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An Integrated Project Management blog post within the category of Project Management used to increase competitive advantage.

Subcategories from this category:

Project Status Monitoring, Project Management, Project Planning

The Project Charter’s Value Proposition

"If I identify the value proposition for the project, then I provide direction for downstream decisions, but I don’t have any standard way to clearly state it accurately."

The content of some of the boxes change depending on the project, but the placement of the 9 boxes of the Business Model Canvas is the same. I suppose just how you place these boxes isn’t as important as deciding and then sticking to it. A common look between projects helps identify patterns and facilitates comparisons. The critical thing is to address these characteristics about your projects, and provide a quick summary for comparisons.

The first step in the project charter based on the Business Model Canvas is getting to the value proposition. Your project may have other documents like the governance plan, communication plan, and vision scope document; all part of the larger Project Charter. In that case, this might become the summary of the business section of the assembled Project Charter. Depending on your needs this can be stand alone, or a section of a larger document.

Completion of these boxes may be the result of an extensive strategic planning effort, or a 30-minute interview. Get what you can, and then focus efforts on finding the answers you’re not feeling comfortable with.

Within the Value Proposition box, there is the optimal type of proposition to identify and the CORE proposition. Our first step is to decide what type of offering this project will be delivering. Granted, most projects have more than one deliverable. If this is you case, then think of the aggregate of all the deliverables. What is it that you will truly be delivering? Why are the clients coming to you for that deliverable? You want to simplify the answer down to one of three types of value proposition; Unique, Intimacy of familiarity, and cost.

UNIQUE: This is when your project team can deliver a product or service that cannot be acquired anywhere else. An example might be found in an IT organization that provides security credentials that can’t be gotten from anywhere else. You must go to the IT Department for the credentials. Another example could be a sales person’s rolodex full of past clients that can be called on. The company can’t get that unique set of names that can be called on from anywhere else. I’m not convinced of this value, but it is unique. However, typically, the Unique type of proposition yields the premium price. As a project manager and sponsor, you try to create a unique type of deliverable to increase the perceived value of the project.

INTIMATE: This type of proposition states that your project team has intimate experience with creating the desired deliverable. Due to your familiarity of the problem/solution space, your can deliver a product or service better than anyone, or can do it with less errors.

Maybe your intimate understanding will enable you to be more innovative. This type of proposition is a little more flexible than the UNIQUE proposition, and is slightly less competitive. Let’s face it, its hard to prove your better when there are three other teams both internal and external that have an “Intimate” knowledge of the problem/solution space.

Typically, your price point is lower than the UNIQUE type. Understand that price is the total “cost” of ownership. How much pain is the client willing to go through to acquire and own the deliverable. The lower the price you can ask, the better the deliverable must be. The INTIMATE value proposition must be better packaged, better supported, and easier to acquire than the UNIQUE deliverable. Client involvement is normally less, and mostly oversight in nature. After all, you know what they want, even better than they do.

COST: Think ‘Economy of Scale’. You can offer this deliverable faster, cheaper, and at higher quality than your competitors because you do this more often. You do this all the time, and one more just doesn’t impact the cost that much. An example would be a brochure printing. The artwork and design has already been completed. If your already set up, an additional printing just isn’t that much more cost. It’s easy. I call Frank and ask him for 100 more of the brochure. We don’t discuss the layout, the paper size, where to send it- nope its all done. It’s that easy. You just say, “Give me more!”

The ‘Economy of Scale’ deliverable is very desirable, and has the most demand. If using this type of value proposition, you expect to do it a lot, where as the UNIQUE type, you expect to do it less often, and so must charge more, in all aspects of cost.

Now once you have characterized the deliverable, hence the project, as to deliverable type, we want to take a look at the proposition itself. There are five types of valid propositions, you must select one.

MORE VALUE AT LESS COST: This is the easiest proposition to accept, and easiest to prove. You show what new value they will receive, and how this cost less than it did before. I this case, people like to know what has changed. They want to believe you wouldn’t just charge more than you had to. They are looking for a new competency, new technology, or even a reorganization. You need to point to something, and say because of this we can now do that, in order to maintain credibility.

MORE VALUE AT THE SAME COST: This is an easy proposition to accept. It feels like your giving me something for free. Of course, if I value the new free offering, then I will like it. Normally, this can be explained with process efficiencies, so it’s less important to point to the change enabler.

MORE VALUE AT MORE COST: This is a difficult proposition to accept. From the project team’s point of view, it makes the most sense. If you are going to deliver more value, then of course you will need to charge more. Well, you clients don’t see thing this way.

First you will have to prove that there is more value. More value in past offerings may not be so hard, but more value than delivered from a competitor may be difficult to demonstrate, and this proposition becomes expensive fast. Remember, you must justify more cost, and that seldom works out well.

SAME VALUE AT LESS COST: This is an easy proposition to accept. Demonstrate that the change caused by the project does create the same value. Next, demonstrate how it costs less, or is easier to get, or easier to own, or easier to use. Take away the change risk and bam, you got it.

LESS VALUE AT LESS COST: This is a difficult proposition to accept. Know one wants less value, but the real challenge is to demonstrate that the less value isn’t as much as the less cost. You must show that even though you client will lose a little, the reduction in cost is worth it. Prepare for a long adoption process with this proposition.

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A Risk Boundary Problem

“If I concern my project with risk assessment, then my project targets such as Budget, Schedule, and quality become more reliable, but this will require me to define better project boundaries between strategy, program mandates, and project requirements.”

What is risk? The answer to this question depends on who answers it and the boundaries the individual establishes around themselves. If the answer comes from someone who is responsible for all processes within the Integrated PM system boundary, a clear answer can be expected. Risk is obvious when people own their processes. The owner is anxious about resources being well spent and not wasted, and that the results are acceptable. They want to maximize the chance of success and looks for clues to act upon. In other words, the owner deliberately sees risks and responds to them. If they grow nonchalant and detached, they don’t see many risks or don’t feel like acting upon them. When nonowners see risks, and communicate them to those who run the process, the result is conflict.

Risk arises from factors beyond our control. A designer may consider requirement analysis as a source of risk because it is external to him and he is not sure whether the analysis results will be communicated completely and correctly. This is a "dependency risk." A boundary is drawn around the process, and risks that threaten the process from across the boundary are seen. Risk perception has a built-in boundary perception. Risk definition has meaning only with reference to this boundary.

Within the process owner's boundary, a problem is not immediately seen as a risk, even if it happens to be vague and uncertain. The propensity is to assign the problem to process control and process management.

Across the boundary, the propensities change. A process owner has no influence beyond her boundary. Neighboring processes are alien and appear to be sources of risk. Problems tend to get labeled as risks.

When the boss of the SBU (strategic business unit) looks at the same risk from a larger perspective, the risk looks smaller and local. The risk appears to have occurred due to lack of cooperation between two process owners. She does not want to think of this local issue as a major risk, as things can improve through better management. If provoked, she may term this an internal risk that can be solved by taking internal measures. The SEU boss realizes that the better the management, the fewer the internal risks.

