

By the way, I have met some angel application developers like this too, as well as infrastructure people.

If you want proof of a truly great project manager, then Kailash Awati’s wonderful site should be mandatory reading for both the BA and PM disciplines (and scrum masters too for that matter!). Kailash writes what essentially is a project management blog, but he has a deeper understanding of the sorts of soft factors that would put many BAs and some facilitators to shame.

Conclusion

In my talk at the conference, I emphasised that the ultimate success factor in any project is bringing about shared commitment through shared understanding among the participants. I believe that achieving these goals is the ultimate KPI for a BA, or anybody else who feels that they are there to help solve a problem, not deliver a crap solution that happens to be on time and on budget.

Thus, any method that helps a group achieve this is a good method because it has made a positive difference in advancing a group from understood present state to an understood desirable future state.

So, perhaps I am, after all, a BA?

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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The practice of Dialogue Mapping – Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series DM
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Hi there.

Welcome to part 2 of a series of articles on the craft of Dialogue Mapping – something that forms a significant chunk of my SharePoint and non SharePoint work. In the “One best practice” series of articles, I explained IBIS. In part 1 of this series, I introduced the facilitation part that goes along with IBIS. In this article, I’ll spend more time on how Dialogue Mapping works in real world scenarios.

In the previous article, I wrote about how important it was for tools and methods like this to be intuitive and inclusive, allowing you to start from any given point. I also wrote about how methods need to be adaptable and grow, accepting and accommodating for the fact that understanding of the problem changes over time. In any project or problem that is novel or new, there is, invariably, a large degree of unknowns and uncertainties among participants. Solutions are not always obvious and we should be careful not to presume that we are doing something wrong if we reinterpret the problem, as a result of learning more or seeing a suggested solution.

New IT projects, by definition, often fall into this bucket and SharePoint is a poster child for this type of project. But in saying that, some of the toughest problems on the planet are not technically complicated at all and SharePoint is actually not the most wicked problem that I have used this craft on. More on that in part 3…

So, the first example of the practice of Dialogue Mapping that I will tell you about is how effective it is in dealing with IT department physics and nerd law.

IT department physics and nerd law…

Before consulting on any IT project, it is important to understand the inner workings of the IT department. For SharePoint this is particularly important because of its amazing ability for exposing the inherent constraints of IT departmental physics in a negative way.

There are certain fundamental principles of how IT departments work that I have classified into several immutable laws. They are:

  1. The web team dislikes the corporate marketing team because marketing always wants the same garish lime-green colours they have for their printed brochures;
  2. The infrastructure team dislikes the web team because they see them as a bunch of cowboys who mess with forces they do not understand and do not have to deal with the consequences of it;
  3. The web team dislikes the infrastructure team because they are a bunch of control freaks who won’t even allow you to fart without filling in a change control form; and
  4. Nobody likes the misunderstood compliance/records management team at all. They unfortunately perpetuate this by droning on continually about whatever compliance standard/s the organisation has to adhere to.

There are some interesting sub-laws that go along with the four immutable laws. For example, you have only one shot to ask the right question to a good infrastructure guy. In other words, the way you word the question will tell them a lot about your technical chops and if you word the question badly, you will be forever banished into the same sin bin where they hold most project managers and sales people. Once sin-binned, it takes an enormous amount of effort to get out. Similarly, when approaching an application developer, always start the question from the presumption that the error you are encountering is *not* in their code, despite you being fairly certain that it is.

Ted Dzubia is a tech writer equivalent of Dr House. A terrific writer with brilliant insight woven between layers of blistering attitude and well placed vulgarity. He cites a classic example of what he calls “nerd law” and it cuts to the heart of the problem that projects like SharePoint face.

The only way to adjudicate Nerd Law is to write about a transgression on your blog and hope that it gets to the front page of Digg. Nerd Law is the result of the pathological introversion software engineers carry around with them, being too afraid of confrontation after that one time in high school when you stood up to a jock and ended up getting your ass kicked.

