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Redefining agility in the digital age

07 Jul 2016

Something changed at the start of 2016.  Concepts and trends that Gartner has been discussing for years suddenly became the aspirational norm.  On the PPM front that has resulted in the emergence of what we have chosen to call “Business Agile”.

To give this term some context I’ll generalise the standard call I’ve been having with PMO leaders for the last 6 months.  It goes something like this...

“The CEO (of the executive leadership team) has asked us to become more agile. They say we need to be more flexible, more scalable and we need to become more involved in assuring that projects actually deliver value.”

I’ve generalised here for the sake of clarity.  As with everything else there is a significant maturity difference in how organisations ask this question.  Deeply embedded IT PMOs ask about how they can report on agile projects.  We can call this maturity level one.  Level 2 organisations how they should respond to the question above and level 3 organisations ask about creating an end to end (IT and all other business units) agile approach to executing change.

So what does being flexible, scalable and delivering value mean in the context of a PMO?  To quote one client “It meant throwing away everything I spent years building.  All my nice gates and all my vast number of required documents.  It meant changing out the tools we use.  It also meant that we needed to change our mindset about what was important and what the organisation actually wanted us to do”.

That particular conversation has stuck in my mind primarily because of his honesty in sharing how hard it had been to turn his back on the things that had gotten him praised and promoted at various companies in the past.  I’ve reflected on his comments multiple times since our conversation and I’ve reached what to me is a profound conclusion.  Agility starts with a personal willingness to change.  As PPM Leaders how can we expect other’s to deal with the profound organisational changes that will be required by life in the digital age if we aren’t willing to show the way by changing our own ways of doing things?

The second thing required of us on the road to achieving agility is a willingness to lead others through the change we ourselves have committed to.

Notice the word lead.  It implies movement.  It implies action. Both of these terms will figure heavily in our continuing discussion on business agile.

Thought for the day – How willing am I to change my current thinking around the value proposition of my PMO?

Article by Donna Fitzgerald, Gartner Network

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