There are some sensitive internal conditions, such as when a PM chooses to run a project without adequate resources and authority. The processes have weaknesses that are well known to the stakeholders. Process weaknesses are potential breeding grounds for risks. But the PM may not have the resources, power, and influence to improve process capabilities. All the PM can do is mitigate the harmful effects, promote awareness of the risks, and prepare contingency plans. Risks have a different connotation in this case.

It is important to define internal risks, because they contribute to more than 65 percent of risks in a typical business environment.

Internal risks are solved by internal response plans. Most internal risks evoke short-term plans that operate within the life of the project. These are dependency risks that are solved by better coordination and risk communication. Some internal risks arise because of lack of process capability. There is no quick solution to such problems. This calls for a well-designed process improvement plan. The nature of improvement can be a series of continual improvements or kaizens, or a major breakthrough improvement of the Six Sigma style. Such improvements require more resources and time.

Yet another type of internal risk is seen on comparing growth objectives with current performance levels. Today is fine, but tomorrow may bring hurdles. Perception of such risks comes from long-term vision. If growth goals are taken seriously, one finds more risks. If growth goals are taken as secondary concerns, one does not see risks. I find that architects of the organization will detect growth-related risks, while most PMs don’t. When an organization is divided, more boundaries appear and employees see more internal risks. When the organization is integrated, such as in Integrated PM, internal risks are called process management issues. In an integrated organization with boundaries, collaborative efforts make up for weaknesses and create an organizational capability that is greater than the sum of individual process capabilities. This is the Integrated PM system with sub-components. In fragmented organizations, risks multiply.

Internal risk is the probability of suffering losses while pursuing performance and growth goals because of inadequacies in process capability (including core and support processes) and organizational structure.

Beyond the organizational boundary, however, things are different.

External conditions are beyond our control. There are risk factors beyond our sphere of influence. Competitors cut prices and marketing times almost ruthlessly. Social forces may erode staff loyalty. The PM sees external risks as threats and develops strategies to deal with them.

External risk is the probability of suffering loss while pursuing performance and growth goals because of uncer-tainties in external conditions.

There cannot be a better example of external risk than requirements.

The requirements keep changing; they "creep." The volatility of requirements is a perennial source of uncertainty and, hence, risk. Requirements go through a metamorphosis, becoming bigger and clearer in each phase of their evolution. Requirement evolution is a subject for continuous observation and modeling. Requirement volatility is beyond our control and is uncertain. Change is inevitable and is beyond prediction. When the requirement risk occurs, it can cause numerous problems for the project. Managers are aware of this. They cannot avoid it, but are prepared. Those who have mastered this risk, experience fewer surprises when requirements change.

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Project Portfolios and the GOSPEL of Integrated PM.

"If I use the principles of project portfolio management, then I can drive increased value through projects, but our project management and program management practices aren’t mature enough for portfolio management."

The Project Portfolio G.O.S.P.E.L.

I tell my clients that I have one of the best jobs in the World; I go all over the world teaching the GOSPEL. That is, the GOSPEL of Integrated PM. This is a common acronym used to teach project strategic planning, and project portfolio management. These two disciplines are tightly coordinated within Integrated PM. Below I’ll quickly explain the acronym. They represent the fundamental capabilities required for a successful portfolio management process.

GOAL

This represents the long-term purpose of your organization. A change here would require major structural reorganization, and seldom happens. Your goal in the GOSPEL, represents your organization’s mission. Many times, the goal of the organization isn’t even measured. Of course, this needs to change, as the Goal drives all other activity within the organization, and the activities of Integrated PM. Every system must have a single purpose, each sub-system within the system must also have a single purpose or ‘Goal. Every portfolio (or sub-portfolio) requires a goal.

OBJECTIVES

During strategic planning the Goal is segmented into the Key Strategic Areas which your organization must be successful in for the Goal to be achieved. Normally there are three to six Key Strategic Areas. If you can’t identify enough Key Strategic Ares, go down a level in abstraction. If you identify too many Key Strategic Areas, the combine some and go up a level in abstraction. Success in these Key Strategic Areas is not an option, failure in one is failure in the organization as a system. They therefore, all have the same priority. These Key Strategic Areas are called objectives for ease.

In Integrated PM, Objectives join to achieve the organizational goal. Think of them as separate components within the same system. Objective measures are critical to portfolio value decisions, and balancing.

STRATEGY

Because each of the organization’s objectives are so critical to your organizational success, you typically want to develop multiple strategies for accomplishing each objective which reduces the risk of failure. The strategy defines the operational concept, or technical approach to the objective. Strategies are typically controlled with guidelines, constraints, capabilities, and practical limitations.

PLANS

Our project plans should be linked to one strategy. Of course, typically multiple projects and programs are normally linked to a single strategy, but where it makes sense, a single project might support multiple strategies. This is referred to as a many-to-many relationship. The best-practice here is to focus more on authority and responsibility than on links. The links are used for reporting, alignment scoring models, finance and resource balancing, and shouldn’t become structural constraints.

EXECUTION

This is where the ‘rubber hits the road’ so to say. Your projects should cause strategic change when done right, but nothing can happen if resources aren’t available. Project ranking and prioritization enables limited resources to be applied where the most value can be produced. Once the portfolio management question can be answered, “Out of all the things that could be done, what should be done, given the limited resources?”, execution becomes paramount. The capacity plan kicks in at this point, and optimally places the right resources, at the right project, at the right time.

LEARNING

Now remember this, the entire purpose of this activity to drive change in the value indicators. There are six ways that projects can impact organizational value. Some of these value drivers cause change to the organization’s perceived value. While other drivers cause change to operational cost. At the end of the day, they all drive changes which increase the organization’s competitive advantage.

The question is, “How well did the project meet expectations?” Can we learn from the past, by measuring the present, to improve the future? This is the challenge of every Integrated PM team. To address this challenge, we use systems thinking and a measure framework that helps improve project portfolio decisions, resulting in improved project performance.

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What is Necessary to Satisfy Client’s Need for the Project?

“If a project planner must at least satisfy the client’s needs for a project to be successful, then the planner needs to know what’s necessary, but how do we determine the client’s wants over their needs in a project?”

As we all know, what a customer wants and needs are often two very different things. It is nothing less of an art form in many different professions to be able to discern what is more important, or in the very least, pick a side in Marshall Field’s motto “the customer is always right.”

In project management, when assigned a project, it is never good enough to leave it at face value and create only what was asked of you. Doing that won’t get you long-term praise, a solid foundation for growth, or even notoriety. To be better, you must determine if the customer wants the wrong deliverable, and then from there, gently lead them in the direction that would better satisfy their constraint. We do this through gathering information on current operations, success factors, core values, and the competitive landscape from the eyes of the customer.

This is easy to say, hard to do, because projects come from a myriad of sources. Projects can originate from daily task lists, strategic planning sessions, enterprise roadmaps, or simply a project request, but no matter the source, the first step is always the same. We need to determine the principle purpose, a list of major objectives/deliverables, standard phases, a timeline expressing due dates, and a project sponsor. It is in this first step of developing the project purpose that the true needs of the customer or the user should be separated from the desires.