If you actually talk to people, network, and make agreements, you’ll find that most are reasonable…

Defying the laws of IT physics

One of my earliest uses of Dialogue Mapping was to deal with a classic case of IT department physics and nerd law. A completely new SharePoint project, with no in-house staff having significant expertise in the product, has decided to implement SharePoint for an intranet. To make it interesting, the project is instigated out of the web team. As the immutable laws explain the forces of IT nature, this means that several things happen by default:

  • The infrastructure team will automatically be against it because they don’t want to get saddled with, yet another, enterprise application to support and manage
  • The records management team, having already been scarred from trying to convince an uninterested workforce that the existing records software does not suck, now will assume that SharePoint is going to take over their area.
  • The software development team will assume that SharePoint is here to replace all of their lovingly coded, yet bloaty and insecure line-of-business systems.

At this point, each side starts googling and discovers that the means by which they will address the “obviously” out-of-bounds web team is via this thing called “Governance”. Governance is then mentioned in every second sentence, in a manner to improve their respective positions. This is the nightmare scenario where governance is used as a tool to perpetuate nerd law. This is to be avoided at all costs.

In this project, I introduced the dialogue map from the very first meeting with a simple root question “What are we going to do with SharePoint in Organsiation X”?

Now in this case, SharePoint is my core discipline, so unlike some of my subsequent engagements. I already had a bunch of questions that I wanted the client to start pondering. Being well aware of the destructive forces of the immutable laws of IT, I put down some immediate sub-questions.

  • What are the goals of the project?
  • What are the governance requirements of this project?
  • What are the infrastructure requirements for SharePoint?
  • What should we do about operational support for SharePoint?
  • How will we develop the project?
  • What else do we need to be aware of?

The web team had also developed a project charter which explained, in some detail, the background to this project and how we came to be where we were. I linked this into the issue map. Something that also came up fairly quickly was that the organisation had just completed a large strategic review project and an Information Management Plan had been drafted and approved. This was a key document that pretty much set the direction of the organisation for the next four years.

Below is the map showing these initial questions, along with the project charter and Information Management Plan. Note how I can attach documents into the IBIS map along with the argumentation.

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Adaptive requirements gathering…

As you can imagine, we started working through these questions. Given that the SharePoint was completely new to the team, I was perfectly happy for the web team to jump around to different areas of the map and fill it in. Fairly quickly, the participants identified that a staged approach would be needed for implementation, and we initially would flick between goals and stages until that began to solidify that the details of the implementation matched the goals.

This map evolved over a period of time where we would spend time on-site with the team, performing training and advisory on SharePoint itself. As understanding of SharePoint’s capabilities grew from the use of a demonstration virtual machine, we refactored and re-examined the map as new knowledge, insights and/or understandings came to light. The team took to dialogue mapping like ducks to water, and the web team leader downloaded and installed compendium so that she always had the latest project rationale on her desktop.

This also had advantages to my colleagues who were also involved in the training and advisory phase. Since each of us were trained in IBIS and dialogue mapping, any one of us was able to conduct a session and the new map would be redistributed to all participants. Thus, even if I did not attend a meeting, I was able to very quickly orient myself around any new questions, issues or ideas.

Planting seeds of buy in…

One area that many web teams are weaker on in their knowledge is in infrastructure. In this case, I had a dual role as dialogue mapper and SharePoint consultant because I know how infrastructure guys think. After all, I used to be one myself. Therefore, I wanted to ensure that a lot of infrastructure considerations were captured and made explicit in the map before we took it to the other teams. I ensured that farm topology options were captured, backup and recovery implications, virtualisation and the like were covered. Additionally, many questions were captured but not answered, such as network topology, active directory configuration, large database management, SLA and the like. A snippet of this is below.

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One thing that we were all aware of was to ensure that records management considerations were duly covered. By having a SharePoint environment to use and learn from, the team was able to quickly become much more informed about SharePoint’s view of the world, especially in relation to the orientation of metadata, sites and site collections. We confirmed that the goals of the project was an intranet and the sort of document management that would be required would be skewed very much towards team collaboration. The web team was aware that a records management system existed and also some members had some previous experience working with these systems. We ended up creating a very detailed map outlining the strategy for integration with records management, the options for integrating the current records system with SharePoint and most importantly, the golden rules around integration that ensured that the records management system was still the authoritative location for records. Later, Microsoft and the records management vendor visited the site and presented the latest information on the integration for the product and SharePoint, and the salient points were added to the map. Below is a snippet of the map discussing this topic (deliberately obscured for privacy, but you can get a good feel for the breadth of the discussion).

