Business, Getting Stuff Done, Leadership, Productivity, Tactics

Communicating a Vision using PO3 Framework

Next week I am working with a client to kick off a big project.  One element of this planning process is developing a vision for a series of meetings to get everybody on the same page.  Our mid-week rapid planning session provided the perfect use case for the PO3 framework (Purpose, Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes) and I thought I would share here.  PO3 is my go-to tool for quickly organizing ideas and communicating vision to large groups of people.  

If you have to lead a Kaizen event, workshop, kick off a project or restart a business unit the PO3 can quickly align a team around a common goal so that everybody is contributing in the same way.  Clarity in communication is an force multiplier so of all of the tools in the manager toolset, this is one may be my favorite.  This is also one of those hacks where once you see the simplicity and return on investment, you cant unsee it... it's just an easier way to to things.


Before jumping in to this, a quick shout out to a mentor, friend and fellow LEAN practitioner...  I picked this trick up from Kevin Ingham a few years back when were were planning a Kaizen event for a company in Seattle, WA.  He also is a fan of easy, effective tools...

Alright, on to the instructions.  Here is how it works...

How to Build a PO3

The PO3 framework - Purpose, Objective, Outcomes, and Outputs - is basically a tool for leaders to communicate their vision clearly and align their teams toward a series of objectives to achieve it.

If you know what you are trying to accomplish and you have a general idea of the objectives, building a PO3 takes about five minutes minutes.  If you can't finish this in five minutes, this is actually a good indicator that your plan is broken and it's better to fix it here rather than during the meeting.

There are four key questions to answer:

Purpose (Why are we going to ----?):

  • The purpose is the foundational "why" behind your Kaizen, business, workshop, meeting, project or initiative.  You need to be able to explain the why succinctly in a sentence or two.
  • The purpose needs to align with your overarching mission and values that guide your efforts.
  • Purpose sets the broader context and meaning for what you are about to do.

Objectives (What are the key milestones?):

  • Objectives are a sequence of key milestones that fulfill the purpose.
  • Objectives are specific, measurable, and time-bound goals that provide direction.
  • They serve as clear targets to work towards in alignment with your purpose.
  • Objectives help you achieve your purpose by outlining specific, quantifiable milestones.

Outputs (What are the tangible results that will be delivered?):

  • Outputs are the tangible and concrete products or deliverables generated by your activities.
  • When the event is over, you will have these "things" and they will either be done or require just a few small edits to finish.
  • They are the physical or documented results of your work, such as completed tasks, reports, or products.

Outcomes (What are the intangible results we expect?):

  • Outcomes are the intangible and often behavioral or emotional changes that you expect to result from your actions.
  • Outcomes describe how the team will be different after the effort.
  • They represent shifts in attitudes, perceptions, or feelings, knowledge, alignment, reflecting progress toward your objectives.
  • Outcomes focus on the impact and transformation experienced by individuals or groups.

Here is the value... Meetings, especially meetings with large groups of people tend to wander.  If you don't establish the guard rails, entropy can start pulling the conversation into an infinate number of directions.  The PO3 can serve to regroup and bring the conversation back to the key purpose and outcomes.  The PO3 also lets your objectives and outcomes become a measure of success.  At any time you can measure success by asking if  the team creates the things they said they were going to create.  

So that's the PO3.  Bookmark this page and use it the next time you need to kick something off.  Effective communication of your vision using the PO3 framework will help everyone understand not only what they're working towards but why it matters and how they can contribute to its realization. This shared understanding and alignment will be a powerful catalyst for success.

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