To get the conversation underway and start gathering the necessary information, a project manager needs to organize meetings, first with the sponsor, and then with the client. The objective of these meetings is to listen. These are opportunities to refine our understanding of the current situation and the problem that the final deliverable is meant to solve. A strong leader strategically listens for the competitive landscape, core values, success factors, as well as current conditions. This is the information that you need to make the best project plan possible.

This delicate dance can be accomplished by presenting your initial understanding of the principle purpose and objectives. The project objectives are derived from the principle purpose as two to eight key components that the project must deliver or effect to be called a success. Each objective is a category for strategically delivering or achieving the project purpose, and therefore, the final deliverable.

The first meeting with the sponsor is designed to create a consensus before further refinement with the customer. You should present your understanding and then listen to what the sponsor and client says in response. In these meetings, ask questions designated to elicit information as well as repeat the information you have gleaned through the questioning. The deliverable of a project is not change itself, but always ushers in some sort of change to the organization. Obtaining the true project purpose is important, but delicate. Take care not to push too hard.

Any member of a project should want to answer the question, what is necessary to satisfy client’s need for the project? Why do your customers need you? Every organization needs a reason for their customers to buy from them, or use them, and not their competitors. Understanding this reality means that you can tailor your project to better match their needs rather than just their wants, so start digging for the truth.

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Val Workman
First of all, thanks for the post. In an IT organization, talking about a customer can be confusing, and talking about competition... Read More
Wednesday, 08 November 2017 11:05
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Facilitating Integrated PM Projects (1 out of 11)

“If as a project manager I try to facilitate decisions, then the project team will feel more impowered, but they see me as always biased to my own desired outcome.”

OVERVIEW

In this opening blog post, I briefly illustrate the need for facilitation within the project management effort, define group facilitation, and give an overview of the Skilled Facilitator approach. We also see the key elements and how they fit together to form a values based systemic approach to facilitation and the larger Integrated PM effort.

There is a gap in the literature around what is needed from the portfolio, program, or project sponsor. Oh yes, a great deal has been said about the need of the Sponsor. But the literature is sparse on how to be a good sponsor.

THE NEED FOR GROUP FACILITATION

Groups are becoming the basic work unit of organizations, as opposed to the individual. Increasingly, we turn to groups to bring together differing views, produce quality products and services, and coordinate complex world of projects. In doing so, we expect groups to work effectively so that the product of their efforts is greater than the sum of the parts. Yet our experience with groups often leaves us feeling disappointed or frustrated.

Project teams, or groups do not have to function in ways that lead to ineffective performance, make it difficult for members to work together, and frustrate members. Project teams can improve how they work. This blog post series is about helping project teams improve their effectiveness by using the facilitative skills of each other, the project manager and project sponsor. It is about helping all types of work groups: top management teams, boards, committees, work teams, cross-functional teams, interorganizational groups, quality groups, task forces, and employee-management or union -management groups. Anyone who works with others needs facilitative skills, not just the sponsor.

Organizational consultants, internal and external, need facilitative skills when they contract with clients, diagnose problems, and recommend solutions. Leaders and managers need facilitative skills to explore stakeholders' interests and to craft solutions based on sound data that generate commitment.

Because organizations change constantly, the need for facilitative skills to support change is always increasing. This applies to a merger or acquisition, or downsizing, and to efforts to improve the quality of products and services, empower employees, develop a shared vision, develop a self-managing work team, or develop an organizational culture that makes these changes possible.

Organizations typically use project teams to plan and implement change, and project teams typically need some form of facilitation. In addition, facilitative skills have become more important as organizations try to openly and constructively manage conflict arising from the change they try to create.

At the heart of improving project the team’s effectiveness lies the ability of project team members to reflect on what they are doing, to create the conditions necessary to achieve their goals. Project teams find it difficult to openly examine behavior on their own; they often need the help of a facilitator.

WHAT IS GROUP FACILITATION?

Group facilitation is a process in which a person whose selection is acceptable to all the members of the group, who is substantively neutral, and who has no substantive decision-making authority diagnoses and intervenes to help a group improve how it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions, to increase the group's effectiveness. In many cases, the PM is within the project team, and require someone outside of the team, such as the sponsor to facilitate project team performance.

The facilitator's main task is to help the group increase effectiveness by improving its process and structure.

Process refers to how a group works together. It includes how members talk to each other, how they identify and solve problems, how they make decisions, and how they handle conflict. Structure refers to stable recurring group process, examples being group membership or project team roles. In contrast, content refers to what a group is working on. The content of a group discussion might be whether to enter a new market, how to provide high-quality service to customers, or what each project team member's responsibilities should be.

Whenever a group meets, it is possible to observe both content and process. For example, in a discussion of how to provide high-quality service, suggestions about installing a customer hotline or giving more authority to those with customer contact reflect content. However, members responding to only certain colleagues' ideas or failing to identify their assumptions are facets of the group's process. Underlying the facilitator's main task is the fundamental assumption that ineffective group process and structure reduces a group's ability to solve problems and make decisions. Although research findings on the relationship between process and group effectiveness are mixed, the premise of this blog series is that by increasing the effectiveness of the group's process and structure the facilitator helps the group improve its performance and overall effectiveness.

The facilitator does not intervene directly in the content of the group's discussions; to do so would require the facilitator to abandon neutrality and reduce the group's responsibility for solving its problems. To ensure that the facilitator is trusted by all project team members and that the group's autonomy is maintained, the facilitator should be acceptable to all members of the group; this person needs to be substantively neutral- that is, display no preference for any of the solutions the group considers- and not have substantive decision-making authority.

In practice, the facilitator can meet these three criteria only if he or she is not a project team member. A group member may be acceptable to other members and may not have substantive decision making authority yet have a substantive interest in the group's issues. By definition, a group member cannot formally fill the role of facilitator. Still, a group leader or member can use the principles and techniques I describe in this blog series to help a project team. Effective leaders regularly facilitate their project teams as part of their leadership role.

To intervene means "to enter into an ongoing system" for the purpose of helping those in the system. The definition implies that the system, or group, functions autonomously- that is, the project team is complete without a facilitator. Yet the group depends on a facilitator for help. Consequently, to maintain the group's autonomy and to develop its long-term effectiveness, the facilitator's interventions should decrease the group's dependence on the facilitator. Ideally, the facilitator accomplishes this by intervening in a way that teaches group members the skills of facilitation.

The Approaches to Facilitation

This blog series will consist of the following posts covering the various approaches to facilitation, ending with the systems approach used within Integrated PM.

  1. The group effectiveness model
  2. A clearly defined facilitative role
  3. Useful in a range of roles
  4. Explicit core values
  5. Ground rules for effective groups
  6. The diagnosis-intervention cycle
  7. Low-level inferences
  8. Exploring and changing how we think
  9. A process for agreeing on how to work together
  10. A systems approach
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Mentoring New PMs (Part 8 of 8)

“If I help other PMs, then they will expect me to continue, but how do I sustain a coaching effort?”