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The acid test…

Fast forward another couple of weeks, and the team now has a pretty good understanding of SharePoint and a very well factored map. By this time, others in the department had been called in at various times and added their rationale to the map, answering some of the open questions. Next stop was the ultimate test. A meeting was called, where all of the opposing forces were going to be in the one room at the same time. A dozen people in all, key decision makers who didn’t always enjoy a cosy relationship, crammed into a hot, tiny room with a portable projector.

The web team manager introduced the project via the charter, and we all worked our way through the map. We discussed the goals of the project, how they related back to the strategic Information Management Plan, how we were structuring the phases to support those goals, what was in/out of phase 1 and why, and of course, the considerations that we had made in relation to the other IT Teams. After around 90 minutes, we were done and the group proceeded to give feedback.

The records management team was clearly relieved. In producing the map, we had demonstrated a good awareness of records management considerations and we made it clear and explicit in the map that SharePoint was *not* going to replace or devalue what they already had in place. They loved the fact that we had captured rationale that discussed the pros and cons of the various methods and techniques we could use for integration between their tool and SharePoint as they did not know about this. The infrastructure team was also happy for the same reason. We had captured many of the questions that they would have asked themselves of the web team. We had managed to pass our “one shot” test and were not sin-binned for being naive to the nuances of IT infrastructure.

Key success factors and conclusion

All in all, in that one two hour meeting, everybody was on-side and excited about the project. It was fed back to us that achieving such buy-in within one meeting across these different IT departments was previously unheard of in this organisation.

The key success factors boiled down to 3 major factors:

1. The participants in the Dialogue Mapping process were extremely enthusiastic with the process. We did not sell Dialogue Mapping at all with this engagement – we just used it from the very first workshop. By the end of that first workshop, the participants were very impressed with the richness of what had been captured and it became the standard way we conducted workshops and requirements meetings.

2. The visibility and clarity of the rationale meant that any major concerns of the other teams were mitigated by the fact that the questions they were interested in were either addressed or, at the very least, captured and visible on the map. For many parts of the map, the web team made no pretence to know all of the answers. However, by raising those questions in the map, it gave the other teams much more assurance that the web team were not running off and doing their own thing with a lack of consultation.

3. As a mapper, knowing a fair amount about SharePoint meant that fast-tracking of learning was taking place, both at the map level and at the product capability level. Providing the team with a demo virtual machine allowed members to learn about the product, and then applying that learning back to their understanding of the problem in the map space. This was a great way for them to iterate and converge on the solution much more quickly than fumbling around with the product alone. As a SharePoint practitioner, I was able to foresee problem areas and then utilise the rationale in the map to help steer the various participants into determining the optimum solution for their circumstances.

All in all, this was a great example of the power of Dialogue Mapping in speeding up the normally laborious process of stakeholder consultation and developing a shared sense of what was trying to be achieved. The one thing I would say about this method however, was that being a subject matter expert, as well as the dialogue mapper, meant that I was able to exercise a fair degree of control over the flow of the map. This is because I was both a participant as well as the mapper, both capturing as well as answering questions, raising concerns and flagging issues that may have been missed otherwise. For any aspiring dialogue mappers out there, this is actually a good way to start because you can concentrate on creating well formed IBIS, and not have to worry about whether you are articulating a participant’s dialogue correctly. Almost by definition in this case, you know exactly what the participant is talking about and getting the context onto the map in IBIS notation is not a huge mental challenge.

But there is more…

If I concluded this series now, I would be misleading you. The form of Dialogue Mapping that I undertook here was not what I would call pure Dialogue Mapping. In my explanation of the above process, I was a participant, strategist, mentor as well as mapper. My knowledge of the problem space was very detailed and I used Dialogue Mapping as a tool to help steer the group to a position that enabled them to improve their chances of a great outcome.

In part 3, I will detail more about the craft of pure Dialogue Mapping. In this case, you are not in the room because of any particular expertise and you often do not know any of the stakeholders either. Your critical success factor is to produce a great map and thus, make a positive difference for a group in tackling a really wicked problem. As you will soon see, that changes things quite a bit…

Until then, thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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Speaking at BA World conference in Perth

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BAW Logo w Globe

Hi all

Just a quick note to let you know that I will be speaking at the Perth leg of the BusinessAnalystWorld conference this week. My topic is called “IBIS: The one best practice for managing wicked problems" and I will be talking about the characteristics of wicked problems and how IBIS and Issue Mapping can help to manage them. I will also cover off some other sense-making tools in this talk like debategraph.

