Thursday, July 28, 2016

The 6 Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management: Credible, Comparable Evaluations

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

When it comes to portfolio management, it can be easy – in many cases, too easy – to explore the theory side of the equation without looking at hos companies in the real world are living the principles of value creation. Let’s take a look at how one of the largest petroleum companies benefited from implementing them.

The managers of R&D/technology portfolios were pressured by management to accelerate the deployment of technology to business opportunities. The business needs for technology were not being met in a timely fashion while at the same time corporate growth bottom-line objectives were demanding more for less money. Projects were being kept alive too long, and there was an inconsistency in how projects were evaluated. Senior managers were having difficulty comparing projects of different types and the company was experiencing significant limitations of a subjective “thumbs-up/thumbs down” approach to prioritization of projects in the development portfolio.

The existing portfolio management process was primarily a roll-up of business cases to justify projects, which as noted above, led to inconsistent project evaluation, making it quite difficult to objectively compare projects with the portfolio. The process was competitive and adversarial, supported by little quality data.

 A senior manager of a major technology portfolio decided to meet the challenges by implementing SmartOrg’s value-based management process, supported by Portfolio Navigator® software. The new process made project evaluations transparent to all team members, clearly identifying key value drivers and addressing the impact of uncertainty on the NPV of each project.

·         A peer and expert review process emphasized transparency, creditability and comparability.
·         Uncertainty tracking included baseline assessments of the ranges of uncertainty around each factor in the model. Updates were based on evidence and learning as projects moved through development.
·         The transparent process helped address “garbage in, garbage out” concerns, which had historically been one of the most challenging issues.

Within one year following implementation of value-based management, the portfolio manager reported a 60% increase in new ideas screened; a 50% improvement in new project initiated and a 100% increase in projects deployed and projects terminated. By stopping one project a year earlier, funding and resources were made available to accelerate development of more promising projects, adding $10 million in value to the portfolio – 30% of the annual budget.

An additional benefit: credible, comparable evaluations allow every member of the team to view the importance of his/her contribution to creating value and to develop understanding and accept decisions that may reject their pet projects when other projects can be shown to have higher value potential for the organization.

        Key – yellow: before Value-Based Evaluation – blue: after Value-Based Evaluation

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How Exponential Thinking is Changing the Role of Corporate Innovators

More than ever, mature organizations are being disrupted by competitors that seem to appear out of nowhere, and rapidly grab massive amounts of marketshare in a short amount of time.

Join us for our upcoming InnoView webinar “How Exponential Thinking is Changing the Role of Corporate Innovation” on Tuesday, August 16th at 12:00 PM EST. In this session, Yuri van Geest (Co-author, Exponential Organizations and Keynote presenter at the 2016 Corporate Intrapreneur Summit) and Anthony Ferrier (CEO, Culturevate) will talk about this changing business environment and the impact on corporate innovatiors and the intrapreneurs that they look to engage.

About the Presenters:

Yuri van Geest, Best Selling Author “Exponential Organizations,” Founder Singularity University (Netherlands)

Yuri van Geest (MSc. in Strategic Management, Marketing & Innovation) is a passionate professional, author, international keynote speaker and entrepreneur on exponential emerging technologies. He has a strong background in corporate organizations, agencies, central government and startups, and is a co-founder of the new enterprise ExO xo, which focuses on innovation training and consulting to make organizations thrive in an exponential world. 

Yuri is co-author of the (Amazon) bestselling book called Exponential Organizations which examines the fundamentally new ways startups and corporations are organizing to deal with disruption, exponential technologies and accelerated change. Yuri is the founder of Singularity University (Netherlands), Managing Director of the Singularity University Summit Europe and a triple alumnus of the Singularity University (Exponential Medicine and Exponential Finance).

Anthony Ferrier, CEO of Culturevate

Anthony is the CEO of Culturevate, providing industry-leading innovation training and ongoing support for corporate intrapreneurs and employees. Culturevate provides innovation training (developed in association with some of the world's leading universities); a SAAS-based Library of innovation-focused materials, tools and templates; along with consulting focused on engaging employees around innovation. Anthony is a widely read author, speaker and advisor to a wide range of Fortune 500 organizations. He previously led The BNY Mellon innovation program and has a Master of Commerce (University of Sydney) and Bachelor of Economics (University of Newcastle).

Save you seat for this fascinating session. Register here:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Forward Focus: The Impact of the New Economy and Intrapreneurship on Innovation

How can businesses adapt in this new economy?