Part 8: Accelerate and sustain the learner’s transformation

Ultimately, developers want learners to grow. However, some learners show little real growth from coaching because they have no real desire to change, although they may use coaching to get advice or to express and release pent-up frustration. Other learners make incremental changes- for example, learning new approaches for dealing with conflict, being able to lead with greater clarity and conviction, and being able to make important and wise decisions in a timely way. While these are valuable outcomes of the coaching process, the greatest value of the coaching experience is in the learner's making transformational change.

Transformational change requires learners to examine their fundamental patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. They need to assess what they truly want, realize that the fundamental obstacles to achieving these desires are often rooted in their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and recognize that they have real choices that are within their control. In addition, learners who make transformational changes continue to grow and develop throughout their lives.

The role of a PM plays an important part of the success of projects, but regardless of how proficient the PM is, organizational structure, technology, information flows, and process all play their part. The coach can often help the learner recognize those things that are out of their control, and those things that can be and should be changed.

REMINDER The learner may appear committed to change, but it is important to clarify whether the intended change is incremental or transformational. Always make sure the learner has a plan for change, or the growth will be difficult to sustain.

SUMMARY: THE COACHING TEMPLATE

The following summary can serve as a coaching template and may be used for short-term, crisis, or long-term coaching.

-Determine Coaching Goals and Learner Motivation Make sure the goals can be accomplished in the time available and are linked to one or more of the learner's key motivators. -Assess the Learner's Level and Range of Self-Mastery, Then Use Level-Appropriate Coaching Approaches

  • Determine the learner's normal (average) level and range of self-mastery.
  • Select the development approach(es)that would be most effective with the learner, and experiment with these.

Use Coaching Techniques That Challenge Growth

Plan how you will use each of the four coaching techniques from this section, and use them at appropriate moments during the coaching process.

Head Center Challenge: "What if?"

What have you heard the learner say or imply that reflects a mental model or assumption you can challenge? How will you phrase this "What if?" challenge to the learner?

Heart Center Challenge: Recognizing and Leveraging Defense Mechanisms

When have you observed the learner use a particular defense mechanism? Would a direct or an indirect challenge be more effective? How would you phrase this defense mechanism challenge to the learner?

Body Center Challenge: "Why would you want to do that?"

What behavior has the learner stated that he or she plans to do? Do you think this is a wise course of action? How would you phrase this "Why would you want to do that?" challenge to the learner?

Transformative Paradoxical Challenge

What paradoxes have you observed in the learner? Select the most significant one. How would you phrase this paradoxical challenge to the learner? REMINDER Using an effective coaching challenge at an opportune moment stimulates the learner to grow at an accelerated pace. However, using too many techniques can interfere with excellent coaching, which is essentially an interaction between two human beings. Listening attentively, conveying respect for the learner, and being committed to the learner's growth are far more important than any technique.

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Mentoring New PMs (Part 7 of 8)

“If I want to coach other PMs, then we can have a more competitive organization, but I will have to deal with difficult personalities.”

Part 7: Use coaching techniques that challenge growth

Coaching is essentially a human experience. If developers forget this and either employ too many techniques or use techniques at the wrong time, they become more coaching technicians than developers who can make a difference in the lives of learners. The most important thing a developer can do for a learner is to listen in an active way. This includes hearing not only what is said, but also how it is said and what it means; recognizing, then encouraging or challenging, the learner's patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving, particularly those that support or detract from the learner's goals and ultimate growth; and having the experience, intuition, and wisdom to know when to just listen and when to say or do something.

In addition, there are four coaching techniques that, when used at the right time, can make a big difference in the pace and depth of the learner's development. These techniques, described below, are actually supportive challenges and target the three Centers of Intelligence: the Head Center (mental), Heart Center (emotional), and Body Center (action).

Head Center Challenges: "What if?" Questions

"What if?" questions work well in situations in which the learner makes assumptions that something is absolutely true and inviolable. These assumptions are part of the learner's mental models; unexamined mental models limit a learner's understanding of what is truly possible and therefore reinforce current behavior.

After hearing the learner express an assumption, the developer poses a relevant "What if?" question.

During a coaching meeting, Hannah tells her manager that she is completely frustrated working with a specific client, whom she perceives as being overly opinionated and having poor listening skills and a belligerent attitude. Hannah says, "I'll never find a way to work well with this person."

COACHE'S "WHAT IF?" CHALLENGE

"What if you could find a way to work effectively with this person, even if you still don't like the interactions?"

Before Hannah can develop a way to work effectively with this individual, she has to first believe that this is both possible and she is capable of doing so.

After Hannah responds to the "What if?" challenge with a statement that implies she recognizes that working effectively with someone like this is possible, the developer can then work with her on alternative tactics.

Heart Center Challenges: Recognizing and Leveraging Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological strategies used by indi-viduals to deal with uncomfortable and difficult situations. These mechanisms work to reduce a person's anxiety, sadness, and/ or anger and to maintain his or her self-image.

Developers need to recognize and learn to leverage the learner's defense mechanisms for two important reasons. First, the learner's defense mechanisms appear primarily when the learner is avoiding something. Thus, uncovering what lies beneath a defense mechanism is almost always a key to unlocking what the learner most needs to examine.

Second, the defense mechanism is often the most obvious manifestation of a learner's resistance to growth. When resistance is left unchecked, the progress of coaching will be severely compromised. Once a learner exhibits a defense mechanism, the developer can use either an indirect or a direct challenge, both of which are designed to highlight the defense mechanism and to explore the learner's avoidance or resistance. Indirect challenges are more subtle and less intrusive, but they may have less impact; direct challenges get the learner's attention faster, but they can heighten resistance and may be too strong for some learners.

Defense Mechanism- Distortion is a clearly incorrect and flagrant reshaping of external reality to meet a person's internal needs.

When Nathan spoke with his coach about his failure to garner approval for the new website vendor he had been asked to recommend, he was full of fury. Blaming his boss for not supporting his choice of vendor-claiming the boss had given him the authority to make this decision-Nathan also blamed the team he had created for refusing to advocate on his behalf. After listen-ing to Nathan for half an hour, his developer, Erin, became concerned. Nathan's furor and explanations were in direct conflict with prior information he had given her about how supportive his boss had been and how well the team had functioned. Because she perceived that Nathan was distorting what had really occurred, Erin decided to challenge Nathan's defense mechanism.

COACHE'S INDIRECT CHALLENGE

"To help me understand better, can you remind me of the original agreement you had with your manager about this, conversations you've had since then, the role of the committee you created, how often they've met, and how they have functioned? My memory of this doesn't match exactly what you're telling me now."

COACHE'S DIRECT CHALLENGE

"I know you are very, very upset by this, and this may be causing you to distort some of what actually occurred. Let's talk about your feelings, then what actu-ally transpired."

Individuals of the community use a variety of defense mechanisms at different times; however, specific defense mechanisms are strongly associated with personality types, and these particular coping strategies are most obvious when the learner is dealing with difficult issues.

Body Center Challenges: "Why would you want to do that?"

