Diagnosing Your Portfolio


Your business situation is unlikely to be a pure example of a startup, turnaround, realignment or sustaining-success situation. At a high-level your situation may fit reasonably neatly into one of these categores. But as soon as you drill down, you will discover your managing a portfolio – of products, projects, processes, plants, or people — that represents a mix of STARS situations. In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about systematically assessing your portfolio.

Diagnosing Your Portfolio
You use four categories to assign your products, processes, projects, and people.)

How To Diagnose Your Portfolio
Watkins suggests the following approach to diagnosing your portfolio:

  1. Assign the pieces in your new portfolio (products, processes, projects, plants, and people) to the four categories.
  2. Given this arrangement, how will you manage the various pieces differently? What do you need from them? What do they need from you?
  3. Think sysemtically about challenges and opportunities in each piece.
  4. Identify the common language with which to talk to your new team about why and how you are going to manage various pieces differently.

Key Take Aways
I think it’s great to call out the fact that different aspects of your organization (people, processes, products) can be in very different situations or maturity levels.

  • Start-ups. I think when you’re in a new start up, it’s a more level playing field.
  • Mature organization. When you’re in an organization that’s past the general startup phase, I think the “ah-ha” is that you might not pay attention to how vastly different the situations your people, processes, and projects might be. For example, your products might be very mature, while your processes are still in start-up. Some people might be in start-up or turnaround due to turnover, while some projects might be in realignment.

I like the fact that Watkins lays out a system for analyzing your portfolio based on cycles and situations.

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