This tool kit contains a graphic summary of managerial skills and methods frequently required by DoD program managers. It is a current version of a “Tool Box” that was first developed by Charles F. Schied of the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Program Management Course (PMC) 92-1.

Since this tool kit is a compilation of classroom presentation and teaching materials used in a number of different courses at DAU, the charts and tables vary in look and feel.

Chapter 1 – Leadership and Managerial Skills

1.1 - Management and Leadership

More things that make you go “Hmmm?...”

  • “An authority is a person who just happens to know the source.”
  • “A conservative is a person who believes nothing should be done the first time.”
  • “Diplomacy is the art of hearing all parties arguing in a dispute and nodding to all of them without ever agreeing with any of them.”
  • “The meeting raised our confidence that the contractor can actually accomplish the task and that it will occur in our lifetime.”
  • “This is the earliest I’ve been late.”
  • “The world would be a much better place if people weren’t allowed to have children until they’ve proven they can successfully manage a DoD program.”
  • “Everyone is bound to bear patiently the results of his/her own example.”
  • “The superior person is firm in the right way, and not merely firm.”

1.2 - Program Management “Diamond Card”

This PM Diamond Card provides virtual PM Job AidS, coined P'JAS, in the areas of management, leadership, and technology — all key competencies for PMs.

For more information, visit the Program Management Community of Practice




  • Logistics
  • Reporting
  • Contracting
  • Requirements
  • Cost Estimating
  • Processes/Tools
  • Systems Engineering
  • Senior Steering Groups
  • Risk
  • Data
  • Funds
  • Software
  • Production
  • Acquisition
  • Configuration
  • Test & Evaluation
  • Leadership
  • Vision
  • Ethics/Values
  • Teambuilding
  • Communication
  • Leading Change
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Time Management
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Organization Design
  • Conflict Management
  • Expectation Management
  • Goals
  • Strategy
  • Rewards
  • Environment
  • Stakeholders
  • People/Teams
  • Political Savvy
  • Decision Making
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Customers/Partners
  • Relationship Building
  • Baseline
  • Complexity
  • Integration
  • Interoperability
  • Maturity
    • Prototyping
    • Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)
    • Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRL)
  • Performance
    • Objective/Threshold Parameters
    • Key Performance Parameters
    • Technical Performance Measures (TPM)
  • Transition
    • Funding
    • Sponsorship
    • DoD/Industry Sources
    • Transition Mechanisms

Strategy – Where are we going & how do we get there?

Processes/Tools – How do we measure success?

People/Teams – How do we work together?

Organizational Structure – What resources do we need?

Rewards – how do we reward success?

Technology Readiness Levels

Note: Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) enable consistent, uniform, discussions of technical maturity across different types of technologies. Decision authorities will consider the recommended TRLs when assessing program risk. TRLs are a measure of technical maturity. They do not discuss the probability of occurrence (i.e., the likelihood of attaining required maturity) or the impact of not achieving technology maturity. Defense Acquisition Guidebook.

1.3 - Empowerment, Delegation, and Coaching

Empowerment - Assigning an employee or team responsibility and authority to take actions and make decisions in pursuit of the organization’s goals.

Delegation - Assigning an employee (usually a subordinate) a specific task or tasks to complete.

Coaching - Providing employees with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need to develop their potential and increase their effectiveness.

Reasons for Empowerment, Delegation, and Coaching

  • Allows managers more time for managerial and leadership roles (e.g., long-term planning, coordinating ongoing activities, monitoring and controlling activities, and providing feedback to employees)
  • Increases employee capability and motivation
  • Enhances employee career growth
  • Improves teamwork
  • Maximizes limited resources
  • Pushes responsibility and accountability further down in the organization

Steps for Empowerment, Delegation, and Coaching

  1. Select the task or tasks to be assigned
  2. Select the person or team; evaluate their current capabilities to complete the task or tasks
  3. Provide training and/or coaching, if necessary, to improve their capabilities
  4. Solicit input from the person or team regarding the task or tasks
  5. Agree on the tasks, objectives, responsibility, authority, and deadline
  6. Provide guidance, assistance, and support, as necessary
  7. Establish metrics to measure progress
  8. Monitor progress
  9. Provide feedback
  10. Identify lessons learned
  11. Evaluate performance

Note: Some people use “empowerment” and “delegation” interchangeably, while others see a subtle distinction, e.g., delegation often refers to an individual, while empowerment is usually associated with groups or teams. Empowerment usually includes more authority and freedom related to making decisions, and taking actions while delegation is usually more bounded.


