Portfolio Question #9

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Which projects should we accelerate, delay, or kill completely?

Last week in our ongoing series of questions that should be asked and answered during innovation portfolio reviews we talked about identifying constraints and bottlenecks that would prevent us from delivering the portfolio.  With the constraints identified, we can now work on optimizing the value we can pull through the innovation pipeline.  We do that by looking at individual initiatives and asking which ones should be accelerated, delayed, or killed completely.

Rather than looking at the portfolio as a static set of plans, the review should include a number of “what-if” analyses that seek to maximize the value we can deliver through the pipeline. These analyses are based on the ability of the organization to shift resources around by changing priorities and delaying or outright cancelling certain projects.

There is a tendency in innovation portfolio management to treat approved projects and plans as sacrosanct. This will almost always lead to a portfolio that is not optimized for value. Stuff happens. Competitors move. Value propositions and resource assumptions change. Market windows shift. Investment decisions and project plans should be revisited in the context of the entire set of initiatives during portfolio reviews. It is a difficult but very valuable conversation.