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Stephen Wise Blog

Integration Professionals. We dramatically improve traction.

American in Paris

Focus on Outcomes

Traction Tips

A weekly action idea to improve traction on your important initiatives by Stephen Wise.

  The new and wonderful musical, An American in Paris, is doing the rounds. It weaves multiple love stories with a Jazz and Ballet fusion leading to true love outcomes.  

Milo falls for Jerry, who's in love with Lise, who is engaged to Henri. Lise shares mutual affection with Henri but falls in love with Jerry. Jerry's friend Adam is also falling for Lise. Lise the ballerina, is oblivious she is the focal point of all the story lines. Despite the complications, true love wins out in the end. In the opening scenes of the musical Jerry sets his strategy to find and win Lise. However he gets lost, becomes indecisive, and is distracted by other interests. Has this ever happened to you in business? Getting lost in the details, uncertainty over the correct next step, or being distracted by new opportunities? Unfortunately, I see it every day. So, here is my guaranteed formula for success. 1. Focus on driving the outcomes 2. Accept Uncertainty 3. Agile Mindset

Focus on outcomes

Craft a hi-level plan. List the activities required to achieve the desired outcomes.

Accept Uncertainty

Accept uncertainty. Our ability to achieve goals proscribed in the plan can vary significantly.

Agile Mindset

Re-work your plan frequently.  Consider changes in the environment and your leanings along the way. Switch around your priorities. re-evaluate desired outcomes to reflect new realities.

Weekly Traction Action

Fuse the improvisation of Jazz with the perfection of Ballet to manage your corporate outcomes. Your weekly action: 1. Ensure all your desired outcomes have an accessible, hi-level, end to end plan. 2. Schedule regular times to evaluate whether you are on track and make course corrections to get back on track. I recommend or implement these actions all the time on client initiatives. Hopefully, it will work to improve outcomes for you too.

I love Email

Please send me an email and tell me about if you have success or trouble with this action. I’m always interested to see what can happen out in the wild.  

Stephen Wise

Integration Professionals

https://IntegrationProfessionals.com

5 Secrets of Successfully Implementing Strategy

It is common to find a cultural divide between the strategy folks and the implementation folks inside an organization. As comparison, Strategy thinking is intellectual. Strategy development is sophisticated and often done off-site by executives. A completed Strategy is polished and presented by the top executives. The Strategy is locked for the year. And, Implementation thinking is practical. Plan development messy and done by managers. Planning assumes that all the tasks and dependencies can be identified and

 solved. The plan will change every day based on progress and issues that occur. 

Strategy Execution Success 

Strategy-Execution-Success[/caption] How can the organization ensure the outcomes from the implementation meet the needs of the strategy?

  1. The Strategists include the implementers in the strategy development process.
  2. One of the strategists assumes accountability for the successful initiation, planning, execution, and closure of each of the plans as well as active involvement in selected risk mitigation and issue resolution.
  3. The implementers ensure that a business case is provided that links the forecast benefits and risks of the strategy to the forecast resources and constraints. Viability of the business case should be validated periodically during and after implementation.
  4. The implementers select appropriate tools and methodology to plan and execute the detailed tasks necessary to achieve the plan.
  5. The implementers ensure the accountable strategist is aware of progress and risks and engaged for collaboration and assistance on all unresolved issues.

Increased collaboration between Strategists and Implementers is low-hanging fruit for improving outcomes. Leaders among the strategists and leaders among the implementers who reach across to each other and increase their mutual overlap will see desired outcomes increase significantly.

Stephen Wise

www.IntegrationProfessionals.com

Two themes for Portfolio Agility

I have seen the future and it is agile. The agile I am talking about is not a tool, or methodology, or a movement. It is the outcome when Project Managers have discussions with Sponsors on how to go faster, or how to beat competitors, or how to win new business. Portfolio management is listing, prioritizing, selecting, and controlling business ideas/investments in the context of the top success drivers and constraints affecting the business. In my experience, many projects are handed to the Project Manager that have risks or budget or schedule issues that the PM can’t even quantify. Unfortunately, these very items are likely to be the root cause of missed expectations, budget overruns or schedule delays. Our challenge is to enter into an ongoing conversation to ensure the right investments are being made at the right time. We need to develop and design a new way of thinking to respond to the needs of the business. Here are two themes to help support this change: 1. Focus on enhancing the collaboration and communication between the person managing the work (Project Manager) and the person who wants the work done (Sponsor).
  • Create visibility anytime and to any desired level of detail.
  • Speed everything up so that we can see business benefits/failures faster.
2. Gain trust by eliminating multiple sources of data/truth by bringing data integrity into the project and program environment.
  • Ensure culture is conducive to increased reporting.
  • Communicate better about those things that people care about.
I first head the following from an industry research analyst, “We need better brakes … so we can go faster”. How true! By investing in portfolio management skills and tools to improve communication and data quality, the organizations we support will have improved agility to amplify successes and reallocate resources from underperforming projects.

Earned Value Management - turning on the headlights

Earned Value - Why do I need it?

To paraphrase the words of the Project Management Institute’s standard, when I rely only on a project schedule of tasks, finish dates, and % complete, I will not know where the project is or where it is going. I will simply know where the project was supposed to be and where it is supposed to be going.

What is Earned Value?

Earned Value Management (EVM) is a technique that looks at the relationship between a) actual cost expended, and b) actual work completed, and compares this to c) original budget and work timeline. More formally, the three data points you must understand and memorize are: a)      Actual Cost (AC) – What amount of resources have been expended to complete the work at a given point in time. b)      Earned Value (EV) – Snapshot of work completed at a given point in time. c)       Planned Value (PV) – The Baseline – How far along the project work is supposed to be at any given point in the project schedule.

How do I implement Earned Value? (My cheat sheet below)

  Step 1 (Planning)

  1. Create a Work Breakdown Structure.
  2. Ensure all tasks on the schedule are assigned.
  3. Estimate time to complete each task.
  4. Determine how you will determine that tasks are complete as the project progresses.

 

Step 2 Periodic monitoring

  1. Obtain cost and / or hours expended.
  2. Obtain status on task completion.
  3. Forecast Cost and Schedule performance.

My usual workflow is to enter the planned and actual data into MS Project and then export the time-scaled data to an excel chart. An excel chart (example below)  isn’t 

required, but I highly recommend it as a support to your table of data – a picture is worth a thousand words.

  S-curve  

Combine the data into actionable forecasts

By using Earned Value techniques, you use Project Management discipline to provide key feedback and forecasting to the project team and executives. See four sample 

questions and formulae below.

  EVM formula table

Limitation

Earned Value is not sensitive to the quality of the deliverables. You can be near the end of the project and forecast on budget and on schedule even if the deliverables are poor and the customer will not accept the final product. The expectation is that the PM is using other tools and techniques to manage and control quality.

Stephen Wise

http://www.IntegrationProfessionals.com/

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