The BA World conference is the only one of its kind in Australia and will cover all sorts of interesting topics such as requirements elicitation, change management, business process modelling, Agile, stakeholder management and BABOK. The theme for the event is “Work Smarter. Plan Harder” and will allow BA leaders to ensure that projects are clearly defined and flawlessly executed, enabling them to make the right decisions at every level in the organisation and increase project success.

I am really looking forward to participating and it will be interesting to see what sort of feedback I get from a non SharePoint audience. As you may have gathered, this is not a SharePoint event and although I will still be talking about SharePoint as a collaborative platform to support working smarter, the main focus is on the power of IBIS and issue Mapping to help elicit real and tacit requirements and fast-track the path to shared understanding.

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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The practice of Dialogue Mapping – Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series DM
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Hiya

For those who do not regularly read CleverworkArounds, I have a bit of a split career-personality where half my working life is spent as a SharePoint practitioner and the other half as a sort of facilitator, based around the craft of dialogue mapping. This series of articles will delve a little deeper into dialogue mapping and how I have used it.

I previously introduced the topic of IBIS and Issue Mapping to a SharePoint audience in the “One best practice” series of posts. That series of posts focussed on the issue mapping side of things because it dissected a debate that had already taken place (Joel’s ‘Just say “no” to site definitions’). While this is an effective demonstration of the way that IBIS can break down a seemingly complex argument into more easily digested chunks, I never really wrote about the craft of dialogue mapping, which is a much more difficult, mentally exhausting, yet ultimately fulfilling practice.

Now I have to tell you, as an IT consultant who has managed to not get *too* messed-up over the last 20 years, I don’t get too intimidated with IT these days. But first time dialogue mapping for a group of stakeholders on a non IT project, where I had no buy in to that project, and my sole purpose was to craft a good issue map to help them work through their complex issue, I was so nervous that I couldn’t sleep the night before.

So first up, let’s clear up the terms I using so that we are all on the same page.

  • IBIS: The grammar that is used to create an issue map. When I talk about issues, ideas, pros and cons, I am describing the elements of IBIS grammar. You can read about this elsewhere on my blog, my mentor, Jeff Conklin or the amazing work by Kailash Awati.
  • Issue mapping: The craft of creating an map based on IBIS notation. Some examples are in this article.
  • Dialogue Mapping: The facilitation process where a facilitator works with a group to create an issue map and translate discussion into Issue Maps.

Why dialogue mapping?

If you have ever uttered the cliché “They don’t know what they want”, then you have your answer. Many problems are rather difficult to define and pin down because, even to define them, requires you to think about possible solutions to the problem. Based on our experience, values (and DNA), we will form our own interpretations of the problem space and then spend considerable time “fumbling around” when working with the rest of the group to clearly articulate our understanding to others, only to find that our understanding is not universal. Disagreements, therefore, are inevitable and are amplified by the sheer number of stakeholders, the fluidity of the problem space and the constraints around the problem, such as a time deadline. This has a way of making life unpleasant and stressful; a situation nobody particularly enjoys.

People deal with this in different ways. For many, the natural reflex to this situation is avoidance – to try and return to the “business-as-usual” or status quo that existed before. True believers may don the boxing gloves and spar for a few rounds with other true believers. Some may become the ninja, invisible and striking silently. Either way, this sort of chaos that represents organisational pain is fairly familiar to most.

Now, there are many methods that you can use to remedy this situation. But for me, there are some key ingredients required for the really effective methods.

  1. The method should not take you too far away from the problem space. So, for example, you are trying to grapple with a difficult organisational problem. You decide to adopt a methodology. Now you are focussing on learning the methodology, obsessing if you are doing it ‘right’ and then still trying to gain a shared understanding of the problem space.
  2. The method should be simple enough that people do not have to be trained just to participate.
  3. The method needs to be inclusive, and all voices (not just the metaphorical boxers) need to be heard
  4. The method should be easy to adapt and grow as understanding of the problem changes over time.
  5. Most importantly of all, the method needs to allow a group to start from what they know now. Half the battle with organisational chaos is the continual “going in circles” pain from feeling that all of the questions need to be answered now and if not, we are doing something wrong.

