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on July 5, 2010
While the scope of Taming Change is well beyond those interested in adopting IT service management, the concepts apply extremely well to that environment. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to understand how portfolio management can and should be integrated into an overall program for effective IT/Business governance.

You can see a web cast review of the book here:

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on December 5, 2013
‘It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change – Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species’

The book is about managing change within the complex organizational context, using portfolio management as a management tool. According to the authors, portfolio management aligns the entire organization to successfully manage changes, unifying the organization by improving communication and breaking down functional silos to deliver the maximum benefit.

The book is well structured; the first few chapters explaining the core concepts and the following chapters provide a deeper consideration of the key business disciplines applied within the conceptual framework. The Book is written in an easy to understand language and each chapter ends with a good review summary.

Handling changes differ in organizations. In 1942, the Harvard economist Joseph Schumpter introduced the theory of ‘Creative destructions’, which defines “change as the natural consequences of our economic system”, and he further explains that “a market economy will increasingly revitalize itself from within by scrapping old and failing businesses and then reallocating resources to newer and more productive ones.” (Ref. Taming change with portfolio management, p4, Joseph A. Schumpeter, From capitalism, socialism and democracy, 1975). A good example of this was Woolworth vs. Wal-Mart marketing concepts. Woolworth’s initial expansion with marketing low cost items failed during the consequent years as they didn’t adapt according to the changes in the business environment. Wal-Mart mastered in change management continually refining basic retailing skills considering merchandising, pricing, location and especially supply and distribution.

Chapter 1 introduces the different portfolio management areas linking the following three areas of the organization to achieve smooth change management. (Ref. p14)

Operational planning: Assess current operation and define future goals, which defines the strategic portfolio (e.g. operational excellence, new opportunities)
Investment analysis: Manage the commitment of money and people to work, which defines the investment portfolio (e.g. cost cutting programs, fund raising programs)
Work/Resources management for handling change: Assign resources to projects and operations which define the execution portfolio (e.g. Resource allocation projects)

Chapter 2 discussed immense technological and computer system advancements and how modern organizations are converted into technical service organizations (TSO) that create products and services from information and intelligence. It was suggested that most TSO’s are formed as matrix organizations and, mostly culturally diverse and globally dispersed. Chapter 15 expanded this concept by saying that Project Portfolio Management (PPM) emerged with the advent of TSO to address the complexity of the multi-project environments. (Ref. p265)

Chapter 3 discussed how portfolio management provides a disciplined approach to anticipate and manage both revolutionary and evolutionary changes in a consistent, repeatable and transparent way. (Ref. page 25) According to the authors the most obvious and difficult constraint to organizational change lies within the people themselves. (Ref- p27). It is suggested that an individual will adapt to change easier than a group of people in an organization, due to the socialized context, therefore the author’s advises that portfolio management should provide the process framework to communicate changes and reestablish the rules of the new future state.

Chapter 4 discusses the key information needed to define a portfolio as people (information about organization & resources), money (financial information), work (objectives, strategies & investment) & deliverables (demands). (Ref. p35) The portfolio type is differentiated by the subject matter that is used for making decisions and the depth of information that is used to make those decisions. (Ref. p38)

The book clearly explains the following three critical characteristics of the portfolio management disciplines that leverage its power of taming change-

Transparency: Goals & methods of reaching decisions to be documented and available.
Discipline: strict adherence to consistent and proven methods that apply systematic, quantified analysis rather than personality driven dead ends.
Trustworthiness: Each person involved in the process understands how the decisions are made. (Ref. p46)

The book explains and uses many existing tools in defining the different portfolios; for example

Strategic planning: the Hoshin Kanri method for defining portfolio; starting with 4-8 projects for missions, 4-8 objectives per mission and 3-6 strategies per strategy/objective and 1-4 tactics/initiatives per strategy/initiative. (Ref. p56)
Planning tools: MOST (Missions, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics - Ref. p 153) & 50-50 planning tool (Ref. p76)
80:20 rule: the Author suggests this is valid in this context where 80% of management attention is directed to only 20% of total demands. (Ref. p68)
External force evaluations: SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), Porters 5 forces (suppliers power, barriers to market entry, threat of substitutes, buyer power, degree of rivalry) , PEST (Political, Economic, Social and technological) (Ref. p.110)
Process maps to provide a blueprint of how major portfolio management functions interact so that they can be designed and managed to efficiently operate as a single cohesive network. (Ref. p 294)