Leaders should ensure the components shown above are present.

1.4 - Coaching Skills

Active Listening – Give your full attention. Focus on the message, not formulating your response to it. Establish and maintain eye contact, paraphrase key points, and avoid making judgments.

Questioning – Ask questions to promote discovery of new knowledge and stimulate thinking. Use open questions that require some thought to complete.

Giving Feedback – This is one of the most valuable yet least used tools in communication. People are often uncomfortable giving feedback to others, particularly when they believe it could be perceived as negative. Offer factual, specific, but non-judgmental (and unemotional) feedback.

Sharing – Share your experiences. Make suggestions on overcoming difficulties or how to proceed.

1.5 – Integrated Product Team (IPT)

  1. Identify a Need for an IPT — Determine whether the creation of a team is the best method to accomplish the intended purpose.
  2. Staff the Team - Determine what functional disciplines and organizations/activities need to be represented and who the team members will be.
  3. Conduct Team Startup Activities - Conduct activities to get the team started, such as establishing operating agreements, assigning roles and responsibilities, and conducting team training sessions. Activities also include discussing and agreeing on the team’s intended purpose and developing shared goals, critical success factors, and metrics to measure team progress toward goals. A common output of these activities is the Team Charter.
  4. Develop a Plan of Action - Take specific action steps or processes for how the team will perform. This includes assigning action items, establishing target dates, determining what resources are needed, etc.
  5. Execute the Plan – Perform the work necessary to accomplish the project goals and produce the team deliverables.
  6. Monitor and Control - Conduct periodic assessments of team performance and use metrics to measure progress toward goals. Make adjustments as necessary.
  7. Conduct Team Closeout Activities - Deliver the final product or service, update program documents, and compile lessons learned.

1.6 – Formula for Effective Team Performance

1.7 – Team Charter

Team Charter — A document describing key aspects of why a team is established, what is expected of it, and what authority and responsibility it has. The person or entity creating (i.e., “chartering” or authorizing) the team normally provides some general guidance; however, the team may benefit considerably by developing the “meat and potatoes” of the charter, resulting in increased commitment of all team members. Examples of topics that may be included in a charter follow:

  • Purpose - Describe why the team exists and what it is intended to accomplish.
  • Goals/objectives - List specific, measurable items the team is focused on achieving to help it exceed its customer’s expectations.
  • Critical success factors - List the critical actions the team must perform to ensure it is successful in fulfilling its purpose.
  • End products/deliverables - Describe the item(s) the team is responsible for delivering.
  • Authority and accountability - Describe what team members are allowed/not allowed to do without authorization from a higher level. Describe what they are responsible for completing.
  • Metrics - List measures of progress for critical success factors and goals/objectives.
  • Program schedule - List key program/team milestones and events.
  • Team membership - List team members and contact information.
  • Roles and responsibilities - List specific assignments for improving team performance (e.g., timekeeper, recorder or scribe, scheduler, etc.). Also, list specific tasks and/or action items the team is assigned to complete.
  • Resources required - Describe the funding, materials, equipment, support, etc., the team needs to complete its mission.
  • Program organizational structure - Define where the team fits within the overall program office structure.
  • Program organizational structure Describe or depict where the team fits in the overall program office structure.
  • Operating agreements/ground rules - List agreed-upon guidelines describing how team members will interact, what processes they will use, and what they expect of one another.
  • Customers, suppliers, and stakeholders - List key individuals, teams, and organizations involved with the team’s output.

1.8 – Working Groups

Recognize which phase of team development you are in and take positive action to work through.

Note: There can be an additional phase — “Adjourning” — when the team disbands, says good bye, and reflects on lessons learned. This is a “celebration” phase.

This diagram is based on Dr. Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 study of small groups, which identified the traditional five phases experienced by project work teams.