One of my clients recently summed it up well when he said to me “In dealing with complexity we persist in creating complex methods and wonder why its still complex.” – I found that very profound, but it might have been the beer I was drinking at the time.

Anyway, I digress. Below is an IBIS based issue map discussing Frodo’s dilemma. Note that I didn’t need to tell you how to read the map. it is inherently readable due to the symbolism in the nodes. This is the sort of output to expect from a dialogue mapping session in Middle Earth.

image

So, how would such a map be produced from a meeting or workshop?

Ideally the room would be set up as per the illustration below. This image below is from the Cognexus site, the home of Dialogue Mapping. Note how one person is sitting at a laptop, with a projected map behind them, facing the rest of the group. The rest of the group is interacting with the mapper and map, discussing arguments, asking for additions or modifications and building out a chain of logic around the problem space.

image

The facilitator is the key here. This person knows the IBIS grammar and is taking the group deliberations and translating it to the issue map in real-time. Using software and a projector, as opposed to flip charts, restructuring or refactoring the map live and on the fly is quick and painless. By using the IBIS grammar, the map is inherently readable and very clear, compared to a normal meeting where there is no tool to provide the sort of “holding environment” to allow people to keep collective focus and explore the different perspectives on the problem space.

This notion of the holding environment also is critically important. If you are lucky enough to work in a job you love, with a team you love, for a visionary CEO who you admire and respect, then that CEO has created the ultimate holding environment and you should consider yourself very lucky (and your CEO is worth all that money they earn). For the other 99.9% of us, we have to make do with what we have. The point here is that any tool or method you use needs to augment the understanding process, not complicate it. If it is over-complicated it will not improve understanding and the group will fall back to business-as-usual and participants will likely wind up resenting the method.

Consider dialogue mapping as a holding environment versus traditional meeting decorum. Inevitably, a group will start out with one question, and fairly quickly realise there are underlying or deeper questions that also need to be answered. In a regular meeting governed by a strict agenda and roles (as is recommended by many books and facilitators), problem exploration will be stifled. All too often, changes in understanding of the problem is seen as an unwanted tangent that derails the agenda of the meeting. In other words, the system works against the problem exploration space and that sort of meeting decorum is a poor option for this sort of exploration. Why did we invent such systems to keep meetings on track? Because meetings alone are a crappy container for problem exploration! However with the IBIS grammar and the shared space of the dialogue map, underlying questions can be captured and explored with an organised, evolving point of reference.

The shared space also has a positive effect on the decorum of exploring prickly issues. The group’s attention is now fixed on an evolving map on the wall. A skilled dialogue mapper can utilise IBIS grammar to take a lot of the heat out of argumentation and the process becomes more about building a chain of logic, than cheap point scoring. Typical meeting tactics like pulling rank or personal attacks thinly veiled as “questions” are easily dealt with by the dialogue mapper and never make it to the map in the form intended. The desire to pull back to business is usual is mitigated by the neutrality of the IBIS language and the improved quality of deliberation.

Perhaps the most important benefit of all, is the capture of rationale, or organisational memory. For me, this is precisely where my SharePoint world intersects with this craft because IBIS maps have for me been one of the best artefacts I have seen for the capture of implicit or tacit knowledge. These maps ultimately are an extremely rich exploration of a given problem and demonstrate very effectively, the circumstances and understanding of a problem at that point in time. With issue maps, gone are the days of looking at a process, policy or report years later and wondering “what the hell were they thinking?”.

image

So finally for part 1, let’s sum up by examining dialogue mapping in relation to my earlier criteria for the really effective methods of collaborating on difficult problems.

The method should not take you too far away from the problem space. So, for example, you are trying to grapple with a difficult organisational problem, so you decide to adopt a methodology. Now you are focussing on learning the methodology, obsessing if you are doing it ‘right’ and then still trying to gain a shared understanding of the problem space.

With Dialogue Mapping, only the mapper needs any training. All other participants do not need any previous IBIS or Issue Mapping experience. Participants do not need to wonder if they are doing it right, because just by articulating their opinion on issues, ideas and arguments, they are doing it right.

The method should be simple enough that people do not have to be trained just to participate.

Cut and paste my last answer. Aside from the mapper, all other participants do not need any previous IBIS or Issue Mapping experience.

