The D7 Process

There are hundreds of project development models available, each with their own owners, nuances, and complexities. Nevertheless, many models are a variation of a relatively linear, problem-solving process model.

But as anyone who works in planning knows, reality is rarely a straight-line process.

I believe that the most effective strategy is one that is easily understood by all, yet able to handle the complexities of any project. D7 is a simplified, NON-LINEAR, parallel process model that incorporates all of the Guiding Principles like elegance (simple yet surprisingly effective) and reliability.

When I say a non-linear, parallel process model, I mean that each component operates independently and interdependently but is utilized and developed simultaneously. Instead of thinking of planning as a strictly straight-line process, think of the individual components as skills, habits, or practices that are relied on and used from the beginning (INITIATION) to the end (IMPLEMENTATION) of each planning cycle (see The i6 Innovation Process in the Design Process).

The D7 Model


      Pre-assessment is a step (not necessarily the first step) in the D7 process development plan. Whether you're a planning a trip across town, a family holiday, the strategic direction of your company, or your own personal goals, an important step is to DETERMINE 1) where you are, 2) where you want to go and 3) how you want to get there. Ultimatly, the success of any journey is determined by the accuracy of preliminary information and how well it's utilized.

      Key Question: “What do I want to do?” or “What do I want to do now?”


      One of the most significant steps in any decision making process is 1) describing why a decision is called for and 2) identifying the most desired outcome(s).

      One way of deciding if a problem exists is to format your analysis by distinguishing between what was needed/expected and what actually occurred (i.e. in reality not in a laboratory). In this way, a problem can be quickly measured as the difference between expected/desired outcomes and actual outcomes.

      This careful attention to distinguishing outcomes makes it easier to develop the right plan because how you define a problem determines how you uncover causes, where you search for solutions, how much and how many resources are utilized, and ultimately, if the process was successful (measurable goals).

      Once you DEFINE the problem in terms of outcomes, it may be necessary to re-DETERMINE what it is EXACTLY that you are going to do.

      Example: Where is the HC Andersen Statue?

      If a tourist asked where the HC Andersen Statue is located, we could give them the GPS coordinates. With decimal degree GPS, for every place value, you are increasing your accuracy 10 times.

      The question is, how accurate does it NEED to be?



      DISCOVERY IS problem finding and includes many distinct processes (i.e. collecting, analyzing, and selecting the necessary data to develop a problem-solving strategy). For example, beyond finding information about the problem, a serious assessment of all available solutions must be undertaken. To help our clients, we have developed our Top 10 Predictions tool to identify and organize all the information necessary to make an informed decision. As the name implies, we believe that both the DISCOVERY process and the information you find during it are never final, 100% accurate, and contain all the possibilities. Instead, discovery relies on situated information, knowledge, and understandings and as each becomes clearer, our view of the situation changes and different decisions are required including repeating any of the D7 processes. has a number of other tools available to help clients during their DISCOVERY process.


      The DESIGN PROCESS IS the opportunity to develop a tentative procedure, process, or product to satisfy all the outcomes that were established in the 3 processes (already discussed) that has design integrity (reliability and consistency).

      To help our clients better, has developed i2i6 Innovation Labs, a company whose sole purpose is to externally partner with our clients to transform their ideas and dreams into something tangible and hopefully successful. The i6 Innovation Process is a straight-forward design-thinking model that incorporates creativity, invention, iteration, and innovation.

      • Initiation/Inception
      • Imagination/Inspiration
      • Ideation
      • Invention
      • Iteration
      • Implementation


      The DEVELOP PROCESS IS a continual iterative process that's utilized throughout the D7 planning process until a finalized process or product is developed (one that satisfies all the outcomes). The development component of planning is when all of the visions, definitions, designs, and understandings of the project come together. It’s a time when all stakeholders and partners unite to create workable, interactive deliverables (small snippets of the overall project; e.g. working prototypes) that allow the team to see the project in action. This process can produce countless versions (iterations) until the right "solution" is found (i.e prototype designs vs. production designs found at auto shows, fashion parades, and other industry events). uses a number of simple heuristic tools to clarify and assess during the iterative process (see Tools).

      There are some basic questions that should be asked during the Develop Process

      Poorly-phrased or weak considerations

      1. What needs to be changed?
      2. Simple incremental change is not a good decision. If we looked at business activities as processes, in order to change them, then the process itself needs to be different even if there are elements that appear similar. In other words, a new plan IS ALWAYS a NEW plan. A new or modified plan can be difficult to pinpoint and even more difficult to implement.
      3. Simple modification makes it difficult to assess how much needs to be modified.
      4. Similar poorly-phrased or weak questions/decisions (variations)
        1. What should I STOP doing? (Consider the impact and time needed to change)
        2. What should I CONTINUE doing? What needs to stay the same? (Rarely an option; things can always be improved)
        3. What should I START doing?

