Let’s begin this blog post with one question: how many times did you start a new project without any doubts? Once? Maybe… But we all agree that’s almost impossible, right?
Many times we realize we don’t have all the information we need to start the job. Sometimes that happens because the briefing wasn’t as complete as we wished or because the team has very different perceptions about the same project.
While having different perceptions isn’t that bad, the problem starts when we waste too many, too precious hours discussing our different perceptions without moving on. Sometimes the solution is simple. At least, in theory. All we have to do is call our client and ask him whatever we want. But, what if I have other doubts? Can I call him every two hours to discuss them? Well…
Too many times, teams get stuck because they need to wait for a reply to an email or talk with the “right person” to get the right answers. It’s exhausting, everyone gets bored and it usually leads to a not-that-good final solution.
CSD Matrix: an organized method for a better solution
Some time ago, I was introduced to a tool that changed the way I asked questions. The CSD matrix, which is the Portuguese acronym for “Certezas, Suposições e Dúvidas” (Certainties, Suppositions, and Doubts), is a technique that uses shared spaces to define the scope of the challenge, considering: 1) what is already known; 2) hypotheses raised and 3) what is still unknown but needs to be investigated.
Post-its? Yes, it´s as simple as that.
We just have to get the team together and write everything that comes to our minds about the project.
- What appears to be the absolute truth we put in Certainties area.
- When there are different opinions about the same subject, the post-it goes to the Supposition area. Notice that what you personally consider to be certain, ends up in the supposition area until proven otherwise. This area avoids time-consuming discussions, allowing the team to move forward and focus on what’s really certain.
- For everything that is unknown about the project, there is the Doubt area.
All of these areas can be completed with information (or questions) about everything about the project. They can be about: the target, motivations, desires, objects, processes, business aspects, etc. Anything goes!
But what if the team is not in the same physical place?
Everyone has access to Internet right? Trello can be very helpful when we are trying to use this technique. It´s possible to create a new board to make the exercise at distance and share knowledge with all team members.
At the end, we can have a clear idea of what everyone knows and doesn’t know about the project. The important thing is that, after the creation of the CSD Matrix, it is possible to easily decide what we need to do and define where and how to obtain each type of missing information.
The CSD Matrix can (and may) be used throughout the project, being reviewed and constantly updated until our doubts disappear and our certainties multiply.