The method needs to be inclusive, and all voices (not just the metaphorical boxers) need to be heard

Two things that positively kill meetings is death by repetition and grenade lobbing. Death by repetition is when we tend to find a way to suggest our solution, no matter what question is asked. This behaviour has the opposite effect than intended on other participants. But once an idea is captured, it idea is visible along with all of the other ideas. If the repetition continues, all the dialogue mapper needs to do is ask the person if they have anything more to add to the map for that idea. This is surprisingly effective as the disruptive behaviour becomes very obvious to the serial repeater.

Grenade lobbing happens when someone challenges the whole context of the conversation in some way. When this is a dialogue mapped meeting or workshop, the map comes into its own. The dialogue mapper will capture the challenge as an issue and restructure the map to accommodate this issue. The previous disruptive power of the grenade lob is significantly mitigated and the map now has richer argumentation.

The method should be easy to adapt and grow as understanding of the problem changes over time.

IBIS is founded on the principle that problems and solutions are intertwined closely and that exploration of one will change the other in a cyclical fashion. As discussed, refactoring maps over time is critical to managing a problem that is a moving target. But also being able to save the state of understanding at a given point in time, and then being able to examine the evolution of that understanding and rationale (tacit knowledge) over time is capturing a snapshot of organisational memory. Even better, put that snapshot into SharePoint, classify it with metadata and now your collaborative portal includes findable, organised tacit knowledge!

Most importantly of all, the method needs to allow a group to start from what they know now.

The exploration of what we know now actually can offer a lot of clarity and insights when integrated into a coherent map. Instead of a long, laborious meeting where various people have lost the thread of the conversation, we have a point of reference on the wall. Furthermore, in breaking down the arguments into simple to follow IBIS structure, participants are better equipped to make the sort of connections between chains of logic to better understand the frame of reference of the other participants. The map is an output of this collective effort, which is visible and available for others to explore. Rather than starting out by trying to peel the onion of problems understanding in ever widening scope, we simply start. We put up a question on the map and attempt to answer it.

Conclusion

Hopefully, I have managed to convey a little of what the dialogue mapping experience looks like. In part 2, I will expand upon this topic and discuss my baptism of fire experience with dialogue mapping, the factors that have helped me improve my skills in it, as well as working with the master in action – Jeff Conklin

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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Missing metadata with Office 2003 – yet another “duh” moment…

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I had a problem this week that got resolved with something quite obvious, but I learned a lot in the process, so I am detailing it here.

Symptoms: Using MOSS 2007 SP2 and Office 2003 SP3, users complained that metadata on documents went missing. Consider the scenario below where we have a sample document library.

image

Our user opens the “Memo to Council re Convenor” document into Word 2003, makes a change and saves it. Note the difference. Where’s my metadata?

image

I asked about this on the ozmoss mailing list, and others noted the same issue. Some had applied the June 2009 cumulative update for WSS3 and the problem was solved for them. I applied this update, and it improved the situation, but did not cure the problem totally.

Upon further investigation, we were able to ascertain that the problem would only happen on certain PCs. The same user could update the same document on a different PC and it would work fine. A fiddler trace of the process allowed me to narrow down the issue and understand the sequence of events. The root cause of the issue was incorrect handling of HTML/JavaScript by Office 2003 and/or Internet Explorer. This manifests itself in an inconsistency in the display of properties in the Office “Web File Properties” dialog box (file->properties in an office 2003 app). Consider the example below.

clip_image002  clip_image002[5]

Note that the first dialog shows that values for the metadata columns are blank or default. Now consider the same document opened on a different PC. Well what do you know – we have metadata!

Fiddler confirmed that when saving a document to SharePoint from an Office 2003 application, the same HTTP request is made to SharePoint as is done when displaying the document properties in the above example.

In both cases, A HTTP GET request is made to the owssvr.dll  (WSS RPC)  and the dialogview method is called. Therefore, the root of my problem has something to do with the fact that the data returned by this call was not being parsed properly by MSWord on one PC (as illustrated by the first of the above dialog box screenshots). When a user than saved their edits, blank or default values are being written back to SharePoint, in effect “losing” the metadata.

So let’s take a look at the HTTP call and the data returned. The call to owssvr.dll  looks like this.

GET /somesite/_vti_bin/owssvr.dll?location=My%20Committee/Agenda%20attachment%20July%2009.doc&dialogview=SaveForm HTTP/1.1

The output returned by SharePoint is a bunch of HTML and JavaScript that MSWord then renders by calling the Internet Explorers rendering framework programmatically. (I’ve included sample output at the end of the post for the hardcore nerds).

