One of the first exercises I run with executive teams is mapping their business portfolio to visualize current work in progress and how it aligns to the overall business strategy. Without exception, every time I run this exercise the gap between current state and desired state is far wider than every executive believed, hoped or even imagined.
Portfolio mapping requires taking an end-to-end view of the lifecycle of initiatives in your organization. Lean Enterprises’ consider four main domains:
- Explore early stage initiatives that are bets for the future with high degrees of uncertainty
- Exploit initiatives that have achieved product-market fit and the organization wants to grow and scale
- Sustain initiatives that have become repeatable and scalable business models, products or services that drive the majority of revenue for the organization
- Retire initiatives that are long lived, no longer beneficial (even limiting) to the organization future success or strategy and should be sunset from the portfolio
Initiatives that do not achieve desired outcomes in any domain should be killed, and their investment transferred to other initiatives.
High performance organizations focus on building capability to continuously move initiatives through the model from Explore to Retire. They understand that using the same strategy, practices and processes across the entire portfolio will result in negative outcomes and results.