Strategic Planning and Lean Portfolio Management

Many organizations already do reasonably efficient strategic planning. The challenge for them occurs in tying these initiatives to technology. This causes disruption of technology for several reasons:

  1. work being developed is too big
  2. too many items are worked on
  3. budgeting is inconsistent and encourages technology to use budget instead of focusing on the most efficient way to get the work done

All of the above factors (and there are others) drive technology’s efficient down by 80-95% – a hard number to believe, but true in many organizations.  Strategic planning can be readily accomplished by starting with the objectives of the organization and attending to the key results desired.

Our OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are essentially our way of specifying what we want to invest in and how we will know if we’ve met them.

Specifying your objectives specifies what you want to invest in

Achieving alignment around business agility requires clarity about the strategy and initiatives of the business. In order to be able to make decisions about which ones of these are important, it must also be clear what the business is wanting to invest in. These will often be fairly unique to a business and will help people in the business decide which MBIs of the company’s initiatives are most important. 

For example, a financial company might focus on:

  1. Retaining assets (because they make money based on a percentage of assets)
  2. Improving customer experience
  3. Lowering costs
  4. Compliance
  5. Lowering risk

They might also include one for improving internal processes.

A not-for-profit, such as a place the provides meals and housing for homeless may focus on:

  1. Number of meals served
  2. Number of beds provided
  3. Amount of  monetary donations received
  4. Value of non-monetary donations received

These become the basis for an organization’s strategic initiatives.

How many do you need? While you don’t have to have exactly four or five values for the business, that is often the right number.  They may not be equally important; however, once you have the five most important, you have at least 5/6ths of it. These areas of investment are just guides but create focus when decisions need to be made.

Our approach to meet these objectives are our strategies, from which we create initiatives which spawn our business backlog. At this point the stakeholders are ready to start the hand-off to technology.

See the in-depth chapter on Aligning the Organization with Strategic Planning and Lean Portfolio Management for more.