Typical Working Groups

  • Logistics Support Management Team (LSMT)
  • Test and Evaluation Working Group (TEWG)
  • Computer Resources Working Group (CRWG)
  • Requirements Interface Working Group
  • Interface Control Working Group (ICWG)
  • Technology Assessment Working Group
  • “Tiger” Team
  • Process Action Team (PAT)
  • Integrated Product and Process Teams (IPPTs)

Management Tradeoffs for Working Groups



More ideas and solutions

Takes more time

Consensus positions

Hard to terminate

Strong commitments

Paralysis by analysis

1.9 – Team Decision Making

Good team decision making is a critical element of team performance. It involves examining the decision context (e.g., current program environment, assumptions, constraints, pressures, stakeholder inputs, etc.), determining who needs to be involved in the decision, verifying how much time is available to make the decision, and deciding on the decision-making process.

Generally accepted team decision-making methods:

  • Unilateral - One person makes the decision, usually the team leader. Variations:
    • Directive or Authoritative - The person making the decision does so primarily using his/her knowledge, experience, and program guidelines/constraints, but is also influenced by his/her own reasons and motives.
    • Consultative - The person making the decision may seek input from other team members, but ultimately, he/she still makes the decision on his/her own.
  • Majority - Each team member votes, and the majority decides the course of action.
  • Consensus - Team members may not completely agree with the most preferred approach, but they have the opportunity to express their point of view, understand the logic behind the decision, and support it. Consensus is generally the preferred decision-making method for most team issues, especially when the commitment of all team members is important.

Guidelines for achieving consensus:

  1. Don’t try to force consensus. Listen to other positions and reactions before expressing your own point.
  2. No winners or losers. Don’t assume that someone must “win” and someone must “lose” if the discussion reaches a stalemate.
  3. Don’t avoid conflict. Don’t change your mind simply to reach agreement and maintain harmony.
  4. Avoid majority votes, compromises, or horse trading to reach an agreement.
  5. It’s OK to disagree. Differences of opinion are natural and expected.

Note: Avoid groupthink - a phenomenon where team members become so concerned about preventing disagreement or conflict that they abandon critical thinking to simply go along with whatever consensus seems to be emerging.

1.10 – Effective Meetings

Prior to the meeting:

  • Determine and clarify the purpose for the meeting
  • Determine expected meeting outcomes
  • Identify meeting attendees
    • Subject-matter experts
    • Key decision makers
    • People directly affected by potential decisions/outcomes
  • Determine meeting format
    • Face-to-face, virtual teleconference, teleconference, Web tool
  • Determine date/time/location
  • Develop and distribute meeting agenda (at least 24 hours prior)
    • Specific topics, presenter, estimated time, desired outcome
  • Meeting logistics
    • Room setup, IT support needed

During the meeting:

  • Opening
    • Start on time
    • Review agenda
    • Set or review ground rules
    • Clarify roles
  • Conducting
    • Address one item at a time
    • Facilitate discussions
    • Encourage open communication and information sharing
    • Maintain focus and pace
    • Specify topics, presenter, amount of time devoted to item
  • Closing
    • Summarize agreements and decisions
    • Review action items
    • Ask for agenda items for the next meeting
    • Set the date and time of the next meeting

After the meeting:

  • Review and publish minutest

1.11 – Decision Briefing

Elements of a Decision Briefing:

  • Outline — Agenda
  • Purpose of Briefing/Issue(s)
  • Background
  • Assumptions
  • Alternatives Identified
  • Evaluation Criteria/Process
  • Analysis of Identified Alternatives
  • Recommended Alternative
  • Rationale for Recommendation
  • Recommended Implementation Plan
  • Key Risks for Recommended Implementation Plan

What to Expect from the Person/People Receiving a Briefing

  • Challenges to assumptions, definitions, methodology
  • Questions concerning compliance with or changes to policy
  • Sensitivity of the issue and/or recommended alternative to change
  • Questions or challenges to analysis, tradeoffs, rationale for recommendations, and implementation plan
  • Questions concerning risks for the recommended implementation plan

Note: Questions may be open-ended or closed (e.g., yes/no answers).

