Six Core Behaviours for Agile Portfolio Management

Blog post
By Pam Ashby | 1 December 2017

November 2017 saw the launch of the Agile Portfolio Management (AgilePfM™) midi book, first in Melbourne, then in Sydney and now available in the UK.

Agile Portfolio Management helps ensure that the scheduling of initiatives stays aligned to an evolving organisational strategy, whilst keeping focused on the delivery of value in a constantly changing business environment. AgilePfM provides guidance on how best to prioritise, blend and balance, to ensure an organisation's appetite for change does not exceed its capacity to deliver.  It emphasises the value of staying open to innovation – 'good ideas can come from anywhere in the organisation' – by drawing in new ideas and evaluating these objectively on an ongoing basis.

Agile Portflio Management takes an event-driven approach, where each event drives choices – to deliver more change, to reassess the foundations of the portfolio, or where appropriate to reassess the strategy. This turns the portfolio from 'an elegant still life photo' to a dynamic, interactive experience.

This guidance is centred on six core behaviours that maximise agility from a portfolio perspective:

1. Focus on the creation of value 

Base Business Strategy on creating value for stakeholders and customers and keep it relevant as this evolves. 

  • Ensure the organisation’s purpose is clearly and simply defined and understood
  • Ensure organisational values (who we are) and behaviours (how we do things) are clearly and simply defined, understood, and encouraged
  • Ensure required outcomes are clearly defined at a high level and understood for the key stakeholders (customers, citizens, shareholders, employees), and are regularly reviewed
  • Ensure there is a clear vision for the organisation, which is simple, easily communicated
  • Ensure the vision reflects the organisation’s purpose, values and required outcomes and is well communicated
  • Ensure there is an evolving business strategy, with strategic goals which reflect the vision
  • Limit the amount of work in progress to what is practicable

2. Review the portfolio continuously

Continuously evaluate the portfolio to reflect evolving strategy and the changing environment the business operates within.

  • Ensure the portfolio is constantly aligned to business strategy which drives delivery of value
  • Base prioritisation decisions on the delivery of the right value at the right time. Prioritisation must also take into account economies of scale (effective blending of initiatives) and capacity to deal with change (balancing in-flight initiatives)
  • Plan for value to be delivered incrementally
  • Put in place effective measures and performance indicators
  • Ensure content and prioritisation of the portfolio is iterative and frequent
  • Ensure prioritisation criteria are clearly and transparently defined
  • Only create plans to a horizon that makes sense and are not centred around an annual or other long-periodic model
  • Ensure feedback is continuous, giving the opportunity to inspect and adapt the portfolio to changing circumstances as necessary

3. Involve the right people to shape and manage the portfolio

Ensure the right people are involved, use their experience, capabilities and aspirations to improve chances of successful outcomes.

  • Plan availability of the right people at the right time
  • Identify the perhaps unknown capabilities that people have
  • Identify capabilities that will be needed and are not currently available
  • Recognise people’s capabilities and aspirations. This motivates people to become high performers
  • Attract and retain the right people for the organisation
  • Remove silo-driven portfolios and encourage portfolios based around value-driven strategy and cross functional teams

4. Clearly and continuously demonstrate that the portfolio is delivering optimum value

Always be able to demonstrate that the portfolio is delivering the right value at the right time.

  • Use the Agile concepts of Empowerment,Transparency and Openness to make the status of portfolio items clear and visible to all
  • Use information that comes directly from the teams carrying out the change
  • Ensure the most appropriate business owner takes responsibility for ensuring that the change is incorporated into the organisational processes and delivers its benefits

5. Encourage innovation and creativity

Welcome new ideas from anywhere at any time.

  • Ensure innovation and creativity is welcomed and encouraged
  • Define a clear and simple process for introducing and evaluating new ideas and make sure it is well communicated
  • Treat ideas respectfully and with an open mind
  • Recognise and reward organisational behaviours that encourage innovation

6. Encourage collaboration and empowerment

Create an environment where empowered people from multiple disciplines across the organisation collaborate to deliver change.

  • Create self-motivated cross-functional teams and empower them to deliver the change
  • Ensure everyone understands that the achievement of the business strategy and goals is the primary focus
  • Consider whether more benefit may result from someone else's change, not yours
  • Build a culture of trust and ownership
  • Ensure commercial arrangements support and encourage agility
  • Shape reward systems to encourage collaboration, empowerment and a cross-functional focus

AgilePfM is already being spoken of as 'the commonsense approach to close the gap between strategy and execution', offering the essential boardroom perspective that many have suggested has been missing. Its guidance will help organisations to stay focused on their strategy, whilst responding to change and always staying open to new ideas.

To find out more you can buy the AgilePfM midi book here



The material published in the Blog area of this website, is provided independently by our bloggers and any opinions expressed are those of the individuals and not necessarily of the Agile Business Consortium. The Agile Business Consortium does not accept any legal responsibility for any content or opinion published in the Blog area of this website.