Challenges

Although learners may say they both want and plan to change something, they may possess neither a deep desire to make the change nor the necessary will and endurance. Learners usually expect the developer to respond by saying, "That's great. How will you go about doing it?" Consequently, a "Why would you want to do that?" question, stated in a neutral voice, constructively challenges learners to reflect more deeply on their wishes and intentions. As a result of the "Why would you want to do that?" question, the learner either changes his or her course of action or becomes more deeply committed to the original plan.

In a coaching meeting with his mentor, Michael says, "I've decided what to do about the promotion I want. I'm going to get a degree-one that is not required but is suggested for the job."

DEVELOPER'S "WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT?"

CHALLENGE "Why would you want to go back to school for a degree?"

The "Why would you want to do that?" challenge is also useful when learners articulate a plan of behavior that could be counterproductive to their goals or best interests. For example, if the learner says to the developer, 'I’m going to walk into my coworker's office and tell this person that the work he/ she produces is the lowest quality I have ever received;' the developer would say, "Why would you want to do that?" After listening to the response, the developer can help the learner explore his or her anger and realize that there are alternative ways to communicate with the coworker about the issue.

Transformative Challenges: Paradoxes

Paradoxes, or apparent contradictions, pose frustrating yet motivating dilemmas for learners. The learner's paradox is this: The learner truly wants something and believes that his or her behavior is designed to achieve that result. However, more often than not, the learner's own behavior is the primary impediment to the achievement of the desired goal. After developers issue a paradoxical challenge, they need to remain silent so that learners feel compelled to resolve the paradox themselves. Developers who are learning the paradoxical challenge technique can use the following structure: "Although you say you want X, your behavior actually creates Y."

The following example illustrates how to use the paradox technique to stimulate learners to change.

Jake desperately wanted recognition and influence in his firm. However, he was regularly late for staff meetings, and he often had not read the premeeting materials that had been assigned as preparation. As a result, he often asked questions during the meetings on topics that had already been covered in the premeeting materials or discussed at the meeting prior to his arrival.

Jake deeply desires recognition and influence; however, his lateness and lack of preparation create the impression that he does not take the work seriously, thus undermining both the recognition he receives and the amount of influence he wields in the firm

DEVELOPER'S RESPONSE

"Jake, let's examine your behavior both before and during staff meetings, and then let's analyze how this behavior may actually be affecting your degree of influence and the extent to which you get recognition."

The paradoxical challenges are deep-level paradoxes that should be used only with moderate or high self-mastery learners. Low self-mastery learners are not in a psychological state to handle the complexity and ambiguity inherent in the resolution of this level of paradox, and deep-level or complex paradoxes can increase their anxiety. While less powerful paradoxes can be used with these learners, developers should do so with caution.

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What is Project Risk?

“If I perform risk management for a project, we might be more successful, but I’m not sure what risk really is.”

The original meaning of risk is associated with gambling- to risk is to gamble. When we take risks, there is a chance of gaining and perhaps an equal chance of losing. Project risk has evolved to mean more.

Uncertainty in business ventures has come to be known as risk. Every business venture is basically risky. In new business ventures, project initiatives, and new product development, there are unknown factors and their impacts on the venture are equally unknown. The unknown factors could be favorable or unfavorable. There is a probability that one may either gain or lose business value. However, a loss may hurt the venture. Most business ventures like to assess the probability of loss and compare it with the probability of gain. The decision to go ahead depends on whether the odds are favorable or unfavorable. Risk is the probability of suffering loss. Using this approach, the PMO or Project Steering Committee will not pursue a venture that has a risk probability greater than 49 percent. The odds must be in favor of winning the gamble, even though the tilt is marginal.

Definition 1.1: Risk is the probability of suffering loss.

A refinement of this definition is to include goals, gains, or opportunities in the statement. Perhaps it is implied and obvious that risks relate to gains. Nevertheless, if risks are divorced from the associated goals, then one sees just a set of problems. A risk list should not be reduced to a problem list. Risks have a much broader role to play. We should always include the expected and potential gains that a project offers in the risk assessment.

Definition 1.2: Risk is the probability of suffering loss while pursuing goals

Then there is the consideration of the magnitude of harm from the risk. What will its impact be? The consequence of the risk is evaluated. If the harm is tolerable but the gains are attractive, new decision rules can emerge. One may even take a risk where the occurrence probability is greater than 50 percent. The threshold is not 49 percent. Risk is seen as a weighed parameter and can fluctuate. The weight is based on the magnitude of loss due to risk, if the risk ever occurs.

Risk magnitude is measured using many different estimation methods. When the estimations form a range; such as a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20, for a measure you want to maximize. You would compute half the distance between the max and min which is 4. Your estimate magnitude is 16 (the mean of the two numbers) with a risk of 4. 4 is 25% of 16, so you might report a risk magnitude of 25%. My point here is magnitude is dealt with in multiple ways.

Risk is defined as the combination of probability of occurrence and the magnitude of loss it causes. This combination is also known as risk exposure. The new definition below takes this into consideration.

Definition 1.3: Risk is the combination of probability and magnitude of loss.

Typically, project risk is defined and measured using Definition 1.3. Measure-ment of risk is often a subjective process. Both the probability and loss are measured using linguistic measures such as "high," "medium," and "low" which are nominal metrics. What matters is not just the risk, but its intensity, measured as risk exposure. Will the risk occur? What will the harm be? These are more significant questions than, "What is the risk?"

A clarification is due at this juncture. If loss occurs because of factors within our control, it is not considered as a risk. Only factors beyond our control give rise to risk. This is the general perception that makes risk management simple. Internal factors are within our control. Hence, only external factors that contribute to loss, which are not under the project manager’s direct control, qualify as risk factors. When this notion prevailed, people believed that they had not caused the risks.

Sometimes, processes are not in control and results are not predictable or what were intended. Such losses become risks. In this case, the origin is not the criterion - predictability and control are important factors. Hence, a complete risk definition would be:

Definition 1.4: Risk is the probability of suffering loss while pursuing goals due to factors that are unpredictable or beyond the PM’s control.

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What types of problems can risk assessment be applied to?

“If I use risk management practices then I might be able to determine a range of possibilities, but I'm not sure of the type of problems risk assessment can be applied?”

Risk management may not be everything you think. Here are some examples of how project estimates other than traditional 'Risk’ logs are used in project planning and project portfolio management.

The Legal Model - A model that calculated the net benefit of settlement vs. litigation was built to aid in legal decisions. The net benefit of a settlement, net cost of litigation, the net cost of the settlement, a total cost of a verdict, and other outputs were calculated. Input variables that comprised broad categories included parameters such as litigation costs, total damages, the likelihood of a verdict, and other probabilistic and economic aspects. Project selection and ranking were then based on the estimates of this risk model. Maintaining a 'risk log' wasn't even part of the effort, but the use of anticipated risk events and the associated probabilities certainly are.

An Environmental Health and Safety Model- Models were built that calculated the total environmental, health, and safety risk and cost associated with entry by the company into various countries around the world. Risk of subcomponents of the model were also calculated and presented. Input-variable categories (many variables per category) included public perception considerations, government approvals/permits, ecological/cultural parameters, health and safety considerations, and evaluation of preexisting damage. In this case, risk assessment happened during strategic program planning and then downstream to provide guidelines and constraints to project managers.

