Often professional specializations present their discipline with cumbersome conceptual models and jargon. Their sophistication often gets in the way of communication, and even is counterproductive when the non-specialist comes to view the knowledge as unapproachable or impractical.
Because all strategic initiatives are programs, it is useful for the leader to possess professional-level knowledge of program management. Program management knowledge has been codified by the Project Management Institute in its recently released Program Management Standard – Third Edition. The book notes five performance domains, which are Strategic Alignment, Stakeholder Engagement, Benefits Management, Governance, and Life Cycle. Now, do you really want to memorize those five domains?
Leaders find ways to communicate in ways that are easier for non-specialists to absorb, yet maintain the essential characteristics. My purpose in this article is to give you a memorable way keep five program management performance factors in mind. Here they are:
B – Benefits
A benefit can be either economic or emotive in nature, and should be mapped to stakeholders and the delivery of specific elements of the solution. They key thing to remember is that benefits are things that are important and motivate stakeholders to support the strategic initiative.
A – Alignment
Here, I simplified strategic alignment to its essence: alignment. Here, the leader take various inputs such as values, mission, vision, strategy and so forth and translates it into the projects and communications that will create and deliver a solution.
As I have discussed in other articles, metrics are the best tool for assuring alignment.
R – Road mapping
I took some liberties with PMI’s use of Program Life Cycle concept. The life cycle concept is essentially one of laying out a high-level view of the sequencing of decision flows, work flows, and information flows. In simple term, develop and present a road map so that stakeholder can understand your direction.
E – Engagement
This is a simplification of PMI’s domain of Stakeholder Engagement. In practical terms, the strategic initiative leader needs to understand and attend to stakeholders’ wants, needs, and expectations. Stakeholders are the ultimate judges of whether a strategic initiative has succeeded.
D – Decisions
PMI calls this domain governance, but most of us find that to be a ponderous term that implies bureaucracy. In my experience, the key operational factor is decision making; and I have written several articles on how to make fast and effective decisions in this blog.
An Example of Application of the Five B.A.R.E.D. Domains
In 2005, Wal-Mart launched a strategic initiative to transform itself into a worldwide leader in environmentally sustainable operations, and it chose China as a focal point. CEO Lee Scott believed that the program was vital to Wal-Mart’s future success (domain = strategic alignment). The program would touch thousands of suppliers and employees who would need to understand the new business model (domain = stakeholder engagement). An earlier effort to manage five “strategic value networks” had yielded hundreds of ideas for projects, and now they needed to be culled (domain = governance/decisions) into a logical and phased approach (domain = roadmapping/life cycle) that would deliver the benefits that would cause stakeholder buy in (domain = benefits management).
How else can you assure that the strategic initiative applies contemporary knowledge of program management principles?
- The Business Value Proposition (leadingstrategicinitiatives.com)