Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Optician Project: Listing key information with category-triggers

FreeFoto.comI'm an optician, I'm about to leave my premises to put advertising leaflets on the windscreens of local cars. I have hired a temp to help me distribute the leaflets. We have fifty leaflets each to distribute.

The Category-triggers

The following category-triggers can be used in any project to help list information -- particularly information that is key to the project.

Time(s) Duration(s) Place(s) Project(s) People(s) Thing(s) Object(s) Activity(ies)

The Optician Project and category-triggers

My aim here is to use the category-triggers to make a preliminary list of key information about the optician project. I want to make a list of five facts for each category-trigger. If I were to create a template to guide my listing it would look as follows:

Using each category-trigger to list information about the optician project


I want to name five key/important times of the project. If I set myself a directive it reads:

Name five key time(s) of the project.

Here are the five I choose:

Time 1 = Briefing the temp on my requirements
Time 2 = Leaving the shop
Time 3 = Putting the first leaflet on the first car
Time 4 = The end of the project
Time 5 = The first customer comes in with a leaflet


What's the difference between a time and a duration? A time is a specific time and a duration is period of time. There is some overlap, and I can also opt to specify the time a duration begins. My directive for duration(s) reads:

Name five key duration(s) of the project

Duration 1 = The afternoon of leaflet distribution
Duration 2 = Today -- the day of the project
Duration 3 = Ten seconds -- the time it takes to put one leaflet on a car
Duration 4 = Five minutes -- the time it takes me to explain my requirements to the temp
Duration 5 = Six weeks -- the time over which I expect new customers to arrive with leaflets


Again, with place(s) I am responding to a directive:

Name five key place(s) of the project.

Here are my five:

Place 1 = The optician's premises
Place 2 = The street with cars
Place 3 = The location of the first car to receive a leaflet
Place 4 = The location of the last car
Place(s) 5 = The delivery area allocated to the temp


If a project is a number of actions over a period of time working towards an outcome(s) then it's obvious that some sub-projects will occur within the main project. Here are my five:

Project 1 = Designing the leaflet
Project 2 = Printing the leaflet
Project 3 = Putting the leaflet on one car
Project 4 = Greeting and helping the new customers that result from the leaflet distribution
Project 5 = Our returning to the premises after the distribution


People 1 = Me (as the optician)
People 2 = The temp
People(s) 3 = Anyone who receives a leaflet
People 4 = My receptionist
People(s) 5 = Anyone who uses the leaflet and visits the opticians


It's obvious that any of the other category-triggers -- or the information they produce -- could be considered to be a "thing" but this category exists as an option to help me list any miscellaneous items or anything abstract or intangible. I don't worry if I name something that would be better suited to another category; the important thing is to list any relevant information.

Thing 1 = The first impression a leaflet gives
Thing 2 = The way a leaflet is left on a car
Thing 3 = The "feelgood factor" that will occur when the distribution is complete
Thing(s) 4 = The receptionist's thoughts on the project
Thing 5 = The leaflet's colour


Object(s) 1 = The leaflets
Object 2 = The first leaflet
Object(s) 3 = The windscreen wipers where the leaflets will be placed
Object(s) 4 = Any car that receives a leaflet
Object 5 = The hand that puts a leaflet onto a car


Activity 1 = Choosing a car to receive a leaflet
Activity 2 = Allocating fifty leaflets to the temp
Activity 3 = Reflecting on the project at the end of the day
Activity 4 = Putting a leaflet under a windscreen wiper
Activity 5 = Ending the distribution at the point we run out of leaflets

The pool of information

At the end of this exercise I am left with a useful pool of information. At this point I can choose to end the exercise, or complete the exercise again. If I do repeat then "cross-pollination" will occur -- the information/facts in my pool of information will help to trigger yet more information. For example, if I'm repeating the exercise and at the point where I'm listing place(s), then the receptionist (one of the people(s) listed) could trigger thoughts of the places where the leaflets are stored before distribution.

Mind Map

Here's a Mind map (Wikipedia: Mind maps) showing the information prompted by the category-triggers (click to enlarge):


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