Lean Project Roadmap

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Tim Harford:
“No plan survives first contact with the enemy. What matters is how quickly the leader is able to adapt.”

Lean Project Roadmap

Problem – Need a Lean Project Roadmap

The high failure rate for enterprise projects indicates that the project management process is broken. According to “My Management Guide”, project management is the art of planning, controlling and executing a project in a way that ensures successful delivery of the desired outcome. Consequently, a broken project management process is indicative of a misunderstanding of the desired outcome, poor execution or bad luck. To counter these failure modes, project management must nail the desired outcome, assure value-driven execution and quickly counter any unexpected risks.

Ideal State for a Lean Project Roadmap

The ideal state is a consistent project management process that facilitates; identification of the highest value possible given the constraints, development of the optimal plan to achieve the highest value outcome, efficient problem solving to mitigate risks, effective decision making to accelerate progress and continuous improvement.

Lean Project Roadmap

Root Cause

The root cause of the broken project management process is that we view projects as a linear sequence of predetermined deliverables. Instead, a project is a complex ecosystem of inter-dependent processes that create those deliverables. Team members may be asked to create a document or complete a key project activity but do not know the best practice to create that deliverable in that organization. They waste time re-inventing the wheel by trying to work out a process that is known by someone else, or execute the wrong process that may have worked in their previous company, or under intense time pressure they just cut corners and create a deficient deliverable. A library of inter-connected best practices, rather than a list of deliverables, would help eliminate this waste.

Context for a Lean Project Roadmap

Lean Project RoadmapLean Project RoadmapComposing a project plan from a library of best practices, rather than a list of deliverables, makes project management less like executing a shopping check list and more like executing a football playbook. Each player in your project team has a specific role. You must develop a game plan comprised of plays (e.g., a sequence of best practices) that your project team is capable of executing or you must change your team. Your project’s game plan must include activities for offense, defense and special teams. Your offense is efficient decision making which enables you to execute the best practices in your plan’s happy path. Your defense is your set of best practices for effective problem solving which mitigates risk. This may include documenting an unexpected problem, identifying the root cause, assessing options and recommending the best solution. This type of rapid but effective problem solving enables you to return quickly to the happy path after wasteful detours caused by unexpected problems. Your special teams are the project stakeholders and impacted groups that you depend upon but who are not part of the core project team. You need to execute your organization’s best practices to engage these special teams so they are available to execute their tasks just in time – not too early and not too late. This will minimize waste. Finally, your experienced project managers and program managers are like a football coach who helps less seasoned project managers make better decisions. However, your project coaches must also have a relentless focus on continuously improving the game plan; namely, your organization’s library of best practices which elevates the performance of all team members.

Solution for a Lean Project Roadmap

Lean Project PlaybookEach organization should have a project game plan in the form of a “lean project roadmap“. This is comprised of a comprehensive set of best practices that guide project execution. Your lean project playbook must include a lean project roadmap, access to project expertise on-demand, a decision support system, and a continuous improvement capability that leverages project learning.

The lean project roadmap is a library of inter-connected project best practices from which an optimal lean project plan can be derived. The derived lean project plan is the subset of best practices required for a given project to deliver the highest value possible with minimal waste. This happy path lean project plan is the project’s offense. The project also needs an expert system and continuous improvement knowledge-base to enhance problem solving and project decision-making. This is the project’s defense. In combination they will improve project success rates. Moreover, focusing lessons learned on enhancing the lean project roadmap (e.g., the library of best practices) will capture and preserve the organizations learning from all projects.

Lean Project Roadmap

The scope of an organization’s lean project roadmap should extend from strategic planning to value realization. Lean Project RoadmapThe goal is to assure a link between a strategic objective and the value delivered by each project. The lean project roadmap should therefore encompass best practices for strategic planning, value prioritization, project selection, project initiation, stakeholder engagement, project execution, implementation, optimization, user-base growth, and value realization. This will enable business value to drive decision making from the strategic planning phase through value realization. In turn, this will help assure the highest value possible for each project dollar spent.

For a specific project, the best practices derived from the lean project roadmap, must be sequenced to maximize risk reduction between successive best practices while minimizing waste. The lean project roadmap must include industry best practices for project management as well as organization-specific best practices that get things done. The lean project roadmap therefore combines industry-proven activities, such as agile ceremonies, with organizational necessities, such as interactions with governance organizations, shared services and stakeholder groups.

Lean Project RoadmapIf a lean project plan is derived from an organization’s lean project roadmap then it will have validated learning built in. The sequence of best practices that comprise a lean project plan empowers, all team members, even new employees, to be efficient members of the project team. Furthermore, each completed task, in each executed project, represents an opportunity to improve one, or more, of the best practices in an organization’s unique lean project roadmap. However, organizations must re-design their continuous improvement activities, such as lessons learned and sprint retrospectives, to focus on optimizing their lean project roadmap. If this is successful then each lean project roadmap will embody that organization’s project wisdom.

Your Feedback

Enter your comments below so we can update this post and provide better solutions for the community. Also, if you have created any project management tools or templates that you would like to contribute for communal use then please send each one, with a brief description, to PMTools@LeanProjectPlaybook.com.

Product Market Fit - Opportunity

Business Opportunity

There is an opportunity to systemize the lean project roadmap and project expert system for organizations. Let us know if you would like to collaborate as a part of our community to transform this opportunity into an easy-to-use solution that will help assure project value and improve project failure rates.

Alternatively, if your company is willing to contribute some of your time to help specify a solution to meet their specific needs then they will receive free licensing for an agreed period of time. Each project requires a project manager, an architect, a business analyst, a developer and a QA lead.
Lean Project Roadmap

Simple Life Lesson

Roman philosopher Seneca:Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

People often attribute the progress of others to luck. However, to take advantage of “luck” you must be in the right place at the right time and must recognize the opportunity when it presents itself. Simply having a plan can put you in the right place at the right time. In addition, identifying clear goals will help you recognize an opportunity when it appears. Furthermore, networking will enable you to leverage the wisdom of the crowd to test and validate both your plan and your goals. Therefore, through networking, you can meet experts who can help improve your plan to achieve your goals. Your plan is your personal lean project roadmap and your network is your expert system. In combination, they can accelerate the time to achieve your goals and empower you to realize the highest value possible.

Lean Project Roadmap

Innovation Incubator

  • Are you tired of using the same old Project Management tools and techniques and getting the same unacceptable results?
  • Have you developed a project management tool or technique that has improved the performance of your projects?
  • Is your organization interested in trialing innovative project management tools and techniques?

Contact us to list a project management tool that you have developed or to trial of any of the following innovations:

6SigmaPM – A proactive project health check. It measures your project’s vital signs then recommends corrective actions to prevent a negative trend becoming an actual problem. The benefit is predictable project performance.

JoinMyOrder – A group purchasing system. You submit a purchase order, other like minded customers also make a commitment to buy, then suppliers compete for the high volume purchase order in a reverse auction. You receive the price, terms and conditions normally available only to much larger organizations.

Crowd Bootstrap – A startup ecosystem in an App that offers innovation as a service. You sponsor a startup accelerator and determine its industry focus. The accelerator invests business services from independent contractors into selected startups to help accelerate their progress. You get access to the startup’s team, knowledge, products and services. You receive the benefits of an accelerator without the usual costs. It is “innovation-as-a-service” in an App.


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