“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” - and transformation for lunch

Written by Cheryl Richards
15 May 2024

Peter Drucker's famous quote reminds us that no matter how detailed and solid a strategy is, when it comes down to it, the teams implementing the plan are the ones that make all the difference.

Previously, we've highlighted the challenge of aligning change initiatives to strategic direction, introducing the techniques to help you avoid this ever so common pitfall in transformation delivery.

Over the years, different approaches have been used to distil what’s in the heads of a few into the hands of many, from tactical interventions to visionary practices. Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) has often been held up as the latter.

LPM is more than a framework, it's a mindset shift

LPM is a framework which enables organisations to align the execution of change to the top of house strategy. Born from Lean principles, LPM creates a way enabling organisations to balance fast agile delivery with the control required to run larger functional areas, like operations within a broader organisation.

LPM is as much about the mindset as the process. It requires a fundamental shift to change delivery across the whole business. But don’t fall into the trap of implementing SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) when you’ve set out to implement LPM. SAFe delivers the framework, but not the mindset shift required.

Before embarking on this journey, it’s vital to assess organisational maturity to inform which practices should be incorporated into new rhythms and routines.

One size does not fit all!

Does your internal maturity support this shift?

The Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) is a useful framework to help determine and understand the maturity level of your organisation. It helps you take actionable steps to implement the appropriate practices for enhancing maturity.

Different organisations have different maturity levels in terms of behaviours, management practices, and business outcomes. Exploring this from the outset will determine the practices needed to deliver the strategy.

For example, the maturity level of an organisation will help inform which practices are most appropriate to implement with regards to making work visible, limiting work in progress (WIP), and managing flow depending on the scope of the work – discrete deliverables vs products vs product lines vs portfolios.

Tips for operationalising a strategy (beyond the vision and roadmaps):

  • Articulate the “why” for the transformation
  • Kick start the mindset shift required – define and model the behavioural expectations required to align with the “why”
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. When you think you've communicated too much, communicate some more
  • Pick the right tool (practices) for the right job (scope of work – deliverables vs products vs product lines vs portfolios)

Implementing LPM at scale to realise ~£10m OPEX saving

In our experience, the financial benefits of implementing LPM and pivoting organisational ways of working are huge.

When faced with board-level challenges surrounding the correlation of operational effort with strategic objectives, our team utilised LPM in redesigning a large-scale operating model, enabling a ~£10m OPEX saving.

Key actions included:

  • Creating multi-disciplinary teams accountable for delivering strategic outcomes​
  • Challenging organisational risk appetite, testing boundary to win in a highly regulated market​
  • Implementing a servant leader model resulting in quicker time to decisions that stick
  • Introducing OKRs (Objective Key Results) to focus on outcome not output, leading to greater transparency, alignment and accountability

As a result, time to market for launching new initiatives was reduced from > one year to 4 weeks.​

If you'd like to know more about how LPM can support transformation delivery, contact Cheryl Richards.

Cheryl Richards

Cheryl is leading BFY Group’s expansion into Financial Services, leveraging her experience and knowledge to establish BFY Group as a trusted partner in this new sector.

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