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The 6 Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management: Aligned Decision Forum

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By: Don Creswell,
Co-founder & Vice President, SmartOrg Inc.

The credibility of a company, both internally and externally
rests largely on the abilities of its decision makers to make sound, strategic
decisions that will benefit everyone from the corner office to the mail room
and stretching out to its clients, vendors and customers. The big question: Do
decision makers embody the values and mission of the company?
A company's C-suite executives' ability to make decisions
that impact its profitability, efficiency and long-term goals determines their
success in their roles as decision makers. Decision making for companies can be
an arduous task unless a process is in place that organizes the data that is
gathered and structure is put in place to control how the date is used to
arrive at informed decisions. An aligned decision forum provides an environment
that drives decision-making at all levels of business and is key to providing a
foundation for analysis and business planning.
Without the structure of an effective forum by which to make
joint portfolio decisions, players can find themselves in conflict with other
players over competing ideas, or be driven by the desire to advance their own
agendas. Multiple players that may not be the right people for the project at
hand ' from different backgrounds ' may bring conflicting processes to the
table, making it unclear how to proceed, confusing matters, creating an environment
where decision makers are talking past each other. Rather than arriving at
decisions that are well thought out or based on hard data, decisions are made
based on gut feelings, or worse, on anecdotal information. An aligned decision
forum brings things out into the open, including acknowledgment of the
uncertainty that surrounds planning for the future.
When decision processes are aligned, players work together
under one umbrella process to analyze data, deliberate, resolve conflicts and
take actions based on cooperative discussion, rather than being distracted by
individual agendas or competition. It also brings the right people to the table
for efrfective communication and decision making.
Players have the opportunity to objectively analyze the
top-down aspirations of their company within the existing economy and market
climate. They can leverage those aspirations against the bottom-up reality of
the company's product, the competitiveness and financial status. Within an
aligned decision environment, players are able to strategize and prioritize
based on data, available information and informed judgment. Quality decision
are made using meaningful and relevant information that is summarized at the
appropriate level of detail for the decision at hand.
A portfolio manager is challenged to set funding priorities,
allocate resources among segments, balance innovation and incremental projects,
meet corporate finance goals and assure a steady stream of successful projects.
By working through the process, the group can address the important questions
about where the company wants to go; what are the goals; what is needed to
accomplish them; what resources, funding, technology are needed; what already
exists in the company's portfolio and what should be retained, modified or shut
An aligned decision environment provides the setting and
structure to bring people and information together, resulting in better, faster
and cheaper decision that benefit everyone.

This is the second in
a series of blogs on The Six Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management.
Subsequent blogs address each of the six principles in detail. For further
information about SPM processes and decision-support software, visit www.smartorg.com or contact info@smartorg.com

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