It is suggested in chapter 7 that the risks associated with portfolio management include time to market, time to profitability, cost and performance. (Ref p97). The authors elaborate this as with any cultural change for an organization, there are layers of involvement in implementing portfolio management; vision & leadership, organizational commitment, business information, skills & knowledge, business processes and supporting technology. (Ref. p334) Out of all the above factors the authors stress on the ‘vision & leadership’, as the ‘core’ reason for any success. The Authors state that ‘deploying a change in an operating organization is a bit like changing the lug nuts on a rotating tire, so it is best to effect the change as quickly as possible to get through the sometimes chaotic transition process.’ (Ref p338). This then only adds the importance on process establishment for the future state and a good change management process.

As part of improvements/portfolio the following three key elements are mentioned to be defined (Ref. p340)

Performance objectives during the initiation
Capturing baseline of current performance
Performance measurement capabilities

Last but not least the Authors claim implementing portfolio management is a business process improvement initiative that is validated by measuring the organizations return on investment. (Ref. p 349)

The book is a comprehensive guide, looking towards all organizational business processes and promoting portfolio management to be used as a tool for managing change within any complex organizational context. It does not present any “one model fit’s all” scenario, and it provides the reader with many tools to apply the concepts to their own organizations.
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on June 23, 2010
Change is the rule to day, not the exception. In the past the effects of economic climate changes were long term, they became the new norm for many years. The changes that have affected all of us, individuals and businesses, around the world beginning in 2008 have created conditions that we have never experienced before. The economic challenges that are impacting organizations of all sizes around the world are without precedence. Today our roles as business leaders and the way we have managed the cost of doing business as usual are gone. Our mindset of how we manage our organizations must change if we are to survive these economic challenges.

Pat Durbin and Terry Doerscher have developed a concept for managing change with the Portfolio Ecosystem in their book "Taming Change with Portfolio Management: Unify Your Organization, Sharpen Your Strategy, And Create Measurable Value" that provides organizations of all types and sizes a way to effectively manage changes impacting all areas of the organization. This book is written for business executives by business executives using the language that is understood by executives.

This book is by far the best book about positioning the Project Management Office within an organization to affectively "...apply the discipline of portfolio management to take command of change events as they flow through your organization." (Durbin and Doerscher p3).
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on June 24, 2010
I highly recommend this new portfolio management book written by Pat Durbin and Terry Doerscher, two of the thought leaders at Planview and within the project management community. The book provides a comprenhensive set of topics and a unique perspective not found in the current literature. Many organizations struggle with the pressing reality that change needs to be organizational instituionalized, not viewed as a one time event. Durbin and Doerscher have teamed to pen a must-read book on this often difficult to understand and implement domain. Congrats to the authors.
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on July 5, 2010
This is an excellent book both for portfolio management practitioners and executives. Several aspects of the book are outstanding: the integration of project portfolio management into the greater organizational context of managing a business, process focus and the emphasis on using portfolio management as an instrument of change. This book is both visionary and relevant to practitioners at the same time. Highly recommended.
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on July 17, 2010
I have just completed Taming Change and found that it is an excellent reference book for both strategic and tactical business change management. I especially like to chapters on implementing portfolio management where you use a process approach to building a framework. I highly recommend this book.
Jim Carras
Executive Director,
Enterprise Management Association - International (EMA-I)
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on December 27, 2010
Very nice reference book that reads well too. The illustrations are invaluable; don't pursue this one via an audiobook. If you oversee the direction and pace of innovation, this book is your partner.
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on January 14, 2013
This is a great read and very relevant in todays business landscape.
Would recommend this to all business leaders and executive managmnt.
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