The way we deliver value through change has evolved much over the last few years. Our business strategy continues to evolve at a frightening pace, with the Strategic Portfolio Management team having to manage increasing velocity expectations from the business, evolving market and consumer/client needs, laser-like precision on value and benefits. Not to mention dealing with the increase in external ‘noise’ such as with the rise of social media and the regular chorus of feedback & criticism of organisations, governments and general “social” noise that can take a strategy and shred it in minutes…..
In the past, our 3-5 year programmes focused on “over the horizon” delivery of outcomes, which by the time they were delivered, were generally too late, outdated and far more costly than originally anticipated. It was time for a change, and Agile approaches and methods allowed us to do this. With a relentless focus on quick benefits realisation, rapid turnaround of idea to value, and aligning our delivery capability across the business and IT working together in self-managed teams. All fine at the coal face, but perhaps a step too far for those in the organisation that were trying to align delivery to this week’s strategy! We call this stage in the scaling-failing model ‘The Empty Hopper’ because its most visible symptom is a lack of decent new ideas being generated by either the strategic function or product owner function as the agile delivery of change rapidly outpaces the generation of sensible change ideas. So how does an organisation tackle this challenge – well, we have a service for that:
Enter stage left – Lean Portfolio Management. Done well Portfolio Management allows the business to align strategy to outcomes to ideas to value creation… And creates a delivery capability and culture that thrives on change and pace, with a relentless focus on on-time delivery. Done badly, Portfolio Management merely becomes a talking shop for milestone movement, board-level risk and bloated bureaucracy.
P2’s view is that we should not throw everything out that we’ve learned over many years in delivering change, but adapt our thinking and approach to encompass the best of our legacy and the pace and agility of the current world. Undoubtedly the business needs a strategy – but not one that’s so fixed and inflexible, that it prevents course correction and or complete cessation during its life. The Lean Portfolio Manager allows an organisation to:
- Break down the business strategy in bite-size pieces
- Build an annual roadmap – with one eye on the long term goal and direction, but enough focus on the here and now and the changes that evolve every day to allow course corrections, increase or decrease in pace or complete stoppage with limited consequence if that’s what’s required
- Embed a Product Owner structure that can identify and approve (on a regular basis) what is within that roadmap – making key decisions to include, exclude or change value throughout the year, whilst maintaining an absolute focus on the overall goals and outcomes
- Ensure that the delivery teams have the capacity, capability and tools needed to deliver to the business demand and a clear understanding of how that demand achieves those outcomes.
Our Lean Portfolio Management approach works organically with our P2 Organisational Adaptive Delivery framework, and allows us to break the Strategic outcomes down into bite-size business chunks, identifying specific outcomes (business benefits) for each item of work (EPIC), using the self-managing teams to identify effort and complexity, and then allowing the business themselves to prioritise that scope into an “idea to value” release – flexible enough to either deliver at pace or responsive enough to deliver as the business can receive. By using frameworks such as SAFe we can then aggregate Release and Feature team delivery into an aligned and consistent set of deliverables – maintain control through small numbers of key milestones, identification and precision around risk management and active oversight around scope.
P2’s Lean Portfolio Management approach gives you the capability and tools to maintain oversight of delivery and strategy, whilst providing team flexibility to deliver at pace without being hindered with relentless governance.