In our Forward Focus interview series, we sat down with Alexa Clay, author of The Misfit Economy, to discuss the “new economy” and intrapreneurship, and the implications of each on innovation.

Part of the ambition of The Misfit Economy, according to Clay, is to ask hard question including: What does it look like when we break out of command and control systems? What are new types of management? What can we learn from hacker collectives?

“So, the new economy is a stand in for thinking about the moment that we are in,” explained Clay. “We are in a moment of enormous transition where institutions and multinational companies are really going to have to figure out how they evolve. How do they develop new cultures to fit a really different kind of employee profile? How do they cater to misfits – people that are really thinking outside of the box?”

Watch the full interview below:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Official Call for Presenters: Front End of Innovation 2017

The Institute for International Research (IIR) is currently seeking presenters for

The 15th Annual Front End of Innovation US
May 8-11, 2017
Boston World Trade Center & Seaport Hotel

On the heels of our largest and most successful FEI to date, we have just opened the call for presenters period for our 15th annual event taking place next May 8-11, 2017 at the Boston World Trade Center.

We will be reviewing early submissions now through Friday, August 19th. Due to the high volume of submissions, we suggest you submit your proposal early to Kelly Schram, Program Director at

Only corporate/client-side speakers will be considered. If you are a consultant or a solution/technology provider (even if you are proposing a joint client presentation), please see contact details below for sponsorship/exhibit opportunities. Speakers receive FREE admission to the conference.

FEI is all about the Experience. Interactive sessions are given top priority. We are looking for:
  • Mini-Workshops: We are looking for expert speakers to conduct collaborative 1.5 hour activities where attendees are taken through a process to get hands on.
  • Boston-Based Excursions: Sessions led at innovative Boston companies, start-ups, and hotspots.
  • Case Studies: We will only consider NEW case studies that haven't already been shared at another event.
On the following topics areas:
  • Managing the Discovery Portfolio
  • Customer Driven Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Disruptive Trends & Technology
  • Business Model Innovation
  • Design Thinking
  • Data Driven Innovation
  • Culture & Environment
  • Service Innovation
  • Partnering & Funding
  • Marketing Innovation
Sponsorship & Exhibition Opportunities
If you are interested in sponsorship or exhibit opportunities, or are a consultant/solution provider who wants to speak on the program, please contact Liz Hinkis, Business Development Manager at 646.616.7627 or

Due to the high volume of submissions, only accepted proposals will be notified. For consideration, please email with the following information August 19th, 2016.
  • Proposed speaker name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)
  • The main theme you plan to address
  • Which format you'd like to present
  • Please indicate what is NEW about the presentation
  • What the audience will gain from your presentation (please list 3-5 deliverables)
Learn more about FEI here:
All the best,
The FEI Team


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Building the Perfect Operations Team

By: Ciaran Nagle, Global Marketing Manager, OND LLC

Take a solid alloy Mercedes engine block. Add some Ford cylinders that are slightly too small. Wrap around some Honda rings that are slightly too large. Fit Toyota spark plugs that don't synch with the combustion cycle. And finally throw in some Mobil gas with the wrong vapour mix.

What have you got?

You've got a metaphor for the typical corporation's Operations Division. It works, sort of. But it's horribly inefficient and it will break down completely if any load is placed upon it.

Most operations and back-office teams get the work done, eventually. But too often they are more like a motley collection of individuals than a smooth-running team machine. The employees were hired without any regard for whether or not their underlying talent was a match for the needs of the work group. Let's look at what all that inefficiency means.

o   Staff are restive because they can't achieve what they were hired for
o   Management spend more time hiring than doing
o   Other divisions are slowed down as a consequence
o   A fortune is spent on external consultants to fix the problem
o   Company profitability vanishes like a dream at waking

Yet the cause of the problem is completely avoidable. Staff were recruited for their skillsets and experience but without any thought for how they would fit in the team. It was assumed that they would all just 'get along' and work together in harmony. Yet if you looked back in time at that operations division, you would find it never worked in harmony. The current management is repeating the failed hiring practices of the past and hoping that somehow the outcome will be different.

It's a faint hope.

The good news however is that there is genuine hope for the future. Over the last decade or so research in businesses has developed and perfected an entirely new science. Teaming science. As more and more work is performed by teams, not individuals, this teaming science is bubbling to the top of the agenda in boardrooms everywhere. Among other things, the science has revealed that an individual's natural strengths and talent - that huge part of us which is invisible - is far more important to our effectiveness at work than our learned skills.