Pipeline Route-Selection model- Oh boy, a comprehensive time-series model was constructed to help a consortium decide which of several routes would be selected to construct a pipeline for a major oil field. The pipeline route-selection model calculated tariffs and other parameters from variables that represented major categories of consideration. These included political concerns, environmental problems, commercial considerations, financial parameters, technical considerations, taxes (for many countries), and other parameters. This model was used with great success to rank and prioritize the routes of pipeline projects. Financial estimates then drove project constraints. Notice when in the project planning cycle, risk management practices and risk events were considered.

Political models- Models were constructed that evaluated other countries based on categories of variables. Categories included political stability, foreign investment conditions, operating environment, transportation infrastructure, and other considerations. Results from the models facilitated comparison of countries on a common scale. Once again, these models drove selection criteria based on risk factors, not during the execution of a project already committed to.

Capital Project Ranking and Portfolio Management model- This model calculated profitability index (PI), internal rate of return (IRR), net present value (NPV), and other financial outputs. Input variables included project safety and environmental aspects, cost estimates, incentives, discount rates, taxes, maintenance and insurance costs, and other considerations. This model was run on all capital projects at a manufacturing facility. The projects were ranked and portfolio-managed based upon the model outputs. No this wasn't the only model used. Before this model was used, other assessments were leveraged while financial information wasn't yet available. These capital projects had already gone through capacity planning and were now going through the second level of estimation. Notice that risk modeling of risk events are used throughout the project planning lifecycle to provide probabilistic estimates. Too many times, as project managers, we use the single value, deterministic estimates of performance factors which are not fixed.

New Products model- Research and development organizations generate products and processes, each of which may have commercial value. It is, however, expensive to launch a new product in the marketplace. Therefore, products and processes need to be ranked. A model was built that included categories of variables. Some of the categories were technical considerations, marketing aspects, financial/commercial facets, and others. The model facilitated the application of weights to the various considerations. Results from the model allowed the prioritization of potential new products. These models can be complex, but depending on when the estimates are being used, can take less than 5 minutes per project to estimate.

Fate/Transport model - A model was constructed to calculate inhalation exposure. Exposure was represented in the model as the average daily dose for noncarcinogens and the lifetime average daily dose for carcinogens. Among the input variables were parameters such as the concentration of chemicals in the air, inhalation rate, bioavailability, exposure duration, exposure frequency, body weight, average lifetime, and other considerations.

My point is that risk management efforts involve more than only the maintenance of the project risk log, and typically models save the organization time, and make their project planning efforts more robust and consistent, smoothing the way for project management activities.

 

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Create and Leverage Templates

If project managers co-develop standard practices and templates, then practice adoption and baseline performance would be higher, but with so many varying opinions, a ‘We’ culture is required.

Gary stares at his computer monitor, bewildered, as he scrolls through a large folder of project template files, “Just ask the top project managers to share their templates”, he mockingly mumbles to himself. With project performance varying greatly across the different project management teams, Gary, as part of the Governance team, has been tasked with establishing a standard set of project templates to improve project performance across his business unit. Just like a fancy dessert, without a recipe or set of repeatable steps, consistent results aren’t guaranteed.

Creating templates that are leveraged across the organization is something that requires consolidation of input from many sources. Just asking the top performers to give you their templates and combining those into one set of templates, is a daunting task that will not get much buy-in from other project managers. You will get better adoption and leverage of these templates if members of the project management team are involved in developing them. Using a “We” thinking approach and leveraging their diverse knowledge, skills, and experience, you can define much more competitive standard practices and templates.

Even though Gary has been given the authority to define the standard templates, he knows that if he builds them on his own and dictates them to the rest of the organization, not only will very few people adopt them, but they will be much less effective than templates co-developed with the entire team. To lead this initiative, he needs to exercise “We” leadership principles. Key aspects of “We” leadership are to share power, be inclusive, seek feedback, break down silos, celebrate diversity, and encourage discussion.

1) We start by first defining what the characteristics of a good project management process are. 2) Rank these factors based on importance using a simple pair-wise comparison method. 3) We need to define the project phases and their objectives/deliverables. What must we achieve before we move on? 4) Brainstorm on the different tools, methods, templates that could help achieve those objectives. In portfolio management decision making we refer to this step as listing alternatives. Since we don’t have unlimited time, we need to decide out of all the practices we could include in our template, which ones will provide the most value to us.

Using the factors of a good project management practice we defined earlier, we can rank the impact of each proposed practice. When selecting from these ranked practices, the team should keep in mind their current practices and try not to introduce an overwhelming amount of change.These selected practices are included in the baseline template that will be used going forward. This establishes the standard set of practices that Gary was tasked to produce.

By leveraging these standard templates, project performance is no longer solely dependent on the individual managing the project. If we follow the recipe, our desert will turn out well. Performance of your project management teams can now be predicted, measured, and improved. By establishing a fair and inclusive process, that leverages “We” thinking, you can capitalize on the diverse knowledge and experience of your team to create competitive templates that the team is excited to leverage.

 

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Project Management Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we’ll need to answer questions and provide feedback.”

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Project Management processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Project Management performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Project Management performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Project Management practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Project Management performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORT- This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORT- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBD- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES- This is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASE- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARD- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAM- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLAN- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE BASED TRAINING DIAGRAM- This is a set of Power Point diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAP- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

 

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Project Management with ‘FACET’ Process-Services™

“Project Management with FACET is a Process-Services™ offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of FACET, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

Each surface, or facet of this gem represents an information structure of a project, program, or portfolio. Think of these facets as an information architecture. One architecture would contain the project activities or tasks. Another facet of this gem (project) could be a cost structure, another one a contract structure. There exists many structures or architectures for projects programs, and portfolios. Much of the information within these architectures have inter-connecting links and correlations to behavior or performance.

During our process consultancy, we address:

Facets- In Integrated PM, there are many facets of the project. In the PMI, they recognize knowledge areas, which become structures, or knowledge management frameworks in Integrated PM. Each information asset in the framework maybe interconnected with other assets.

Adapt- The PM has a plan, but even the best laid plan needs to adapt to the changing environments of projects. Good plans can be quickly adapted to deal with new conditions, poorer ones- well not so.

Communicate- Communication is KING during project execution. The communication plan facilitates communication. The project manager must communicate with the client, stakeholders, and project resources to keep the perceived value high, and optimize engagement.

Execute- With all the emphases on high-level thinking, who’s getting things done. Project Management is about getting things done, and must result in many people working together. They must crystallize thought and anticipate roadblocks. They require the sound judgement that comes only through execution of past projects.

Teamwork- As projects grow, the need for Teamwork is obvious, but even for a project when you’re doing everything, the feeling of ‘Team’ should exist between the client, stakeholders, and project members. Teamwork is the work required to keep the team functioning, not the work to accomplish the team’s goal.