1.13 – Communications

Messages pass through filters; first through the filter of the person sending the message and then through the filter of the receiver. Filters sometimes act to enhance the message, and at other times, they can be barriers. Filters consist of factors such as personality, tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, accents, perceptions, attitudes, emotions, knowledge, functional background, the medium of communication used (verbal, written, e-mail, etc.), and much more. Each person’s filter is different, sometimes resulting in the receiver interpreting the message differently than the sender intended.

One of the most important communications skills (and often a barrier to effective communications) is listening. Learning to “actively listen” can increase communications effectiveness significantly.

Active listening involves:

  • Establishing and maintaining eye contact.
  • Focusing on what is being communicated.
  • Not making judgments about the sender’s information.
  • Not formulating your reply before the sender has finished sending his/her message.
  • Paraphrasing key points the sender makes (when the sender pauses — don’t interrupt to paraphrase what’s being communicated).

Effective program management requires that the right people to get the right information at the right time. Program communications must take place vertically (up and down), horizontally, and externally.

Communications Plan

One way to ensure the right people get the right information at the right times is to develop a program (and/or team) communications plan. The plan may include:

  • Key entities (program management leadership, IPTs, customer, contractor(s), and key stakeholders)
  • What information they should provide
  • What information they should receive
  • How it is provided/received
  • Format, frequency/interval, and other factors considered important for the particular program/situation
  • Types of meetings, such as regular status meetings and program management reviews
  • Reports (e.g., status reports, cost/sched perf reports, action item lists)
  • Issues and the policy for elevating them to higher levels
  • Other forms of communication and how and by whom they are used

Interpersonal Negotiation Techniques

  • Purpose - Resolving conflicts  
  • Objective - Seek to satisfy both parties’ interests
  • Methodology
    • Acknowledge the conflict and its effect on performance.
    • Separate people and emotions from the issue.
    • Present issues in terms of the underlying interests or requirements, i.e., the most important aspects of what you need to achieve.
    • LISTEN to the other party’s interests/requirements; be able to restate their interests to their satisfaction (indicating you understand what interests they are trying to achieve).
    • Agree on what the issue is.
    • Look for common goals and common interests.
    • Identify as many possible alternatives to resolve the issue and satisfy the interests of both parties.
    • Resist the urge to compromise (“meet in the middle”). Instead, look at the issue from different perspectives - challenge assumptions and constraints.
    • Agree on the alternative that best meets both parties’ interests.
    • Obtain the commitment of all members of both parties on what will be done to implement the solution.




  • Give Advice
  • Don’t display authority
  • Evaluate
  • Listen carefully
  • Motivate
  • Don’t advise
  • Explain
  • Facts only; no opinions
  • Reassure
  • Employee find solution



  • Effective with inexperienced personnel
  • Develops commitment
  • Quick
  • Good training
  • Take charge attitude
  • Employee responsible
  • Supports Delegation



  • Perceived insulting
  • Takes time
  • Does not support delegation
  • Skill/patience required
  • Manager keeps responsibility
  • Ineffective with inexperienced personnel

Counseling Process

  • Set up interview - private, confidential, and unhurried
  • Encourage discussion - open questions, active listening
  • Help employee think it through - deal with facts, no opinions or own views
  • Let employee find the solution - his/her solution to the problem

1.14 – Time Management

  1. List all the tasks you have to complete.
  2. Prioritize the tasks based on urgency and importance of completion using the format shown below.
  3. Do Priority 1 tasks first. If possible delegate some of them.
  4. The key to effective time management is to schedule time to work on small pieces of Priority 2 tasks.
    • If not completed early, they will eventually become Priority 1 tasks.
  5. Reassign or delegate Priority 3 tasks if possible.
    • A common tendency is focusing on Priority 3 tasks (because of their urgency) instead of Priority 2 tasks (because of their importance).
  6. Priority 4 tasks are time wasters/busy work and should be avoided.

