A Practical Tool for Gaining Program Management Insights

I call the nearby graphic the SIMple model (SIM = Strategy, Inquiry, and Metrics).  It shows three interrelated factors that can foster insights into a program.

Here are the definitions of each of the three elements:

  • Strategy – A useful definition of strategy is, “A set of actions based on a set of beliefs.”  The goodness of strategy can be evaluated through this statement, “The right actions on the right things.”  The “right thing” is a choice of focus on objectives, vision, or outcome. The “right actions” are the purposeful activities that move toward the strategic intent (vision). If you want more thinking on correct strategy, review this link.
  • Inquiry - This is the practice of asking more and better questions. The inquiry mode is useful for problem identification and resolution. Leaders lead by asking good questions.
  • Metrics – I define metrics as “measures that signal important information, which will foster appropriate action by individuals.”  They are the vital few indicators that focus attention. A metric is not the same thing as a measure. The practice of identifying a critical few leading and lagging indicators increases focus and attention.

There are obvious interactions between the three elements of inquiry, metrics, and strategy as suggested by the two-headed arrows in the graphic. They include,

  • Asking about the definition of strategic success naturally causes the topic of metrics to arise.
  • Asking questions about metrics helps to reveal the priorities. For example, metrics can help us evaluate the appropriateness of the selected strategy.  If metrics are few in number, then it sparks the question, “Are we measuring the right things?” We can develop leading indicators for performance and work on those.
  • The definitions of strategy and metrics naturally suggest questions. For example, What do people believe to be true? What are the right things to focus on? What are the right actions that logically flow out of beliefs and into results?  Are we measuring the right leading and lagging indicators?

Where to Start?

I’ve used the SIMple Model as a tool in many situations.  I find it best to start with metrics or with inquiry. If the team has been assigned specific performance objectives, we can identify the specific metrics that can allow us to develop a strategic initiative program.  See these two posting on outcomes and benefits for more detail.

The team can start developing a list of questions that will help it define its knowledge gaps, exercising the Chief Learning Officer role played by the program manager. The what about technique will provide some structure for this activity.

How can you use the SIMple model for your strategic initiative program?

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About Greg Githens

Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. a.k.a., The Strategic Thinking Coach. I'm a hands-on strategy & execution consultant with experience in driving change in Fortune 500 and mid-size companies through strategic initiatives and business transformation. I'm available for extended or short-term engagements. For an introduction to pragmatic tools that turns vision into results, attend my popular seminar, "Leading Strategic Initiatives (Program Management)."
This entry was posted in Program & Portfolio Management, Success Principles for Strategic Initiatives, Useful Practices & Management Tools and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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