Portfolio Planning Made Simple

The Chicken or the Egg in Strategy?

Posted by Matt Ipri on 4/17/17 2:57 PM

When working in Strategy Execution – we’re often confounded by a simple question: Are collaboration and better communication the actual GOAL of what we do? Or just an ancillary benefit?

With a historical foundation in the fundamentals of the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), it’s a not surprise that we talk about the value of collaboration and communication in making tough decisions. Many of the key tenets of AHP center on the combination of many different opinions into a universal “consensus” that drives how a decision gets made. We’ve built the best software in the world for making collaboration on a tough decision easier and more data-driven.

But we often debate, even internally… What’s the REAL goal of an organization using strategic prioritization software? Is it the better portfolio outcome they get from using the software? Or is it the organizational benefits of collaboration and communication?

We’ve had customers tell us it’s both.

Many organizations, even despite seeing great analytic outcomes for their portfolio of projects, investments, resources, etc., still contend that the MOST IMPORTANT outcome they get from implementing Decision Lens, is improved communication and collaboration amongst peers and stakeholders. It doesn’t matter that they may have saved hundreds of millions of dollars or re-allocated hundreds of resources to higher priority initiatives, the benefit that many point to is the organizational change from new collaboration. These organizations now have a shared understanding of the way groups and individuals define value. They have a shared understanding about what groups really want to get from an investment. And they often have far more visibility into the constraints that other organizations are up against. These are benefits that are now permeated through the organization, and are not just a regular part of the process, where nothing existed before. For THESE organizations, the “soft” outcome is the most important.

But many OTHER organizations focus on the outcome of a truly optimized set of resources. Collaboration may have been part of the process to get to that outcome, but it’s the better use of their money and people that they point to as the FAR more important result. These organizations now feel like they have credibility when talking with constituents, customers, or stakeholders. These organizations now feel they can be transparent about the constraints they are under when allocating resources. These organization are confident they are doing the BEST activities to align with the overall mission or strategy to the organization. For THESE organizations, the change in output is the most important.

So which is right? Clearly the answer is, “it depends”, which is the most annoying consulting answer ever, but it’s true. What does your organization need to work on? Better interaction with stakeholders and business partners? Or better efficiency in delivering resources? Or maybe both? Because therein lies the answer. To you at least…

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