Conteneo Blog

The Role of Passion in Portfolio Prioritization

Posted by Luke Hohmann on Sep 9, 2016 2:41:37 PM

Everyone who knows me knows that I like to read a lot of stuff. And I like to share the articles and books that have made a positive impact in my world.

For a long time I've shared Geoffrey Moore's HBR article on Horizon Thinking. I recently read it - again - and I decided that this time I'd dig a little and read the book that Geoffrey references at the start of his article (highlighted in bold):

Business strategists like to think in portfolio terms. Whether it’s a question of cash cows versus rising stars or of businesses that prosper at different points in an economic cycle, it’s useful to have a framework for analyzing the mix and balancing investments wisely. With the publication of The Alchemy of Growth in the 1990s, Mehrdad Baghai and his colleagues from McKinsey & Company taught us to view portfolio management as having three time horizons. In their formulation, Horizon 1 corresponds to managing the current fiscal-reporting period, with all its short-term concerns, Horizon 2 to onboarding the next generation of high-growth opportunities in the pipeline, and Horizon 3 to incubating the germs of new businesses that will sustain the franchise far into the future.

I'm glad I bought the book, because the authors provide a significantly richer description of the Horizon framework and how it can be applied.

More importantly, the authors provide the clearest example of why Conteneo's collaborative frameworks for decision making are so critical for effective portfolio management. 

From Pg. 64:

The assumption that a company can search for opportunities without bias is false. When tradeoffs must be made between several economically attractive ides, executive teams are deeply influenced by what they most want to do. For this reason, passion should be explicitly recognized in the search for opportunities. Putting a value on passion acknowledges that business creation is not a mechanistic process for planners, but a human affair to which leaders bring their own emotions. It may mean assigning lower priority to some opportunities that show genuine promise, but in return, it gives the remaining ideas a better chance of success. Managers are more likely to devote their energy to ideas they believe in and care about.

This is precisely why we believe that effective, high-impact feature or portfolio prioritization must be done through collaborative frameworks that enable teams to surface and explore these issues as a team. And this is as true as it is for business leaders as it is for community leaders who are negotiating how to invest shared investments through Participatory Budgeting.

Buy a Feature is a terrific framework for this purpose and helps the passions surface in a positive manner.

And if you're wondering how to "sell" the use of this framework to your leadership team, just hand them this post ;-).

Topics: Agile, Buy a Feature, Decision Engine, geoffrey Moore, Horizon thinking, McKinsey, Participatory Budgeting

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