Leading Organisations to Planned Adaptability

Insights | 19 August 2019

The PM-Partners Planned Adaptability Survey has found that 96% of executives feel their organisation is under threat of disruption. As a result, the project lifecycle is becoming increasingly shorter, reducing in time by 38% over the past 3 years. To combat disruption, executives and organisations (at all levels) are wanting to achieve accelerated incremental value. This has become a necessity as customer demands and expectations are increasing.

But what does the project lifecycle have to do with customer demand?

Simply put, the shorter the project, the lesser the risk. If projects are broken into shorter, more manageable chunks, there are clear stop/go decision points. Sponsors are also able to check that the initiatives are still on track to deliver value. If this is coupled with iterative working at a product development level, value can be realised earlier. When compared with working in more traditional ways, this approach certainly has its benefits.

So, how do you achieve accelerated incremental value?

The world is becoming more unstable and unpredictable. As ambiguity and complexity increases, it is becoming harder to reach a rational conclusion or to confidently predict the future. When setting strategy, considering VUCA will help mitigate risk while allowing an organisation to pivot quickly and adapt to external threats. Setting a strategy for 3- 5 years is simply outdated. Instead, strategy must be revisited every 3 – 6 months, and if necessary, the portfolio may need to be reprioritised. Stop, start, continue.

The Planned Adaptability Model.

Customer centricity should be the heart of every business. Having a clear understanding of what your customer’s problems and requirements are is paramount to success.

Once customer needs are established, the people who are affected by change need to be considered. This can include employees, partners, suppliers, competition, sponsors, the project team, among others.

Next, adopting an agile way of working will ensure products and services that are being developed will meet the needs of the customer. Achieving this is vital to achieving accelerated incremental value. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. Frameworks such as Scrum, Scaled Agile (SAFe®) or DSDM along will not be enough. The “doing” of agile will only bring small successes and is only part of the solution.

The people in an organisation need to adopt an agile way of working. They need to “be” agile – where daily activities and BAU should adhere to agile principles. Being agile means everyone in an organisation (from marketing, HR, procurement, and more) are challenging the status quo, accepting that change is inevitable and using it to their advantage, experimenting, and realising that failure is ok. Being agile is shifting an entire mindset.

To be truly agile requires truly great leadership. To change mindsets and the entire culture of a company to a new way of working is a challenge. People need to be resilient and to feel safe.

It is important to note that tried and tested processes and procedures should not be disregarded. Executives still need reliable delivery in an environment that is risk-adverse.

Planned adaptability and reliable delivery are key in the journey to enterprise agility.

Previously, running the business and changing the business were entirely different objectives. However, in this new world, both are executed synonymously and cohesively. Change is constant. Change is inevitable. Stakeholders need to embrace this. Reaching a state of Planned Adaptability takes time, it’s a journey that the entire organisation must undertake.

Our survey has shown us that the problems our customers were facing 10 years ago, 3 years ago, and even last year, are not the same as the issues of today. At PM-Partners, our passion is to inspire and help our customers succeed through leading change and building capability. We build innovative solutions to solve modern day, complex problems. Now, more than ever, the customer is the centre of all that we do.

*VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

About The Author

Mike Boutel - Head of Capability

Mike is globally recognised as an expert in modern portfolio, programme and project management practices. He has a passion for Best Practice governance and has worked in UK, Sydney and Melbourne. He is a sought after trusted advisor and consultant on portfolio, programme and project management and related PMOs. He is also one of Australia’s leading expert facilitators and recognised as a public speaker keynoting many business events.

Mike is an APMG qualified trainer & consultant and specialises in Portfolio, Programme & Project consultancy & management; Programme & Project assurance and rescue; Portfolio, Programme & Project governance; PMO maturity assessment and capability uplift; Benefits Management and Realisation; Agile Project Management readiness.

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