Overcoming Annual Planning with Adaptability

Empowering the PMO to Be the Change-Maker

Is your PMO cultivating a blame-free culture? Maybe, your enterprise is too mired in the traditional constraints of being over-worked and over-burdened to leave space for creativity and better decision-making.

Let’s face it, traditional project management tends to hinder adaptability. If your goal is to promote collaboration, drive value for customers, and establish differentiation for long-term prosperity, it’s clearly time to empower your PMO with the adaptive enterprise.

This is the message Stephen Parry, renowned author, speaker, and Change Architect, shared during a recent Planview webcast. He touted the value of constructive collaboration that allows staff to self-direct so they can cope more efficiently with the fast pace of customer demands. For the PMO, this means executives expect adaptability, not predictability. At its heart, this issue involves innovating to overcome cumbersome project lifecycles so annual planning will no longer have a death grip on the business.

How do you become a change-maker?

Parry says the PMO should embrace the adaptive enterprise to improve decision-making.

For starters, they can stop going up and down the hierarchy tree by helping their staff get the skills and insights they need to make better and faster decisions.

When the PMO designs roles that allow their teams to get as close as possible to where the problems are, they will see more conversations that ultimately resolve more customer problems.

The benefits of creating an adaptive enterprise include:

  • Rapid response to the external environment – more control than in the traditional organisation
  • Teams and departments can self-organise
  • Disciplined experimentation with varying levels of responsibility
  • Staff running multiple, cross-functional scenario projects


PMOIf the PMO wants to be more engaged in day-to-day decision-making, Parry says they will have to think not just outside the box, but work outside of it, too.

The PMO should get down at the ground level where the heavy-lifting occurs to shift thinking away from a top-down approach. When the staff knows intimately the other parts of the organisation, the real conversations can take place – even if it means planning, scheduling, and reporting work just got a lot tougher.

No doubt, figuring out how to extend the PPM for strategic “adaptable” planning is where the rubber hits the road. While Agile brings with it a lot of promise in terms of quality of work, ROI, team morale, visibility, and reduced risk, it can also fall short without a larger framework. If you want the best of both worlds with a longer planning horizon than agile methods support, you should consider using different delivery cycles within a larger framework.

What does this look like? Instead of flipping a switch, teams can move forward to deliver projects faster by breaking the work into smaller increments that offer incremental value. In fact, many executives are more comfortable with shortened planning horizons rather than long, multi-year plans. If you can continually plan with multiple scenarios and iterations, this will create a feedback loop. With an outward-focused PMO, the business can truly shorten cycles and balance projects against limited capacity to drive innovation in times of uncertainty.

Ultimately, this is all about enhanced collaboration and adaptability for the PMO. Your enterprise will get:

  • The space needed for creativity and better decision-making
  • A blame-free culture where you can learn from your errors
  • Transparency to see when others are overburdened with work

Want to learn more about how to increase productivity with continuous planning? Watch our on-demand webcast, Power Your PMO with the Adaptive Enterprise 

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