Tuesday, February 28, 2006

An Introduction

When was the last time your CEO walked into the CIO’s office and said, “Thanks for the great job! With your uncanny ability to predict what projects are going to be not only germane but down right critical, you have saved my butt again and both the Board and I appreciate you for it!”

While we are on the subject, when was the last time your CIO walked into the CEO’s office and said “Boss, I am afraid that although most of our projects are currently meeting or exceeding expectations, these couple are not going to pull it off – we should either redirect or reset now while we still can.”

So, what does this have to do with Agile Portfolio Management? Well, let’s think: Agility is the ability to react to change. If you expand it to its limit (mathematically speaking at least), Agility appears as the preternatural ability to foretell what will need to be done to meet vague expectations. OK – even my children sometimes suggest I tend to stretch things, but stick with me a little longer. File that definition – we will come back to it later.

Portfolio Management is what it says: the capacity of the organization to manage its portfolio – not simply of projects, but of everything. See, in order to assume a degree of preternaturality, you have to have both the holistic view and the ability to yank a string in this department here and see how it affects that one over there. Don’t believe it is possible? Here is a negative example:

The IT department is short staffed because it is under-funded. The last project requested was the implementation of the new performance review system for the organization. In order to release it on the defined schedule, 360˚ reviews were not implemented. Because of this, peer reviews and subordinate reviews could not be incorporated, nor could 2nd tier managers see or influence the assessments of their staff’s staff. Since this was mostly a matrix organization, direct managers did not always have direct knowledge of their staff performance. As a result, since no one wants to look bad as a representation of their group, raises tended to be higher than normal this year, depleting discretionary budgets and causing the need for cuts in lower performing groups like IT.

So, can you show me the string?


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