Priority 1


Priority 2



Not Urgent

Priority 3


Priority 4

Not Urgent

Not Important

Not Important

Time Robbers and Avoidance Techniques

Time Robber

Avoidance Technique

Incoming telephone calls

  • Screen for importance
  • Allow voicemail to pick up the call
  • Limit length of calls (e.g., 2 minutes)

Outgoing telephone calls

  • Do as many at one time as possible
  • Itemize topics before calling
  • Stick to the topic; don’t socialize

Unscheduled visitors

  • Screen for importance
  • Do not invite visitor into your office
  • Remain standing
  • Schedule a time for visitor to return

Improper delegation

  • Re-delegate
  • Make a record of delegated tasks
  • Assign deadlines

Poorly conducted meetings

  • Have a prepublished agenda
  • Stay focused on subject
  • Use a time keeper/gate keeper

1.15 – Management Tools and Techniques

Activity-Based Management (ABM) uses detailed economic analyses of important business activities to improve strategic and operational decisions. ABM increases the accuracy of cost information by more precisely linking overhead and other indirect costs to products or customer segments. Traditional accounting systems distribute indirect costs using bases such as direct labor hours, machine hours, or materiel dollars. ABM tracks overhead and other indirect costs by activity, which can then be traced to products or customers.

Balanced Scorecard defines what management means by “performance” and measures whether management is achieving desired results. The Balanced Scorecard translates mission and vision statements into a comprehensive set of objectives and performance measures that can be quantified and appraised. These measures typically include: financial, customer value, internal business process, learning and growth, and employee performance.

Cycle Time Reduction decreases the time it takes a company or program to perform key activities throughout its value chain. Cycle Time Reduction uses analytic techniques to minimize waiting time, eliminate activities that do not add value, increase parallel processes, and speed up decision processes within an organization. Time-based strategies often emphasize flexible manufacturing, rapid response, and innovation in order to attract the most profitable customers.

Groupware refers to a broad range of technologies that allow people in organizations to work together through computer networks. These products range from sophisticated electronic mail packages to applications that link offices and employees. Organizations use such technology-aided communications to better inform strategic and financial decisions and to more effectively and economically bring together working groups. (DAU has a Groupware capability in its Management Decision Center, which is used for management decision making by offices and agencies throughout DoD.)

Outsourcing occurs when a company or government agency uses third parties to perform non-core business activities. Contracting third parties enables a company or agency to focus its efforts on its core competencies. Many companies find that outsourcing reduces cost and improves performance of the activity. Third parties that specialize in an activity are likely to be lower cost and more effective, given their scale. Through outsourcing, a company or agency can access the state of the art in all of its business activities without having to master each one internally.

Business Process Reengineering involves the fundamental redesign of core business processes to achieve significant improvements in productivity, cycle times, and quality. In Business Process Reengineering, companies start with a blank sheet of paper and rethink existing processes to deliver more value to the customer. They typically adopt a new value system that places increased emphasis on customer needs. Companies and/or government agencies reduce organizational layers and eliminate unproductive activities in two key areas: First, they redesign functional organizations into cross-functional teams. Second, they use technology to improve data dissemination and decision making.

Strategic Planning is a comprehensive process for determining what a commercial business or government agency should become and how it can best achieve that goal. It appraises the full potential of a business and explicitly links the business objectives to the actions and resources required to achieve them. Strategic Planning offers a systematic process to ask and answer the most critical questions confronting a management team — especially large, irrevocable resource commitment questions.

1.16 – Continuous Process Improvement / Lean Six Sigma (CPI/LSS)

See DoD Directive 5010.42, 15 May 2008


  • Reduces waste
  • Eliminates “non-value added” activities

Six Sigma

  • Eliminates variation
  • Strives to eliminate defects
  • Uses 5-step process: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC)

Chapter 2 – Problem-Solving Tools

2.1 – Brainstorming

Purpose: To stimulate the free flow of ideas in a short amount of time without being analyzed or judged until the brainstorming is complete.

Method: There are three primary types of brainstorming: structured, unstructured, and silent.

Structured: Participants take turns offering ideas; if someone doesn't have an idea when their turn comes, they can pass.

  • Advantage: Each person has an equal chance to participate.
  • Disadvantages: Lacks spontaneity; participants may get distracted by other ideas and forget theirs when their turn comes, atmosphere is more rigid.

Unstructured: Participants offer ideas as they think of them.

  • Advantage: Participants can build on each others' ideas; atmosphere is more relaxed.
  • Disadvantage: Less assertive and/or lower ranking participants may feel intimidated and not contribute.

