Episode 277: Too Many Projects Will Choke Your Business (Premium)
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This episode is sponsored by The PM PrepCast for The PMP Exam:
I have another great interview with David Blumhorst (http://www.linkedin.com/in/dblumhorst/) from Daptiv for you. Of course, we continue on the theme of Project Portfolio Management (PPM).
This time we look at how a PPM tool can help you ensure that you are not trying to bring your company to a grinding halt by introducing too much change.
The basic premise here is that PPM leaders must take into account the amount of change a business can undergo in any given period. And if they don’t keep the amount change below the acceptable threshold, change fatigue will ensue and stifle the company.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode # 277. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.project-management-podcast.com and I'm Cornelius Fichtner.
You are listening to one of our Premium episodes. So thank you very much for your support of The Project Management Podcast™.
I have another great interview with David Blumhorst from Daptiv for you. Of course, we continue on the theme of project portfolio management. This time, we are looking at how a PPM tool can help you ensure that you are not trying to kill your company by introducing too much change.
The basic premise here is that PPM leaders must take into account the amount of change a business can undergo in any given period. And if they don’t keep this amount of change below the acceptable threshold, change fatigue will ensue and stifle the company.
So how much change is in your portfolio?
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with David Blumhorst, Vice President of Solutions and Services at Daptiv.
Cornelius Fichtner:David, thank you very much for coming back on the program today!
David Blumhorst: Thank you, Cornelius. Nice to be with you again.
Cornelius Fichtner: We learned from our last conversations, projects are meant to change something about how we do business. For example, we do business in a certain way today and in order to change this way, we initiate a project. Is this still what you see what's happening out there in the business world?
David Blumhorst: Absolutely! Even more so than we use to. I think as companies view projects more and more and more as investments. Rather than taking just any good idea that comes up and say: "Oh yeah, that sounds good. Let's fund that and let's see if it works." They're putting it through a lens that says: Is this aligned with our strategic objectives? Is this going to accomplish a business outcome we want to accomplish? And looking at the 120 we have this quarter versus the 20 we can do, let's decide on that basis which ones go forward.
So very much it's about what kind of improvement, what kind of a change whether its improving revenue or improving employer customer satisfaction, what are we looking to see here and putting a filter on the projects that are coming in based on the business outcomes. So very much so.
Cornelius Fichtner: Before we can jump into the main topic of this conversation, I need a definition from you. What is change fatigue?
David Blumhorst: So change fatigue is a very interesting topic. I'm not an organizational change management professional. I have those on my staff, but I get it a little more visually. Think of it as you can only handle so many new things at once.
So for instance, a little one would be a little bit of a humorous one, I was at a company where we move to buildings. The building next door we moved to was identical in floor plan in every way that the building we moved out of. Cubicles are in the same places. Their offices are in the same places. All of that was exactly the same, which is there is no change to make except that for some reason in this floor plan, the men's and women's restrooms were flipped even though they were in the places, they were flipped. You can imagine people had to think a few times before they decide in which door to go in and they did think every time because the risk of extreme embarrassment was there. But that kind of a change causes you to think.
If you now think about, say, putting in the ERP system and you're changing fundamentally the way you do work. A good example of this I was at a company where we went literally from QuickBooks to PeopleSoft of all things. So one day on a Friday, you're working in QuickBooks and you're shipping and you're printing stuff out and all that kind of stuff and then Monday morning, you're working in PeopleSoft. I get a call that it's you know, we're having problems shipping out the door and the shipping clerk actually calls me up, gets filtered all the way up to me as a CIO and says: I can't ship anything. What is it saying? It's saying there's a credit hold. Did you call the credit department? Well no. So I called them up. Sure enough, that customer hadn't paid their bill in 6 months. So was on a credit hold for a reason.
So the system was working but the employee was having to go through an entirely different process. You pile too many of those on top of each other and we tend to get frustrated. We tend to resist. We tend to say: This isn't working for me and then we'll blame the tool. We'll blame the new process. We'll blame something. That is essentially in a more visual way, change fatigue. Too many changes piled on top of each other taxes our capacity as humans to do that change. We're not machines that can just be programmed and take instructions and now suddenly go a different direction. We have to build a process, this stuff. So that's essentially it.
Cornelius Fichtner: What exactly happens if an organization starts too many projects that bring too many such changes?
David Blumhorst: It starts grinding to a halt frankly. You notice that those changes don’t take hold. You wonder why shipping has slowed down. You wonder why order processing started bouncing, shipping as a bottleneck. Your orders aren't coming in. As a matter of fact, they are going through changes too. So things really start to slow down. It can affect company performance in some pretty large ways. So this idea of change fatigue and this idea of launching too many things at once is very real. It really can impact. It's not just fluffy boohoo stuff. It really can impact an organization performance in some profound ways.
Cornelius Fichtner: How difficult is it to reverse this process?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
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