The pmNERDS process consultancy provides a standard Project Management capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Project Management practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Conflict Resolution, Monitoring Mechanisms, Governance, Performing Quality Control, Performing Cost Control, Team Management, Schedule Control, Project End-of-Life, Communicating, Performance Reporting, Stakeholder Management, and Responding to Risk.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies, as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

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Project Management Performance-Service™

“If we engage pmNERDS’ Performance-Service™ for Project Management, then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our performance improvement consulting practice for Project Management, begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap.

Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities. We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending of the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled.

Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Performance improvement consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and use of a standard performance measure framework.

Within this engagement we focus on:

  • the project request process,
  • ranking projects,
  • conducting the project initiation phase,
  • leading a project kickoff,
  • maintaining the communication and adoption plan.
  • Managing the risk log

Much of our time is spent addressing what is sometimes called the soft-skills of Project Management. But this differentiation isn’t complete. This is the “Doing” tasks of project management, after the plan has been specified.

Best practices performed by the project manager will be detailed. These facets of projects will be defined within the client’s environment. Coordinating tasks, managing plan buffers, expenses, and risks to name a few are detailed and examined with the objective to optimally categorize these activities as separate facets of Integrated PM. Then a study is conducted to begin the definition of correlations and inter-relationships between categorized components and project behavior.

We will review with the client the process of identifying the key performance constraints, and walk through effect-cause-effect thinking to validate assumptions and break project performance constraints.

By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes. Our performance consulting practice requires a discussion to determine goals, scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current project management process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort.

You can discover more about this service offering by clicking the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website. We’d love to discuss this Performance-Service™ offering and answer any questions you might have.

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Project Planning Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we’ll need to answer questions and provide feedback.”

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Project Planning processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Project Planning performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Project Planning performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Project Planning practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Project Planning performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORT- This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORT- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBD- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES- This is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASE- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARD- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAM- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLAN- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE BASED TRAINING DIAGRAM- This is a set of Power Point diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAP- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone. 

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Project Planning with ‘NEEDS’ Process-Service™

“Project Planning with NEEDS is a Process-Service™ offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of NEEDS, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

I sure hope this guy has what he needs before the winter starts in, or when his project begins. I find that most issues in projects could have been avoided if a better job of planning was done. Likewise, most issues with project plans arise when the gathering and understanding of client, customer, and stakeholder needs weren’t understood, or keep front and center during the planning activity. On the other hand, there is nothing like a winter in a log cabin when everything has been addressed properly.

During our process consultancy, we address:

Necessary- In terms of the minimal viable product/deliverable, what is necessary to satisfy client’s need for the project? Once we know the necessary, we can use our experience to define the sufficient plan.

Expectations- What are the client’s, stakeholder’s, and resource’s expectations. The plan should address any gap between expectations and plan. The plan should mold and set final expectations before final commitment of irrevocable resources.

Estimates- The plan’s estimates are an essential characteristic of the plan’s performance. Without an estimate, the plan is merely a check list. The accuracy of the estimate is the perceived accuracy of the plan. The planner must know the required accuracy, and balance it against planning costs.

Deliverables- Products and services produced by the project are different than the consequence of the project, which is always a change. Deliverables are not necessarily the change, but instead are the strategy the planner uses to cause the change.

Success Criteria- Plan for success. What must be accomplished for the project to be successful? How will the change caused by the project be measured? What is the plan to cause this change? Understand what is a sufficient plan.

The pmNERDS process consultancy provides a standard Project Planning capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Project Planning practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Chartering, Value Realization Planning, Requirements, Project Scope Planning, Problem Statements, Change Management Planning, Deliverable Centric WBS, Verification Planning, Predecessors, Resource Estimating, Duration Estimating, Resource Balancing, The Critical Chain, Cost Estimating, Risk Analysis, Risk Response Planning, Cost Budgeting, Quality Planning, Communication Planning, Adoption Planning, Information Asset Management Plan, Contracting Plan, and the Contract Administration Plan.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies, as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

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Project Planning Performance-Service™

“If we engage pmNERDS’ Performance-Service™ for Project Planning then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our performance improvement consulting practice for Project Planning, begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap.

Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities. We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending of the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled.

Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Performance improvement Consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and use of a standard performance measure framework.

There are real reasons for addressing the business objectives of project planning and project management separately. Besides the ethical conflicts that always occur and must be constantly governed, there are different practices and skills between a planner and a leader.

At pmNERDS we recognize and celebrate these different perspectives instead of ignoring them and delivering a watered-down blend of both. Why compromise when you can have everything?

Within this engagement we address the specific planning activities for projects. This will include both top-down and bottom-up approaches. We recognize that the project plan is a part of your organizations intellectual property. It is a valuable information asset, and when done right, can generate value for many years.

We will work with you to build and refine a set of plans that maximize value. We will also work with your team to teach planning practices that improve over time; maximizing process efficiency, increasing the perceived value of deliverables, and reducing variance. By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes.

Our performance improvement consulting practice requires a discussion to determine goals, scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current project planning process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort.

You can discover more about this service offering by clicking the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website. We’d love to discuss this Performance-Service™ offering and answer any questions you might have.

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Strategic Project Planning Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we'll need to answer questions and provide feedback."

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Strategic Planning processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Strategic Planning performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Strategic Planning performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Strategic Planning practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Strategic Planning performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORT- This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORT- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBD- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES- This is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASE- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARD- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAM- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLAN- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE BASED TRAINING DIAGRAM- This is a set of Power Point diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAP- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

To learn more about our Strategic Project Planning Fast-Service™, contact us through the email or phone icons.

 

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Strategic Project Planning with ‘SHAPE’ Process-Services™

“Strategic Project Planning with SHAPE is a Process-Service™ offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of SHAPE, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

Strategic Project Planning shapes (i.e. this awesome car) the environment, expectations, initial thresholds, guidelines, and constraints. It’s like priming the old well pump of innovation. It gets the juices flowing. It’s the catalyst of great things. As it progresses, you should see things start to take shape. The innovation process should flow as a single process which transforms initial strategic plan data into living information assets driving decisions in daily activities.

During our process consulting, we address:

Stakeholders– Know the strategic intent of your stakeholders. Now, how can you do that, if you haven’t identified their strategic intent. Do you have enough stakeholders, you may have to recruit some. Align the Goals, Objectives, Strategy, Plan, Execute, and learn; G.O.S.P.E.L. Establish the Guidelines and Constraints. Conduct a situational analysis. Verify the conflict resolution plan and establish a planning milestone roadmap. Create an innovation charter.

Hear– Identify target markets, analyze segmentation opportunities, understand initial market forces, needs, and competition. Define key strategic areas, and critical success factors for each segment. Gather information about existing job roles, capabilities, and capacity. Establish budget constraints for key strategic areas.

Analyze & Synthesize– Conduct market attractiveness and business strength analysis. Identify potential addressable market problems, opportunities, initial features and capabilities, requirements, and potential launch plan milestones.

