Red Pill or Blue Pill

Project Prioritization - pick the red pill

"You take the blue pill... the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill... you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." Morpheus, The Matrix

Are you living with a prioritization process that you know isn’t right? It’s painful, it’s wasteful, and we never quite deliver the strategy, but… people are keeping busy, we have a spreadsheet and the sales guy at the PPM vendor reckons his tool might help.

If this is your reality and you’re happy with it, then take the Blue Pill. You’ll wake up on Monday morning and the world will be  just the same.

But if you’re tired of accepting mediocrity in prioritization then you need the Red Pill. The one that will show you that taking control of your portfolio is about making choices.

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Urgent action for all PMOs: Weed your projects!

cut wasteful projects - small version

Everyone knows that an Englishman loves his garden, and I am an Englishman. Having said that, my wife tells me I don’t so much “do gardening” as “go to war with the garden”. I do love a good chainsaw… 

But even I know that, if you want your flowers to bloom or your carrots to grow, you need to weed. You need to cut back overhanging trees and prune the deadwood. 

Weeding reduces competition for water, nutrients and sunlight. These extra resources are then available to the plants that you really want to flourish. The payoff is more flowers and yummy fruit and veg! 

And so it is with your project portfolio. Projects that don’t support your business goals are stealing resources and focus from the projects that can really move you towards your business goals. 

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Why AHP works for Prioritization

AHPThe Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is a Decision Science solution ideally suited to prioritizing complex project portfolios. So whether your current project selection tool is a Magic Spreadsheet or a Magic Eightball, we believe AHP will improve performance.

AHP enables you to turn strategy into a model
Analytic Hierarchy Process is the solution you need to form a scalable bridge between your strategy and your execution. It is a mechanism for decomposing your goals into discrete, often competing, components that cover the rationale of your portfolio.

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Prioritization - The Efficient Frontier

Efficient Frontier for Project Project Prioritization and Selection

Captain’s Log: Our portfolio is floating in space, lacking direction and under attack from a grumpy CEO who is annoyed at not being able to deliver strategy, while the crew keep getting vaporized by a schedule stuffed with Too Many Projects.

What can we do? We need a special phaser that can zap the Klingons who are all shouting at us and demanding their projects get done first… let’s ask Spock… he’s smart.


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AHP: The foundation for a great portfolio in just 8 weeks

I used to tell my kids the story of the three little pigs - the one with the houses made of straw, sticks and brick, and the big bad wolf with the attitude problem. The little pigs who used straw and sticks probably did a great job in planning their houses, perhaps with a Gantt chart and milestones mapped out, but (spoiler alert) they were destined to become homeless from the moment they picked the wrong material.

And it's the same thing with project prioritization. 

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The holiday gift every PMO wants: unlimited upside!

gift of unlimited upside.pngBeing a PMO leader is an honour and a responsibility. But it’s also one of those roles where there’s not often a lot of up-side. When things go well… well, that’s what people expect and nobody notices. When they go badly…

Enough said.

So, this Holiday season, we’re teaming up with Mike Hannan of Fortezza Consulting to bring you, the esteemed PMO leader, a Holiday gift. The gift to end all gifts?

The gift of unlimited upside!

Mike is one of those people who is not only immensely wise and talented, but he is also generous. In this webinar, he shares some of the core capabilities that, time-and-again, he has used to unlock unlimited upside for the PMOs he works with.

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What’s the point of doing projects?

Ever had that feeling? You’re sitting in a management training course and you can’t fight the impression that what they are trying to teach you is what, in the UK, we call “The Bleeding Obvious!” 

But do you know what? It might be obvious, but being reminded of the obvious every now and again is good for you.  

Which itself is kind of obvious. 

So, my goal today is to state the obvious – but for many, it’s not obvious.  

Yes, I want to talk about WHY we bother with all the hassle and the pain of doing projects. It’s easy to get so caught up in the deliverables, in the stakeholder management, and the Gannt charts that we forget what the point of doing projects is…

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Costs of spreadsheet prioritization

Myths of Project Prioritization


I was talking to a PMO the other day. An executive had told him to “Go and fix prioritization. Nothing fancy. Keep it simple.” 

Translation: “Just slap a spreadsheet together.” 

