Tradition vs. Lean and Agile PMO and Organizations

by Barry O'Reilly

We are in one of the most interesting and disruptive eras of the business change the world has known. The landscape and competitive environment is evolving at rates we have not seen before, and it’s only going to accelerate. The average life expectancy for an organization is plummeting from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today, according to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University. At the current churn rate, 75% of the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027.

Below I have included a deck contrasting the differences between traditional and Lean/Agile PMOs and organizations, outlining the value a Lean/Agile approach can bring. I have been able to extend the deck with the help of David Joyce and Ian Carroll in order to start a discussion on how the future can look for organizations as they attempt to scale lean and agile practices and principles across the entire organization.

Even though traditional models of how projects, portfolios, and organizations are governed represent thinking that originated in the 1890s with Taylor (fixation on efficiency and utilization) and Gantt (of Gantt chart fame) they seem remarkably impervious to change. Our challenge for organizations today is that they need to change to keep pace with our ever-evolving business environment, otherwise we can never achieve true business agility.

I plan to post deeper insights into each area over the coming weeks, however, for now, I will paint the boarder picture of where the majority of organizations are at today, and how they need to start changing and learning to move forward and be competitive in this era of disruptive change.

As W. Edwards Deming said, “Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival”.

Key concepts

  • How traditional PMOs and organizations are setups
  • Legacy mindset that are alive and still driving the majority of portfolio/organization behaviors
  • Comparisons of traditional and lean/agile mindsets
  • Principles of lean and agile portfolio/organization management
    • Organizational structure
    • Annual vs Incremental funding (Beyond Budgeting)
    • Limiting Work in Progress i.e. its only matters how many projects you finish, not start.
    • Managing and visualizing capability
    • Coping with portfolio complexity through experimentation and validated learning
    • Removing the concept of projects and focusing on continuous delivery of value
  • Benefits of lean and agile portfolio/organization management

[slideshare id=15188802&w=500&h=400&sc=no]

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