Campus Blog

PrEFACE: Let's Do This!

Sarah Evers

Organizationally endorsed tools like PrEFACE, strategic planning, the Leadership Framework, and the Growth Model  provide common language and common processes  to help us not only move from point A to point B, but to connect with and bring out the best in people.

But let's be honest: some of Cru's frameworks and models have met with mixed review.

Since we're on this honesty kick, here's my confession: When I was introduced to PrEFACE as a new staff member on a summer project back in the 1990's, I thought it was an unnecessary exercise. Boy, was I WRONG!  With time and practice, I've come to see it as a helpful, non-painful approach to group problem solving.

Additionally, by working a process together, you end up with  alignment to the final decision. When everyone participates in the process, it's a lot easier to speak with one voice about a team decision.

Somehow, within the last ten years, it seems like PrEFACE has fallen out of use so "I'm bring-ing PrEFACE back!" (ala Justin Timberlake).  Let's dive into it:

Pr   Pr oblem
E   E stablish Criteria
F   F acts
A   A lternatives
C   C hoose
E   E xecute (then E valuate)
Pr  Pr oblem
First, invest time with your team defining the problem so that it is accurate, clear, and succinct.  Sounds easy, right? Well, as it turns out, this is incredibly significant.  The more clearly stated your problem, the more appropriate your solution. While defining the issue some teams discover that they are wrestling with not just one problem, but rather a problem cluster. If that's your case, simply choose the problem you want to solve. Perhaps you can do another PrEFACE afterwards.

Dr. Marc Rutter, US National Director for Leadership Development and HR for Cru, suggests framing the problem this way, "How can we most effectively....?"  

E   E stablish Criteria
Now that your problem is clearly defined you can create your solution sieve, or solution filter.  This is when you list out what must be true of your solution to be most effective.  For instance, perhaps some of your criteria will be "51% participation," or "volunteer-led," or "cost under $100," or "located within 15 minutes." Any options you generate later must fit the criteria your team establishes. And yes, you can go back and add more criteria later. This is not a linear process.

F   F acts
Now write down what you know about reality. Think of this as your current snapshot of the situation.  What do you know?  Who needs to be involved in the decision making process?  What are your resources?  What are the barriers?

A   A lternatives
This is the time to go to town on brainstorming and dreaming up possible solutions. Remember to run the ideas through the criteria (your solution filter) so that you can focus on real, possible alternatives.

C   C hoose
You can do it. As a team, make a decision. Look at your list of alternatives that fit your criteria and then agree.

Perhaps three people on your team are passionate about the problem or are responsible to implement. If everyone else agrees, then it might be effective to release those three people to choose from the alternatives on behalf of the team.

E   E xecute  (then  E valuate)
That's right. It's time to move to action. Do it! Assign your roles, goals, tools and time (deadlines). Then come back and evaluate if it was the most effective solution. Did you miss some criteria? Was your problem clearly defined?


A Few Suggestions for Success
* start with a well defined problem
* keep it short (use a timer if helpful)
* keep it short, as in 30 minutes or less
* keep it moving
* execute and evaluate
* use it with regularity
* let different team members facilitate


Want to teach PrEFACE to your team? Here's a link you can use to a google presentation that's all ready to go!


flickr creative commons photo by Miladus Edenensis

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