Silent: Participants write ideas individually on paper or Post-itTM notes. This is particularly useful when you have participants who just can't avoid discussing the ideas as they are offered.

  • Advantage: Prevents discussion of ideas during the idea generation phase.
  • Disadvantages: May lose the opportunity to build on others' ideas unless a structured or unstructured session is held after the silent inputs are collected and displayed.

The brainstorming session ends when no more ideas are offered.

Ground Rules:

  • Don't discuss ideas as they are offered. In particular, don't analyze, evaluate, criticize, or judge. Discussion can be held after the brainstorming session ends.
  • There are no outrageous ideas. There is plenty of time during the discussion after the brainstorming session to toss out ideas that won't work. Even if idea is totally outrageous and obviously won't work, it may spark another idea that is usable.
  • Don't quit when the ideas first stop flowing; try to get participants to come up with at least 2-3 more ideas.
  • Strive for quantity, not quality. The more ideas you generate, the better the opportunity to find the best possible solution.
  • Combine and rearrange ideas; additions, revisions, and combinations may create even better ideas. 
  • Record ideas exactly as offered, don't edit or paraphrase.

Questions to stimulate your thinking:

  • Can we use this idea somewhere else? As is? With changes?
  • If we change it, is there anything else like it? Any related issues?
  • Can we modify or rearrange: the meaning, quantity, color, size, shape, form, layout, motion, sound, appearance, etc.?
  • Can we maximize or magnify it to make it stronger, larger, newer, more of it?
  • Can we minimize or reduce it to make it smaller, lighter, less of it?
  • Can we substitute? Who? What? When? Where? How?
  • Can we reverse it? Opposite? Backwards? Upside down? Inside out?
  • What assumptions or constraints are we considering? Are they valid? What if we threw them out?
  • What if you could do anything you can imagine?

2.2 – Cause-and-Effect Diagram

“Fishbone” or Ishikawa Diagram

Purpose: To help analyze a problem in increasing detail to identify all of its causes, leading to discovery of its root cause(s).  The Cause-and-Effect Diagram graphically depicts the relationship between a problem and its causes.


  • Use brainstorming to generate the potential or known causes for the problem (or effect) being studied.
  • Begin constructing the "fishbone" diagram by placing the problem statement on the right side of the chart (head of the "fishbone"). 
  • Draw an arrow from left to right ending at the problem statement (the backbone of the "fishbone"). •Place the major cause categories (If known) as the major "bones' of the fishbone, as shown in the example below (in the example: people, product, process, equipment). 
  • If the major causes are not known, after brainstorming all the causes, sort them into similar groups using the Affinity Diagram.  The titles of the groups become the major cause categories. •Add the brainstormed causes as the smaller bones in the diagram as shown in the example below (e.g., inadequate training, poor teamwork, etc.).  Causes can be added to the major categories after all the causes have been generated via brainstorming (recommended), or added as they are generated.
  • To spark additional brainstorming of causes, ask for each of the "small bone" causes: "What causes this to happen?"


2.3 – Force Field Analysis

Purpose: To identify the factors or forces that either support or work against a desired outcome.


  • Draw a "T" shape as shown below.
  • Brainstorm the forces that will assist you in achieving the desired outcome.  List them on the left side of the vertical line.
  • Brainstorm the forces that may prevent or restrain you from reaching your outcome.  List them on the right side of the line. •(Optional) Prioritize the driving forces (left side) and/or the restraining forces (right side).
  • Look for opportunities to take advantage of or strengthen driving forces.
  • Identify restraining forces that you might be able to eliminate (or reduce the "force" or impact).
  • It is often more helpful to eliminate restraining forces than attempting to strengthen driving forces.  In most cases, the driving forces will remain present and continue to help you even if you do nothing to strengthen them; whereas eliminating restraining forces can have significant benefits in achieving your objective/outcome.
  • In a "pound-for-pound" or "best bang for the buck" fashion, the force field analysis is one of the most powerful tools in terms of the effort required to generate it and the potential benefits derived from it.
  • Restraining forces can also be identified as potential risks, and entered into the risk management tracking system.


2.4 – Histogram

Purpose: To graphically depict the frequency distribution of data items using a vertical bar chart (columns) format.


