For better or for worse, 2020 has been rooted in crisis; a turning point through which change has come. But change is a constant whether a crisis spans the globe or not. That ‘change’ can result in favorable business outcomes but requires enterprise adaptability and agility mindsets, and those mindsets are the key to connecting strategy to execution.
Change can often render well-crafted plans obsolete, even if a new one is rolled out at the start of each year. Few organizations endure external change unscathed and depending on their preparation it can send a business into turmoil. So, looking forward, how will your organization adequately prepare for the change that enables you to shift from merely surviving change, to being able to thrive within it?
Opportunity Is Born from Change
Standing still during change is one of the worst strategic options — especially these days when windows of opportunity are getting smaller and shorter. How quickly your organization embraces and responds to change and executes initiatives is as important as the actual response. This makes adaptability and agility vital for your organization to thrive. Your processes enable both and will serve as your key differentiators relative to your competitors. Adaptability and agility can change not only the work you do — but, more importantly, the harder part — how your organization works and thinks.
Aligning the adaptability and agility of your organization is where the break often occurs – because management in an organization is often a manual process that is supported by disparate tools. You need to adopt these ways of working and thinking to embrace and capitalize on change, and you also need tooling that is purpose-built to keep you there.
Making the Shift to Enterprise Portfolio Management
At Changepoint, we view organizations in terms of enterprise portfolios of business, technology, and customer projects that are supported by myriad products, people, processes, systems, applications, capabilities, etc. It is these portfolios that you need to align and make adaptable and agile to drive better business outcomes. We believe Enterprise Portfolio Management (EPM) is the mechanism that ties this all together. EPM is about helping you align strategic portfolios with project execution to drive better outcomes. This means more than changing how the organization works—it means changing how your organization thinks and forecasting the impacts of various scenarios. Why is this so vital for success? In our global economy, the pace of change is accelerating rapidly, underscored by the quickening pace of digital disruption and digital transformation. While any change can be fraught with peril, opportunities can also surface out of necessity that leads to increased resiliency and accelerated adaptability to change.
While most change is often unpredictable in the onset, it seems each change does behave quite predictably, usually characterized by three distinct phases:
- Pre-change: Preparedness and assessment.
- Change response: A quick and urgent response to get through things.
- Post-change: Seeking ways to be better prepared for the next storm when it occurs.
It is the third step that will ultimately inform how steps one and two progress in a given change. In a post-change phase, your organization needs to develop contingency plans to deal with more obvious – or not that obvious – challenges in the future. For instance, a pandemic preparedness plan, which we hadn’t fathomed invoking before 2020.
Adapting to Continuous Change
Turning change into a source of competitive advantage relies on your organizational culture, tools, and technologies, processes, change management, and mindsets. How do companies keep preparing or remain in a state of preparedness? Organizational adaptability and agility. These are often used interchangeably — but in reality, organizational adaptability and agility are inter-related, yet distinct. Enterprise success relies on each of these and their differing approaches.
Organizational adaptability: This is your organization’s ability and openness to embrace change and adapt readily.
Organizational agility: This relates to your organization’s ability to execute initiatives and speed up change.
Here at Changepoint, I always ask, “Are we working on the business or in the business?” This helps frame and clarify things in distinct terms. There are different portfolios and disciplines aligned across the organization in portfolio management — each operating at different levels. This requires the need to embrace change, adapt, execute initiatives, and speed up change; this requires the need for project and portfolio alignment.
Success = Adaptability + Agility + Alignment
These three elements have formed the core direction and future of enterprise portfolio management here at Changepoint.
Breaking Down EPM
Organizations have already started abandoning long-cycle strategic management processes. As conditions change and business moves faster, strategic management is becoming more of a continuous cycle to deal with and adapt to frequent external changes.
As we’ve often said here at Changepoint, it’s important to “do the right projects,” not just “do projects right.” This requires moving beyond selecting and prioritizing the right projects. We’ve introduced an evolution toward iterative, continuous improvement in strategic management to help organizations reduce their reliance on manual exercises that are supported by disparate tools.
Managing, Driving, and Embracing Adaptability
Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM) is how organizations drive change and what makes adaptability possible. It’s about enabling a more adaptive planning cycle to continually and collaboratively assess, prioritize, and roadmap — in essence, shape business without disrupting current initiatives.
Another vital and related consideration is your organization’s current state. I often refer to the E.A. in Changepoint’s Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) solution as Enterprise Awareness — the systems, applications, capabilities, standards, technologies, and other things that can enable or disable strategic success.
This is the well-honed domain of project portfolio management techniques, systems, and applications that evolve rapidly with new methodologies and processes. At Changepoint’s core, our broad and flexible tools are highly configurable — but our mission focuses on the narrower context of the outcomes that businesses want to achieve, whether it’s managing technology portfolios, running an enterprise PMO, new product development, an X-as-a-service offering, or anything else.
The key for us is delivering the right tool for the right portfolio content so that your organizations can accomplish, solve, and deliver more in a better way with what you already have. It also involves maintaining the velocity and agility of executing all the right initiatives.
The Role of Analytics in Successful Alignment
Alignment is the last ingredient and provides a wrapper of data, insight, and analytics around all the layers within your organization. Ultimately, analytics is the function that holds everything together and enables Alignment — and having more information from various sources allows your teams to make better decisions. When project and portfolio managers can practice self-guidance, they are more apt to stay aligned.
Enable a Mindset of Adaptability and Agility
Being able to take advantage of opportunities born from crisis such as accelerating change, increasing resiliency, and identifying lessons learned relies heavily on how well you enable an enterprise-wide mindset that’s focused on adaptability and agility. It’s only in doing so — before, during, and after a crisis – that your organization can better establish and maintain alignment between your strategy and portfolio execution.