So the question now becomes, what was preventing the correct HTML rendering on one PC and not the other? This was a difficult question to answer because I was unable to find a way to debug JavaScript when the output was rendered in Office 2003 apps.

When you think about it, there can be many potential causes here. Given that Internet Explorer is effectively doing the work (WinINet), this whole process could be adversely affected by add-ins, zone settings, AD policies, virus scanning, etc. On one affected PC I disabled all all-ins to Internet Explorer and retried without success. After around half an hour of frustration, I decided to reset IE’s configuration as shown below.

image

After accepting the various warnings, I retried the test and it all worked! Metadata was now being properly saved. “Awesome”, I thought. I’m not quite sure what the true root cause is, but at least I know how to cure it.

Then it suddenly dawned on me that I’d been stupid. For all of my low level examination of the office 2003/RPC interaction with SharePoint, picking the brain of gurus like MCM Spence Harbar, I’d never thought to clear the temporary internet files cache. Doh!

On the next affected PC I did so, and the problem also went away instantly.

*Blush*

In my defence of my dumbness however, I had never examined the behind the scenes integration with Office 2003 and SharePoint, and it did not even twig that Internet Explorer would be involved in the picture. Given that this problem manifests itself within Office 2003 applications, it is not immediately obvious that your temporary internet files would cause an issue here – but now I know better :-).

And now I get it…

Now Office 2007 is not affected by this because it does not use this method at all. In 2007, the document information panel uses InfoPath to render metadata. At the time I naively thought that was a dumb idea because the document information panel cannot display custom column types. For example, let’s say you created a custom column type to hold a phone number with the correct formatting for country code and the like. In a SharePoint site you can display it fine, but in the Office 2007 document information panel, you will never see it. InfoPath only will work with the out of the box in column types.

My rationale was that if Office 2007 instead used JavaScript and HTML, then it should be able to display these sorts of custom columns. That may actually be true, but it is irrelevant. When you think of the sheer number of ways that the rendering of the code could be interfered with (Temporary Internet Files being one precedent), you can see why the Office team might have opted for the safety of InfoPath instead.

Now that I understand that this is how Office 2003 does it, I can plainly see that it leaves too much room for error.

So even though my problem was solved by a simple clearing of the cache, it still remains that things like a bad add-in or a bad AD policy setting could interfere with the Office 2003/SharePoint integration. So if you ever have this issue crop up, try the temporary internet files thing or reset IE’s configuration completely. It may save you a lot of time and pain troubleshooting.

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

 

 

 

