We rarely, if ever, can effectively work on all the potential initiatives we have on our plates. That’s why we end up picking, a.k.a. committing to, only a subset of options we have. This is not new. What is new is the rate at which options present themselves and choices need to be made. Not just in isolation but in collaboration between the organization and its customers. This change of speed, and the volatility/uncertainty/complexity/ambiguity that comes with it, is exactly why organizations need Agile Portfolio Management.
Suppose that you are working in an organization where you have multiple (agile) projects or initiatives going on. Every so often an ongoing project finishes and capacity becomes available. At the same time new projects need to be started. In the ideal world, we can perfectly match the needs of newly arrived projects with the capacity that has become available. The pace of completing projects is the pace of arrival of new projects. But … we are not living in an ideal world. Organizations today operate in a fast paced world where projects arrive when there is no free capacity and the right team members are not ready to start; or, capacity becomes available when no new projects have arrived or the customer is not ready to start. Often the customer (or management) is pushing new projects when old projects have not been delivered yet (let alone generating benefits); critical resources get spread out thinly over multiple projects; and no distinction is made between projects that are business critical and projects that are not so critical. These are just a few example problems that lead to frustration, tension and the loss of business opportunities. While these problems are not new, because of the increased pace of change, they cannot be ignored anymore. Agile development by itself will not solve these problems. This is where Agile Portfolio Management kicks in.
Agile Portfolio Management is the agile way of managing fast paced change portfolios, aligned with the agile way of working in delivery. It is the integration of classic Portfolio Management with Lean and Agile thinking and scaled agile development. More than just an exercise of optimizing the value of a stock of projects (the traditional view), it is about matching the continuous stream (a flow, not a stock) of incoming projects with the continuous stream of outgoing projects in a way that allows to rapidly respond to change without loosing momentum or vision (the agile view). In order to do so, Agile Portfolio Management draws from a new set of thinking tools: constraint thinking (capacity constraint resources), flow thinking (flow efficiency rather than resource efficiency) and options thinking (creating managerial flexibility). It also comes with a new set of practices that draw from: Kanban (Upstream Kanban, Customer Kanban, Portfolio Kanban); Lean startup (Minimum Viable Product) and Agile development (Agile life-cycle).
We designed a workshop, in co-operation with finext and co-chi, to introduce you to what (business) agility in a broader business context means and to let you experience real life Agile Portfolio Management challenges. In this workshop, which is based on Okaloa Flowlab, you will discover lean agile mechanisms to overcome these challenges. You will not only experience the importance of constraint, flow and options thinking through active experimentation, but you will also practice reflective observation techniques to handle change.
This workshop is a natural addition to any Kanban course, SAFe or LeSS certification or Agile certification training. Contact us for more information about possible dates, locations, or organize it in-company for you.