Over the years, program reviews conducted by River Plate Projects (RPP) have shown that delivery issues often have root causes in overlooked fundamentals and in extra complexity introduced by factors within the control of the program. Some recurrent issues included:
- Uncertainty was not made visible, yet early time and cost estimates were locked in as viable commitments to delivery. Large variations were experienced late in execution, causing reactive cuts in scope with negative impacts on benefits;
- Enterprise programs enabled by off-the-shelf IT solutions mostly focused on the user perspective overlooking the investment owner and change stakeholder perspectives. Technical solutions were over-customised, costing a lot more to develop and losing the benefit of cost-effective maintenance later in production;
- Programs with unavailability or distant involvement of business sponsors/owners over delegated decisions to senior users or suppliers of solutions. Since they did not have neither the visibility nor the objectivity to optimise the investment perspective of change, their decisions led to poor business outcomes.
It is worth noting that these issues also occurred while having qualified and experienced professionals on board, which raises the question about the limited impact of specialist skills and methods when fundamentals of execution are overlooked.
Observing principles of execution
A key component of agility is to do only what matters and do it well. If the business needs agility in the creation of value from the execution of change, then it cannot afford to overlook the basics that lead to it. For this reason and since 2007, RPP has worked on Principle Led Execution® — an idea that combined RPP’s know-how with selected industry practices to highlight a critical set of principles and techniques that need to be observed at all times during execution.
The principles continuously connect strategy and execution; provide the order and fluidity necessary to achieve coherent action across stakeholders; and keep everyone focused on the creation of optimal value from the investment in change.
The approach is used at a program level providing guidance on simple practices, basic rules, and light-weight management techniques in key areas of agile execution such as:
- Business-led and value-driven governance of change;
- Continuous integration of value and change through value delivery mapping;
- Agile prioritisation through pipelines — benefits, solutions and business changes;
- Experiential delivery — “learning by doing”, enabling discovery and taking timely decisions; and
- Delivery of change based on commitments to outcomes, not tasks.
Principles at work
The application of principle led execution to a 3-year business improvement program enabled a cross-organisational business to:
- Successfully establish and manage an agile program of change to remove bureaucracy through rapid automation and digitalisation of business processes;
- Actively engage the business and its stakeholders in the joint creation of value from business performance improvements;
- Effectively deal with uncertainty and complexity through continuous discovery, learning, timely decisions and trade-offs, and dynamic resourcing of most valuable delivery;
- Year on year, achieve or exceed value realisation targets.
Written by: Fernando Gaggero — founder and director of River Plate Projects | RPP