Centralized development resources are commonplace in many of the late adopter organizations that struggle with Agile transformations.  These centralized development resources tend to be doubly damming on the organization trying to become Agile: they lead to project thinking and management (rather than product thinking and leadership), and they lead to small incremental product development optimizations (rather than broad scale new and disruptive product breakouts).

This session focuses on the mechanics of a portfolio management technique intended to guide the organization into the use of Lean Startup thinking to challenge Product Managers with, paired with the right type of fiscal rigor to make CFOs happy.  Examples of how a Lean Startup Business Model Canvas can be paired with lightweight cost projections and revenue forecasts will be presented, with encouragement for organizations to specialize the artifact to suit their particular needs. 


Outline/Structure of the Talk

  • Framing the problems (5 minutes)
  • Disucss how too many organizations approach Portfolio Management and why the approaches are so poor in an Agile software development environment (10 minutes)
  • Explain concepts that allow a Lean approach to Portfolio Management and specifics as to how to employ these in a process that works (25 minutes)
  • Closing remarks (5 minutes)

Learning Outcome

  • An understanding of why Portfolio Management is important to an organization
  • An appreciation of what things we typically do poorly at
  • An appreciation of what your organization should be considering when strategically planning 
  • A realization that Lean Startup Thinking can find a home in the mindset that guides the realization of product visions and specific advice in practices to reinforce that

Target Audience

Project Management, Portfolio Management, Product Owners, Senior Leadership

schedule Submitted 5 years ago

Public Feedback

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  • Prasad
    By Prasad  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Howard,

    It will be very userful for the community to understand the  real world experince with a context of organisation type, its general charecterstics, what is the trigeer, how the outcomes are measured, how change is managed ?


    • Howard Deiner
      By Howard Deiner  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      I will be able to speak deeply about at least one engagement where this method was used.  In fact, illustrations of the actually artifacts are in the presentation itself.  I'd be happy to speak to what the situation was before, why we were brought in, how they do things now (which is basically what the advice of the presentation is all about).  But I can't speak to outcome measurement.  There is no scientific method experiment at work here.  It's the same as asking a doctor to speak to how the outcome from an n=1 experiement (the patient in treatment) compares to the same patient without the care.  I can say that they not longer suffer dread and pain.  Have less angst around budgeting.  Have a happier CFO and product heads.  But those are qualiative measurements.  Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not sure that I can do what you're asking (or that anyone could, for that matter) when we're working on live budgets and live plans.

  • Naresh Jain
    By Naresh Jain  ~  5 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Howard, thanks for the proposal. I'm hoping this is based on real-project experience. If true, can we convert it into an experience report? That will make it more interesting and authentic for the audience.

    • Howard Deiner
      By Howard Deiner  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Doc!

      Yes.  That's the deck used at Software Architect a couple of months ago.  It needs a serious paring down, and much more presentation then slow workshop pace.  I do want to spend as much time as possible on the concepts and specific practices I've found useful for the topic, and as little time as possible on introductory material.


      Thanks for the close look!

      --  howard

    • Howard Deiner
      By Howard Deiner  ~  5 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Naresh!

      Yes, there are forms and figures that are in the presentation that are directly from real life.  But bear in mind that a lot of the session is about getting across the Agile/Lean mindset change and the different way to approach strategic planning that should take place.  That being said, if it makes sense to you to switch this into an experience report, and highlight things such as the change from funding based project planned portfolios into product lifecycle rolling funding models, I could try to put my head around that.  I know that many people who attend this conference want specific things, such as a template to fill out, as a favorable outcome from a session.  While I have some of that to offer, I do believe that a more rounded approach as to how to avoid Innovator's Dilemma and how to weave the 3 Horizon Model into the planning will aid the attendees even more.  I do promise to make sure that I put more of the original (but redacted) client artifacts into the presentation.  I'll also lose that section on "disk drives of the ages", which was fun but unnecessary.

  • Doc Norton
    By Doc Norton  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply


    As I look through the slide deck, it is hard to see how you'd get through all this in 45 minutes. I'm assuming you're going to pare it down for the time-slot?

    Your current slide deck doesn't seem to match with the timings you've provided. Also 15 minutes on the problem and how organizations approach it is almost 50% of your time. Is it possible to pare that back by another 5 minutes and have a full 30 on the Lean Portfolio Management piece?