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5 October 2010

Taming Change with Portfolio Management

It’s taken me three months to read Taming Change partly because it’s so dammed good. I started it at the same time as three other (fiction) books and after chapter one decided that what this book had was so important for me it needed proper attention and I should read it once I got the other books out of the way.

The readership of this blog mostly comprises of four different career tracks.  I am going to give you a brief summary of the contents of the book and then give each of you a reason why you should buy Taming Change with Portfolio Management and read it now.

Taming Change is about portfolio management. It’s focus is at a level higher than project and program portfolio. The portfolios here are at the highest level of the organization, but the principles apply to any level of the organization you care to attack. You have portfolios of products, people, processes, programs, business units and more.

The authors understand that what you can or can’t do depends on your current capability and that your planning needs to fit those constraints.  It’s well informed by a deep body of work with many US firms and academic research, although it doesn’t read like an academic text. In fact it does read very much as a text book, but in a topic that isn’t really taught anywhere at the moment except in real business contexts. And by calling it a textbook I am complementing its comprehensiveness.

If you read and apply the knowledge in this you have a playbook for strategic management of any enterprise. (Of course experience with people also matters.)

One of the great things about it is that it isn’t all ‘theoretical’ what you should do stuff. It’s full of practical activities that you can execute at both the strategic and tactical levels. This is great because it’s clearly a problem for many organizations that strategic vision and implementation aren’t integrated and working together.

Why this book is something you should buy and read.

If you already have a framework for strategic planning and performance management this provides an excellent alternative model for you to expand your current offering. No matter how formed your existing framework is, this one will have something new that you can draw on.

Project and Program Managers
Project and program managers operate within certain contexts. Often a badly famed project idea or a project that isn’t aligned to the big picture is more trouble than it’s worth. By understanding the larger picture and how your project fits in you get to know how to kill a bad project early, or change it so that it is better able to contribute to the larger game.

You don’t need to read the whole book to figure this out, but let’s face it, you are on a career track that will eventually lead to strategic planning and management at least a program level, so this is still very useful information for a program or project of any size of complexity.

You’ll also get insight into the behaviours of stakeholders and sponsors and why they so often appear to be acting counter to the interests of the project and the organizations they work for, and perhaps you’ll be better equipped to avert crises early.

Business Analysts
Business analysts through their design of business models and the technical architecture of enterprises are key people in the strategic development of an organization. It’s absolutely critical that a serious business analysts understands strategy, how it works and what’s going on in the minds of people at the pointy end of the business. Others may be setting the agenda for enterprise development, but business analysts are the key people to execute the strategic intent into practical

Software developers
Like business analysts, software developers are the people who are building the enterprise for tomorrow. Unlike business analysts Software Developers are often left out of the big picture conversations. The best developers are the one shat understand the business and business models. Context is everything and the higher up the organisational planning pyramid you look the better your work will be. So, coders, invest a few hours into understanding the other side of the business/IT coin and see how you can best contribute to your company’s future.

Disclaimer: I was approached to review this book but have not received any payment for it. Hyperlinks under the book title book in this review are Amazon affiliate links. The opinions are mine, and I wholeheartedly recommend this book.