Propose– State the value proposition. Elaborate on the communication plan for both internal and external uses. Create an initial adoption plan. Coordinate with the enterprise roadmap.

Empower– Validate plans through the lens of the business model canvas. Complete initial project description. Go through a project approval process, and engage portfolio management for prioritization. Conduct capacity planning for start dates. Conduct project planning, Project Kick off and Project management.

The pmNERDS' process consulting provides a standard Strategic Project Planning capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Strategic Project Planning Practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Initial Innovation Charter, Strategy Statement, Strategy Diagram, List of Ranked Initiative Values, List of Ranked Driving Forces, New Opportunities, Risk Mitigation Plans, Initiative milestones, Steering Committee, Market Segment Grid, Client Endorsement Program, Communication Plan, Adoption Plan, Conflict Resolution Plan, Initial Product Features, Initial Product Roadmap, Critical Success Factors Data, Market Segmentation Data, Driving Forces Data, Perceived Strength Data, Market Limitation Data, Market Opportunity Data, Market Risk Data, Financial Risk Data, Cost/Benefit Analysis Data, Capability Analysis Data, Technology Forecast Analysis Data, McKinsey 7S Analysis Data, Product Line Analysis Data, Strategic Relationship Analysis Data, Value Propositions, CoP Charter, CoP Membership, Sponsored CoP Activities, and the Business Model Canvas.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through the email or phone icons.

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Strategic Project Planning Performance-Service™

“If we engage pmNERDS’ Performance-Service™ for Strategic Project Planning, then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our performance improvement consulting begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap.

Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities. We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending of the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled.

Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Performance improvement consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and use of a standard performance measure framework.

Strategic Project Planning is about putting some shape into your future. In terms of projects, what do you see? What are your projects’, I mean all of them, primary purpose? What business objective are they supporting? These are typical, strategic planning questions for projects. Tradition would suggest that they were necessary, but are they sufficient?

It’s convenient to group strategic planning into two fundamental types being performed today. These planning types are characterized by the status of information assets within the information flows they cause.

Referential Strategy - produces information assets which are referred to in downstream project planning activities. As an example, portfolio, program, product, and project thresholds, guidelines, policies, and constraints would be provided by the strategic planning effort.

Evolutional Strategy - produces information assets which evolve and mature in downstream project planning activities. As an example, the Critical Success Factors developed during the market analysis of strategic planning, evolve into the key strategic areas of the portfolio’s sub-portfolios, the focus areas in programs, initial features in products, and project deliverable prioritization factors and budgets.

Referential Strategy becomes stale over time, and fails to have the power needed to impact daily activities. For strategy to impact daily activities, strategic information assets must become the information assets used in daily activities. During our consulting activities, we teach and practice these principles.

The five key strategic areas of our strategic project planning services are explained below.

1- Identify Stakeholders & Objectives - To create an initial innovation charter, which provides direction and constraints to the rest of the strategy planning session. Throughout the rest of this process, the charter will be modified to reflect the results of the planning analysis and decisions. Portions of this charter will be reused in the chartering of portfolios, programs, products, and projects.

2- Identify Market & Plan Communications - To create a repeatable, maintainable, and defendable document describing the characteristics of the targeted market/clients through market analysis, competitive analysis, and customer satisfaction programs. Utilize this information to create an initial communication plan for internal team members, stakeholders, and potential markets and clients which will be passed downstream for use in all project communication plans. And finally, to outline a conflict management plan that is put in place to resolve conflicts during the rest of the planning activities, and throughout the life of the initiative, involving the entire product innovation team.

3- Analyze & Synthesize Arena - The objective of this step is to determine the degrees of competitive advantage that could be gained by making various strategic decisions, through evaluating market attractiveness (Critical Success Factors, Market Segment Analysis, Driving Force Analysis, Perceived Strength Analysis, Market Limitation Analysis, Market Opportunity Analysis, Market Risk Analysis) and business strength factors (Financial Risk Analysis, Cost/Benefit Analysis, Capability Analysis, Technology Forecast Analysis, McKinsey 7S Analysis, Product/Service Line Analysis, Strategic Relationship Analysis).

4- Propose Business Intent - To place the initiative's objective before the rest of the organization in terms as plain and clear as to command their assent. To sell the importance of the initiative. To help stakeholders continue investment and determine if the initiative is still workable, serviceable, or fundable. To persuade and engage supporting stakeholders. To provide focus to the activities contained within, and indicate if and when it is accomplished. To increase your organization's project initiative success rate.

5- Empower Strategy - The initiative is empowered through the community of practice. Many organizations don't recognize the existence of their CoP, yet it's there, however ad hoc it may be. With each new product initiative, more formalization to the community’s communication channel is provided. This step's business objective is to aid formalization to your CoP at whatever level it is in, and proceed with this product innovation initiative through activities of the CoP. The business Model Canvas is used as a second lens of strategic analysis and helps drive financial models and value realization efforts.

By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts, while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes. Our performance improvement consulting practice requires a discussion to determine goals, scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current capacity planning process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort. You can discover more about this service offering by clicking the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website. We'd love to explain our Performance-Service™ offering and answer any questions you might have.

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Problem Vetting & Levels of Innovation

If problems to be addressed are ranked according to level of innovation, then your limited resources will be used most wisely to create the largest competitive edge, but you must be careful to understand how much change you and your market are willing to make.

Two important drivers of product development are knowing how much you can differentiate your solution, and how much innovation you can afford. Develop a me-too product at a reasonable cost, and your buyers may ignore yours because they can get it elsewhere. Develop an advanced capability at a higher cost, and your buyers may ignore it as well because they are not ready for it. Finding that sweet spot between satisfying your buyers desires better than the rest, and your cost-position to do that, is the challenge you need to meet in order to stay competitive.

Successful vetting of problems into which development resources are invested includes analyzing the market attractiveness of your problem solution, and your business strengths, to meet that demand.

Home Security Problems

To illustrate, let’s compare the early approaches to home security to today. After a crime wave following World War I prompted increased attention to protecting property, alarm systems were in demand. However, some weren’t ready to buy and instead subscribed to a service of “door shakers”, these were night watchmen who shook doors at night to make sure they were locked. Today companies still providing the equivalent of “door shakers” have been eclipsed by innovative, internet-ready, and affordable home security products that buyers can install and monitor themselves from anywhere in the world.

Differentiators and Cost Position

To be able to decide which problems are most worthy of developing, first you should correctly define the problem(s) to be solved, and in order to evaluate and compare them, the problems should be stated in compelling and consistent ways.

Next determine how much you need to differentiate your solutions from others. Also determine how much innovation is needed to stay competitive. Would a police siren be better than an alarm bell to scare off intruders? What are your competitors up to?

Then understand the amount of change you and your buyers are willing to make. In other words, you need to answer these types of questions:

Which problems should you address given your current product strategies and limitations? How much innovation should you afford on each project? and how will that impact your cost position relative to your competitors?

Assessing the worth of investing in resolving one problem over another by understanding the relative levels of innovation necessary for each, will give you confidence in knowing that you have identified the primary cost drivers for your development projects.

Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

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