And the science is not immature or incomplete. It has been rigorously tested in both Fortune 100 corporations as well as smaller enterprises and found to be 99.7% accurate. Teaming science will help you build work teams that

                Have high levels of engagement (job satisfaction)
                Have low turnovers of staff        
                Are easily managed
                Are an inspiration to the rest of the company

and here's the best bit: they are 28% more productive on average. What would it mean to you if your team could up their output by 28% and be a lot happier? It would be more significant than assembling a kit car in your garage, am I right?

Which brings us back to the Mercedes engine. It's still there on the block waiting to be finished. You can buy new parts from the store where the labels on the box have the one-word description you're looking for. Or you can select parts that are a mission-perfect fit for that engine and intended to synch with the whole.

The correct answer is fairly obvious.

But once you've finished making the kit car and you go back to the office, how are you going to build your team: failed hiring practices of the past or a proven science-based process?

About the Author: Ciaran was introduced to Method Teaming, OND's ground-breaking science for effective business team formation four years ago. Realizing that his marketing skills, honed at GE over 10 years, could help OND break out of their narrow client set (HPE, Big Four Consultancies) into the wider corporate world he was excited to become their world marketing head. He is based in London and can be reached at

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BEI 2016: Where Innovation Meets Implementation

Inventor of the Internet of Things (IoT) keynotes at BEI 2016, New Orleans

Join Kevin Ashton, author of “How to fly a Horse” as one of the distinguished keynotes at this year’s Back End of Innovation conference, November 15-17, 2016 at the Hyatt French Quarter in New Orleans, LA.

Widely known as the founder of “The Internet of Things” IoT, Kevin also co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT and took it from a converted broom closet to a global organization with six labs around the world, 103 corporate sponsors, and over a hundred researchers.

As a successful entrepreneur and innovator, with three highly successful tech start-ups, most recently Zensi, which he co-founded and sold to Belkin in 2010, Kevin will demonstrate how innovation can be COMMERCIALIZED.

Attending this year’s conference guarantees your access to top-notch content, knowledge and techniques to successfully execute, socialize and commercialize your ideas!

Sign Up to Receive the Back End of Innovation Agenda:

Why New Orleans?

Following the events of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was forced to re-invent itself and implore innovative ways to keep the city thriving. The city was able to re-brand itself as a tourist destination once again. We can learn from how they were able to reach the market and successfully sell their new image as a go-to destination amongst local and international tourists.

BEI in 2016

Broadening the scope of BEI’s existing focus on execution we will delve deeper into the understanding the right commercialization strategies and actionable ways to launch, market and grow products. Key topics of this year’s conference include:

·         Building and sustaining partnerships
·         Product design and implementation
·         Corporate culture and innovation management
·         Marketing and brand development
·         Supply chain and scaling for success
·         Resource allocation and project management
·         And more!

Use code BEI16BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy Tickets:

See you in NOLA!

The BEI Team

Monday, July 18, 2016

The 6 Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management: Value, Creation, Focus

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

Value creation focus is a strategy by which all stakeholders involved in decision making answer a simple question: how does everything we do contribute to creating economic value for my organization?

In an ordinary setting that lacks focus, peoples’ objectives tend to be driven by personal agendas, functional perspectives and individual biases. There is no structure – metrics and analytics are not clearly connected to value creation, or they are manipulated to advance personal agendas. Without a focus on value creation, information is more likely to be selected to support personal agendas or positions, resulting in the application of irrelevant information to arrive at decisions.

By focusing on value as a prime metric, when managing the strategic portfolio, we ensure that a forum is created to allow individuals and groups to think clearly about economic and strategic issues, and creatively about how to improve the value of their portfolio. In this scenario, metrics and analytics inform analysts, giving them an understanding of economic outcomes that drive universally beneficial choices. By focusing on value, all information needed to inform value creation is put on the table, both positive and negative, and is, ultimately incorporated into neutral evaluations.
Let’s look at a case study involving too many projects and not enough resources – what would you do in this situation?

