5 Secrets of strategic growth using portfolio management principles

by Gerald Leonard
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Here are some secrets of strategic growth using portfolio management principles. Have you ever gone to a concert and heard a band that you didn’t know performing one of your favorite songs? All the notes are correct, and the singers are singing in tune, but the performance is just okay, it does not move you. Then, you go and hear the same song from a different group, and you immediately rise to your feet and started grooving? The difference is talent plus passion and not talent alone, and that is the secret. In this article, I will share what I believe are the five secrets to strategic growth using portfolio management principles which are much like listening to a band that makes you want to groove.

 1. Align your organization with its value proposition.

What is your organization’s value proposition? Your value proposition is the promise that you are making to your customers that your products or services will address and meet their needs for the jobs they need to complete, the pains they need to alleviate, and the gains they want to achieve. By understanding your customer’s job requirements, pains, and gains you will position your organization to be in a place where you can better develop a portfolio of projects that can meet your customers’ needs and desires.

So, to align your organization’s projects, programs, and operational work to address the problems and desires of your ideal customer, you first need to verify that your value proposition is on point. What bundle of products and services are you developing to meet our customer’s needs?

2. Align your portfolio to address your ideal customer’s needs.

If the strategic goals of the organization are to improve customer services and to align with your customer’s journey, then the project portfolio should emulate these goals with investments that will improve your customer service and integrate the customer journey with a streamlined workflow process.

The greatest need that I see as a consultant is for organizations to simplify their project portfolio processes and identify ways to speed up project execution. Implementing an agile project management process or reducing bottlenecks, by implementing the theory of constraints practices, can greatly reduce the time to market within your project execution environment, as well as greatly increase your team velocity and throughput. In today’s environment customers expect to receive solutions that exceed their expectations and are easy to operate. Moreover, we can all thank our smartphones for setting that expectation. What are you doing to determine how to improve your project selection and prioritization processes?

3. Align key performance indicators that measure and track your growth.

According to Jonathan Taylor, Marketing Manager at Klipfolio, “The most effective KPIs marry business objectives with product-market fit best practices for picking the right KPIs for your business.” A KPI should show you whether you are having an impact on the business or not. It should answer the question, did we deliver the value that we promised to our customers?

There are two types of performance indicators, Leading and Lagging. Leading indicators tell you where you are going, lagging indicators tell you where you have been. Moreover, the best way to determine which type of KPI you should use is to research your organization and learn how current KPIs are being used and modify them to meet your new requirements and track the progress toward your company’s goals and objectives. Once your project is complete, how do you know it is making the business impact on your organization?

4. Align your portfolio to capitalize on your resource’s strengths.

What are your current capabilities? What are you known for and what do you do well and like doing? Do you have a capabilities-driven strategy?

In an article titled, Grow from Your Strengths, by Gerald Adolph and Kim David Greenwood they state, before you pursue growth directly, you should have in place the three elements of a clearly defined, coherent strategy: (1) a value proposition that resonates with customers, supported by (2) a system of distinctive capabilities, combined in a way that competitors cannot match, with (3) a portfolio of products and services that are all aligned to the first two elements.”

Have you allocated resources that have capabilities to deliver on your current project portfolio mix? No amount of portfolio optimization can replace having resources that are working from their strengths and have the capabilities to deliver on your promises.

How do you determine your asset allocation strategy given your current resource capabilities? According to Jane Collingwood, author of Capitalize on Your Core Strengths “True fulfillment comes from building our lives on our core strengths, the ones we most enjoy using.” Do you have projects in your current portfolio that will increase your organization’s capability to deliver on future promises?

5. Align and invest in exceptionally talented people.

Are you attracting, developing, and retaining the best possible talent in your industry? Are competitors constantly ringing your phones trying to hire your people? If they are not, you have the wrong people on the bus. Exceptional organizations are exceptional because they hire exceptional people to have an exceptional talent acquisition strategy.

In the Harvard Business Review article titled, “Building a Game-Changing Talent Strategy” by Douglas A. Ready, Linda A. Hill and Robert J. Thomas stated that exceptional organizations all had the following characteristics, “purpose-driven, performance-oriented, and principles-led with a focus on attracting superior talent.”

What good is it to have the right vision, value, and strategy and have the wrong people to implement it? With the right talent mix, an organization can have an okay strategy, but with a high performing team, they can still deliver exceptional results. Is your organization taking advantage of the five secrets of strategic growth? One way to find out is to have a solid understanding of your project portfolio management maturity level.


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