      Well-phrased or good considerations

      1. What needs MORE...? (e.g. resources, planning, energy, funding, staff, etc.)
        1. By using a simple, start – continue - stop approach focused on measurable outcomes, it is easier to assess if the change is occurring.
        2. The approach allows for easier assessment of the “problem” and easier adoption of a new process.
        3. It also develops a culture that is comfortable with ongoing evolution because outcomes are assessable.
        4. Similar questions/decisions (variations)
          1. What needs LESS...?
          2. What needs NO...?
      2. What options exist?
      3. What are their consequences?
      4. What are their requirements?
      5. If there are no options, what are the underlying reasons? (Analysis)
      6. If there are no options, do I need to make a new one? (invent and/or innovate)
        1. Invention (DEF.) – The creation of a product or introduction of a process for the first time. Thomas Edison was an inventor.
        2. Innovation (DEF.) – Improving on or making a significant contribution to something that has already been invented. Steve Jobs was an innovator.
        3. Innovation is an evolutionary process.
        4. Examples: Origin of life (Invention). Dinosaurs (Innovation).
        5. The key to thriving is the readiness and ability to adapt (evolve/innovate). It can been argued that dinosaurs were unable to adapt after they found their evolutionary niche.


      Once everything has been designed and developed to a satisfactory point (as determined by the outcomes assessment), a production design is ‘launched’ publically. It is essentially “live” for anyone to use or visit.

      The DELIVERY/DEPLOYMENT PROCESS IS ultimately the point of the D7 Process Model. Now that real customers (as opposed to any testers that you've used in the development process) are engaging with your products and/or services, both you, the client, and will be able to get a more accurate depiction of how your particular product or service is actually performing (in reality vs. in the laboratory).

      As partners, we'll work together to make the necessary changes anywhere and at anytime in the process and begin planning for additional improvements (adaptions, modifications, iterations, innovations) that will be needed in the future. As a partner, will stay with you, helping you learn the process of monitoring and assessing any activities and make sure that no unexpected issues arise.


      Although similar, there is a subtle difference between the Decision Process and the Determine Process.

        Determine (DEF.) means to discover the truth, or to figure something out by research and/or other methods of discovery; establish after a calculation, investigation, experiment, survey, or study. In practice, to determine requires discovering the facts about a situation before deciding, or making a choice based on the facts of the situation

        Decide (DEF.) means to choose/pick something; reach, make, or come to a decision about something. In practice, to decide means you already know the facts, so it’s just a matter of making the choice.

      The DECISION PROCESS IS the other book end of the planning process. Determining to do something means that you're beginning a process of discovery and investigation to ultimately determine something and then make a decision based on the knowledge and understanding that was gained.

      Typical DECISION questions and considerations

      1. Did it work? (summative and/or formative assessment question)
      2. Should a new process be developed?
      3. Typical options/choices in the DECISION PROCESS are to:
        1. Continue, modify, or discontinue
        2. Grow, evolve, or die
        3. Expand, modify/adapt, or exit
        4. Leverage, strengthen, and develop
        5. Unwind, minimize, eliminate, discontinue

The D7 Tools

    Process development tools

    1. Top 10 Predictions (Strategic brainstorming tool)
    2. 7EC (7 Elements of Circumstance)
    3. CCP (Characteristics of Complex Problems)
    4. 5HOWS (because LEAN, SIX SIGMA and Sakichi Toyoda's 5Whys doesn't work in 21st Century complex scenarios)
    5. PLUS Ethical Filters (Developed by the Ethics Resource Center)
    6. SWOT & PEST analyses
    7. Fail-Safing
    8. Flowcharts (used in micro-process analysis and assessment)
    9. Story boards (see Biogenesis
    10. Surveys (for qualitive end-user performance reviews)

    Quality Assessment tools

    1. Cause-and-effect diagrams (e.g. 5Whys, ‘fishbone,’ or Ishikawa diagrams)
    2. Check sheets
    3. Control charts
    4. Histograms
    5. Pareto charts
    6. Scatter diagrams
    7. Flowcharts
    8. Stratifications

    Heuristic tools

    Often employed in discovery learning and problem solving, heuristics are experience-based techniques and strategies that use readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to find solutions which are not guaranteed to be optimal, but good enough for a given set of goals (outcomes). Wherever an exhaustive search is impractical, heuristic methods can be employed to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution via mental shortcuts to ease the cognitive load of making a decision.

    1. Cause-and-effect diagram (e.g. 5Whys, ‘fishbone,’ or Ishikawa diagrams)
    2. Deming’s process model (PDCA)
    3. GROW model
    4. Pólya’s 4-step problem solving