  • Collect data on a particular variable.
  • Generate a frequency table listing all the data points. •Count the number of data points.
  • Determine the range of values for the data (maximum value minus the minimum value).
  • Determine the number of bars to depict in the chart. One common method is to use the square root of the number of data points; e.g., 100 data points = 10 bars; 225 data points = 15 bars, etc.
  • Calculate the intervals represented by each of the bars. The simplest method is to divide the range of values by the number of bars (from previous step).
  • Determine the frequency of data points within each interval of values.
  • Create a vertical bar chart with a vertical bar (column) for each of the variable values or range of values you measured on the horizontal axis. The height of the bar will equal the frequency (on the vertical axis) for each of the values/ranges.

In the example below, the sample size is 220 data points (N = 220).

The square root of 220 is between 14 and 15, so either will work for the number of bars in the chart (14 bars are used in the example).

The range of values is 350 hrs (1350 hrs minus 1000 hrs). Dividing the range (350) by the number of bars (14) results in intervals of 25 hrs.


2.5 – Scatter Diagram

Purpose: To graphically depict the changes in two variables to determine if there is a relationship between them.


  • Collect paired data samples for the two variables.
  • Place measures for the independent variable (the hypothesized cause) on the horizontal axis, and measures for the dependent variable (the hypothesized effect) on the vertical axis.
  • Plot the data on the chart
  • Analyze the data to determine if there is a statistical relationship between the two variables.

2.6 – Affinity Diagram

Purpose: To help a team generate a large number of ideas or issues and organize them into categories for further analysis, evaluation, decision, or action.


  • Agree on what the problem, issue, question, or desired outcome is.
  • Brainstorm as many ideas about the problem, issue, question, or desired outcome as you can.
  • Without discussion, sort the ideas into related groups.
  • If two people can't agree on which category it best fits, consider duplicating it and including it under both.
  • For each group, identify a name that summarizes the topics listed for them.

Tip: Use Post-itTM type notes to record the ideas on, which allows you to easily move the ideas from one category to another.


Note: Attributes shown above are for illustration only, and not meant to portray actual answers to the question.

2.7 – Pairwise Ranking

Purpose: To provide a structured method for ranking small lists of items in priority order.


  1. Construct a pairwise matrix.
  • Each of the squares in the matric represents the pairing of two items (where the numbers intersect).
  • In the example below, the list includes five items; the top square (shaded) represents the pairing of item 1 with item 2.

  1. Rank each pair of items.
  • For each pair of items, the team should reach a consensus on which of the two items is preferred over the other.
  • As the team completes each of the comparisons, the number of the preferred item is recoded in that square, until the matrix is completely filled in.

  1. Count the number of times each item appears in the matrix.
    • Using the filled-in matrix (on the far right above), count how many times each item is listed in the matrix, and record the totals in the ranking matrix (at right).

  1. Rank all of the items.
  • Rank the items based on how many times they appear in the matrix.
  • To break a tie between two items appearing the same number of times, look at the square in the matrix where the two were compared; the item appearing in that box receives the higher ranking.

A program team was asked to recommend a site for testing a unique portion of a system. A feasibility study produced a list of six possible locations. The team then used Pairwise Ranking to determine that Nellis AFB was best suited for this particular test.

  1. Fort Huachuca
  2. Edwards AFB
  3. Kirtland AFB
  4. Nellis AFB
  5. Elgin AFB
  6. Hanscom AFB

2.8 – Pareto Chart

Purpose: To help identify and prioritize issues or problems, identify root causes, or evaluate results of improvement areas. The Pareto Chart graphically displays the frequency of occurrence of data items.


  • Decide on the categories of items (e.g., issues or causes) on which to focus.
  • Choose the measurement units which provide the most meaningful comparison between the categories of items.
  • Determine the time period to collect data. •Collect data on the chosen categories of items.
  • Create a frequency table listing all the categories, the frequency of their occurrence, and the percentage of their occurrence.
  • Create a vertical bar chart with a vertical bar (column) for each of the categories you measured on the horizontal axis, starting with the category with the highest frequency of occurrence on the far left side and continuing in descending order to the right to the category with the lowest frequency of occurrence on the far right side. The height of the bar will equal the frequency (on the left vertical axis) for each of the categories.
  • (Optional) Draw a line showing the cumulative percentage of the categories from left to right (0-100%). Draw a vertical axis on the right side showing the percentage scale.