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<TR style="display:none"><TH nowrap valign=top class="ms-formlabel"><nobr>Comment<font color=red></font></nobr></TH><TD class="ms-formbody"><SCRIPT>fld = new NoteField(frm,"Comment1","Comment","");fld.stNumLines = "20";fld.IMEMode="";fld.BuildUI();</SCRIPT>&nbsp;<br><SPAN class="ms-formdescription"></SPAN></TD></TR><TR style="display:none"><TH nowrap valign=top class="ms-formlabel"><nobr>Document&nbsp;Status<font color=red></font></nobr></TH><TD class="ms-formbody"><SCRIPT>fld = new ChoiceField(frm,"Corro_x0020_Status","Document Status","Not Started"); fld.format = "Dropdown"; fld.AddChoice("Not Started", "");fld.AddChoice("No Action Required", "");fld.AddChoice("In Progress", "");fld.AddChoice("Completed", "");fld.AddChoice("Deferred", "");fld.AddChoice("Waiting on someone else", "");fld.IMEMode="";fld.BuildUI();</SCRIPT><SPAN class="ms-formdescription"></SPAN></TD></TR><TR style="display:none"><TH nowrap valign=top class="ms-formlabel"><nobr>Content&nbsp;Type<font color=red></font></nobr></TH><TD class="ms-formbody"><SCRIPT>fld = new ChoiceField(frm,"ContentType","Content Type","LSWA Document"); fld.format = "Dropdown"; fld.AddChoice("LSWA Document", "");fld.AddChoice("Folder", "");fld.IMEMode="";fld.BuildUI();</SCRIPT><SPAN class="ms-formdescription"></SPAN></TD></TR><TR style="display:none"><TH nowrap valign=top class="ms-formlabel"><nobr>Committee&nbsp;Document<font color=red></font></nobr></TH><TD class="ms-formbody"><SCRIPT>fld = new ChoiceField(frm,"Committee_x0020_Document","Committee Document",""); fld.format = "Dropdown"; fld.AddChoice("Agendas", "");fld.AddChoice("Minutes", "");fld.AddChoice("Actions", "");fld.AddChoice("Administration", "");fld.IMEMode="";fld.BuildUI();</SCRIPT><SPAN class="ms-formdescription"></SPAN></TD></TR><TR style="display:none"><TH nowrap valign=top class="ms-formlabel"><nobr>Document&nbsp;Type<font color=red></font></nobr></TH><TD class="ms-formbody"><SCRIPT>fld = new ChoiceField(frm,"Document_x0020_Types","Document Type",""); fld.format = "Dropdown"; fld.AddChoice("Incoming Correspondence", "");fld.AddChoice("Outgoing Correspondence", "");fld.AddChoice("Internal Document", "");fld.AddChoice("Fax", "");fld.AddChoice("E-mail", "");fld.AddChoice("Memo", "");fld.IMEMode="";fld.BuildUI();</SCRIPT><SPAN class="ms-formdescription"></SPAN></TD></TR><TR style="display:none"><TH nowrap valign=top class="ms-formlabel"><nobr>Year<font color=red></font></nobr></TH><TD class="ms-formbody"><SCRIPT>fld = new ChoiceField(frm,"Year","Year",""); fld.format = "Dropdown"; fld.AddChoice("2000", "");fld.AddChoice("2001", "");fld.AddChoice("2002", "");fld.AddChoice("2003", "");fld.AddChoice("2004", "");fld.AddChoice("2005", "");fld.AddChoice("2006", "");fld.AddChoice("2007", "");fld.AddChoice("2008", "");fld.AddChoice("2009", "");fld.AddChoice("2010", "");fld.IMEMode="";fld.BuildUI();</SCRIPT><SPAN class="ms-formdescription"></SPAN></TD></TR></TABLE>
<script type="text/javascript">
_g_tp_rgctNames = new Array;
</script><SCRIPT>var _tp_rgctfld = null;var _tp_ctfld = null;var _g_tp_rgcts = new Array;</SCRIPT>
<script type="text/javascript">
_g_tp_rgctNames.push("LSWA Document");
</script>
 
            <SCRIPT>
            _tp_rgctfld = new Array;
            
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="ContentType";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="SelectFilename";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="FileLeafRef";
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                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
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                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Created";
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                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("TRUE");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
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                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Title";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("FALSE");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("FALSE", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("TRUE", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Modified";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("TRUE");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Modified_x0020_By";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("FALSE");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Created_x0020_By";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("FALSE");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Comment1";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Corro_x0020_Status";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Committee_x0020_Document";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("FALSE");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Document_x0020_Types";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("FALSE");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="Year";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("FALSE");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
                _tp_ctfld = new Object(null);
                _tp_ctfld.stName="MoveDocu";
                _tp_ctfld.fRequired = BoolFromString("FALSE");
                _tp_ctfld.fHidden = BoolFromString("");
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInNewForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fShowInEditForm = BoolFromString2("", true);
                _tp_ctfld.fReadOnly = BoolFromString("TRUE");
                _tp_ctfld.stDisplay ="Move Document";
                    _tp_rgctfld.push(_tp_ctfld);
                
            _g_tp_rgcts.push(_tp_rgctfld);
            </SCRIPT>
            
<script type="text/javascript">
_g_tp_rgctNames.push("Folder");
</script>
 
            <SCRIPT>
            _tp_rgctfld = new Array;
            _g_tp_rgcts.push(_tp_rgctfld);
            </SCRIPT>
            
<script type="text/javascript">
function _FixMpCt2Flds()
{
    var frm = frmCurrent;
    var rgn1 = frm.rgctNames;
    var rgn2 = _g_tp_rgctNames;
    var rgctflds = _g_tp_rgcts;
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    {
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            else
            {
                rgnew.push(rgctflds[j]);
                j++;
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        }
        _g_tp_rgcts = rgnew;
    }
}
_FixMpCt2Flds();
</script>
 
</SPAN></form>
<SCRIPT>
</SCRIPT>
 
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