How to get portfolio management in 100 days

You might want to get a cup of tea before you read this, its a bit longer than the other blogs because it’s a summary of my gig at the Managing Change – Transforming the Public Sector conference this week.  I was talking (and shouting) about how the Office for National Statistics (ONS) implemented portfolio management across the organisation within 100 days.

I really enjoyed this gig for two reasons.

1) I genuinely do love the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and portfolio management.

2) For the first time ever, I did a live value score during the presentation.  This meant I asked the 180 or so audience to indicate  when they experienced value by raising their hand for 2 seconds. (every hand raised was counted by 3 people at the back)

There were two morals of the story, the first one Being “you can get portfolio management in 100 days” by using the cabinet offices best practice for portfolio management – called Management of Portfolios.  Yes I am totally bias because I co-authored it. However the 100 day thing is true, the problem is people are very used to taking the easy way out and saying it takes 12-18 months to implement portfolio management.  Only two people say this.  1) people that don’t know what they are talking about 2) bad consultancy firms that want to bill you for 12-18 months.

Second moral of the story was, “Portfolio Management has never been more important”, and the reason for this is because it answers the questions that your Permanent Secretary and Director General (or CEO) will ask about your investment portfolio of change.  Okay they may not be asking you today, they may not be asking you tomorrow…but some day soon they will.  My presentation contains those questions, and the answers!

I don’t usually get nervous but this time I was a teeny bit because of this audience value measurement thing.  I had to do it though because I so wanted to measure how valuable the things were that i was saying, and i had to do it live because it was a total buzz and totally honest.  So I asked the audience to put their hand up for 2 seconds every time they experienced something that they thought was cool, that made them smile or was something they could take away and use in their own organisation.

I highlighted this right at the start informing them that I had a target number of “audience value moments” written on my last slide.  This could have gone horribly wrong, because if people didn’t put their hand up it meant there was no value which meant I was wasting my time, boring or just wrong …or indeed all of the above.

Anyway, turns out that the audience of 180(ish) experienced 561 value moments in my 17 minute talk –(that’s an average of 1 value moment every 1.8 seconds).  My target was 300 so you can see from this picture how happy I was!  I’m going to do this at all future talks, user value is important…feel free to rob the idea if you’re brave enough and let me know how you got on.

Some other nuggets from the day included Patrick O’Donnell who is also a big fan of statistics and seemed like a cool guy, Andrew Bragg from APM had some nuggets about project management vision.  I loved loved loved Jacqui presentation because she talked about how important “energy” is in organisations, as you know I designed the portfolio management guidance to have Organisational Energy at the hear of everything – I mentioned that yesterday too actually which you can see from this picture!

Richard Heaton (Cabinet Office Perm Sec) talk was cool, especially given that he was called in last minute, had no slides and was talking about some really complex issues …he got them across really simply, I particularly liked the point where he told someone to email him if they cant find something on the government website – fair play.

The Major Projects Authority presentation was interesting too, I referred to their talk in mine agreeing that Portfolio Management was not a silver bullet, however I did stress pretty strongly that the silver bullet is the Executive’s decision making and therefore portfolio management is the gun!

So there is the presentation below, I’ve annotated it a bit with some of the key messages i mentioned.  Hope you enjoy.

One last point, thanks to Faridah (at Public Events) and Craig (AV technical) who dealt with a million emails from me and helped me make sure my audios, visuals, gamma settings, screen resolution, clickers and vga connectors all connected and worked beautifully.


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