2.9 – Flowcharting

Purpose: To identify the steps or tasks in a process. The current process can then be analyzed to discover duplicate or unnecessary actions, bottlenecks, or other problem areas. Ideas for improvement can then be identified.


  • Clearly define where the process begins and ends.
  • List all of the steps in the process, including decision points, and inputs to and outputs from the process.
  • Arrange the steps of the process in the sequence in which they currently occur.  If it is a new process, begin with the sequence in which you believe they will occur.
  • Draw the appropriate symbols for each of the items in the process.
  • Label the items in the process with text describing that item.
  • Add arrows showing the process flow.
  • Review for accuracy.
    • Correct symbols
    • Correct labels
    • Correct sequence
    • Correct direction of flow


2.10 – Deployment Flowcharts

Purpose: Depicts a process and the individuals or teams responsible for the steps/actions in the process. The Deployment Flowchart can be useful to clarify individual or team roles and responsibilities, and also to detect/prevent duplication of effort.


  • List the steps of the current process.
  • Identify the individuals/teams involved.
  • Draw the Deployment Flowchart showing the activities, decisions, inputs, outputs, documents, etc. (see example below).
  • List the individuals/teams across the top of the chart, and the timeline (if applicable) down the side (see example below).
  • Evaluate the current process for possible changes, and update as necessary.


2.11 – Nominal Group Technique

Purpose: To rank or prioritize the importance of issues, alternatives, or processes. Helps a team reach consensus quicker by showing preliminary areas of agreement. Allows individual team members to assign a rank or priority to items without influence or pressure from others.


  • Brainstorm a list of the issues, alternatives, or processes that you are analyzing.
  • Compile a final list of brainstorming inputs by eliminating duplicate or similar inputs, and clarifying the meanings of any inputs that are unclear.
  • Each team member votes by ranking the inputs in order of importance (see first example on next page).
  • The highest number is generally used to indicate the most important or highest priority item. For example, if team members are ranking 10 items, "10" would represent the most important item and "1" the least important item. Make sure you specify the values used in the ranking, i.e., which number represents the highest or most important rating, and which represents the lowest, to ensure there is no confusion.
  • Team members may rank all of the items, or some pre-designated portion of the items (particularly when there is a long list), such as a third or a half.
  • Add all of the rankings, and analyze the results.
  • Unless the team is pressed for time, use the ranking information as a starting point for discussion instead of accepting it as a "final score."
  • An alternate method is to assign each team member a number of points (e.g., 100), which they allocate across the options (some or all). This variation is known as weighted multivoting (see second example on next page).
  • When using weighted multivoting, it's a good idea to assign a maximum number of points that can be assigned to any one item (e.g., 40 out of 100) to prevent one team member for over-representing the relative importance of an item (see Item H in the second example on the next page).

2.12 – Creative Problem Solving

Divergent Phase

  • Avoid judging or evaluating ideas as they are offered
  • Generate as many ideas as possible
  • Accept all the ideas generated
  • Stretch your thinking
  • Allow time for ideas to "grow"
  • Combine or connect ideas or concepts

Convergent Phase

  • Use a logical, methodical approach to make choices or decisions
  • Clearly and specifically state the basis for evaluating ideas
  • Avoid a rush to closure
  • Don't ignore or avoid difficult issues
  • Look for strengths or positive aspects of ideas
  • Remain focused on the objectives

2.13 – Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM)

PURPOSE: Display actions, tasks, or assignments; and what responsibilities each individual has for them.


  • Brainstorm a list of actions or tasks the team must complete.
  • List the team members and other stakeholders who may have responsibilities.
  • Construct a matrix with the actions/tasks listed down the left side of the matrix, and the people listed across the top.
  • Choose the symbols to indicate the level of responsibility represented in the matrix (e.g., primary, secondary, keep informed, etc.).
  • Agree on the individual responsibilities and complete the matrix by placing the symbols for each step/task under the appropriate people.
  • Generally, only one person should have primary responsibility, others with some responsibility would have secondary responsibility.