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An Overview of #pm_ngt: The structure and content of New Generation Thinking

Simon Harris, principal of Logical Model Ltd gives a short overview of what #pm_ngt is.

Context

Lets start with the context for projects:

#pm_ngt starts with the observation that an organisation is a collection of different types of interacting capital:

  • The most important type is that collection of people’s shared behaviors and values and relationships referred to by the horrid and impersonal phrase “Human Capital”.
  • Next and overlapping is Knowledge Capital or Intellectual Property Assets which are the combination of people’s skills and company procedures.
  • Mostly we also need Physical Capital – the machines and buildings and raw materials that create the products or services delivered to customers and crucially the…
  • …Financial Capital – the money to enable interaction between the other forms of capital through cash-flow and investment to transform other capital types.

The total accessible pool of capital is any organizations ‘portfolio of activities’.

Portfolio

In an ideal world all capital is employed delivering immediate benefits (profit in commercial settings and ‘public good’ in government and NGO settings). The ideal world is a stable, perhaps cyclic system of business as usual.

The world is seldom ‘ideal’ – Threat and opportunity in the world around us causes change which creates the need for us to act or react. Change may be tactical or strategic, short term or long-term, avoidance of threat or reach for opportunity.

Traditional limitations versus #pm_ngt

Traditional project thinking has been deliberately limited by its authors to the perspective of a change’s supplier not investor. #pm_ngt is centred on the investor’s view point.

Starting with Isochron’s Dimension Four® we have a great tool-set for expressing strategy and change in tangible destinations, we have tools for benefits identification and for care of the people through non-negotiable arrival and survival of episodes of change.

At the next level down the decision making hierarchy of corporate governance over change we have PRINCE2®’s robust architecture for the controls regime. This fantastic piece of intellectual capital is hidden behind too much detail, an inappropriate view of when to start and end its use and an exam based classroom culture. Stripped of the baggage P2 is powerful and elegant. While D4 and P2 are great aids they are deficient on there own.

We must also add the tools for scheduling, budgeting, measuring and status reporting. Mostly what we need is described, with variable degrees of clarity and insight, in The Project Management Institute’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge.

Recall our three foundations: Right time-frame, feedback loop connecting Boardroom and Engine-Room, Care of people’s emotional needs.

Building on our First foundation Stone – Those of us managing the pressures of change will do better when everyone with a role in or around projects recognise the whole time frame of change:

Both P2 and PMBoK have profoundly useful advise but they wrongly set the time-frame at the point where intended results are well defined and end when the benefit enabling product is handed over to those least familiar with handling disequilibrium; both reflect a supplier’s view point. Both are optimised towards “tell me clearly what you want, so I can present my bill when I’m done”.

The New Generation outlook in #pm_ngt recognizes a supplier’s view-point as necessary but says “this is artificially limited, it is an incomplete basis for investor success”. Stopping when the supplier has made their money does not help the investor reach benefits. We need the Customer’s perspective to be comprehensively covered by structured steps (AKA method) with supporting tools and techniques.

#pm_ngt (Project Management: New Generation Thinking) starts when triggers for change are still ill-formed and runs into, through and beyond P2 and PMBOK Guide’s timescales. #pm_ngt continues to be actively supporting change until benefits are flowing into all the investor’s Capital reserve types from a re-stabilized business as usual.

The Second Foundation – those of us managing the pressures to change will do better when methods and tools support conversation up as well as down the normal business decision making hierarchy:

Whether Multi-national, Not for profit, Government or Small/ Medium sized Enterprise there is a hierarchy of decision makers and experts ranging from;

    • those with a duty to set strategy and limits,
    • those who manage and control routine revenue making activity and/ or delivery of project activity
    • those whose skills are applied day-to-day to operational or change-oriented activities.

The #pm_ngt connects boardroom to engine room and back again by integrating delegation, escalation and decision making principles from Isochron’s D4 with the reporting mechanisms so well defined in P2 and the powerful planning and monitoring tools mostly described in the PMBOK Guide.

Our Third Foundation – we are all predisposed to mostly dislike change. We are all subject to pressures that make change irresistible and its arrival is non-negotiable.

Techniques used by the new generation of project participants socialise change’s reasons, timescales, opportunities, losses and threats, opportunities and gains. When discussed early, impacts are imagined, options explored and so then physical and mental preparations are made and pain of absorbing change overcome, the change’s benefits can more easily be capitalised upon and maybe change even becomes enjoyable.

In summary

#pm_ngt provides a loose and flexible procedural structure plus tools as early as the emergence of early ill-formed ideas and right up until first faltering steps to operate under a new order have passed and the sponsor’s desired new operating model is profitably established.

Techniques from  D4 socialize ideas for acceptance and to coalesce response options into a consensus about what collection of interacting capital types will prosper in the future. The D4 techniques are still active long after traditional project ‘wisdom’ has the supplier moving on for fresh fee-based work.

At grass-roots level in the organisation’s engine-room we take techniques like critical path analysis and 3-point estimating out of the text-books for realistic and useful application in the business pressured world to plan actions left to right. We drive this from the board-room by enabling direction setters to plan backwards from the desired future using right to left planning capabilities from business goals expressed in tangible and deliverable terms.

In the middle of both the timeline and the governance hierarchy  #pm_ngt guides how to use P2’s planning and control regime. With PMBoK tools and P2 structure  desired end-state (valued deliver ables) are translated to intended project team actions. Actual actions are reported in status assessments that reliably express  value (deliverables) at risk and cause course correction decision making.

Adding the Bits Together

The combination is an elegant, supple, economic and strong solution to the struggle to direct and govern investment in and return from change initiatives.

Next week I’ll address the component parts

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  1. #SOOP-9 #pmngt BAU is the portfolio of ALL uses of equity & debt to return utility to stakeholders | #pm_ngt Logical Model - November 9, 2013

    […] The real discipline is less about project management, or at least not in isolation, its about portfolio management. Portfolio management considers the sum total of demands on capital allocation between sustaining bau and delivering change (or future-state-business-as-usual). Successful projects need a new approach and that approach is #ng_pmt […]

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