A high-tech packaging company that had built on tremendous innovation in materials and design over the decades was facing serious challenges. They were looking at a marked increase in global competition and an erosion of the advantage the company had in the market. Its products were increasingly undifferentiated, their margins were dramatically eroding, and R&D and NPD had failed to produce anything really new and exciting.
Their portfolio was choked with R&D and NPD proposals. The CEO was demanding more innovation, but cost reduction and incremental projects were inhibiting innovation, which created a lot of churn and debate. Projects started to struggle for resources, with over 70 projects on the table, with only the resources to support about 15 of them.
They tried traditional evaluation approaches. The CFO created a business case in finance terms based on gathered relevant data, modeling it after a successful capital investment process. They used a project-management approach, assigning clear project leadership responsibility, forming teams, creating plans with clear milestones and deliverables. They pursued the beset plans and held people accountable.
They looked at their resource allocation, addressing the core issue that certain resources were over-subscribed. They created resource manager positions to assign key resource based on guidelines and situation specifics.
They created scoring rules by defining essential criteria such as strategic fit, size of opportunity, technical difficulty and investment, and then they assigned a score for each project on a scale of 1-5 based on each dimension, taking the weighted measure to arrive at a “figure of merit.”
None of the above worked. When asked “why?” the executives commented on how these traditional approaches failed their business:
“Business cases strongly favored incremental projects.”
“Project management methods created more work on projects we would (ultimately) cancel.”
“Resource allocation efforts abdicated the company’s most important investment decisions to relatively low-level managers.”
The company turned to emphasis on value creation – and it worked.
“When we got cleaner about value, many project leaders voluntarily cancelled their own projects; they realized they could better direct their efforts to higher-value projects.”
“We reduced our portfolio from 70 to 20 projects, improving the return by more than 100 per cent.”
Focusing teams and decision makers on identifying the relatively few factors that drive value is fundamental to developing value-based, believable business cases for the strategic management of project and project portfolios.

This is the third 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 or contact

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What the Game of Chess Can Tell Us About Building a Perfect Team

By: Ciaran Nagle, Global Marketing Manager, OND LLC

"Not much is known, of early days of chess beyond a fairly vague report, That fifteen hundred years ago two princes fought, though brothers, for a Hindu throne…" (from 'The Story of Chess' written by Tim Rice)

It's 150 years since Wilhelm Steinitz became the world's first chess champion in 1866. Co-incidentally that's exactly a tenth of the time since chess was first invented, according to the lyrics of Tim Rice who wrote the words to the musical 'Chess'. But chess has much to teach us about the dynamics of building the perfect team.

To begin with, there are six different types of piece: king, queen, bishop, knight, rook and pawn. Of these, five represent people and only one, the rook, represents an object, originally a chariot (now a castle).

So people are more important than tools by a margin of 5 to 1. All the pieces have different powers. They move in different ways. It is the combination of their moves and their ability to leverage each other's strengths that determines which side will win. Chess really is a team game.

But it's when we look at the talents within each piece that we uncover the most valuable insight that chess can give us.The queen has shrugged off her 'body of a weak and feeble woman' as another queen, Elizabeth I, put it and become the most powerful player on the board. Her inner talent has more than compensated for her lack of skill with a sword. Natural talent beats skill any day, the game's designers are trying to tell us.

The pawns are serfs, peasants. They are there to be slaughtered. But if a pawn is patient and avoids confrontation and make its way up the board, it too can become a powerful queen. The message here is simple but stark: even the least of us conceals hidden talents that allow us to be leaders when we persist.

So on with the other pieces. It is not our obvious skills that matter, chess is telling us, but our inner talent. It is not what is on the surface, but what is hidden. When that is unleashed, no-one can stop us.
Method Teaming is a science that uncovers our own powerful talents and aptitudes. These may have lain hidden, submerged for years beneath our skills and qualifications. But it's never too late to discover them. If we do, we may find our inner Queen or Knight and play a bigger part in our team's success than anyone, even us, thought possible.

Now just think what could happen if a science like that was applied to our entire organization.

Ciaran was introduced to Method Teaming, OND's ground-breaking science for effective business team formation four years ago. Realizing that his marketing skills, honed at GE over 10 years, could help OND break out of their narrow client set (HPE, Big Four Consultancies) into the wider corporate world he was excited to become their world marketing head. He is based in London and can be reached at

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How to Instill Confidence in Your Ideas

Highlights from the Backstories Workshop at BEI: Back End of Innovation 2015

People want something new, something innovative. It’s not just about informing. You have got to inspire. You have to make them believe.

Hi them not just in the head, but hit them in the gut and in the heart, so that you deliver not just understanding – but you unleash their passion, and you instill confidence in your ideas. 

Watch the video below to find out how: 

Clicky Web Analytics