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  • Marcus Braszell

Succeeding in a Low-Growth Economy: Three Keys to Unlock Portfolio Value Delivery

Steps in portfolio value delivery

Succeeding In a Low-Growth Economy: Three Keys to Unlock Your Portfolio Delivery Ecosystem

In a world where even the smallest competitive edge can make or break a company's success, optimizing your change portfolio delivery ecosystem is no longer an option – it's a necessity. Execution beats strategy and the success of your outcomes makes all the difference in today's flat economic environment.

Firstly, it's important to understand the business landscape we operate in. A few weeks ago, the IMF's World Economic Outlook predicted a slowdown in advanced economies growth to 1.3% in 2023 and 1.4% in 2024 - the lowest growth forecast since 2001. Against the backdrop of shifts in geopolitics, globalization, and global demographics, everything from supply chains to money supply is being impacted. Stagnant growth is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future, and companies are taking defensive measures such as reducing costs, focusing on critical projects and pausing transformation programs. However, how the portfolio of change is executed can be overlooked in the mix of options.

Whilst leadership, mindset and culture are important levers for improving organizational outcomes, change efforts here have a tendency to stall without tangible results. The three keys lead to better outcomes and in doing so, provide the fuel to sustain broader transformation.

Portfolio delivery ecosystem

Key 1 Reimagine the portfolio delivery ecosystem. Begin with a holistic and critical assessment of your company’s portfolio delivery ecosystem. Through the lenses of outcomes, flow and efficiency, determine if portfolio systems and processes are meeting expectations. The assessment can be broad-brush, encompassing everything from the portfolio coordination layer, to planning and budgeting processes, strategy, governance mechanisms, investment mix, workflow and project tooling, OKRS / benefits management, prioritization, capacity management, roadmaps, impediment management processes (and more).

To align stakeholders, it helps to begin with the art of the possible. To unify the various functions involved in delivering change, a recommended first step is to co-design a target blueprint for the portfolio delivery ecosystem. I have worked with many companies and find it interesting the number of portfolio delivery ecosystems that have evolved organically into non-integrated patchwork quilts. Portfolio blueprinting enables stakeholders to design and align on a better future state whilst incorporating contemporary lean, agile and design thinking principles, as well as a common language.

Organize for outcomes

Key 2 Organize for outcomes. The second key is to evolve your company’s operating model to be centred around value streams. This involves transitioning away from functional silos and incubating a shift from project to product as the basis for execution. Within value streams, there is a clear value proposition, a clear value consumer, multidisciplinary capabilities and minimal handoffs to place value in the hands of the consumer. The traditional demarcation lines between the business, product, tech, and ops begin to gel. By adopting value streams in your operating model, you can improve both value and time to value.

Leverage data

Key 3 Leverage data. People who work on products and services require a steady stream of insightful data. Data should be as close to real time as possible and access should not be a manual process. Self-serve data fuels experimentation and innovation through insights into market trends, consumer behaviour and many other critical factors. Teams require this data at their fingertips in order to make informed decisions within an iterative product development cycle. These insights unlock speed, drive value, and ultimately improve your company’s competitive position.

In my experience, enterprise change efforts, including agile transformation and digital programs can lose momentum without the three keys. Like a climber scaling a rock face, the three keys provide strong footholds upon which ways of working improvements can be sustained.

In this era of low growth, perhaps you see opportunities to optimize your strategic execution using the three keys. If so, now would be a good time to move them forward.

This article was written by Marcus Braszell, Partner and Americas regional leader with Sooner Safer Happier.

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