How bad is that title? Acronym overload!
Put that aside for a moment and let’s look at DARPEC.
It’s a tool that is featured in a book called, “The Idea Generator” with a subtitle, “15 clever thinking tools to create winning ideas quickly”.
It’s a tool or approach you can use to “understand how every interaction has six generic aspects” and how you can deconstruct any challenge or situation by deconstructing the six aspects individually.
DARPEC stands for:
D – Deliverer
A – Action
R – Recipient
P – Process
E – Environment
C – Constraints
For each issue or situation, we are trying to resolve, there is a Deliverer, who performs an Action for the benefit of a Recipient using a Process in an Environment under certain Constraints.
Alongside each of the different aspects there are several questions that help you to explore your challenge or situation in greater detail (click to download as PDF):
Using DARPEC in the PMO
When I first read about this approach my first thought was about the PMO making improvements to certain processes – different aspects of project and programme delivery for example like, “how to improve risk identification workshops”, or “how to change the monthly reporting process to incorporate Agile based projects”.
It’s the obvious type of PMO situation or challenge for something like the DARPEC approach.
The risk identification workshop example could play out like this:
Deliverer – the deliverer doesn’t necessarily have to be a simple person – it can extend to a team, department or anyone else interested in improving risk management in the delivery organisation. It could be the PM, the PMO, sponsor – or a combination. The Deliverer’s situation or challenge needs to be fully understood before using the prompt questions to explore that.
In this case, the ideal goal is to improve the approach used in the workshop to make it easier/better/quicker/more thorough in identifying potential risks for the project. It could be achieved more readily by changing the workshop facilitation/prepping thoroughly upfront/helping team members to think better about risk management. What prevents us from doing this perfectly? Perhaps not having enough time or facilities to do a new improved workshop. And does it align with what the recipient wants? What stakeholder/sponsor/customer wouldn’t want a more robust risk management approach on their project?
Action – what process is being undertaken here – for this example, it’s about improving the way the risk identification workshop is run, so that’s the framework used during that workshop and the process of facilitating it. We would look at what is currently done and deconstruct that to gain a better idea of where improvements can be made. We might consider bringing in an external source – an expert in these kinds of workshops to help us get to a better solution quicker.
Recipient – with this one, I’m thinking about the people who are attending the workshop – so the project team and wider stakeholders. An ideal outcome here for them would be to fully understand the process they will be experiencing throughout the workshop, what their roles and responsibilities are, the feeling that they are able to openly contribute and to see that their contributions have an impact and usefulness. Could we think outside the box a bit here and really make it an ‘amazing experience’?
Process – we look at our current approach and framework for workshops and seek to cut out the parts that are not helpful or productive. We can look at how to speed up the process if our ideal goal is all about carrying out the workshop quicker – it comes back to our well-defined situation and challenge and what the ideal outcome or goal is – our process then needs rebuilding to reflect that.
Environment – perhaps an easier one to think about here, where do we hold these workshops and are we doing them in the best place? Do we make the environment conducive to a good outcome? Are there little changes that can be introduced that have a big impact on our goals? For example, no chairs in the room – stand up energy, no lounging about, who knows?!
Constraints – we are probably always going to have the same types of constraints – time, availability and cost being the major ones. With DARPEC can we think differently about our constraints? Can we use normal constraints as a positive, rather than a negative? For example, there’s a drop-in part of the process, where team members can come into a designated space, deposit their risks, these are then collated a week later and a shorter workshop takes place with fewer people to consolidate.
The more I have thought about DARPEC and the PMO, there are lots of different situations and challenge areas where this approach could be used. It’s certainly an approach that can form the basis of a discussion about most things. For example, it could be used to help improve the PMO team performance; or used in a potential conflict situation where some prior thinking will help defuse; it could be used to help the PMO secure support or funding for the projects it would like to pursue, such as a new tool investment.
What do you think? A useful approach for thinking differently about some of the day-to-day interactions and relationships we have and how to improve them for the better?