I’ve lost track of how often I’ve heard this kind of thing, but I’m shocked every time. Why?

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You can make projects go faster by slowing down! 

Getting the most from your projectMy son has recently taken up running. I keep telling him to pace himself, but he doesn’t. He blasts out and, after a couple of hundred meters, has to walk for a bit. Then he’s off again.  

He gets to the end. He’s exhausted and his dear old dad is already there, waiting for him.  

Did dad sprint? No, I certainly did not! 

I ran steadily and slowly, but I beat him. 

How did an overweight, middle-aged guy beat his teenage son? Well, I know something that he doesn’t. I know a little about the theory of constraints… and what I know can transform your project delivery flow. 

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Einstein and the Strategic Advantage

Sustainable advantageMany organizations see project prioritization as a budgeting exercise, but it’s not. Or at least, it’s not only about budgets… in fact, it’s not even mostly about budget. 

Project prioritization is about strategic alignment and sustainable competitive advantage. 

In this blog, I’m going to steal a little technique from Albert Einstein to understand how project prioritization can become sustainable competitive advantage. 

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PMOs and the Saddest Excel Joke…

Many PMOs have a tool that they like to use for all kinds of jobs. It’s called Microsoft Excel.

When I was young, I always thought that the hammer was the right tool for any job, but my dad taught me that there’s a "right tool" for each job... and it's seldom a hammer.

You’ve no idea how much damage I did to his vintage motorcycles with that hammer. 


And the PMO's fondness for Excel does a lot of damage. Spreadsheets waste resources, end careers and even kill whole companies. 

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Collaborative Decision-Making - The Ultimate Guide


AHP has two core use cases for supporting better decision making; ‘build a portfolio’ and ‘pick a winner’. Both are premised on structured collaborative decision making, and share a lot of common features, but this guide will focus on the latter. 

There are a lot of fantastic academic reviews out there which validate this approach (for example this, from the automobile sector) or you can revert to the case studies of Professor Saaty AHP’s creator, but this guide will focus on the practical application of AHP, as experienced by our clients here at TransparentChoice. For more background on AHP look here. 

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Too Many Projects - The Ultimate Guide

Running Too Many Projects is consistently one of the top issues flagged by PMO leaders, and with good reason.

It creates a suffocating negativity and ultimately erodes effectiveness, draining an organisation’s ability to perform. Having too many projects is demotivating, confusing and undermines the ability of leaders to implement goals. It’s also costly.

If you’re suffering from Too Many Projects you probably know it, but let’s confirm. Research suggests 2-3 projects at a time is optimal for individual focus and collective scheduling. If you’re asking people to juggle more than this then you are lowering their productivity.

Too Many Projects will damage your business and drive you into a self-perpetuating low productivity fire-fighting culture. Sounding familiar? Have a look at this article to see how one organisation suffered.

Overloading on projects also means you’re likely to be working on things that are not worthwhile. Zombie projects where the value died a while ago but nobody told the team, or pet projects where the value never existed, but nobody told the boss.

Solving Too Many Projects offers leaders the chance to transform organizations, building trust, velocity & focus… but thinking it’s simple is almost always a mistake.

Free Access: Too Many Projects Self-Assessment PDF

This guide is here to help you make it happen. Let’s dive in.

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Your decisions undermined daily!

This isn’t the usual article about decision-making. You know the type; “you need better data so invest in Big Data or artificial intelligence is the answer to everything.” No, it’s about how your people are making it impossible to make reliable decisions… and you probably don’t even realize it. 

All because of something called Noise. 

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6 reasons spreadsheets are not right for prioritizing your projects

As a seasoned expert at low quality Home Improvements, I know that there are very few jobs that can’t be done with duct tape, super glue and Polyfilla. Solving problems with the wrong tools and no skills. What could possibly go wrong?

Excel is Not FreeSimilarly, we all know that there are very few problems that cannot be fixed with a spreadsheet, right? Build a quick database? Organise your sales pipeline? Create charts for your investors? Manage your taxes? We’ve got a spreadsheet for that! Now technically you probably could (and possibly have) been able to do just this. But (like my home improvements) how often do you regret that initial decision to ‘just put it in a spreadsheet’ rather than take the time to get the right tool for the job?

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