Karma Insights Podcast: A deep dive into Guiding Principles

In this Karma Insights Podcast we dive into Guiding Principles and their value to an organization, engagement, or project. This is part out our Karma Advisory Digital Transformation Framework – for an overview or to read prior posts about our framework, visit our Blog for the first part of the series at https://karmaadvisory.com/blog/. You can listen to it here or on Apple. #digitaltransformation#gettingthingsdone#projectmanagement, #digitaltransformationframework, #managementconsulting

The Power of Guiding Principles (Digital Transformation Framework – Part II)

The Power of Guiding Principles (Digital Transformation Framework – Part II)

In the second of our Karma Framework series, we will discuss Guiding Principles and their value to an organization, engagement, or project. For an overview of the Karma Advisory Digital Transformation Framework, visit our site to see the first part of our series or view the LinkedIn Post.


Karma Advisory Digital Transformation Framework

What are Guiding Principles?

Principles, values, or clarifying statements serve to focus and simplify decision-making in projects. Guiding Principles are living statements, and as the project goes on — their meaning and nuance are codified.

What are the benefits?

Enhance Decision-Making Dynamics

When everyone is clear and in agreement about what they value, decisions become more streamlined. Guiding principles provide a clear framework, reducing second-guessing and scope for conflict. In addition, they provide unambiguous language to remind all stakeholders of what they agreed to in the past.

Build Authentic Resonance

When decisions align with predefined principles, they resonate more with the stakeholders involved. This fosters trust and ensures that decisions are in line with the organization and program values and objectives.

Identify Potential Points of Friction 

If certain decisions do not align with the Guiding Principles, it serves as an early warning system. It is an indication that there might be underlying issues that need addressing, whether it is re-evaluating the decision itself or the principles that guide it.

Foster a Cohesive Team and Dynamic

With clear guiding principles, teams work more harmoniously. There is a shared understanding, mutual respect, and a common direction, making collaboration more fruitful.

When should a team figure out guiding principles?

The ideal scenario is to come up with an initial list of guiding principles in the beginning — in doing so, stakeholders can debate what they explicitly value, ensuring transparency and mutual understanding.

These debates around what the team values will continue to be tested against deliverables throughout the project. Sometimes the original principles are accurate and other times they need to be made more precise or broader.

What is an example of a Guiding Principle?

One example is the Guiding Principle of data integrity. Often, you will see this principle defined to mean “ensure accuracy and consistency of data.” However, to really understand this principle, the team needs to dig deeper and understand the implications from various perspectives:

  • From a technology perspective – To maintain data integrity, the team needs to look at data systems to reduce manual entry, leverage systems of record as much as possible, and institute quality assurance in technology processes where appropriate.

  • From an operations perspective – To maintain data integrity, the team needs to look at operations and consider training, standard operating procedures, and implementation of quality assurance and quality control processes.

It is very important to consider a principle from a 360-degree perspective — this enables a simple statement to provide clarity throughout all facets of a project.

Key Takeaways

While decisions are not always black and white, Guiding Principles help make the implicit explicit – ensuring decisions are consistently oriented in a mutually understood direction. As important as the upfront work of setting clear Guiding Principles, they can and should also continually be revisited as a project evolves through its natural lifecycle.

We hope guiding principles can support your organization in getting things done! Be on the lookout for the next in our series.


About Karma Advisory

Karma Advisory works at the intersection of business and technology for both public and private sector clients. We are focused on helping organizations translate their business needs into actionable technology solutions. We work with our client’s teams to understand their goals and on-the-ground realities and work side-by-side to implement solutions. We strive to be an objective, trusted, and results-driven partner — bringing a values-driven approach to working with our clients to achieve their vision and goals.  

We look forward to speaking with you, sharing more about our work, and learning more about your organization. Visit us at www.karmaadvisory.com or reach out at Info@karmaadvisory.com.

The Importance of Guiding Principles (or, Key Decision Making Criteria)

The Importance of Guiding Principles (or, Key Decision Making Criteria)

At the heart of getting something done is getting everyone on the same page to move the project forward. This is especially relevant in an environment of a variety of individuals from department teams, and, ultimately, different walks life.

The diversity of views creates a challenge: Do we argue about the rightness or wrongness of ideas or a decision? Or, do we agree on a set of “guiding principles” and make decisions?

What is a guiding principle?

A guiding principle is a statement that summarizes a criteria or value-based mechanism. Let’s take the following situation in pricing strategy:

  1. Situation: Company X has developed a patented Water Retention System that helps trees grow faster, while using 80% less water.
  2. Complication: The founder and owner of Company X wants to target low-income farmers that cannot afford an expensive system. The venture capitalists wants the founder to charge higher rates to ensure maximum distribution, and ultimately a strong return on their investment.
  3. Question: How should Company X price the Water Retention System?

If you were in this situation, how would you facilitate a decision? Clearly, both the owner and the venture capitalists have a strong case to make regarding the rightness of their decision.

Option A: Conduct a pricing analysis, and present different prices and see if there is a price that meets both needs.

Option B: Develop a core set of guiding principles around making key business decisions, and then conduct a pricing analysis, and evaluate the options based on the guiding principles.

In Option A, there is an implicit debate about what the Owner and the Venture Capitalists value. In Option B, there is an explicit debate about what the Owner and the Venture Capitalists value.

Why is this important?

The point of this example is codifying the unsaid in guiding principles, each individual can evaluate what they value and see whether it resonates.

If there is resonance, then decision making and team dynamics can be more fluid (or, at the leaser — easier).

If there is not resonance, then decision making will be stalled and inauthentic — team members may grudgingly go along, but there will continue to be dissension as increasingly complex decisions are made, and the team will need to decide whether to continue together or not.

Originally posted on Karma Advisory’s medium page here.