70% of Executives not engaged; a PMO wake-up call



My brain just melted. Or exploded. Or both.

According to recent PMI research, 70% of the time, senior executives are not engaged in the project prioritization process. Now this just blows my little brain to pieces and here’s why.

Why this statistic blows my mind

  • The executive team is responsible for selecting the strategy of the business. That strategy is useless if not well-executed and project prioritization and selection is the bridge from strategy to execution. Do the executives in 70% of companies really not care whether or not the bridge is a sound one? I just can’t believe that.
  • Executive support and participation is one of the clearest predictors of project success (or failure). If the executives aren’t engaged in the project prioritization and portfolio selection process, how can they be effective sponsors for the projects in the portfolio?
  • Most PMOs are very concerned about executive sponsorship, yet relatively few have taken it upon themselves to put in place a strong project prioritization process, one that appropriately involves the executives. This leaves the whole portfolio open to a) under-delivering value (and research suggests that 80+% of IT portfolios under-deliver by at least 25%) and b) high project failure rates.

Why don’t executives engage in project prioritization?

So I’m left wondering why there’s so little engagement from executives. I have some ideas, but would love to hear your thoughts too.

  1. Picking projects is often a very politically charged process. As such, there’s little upside to getting involved if you don’t have to, so some executives stay away. Now this is a shame as a well-structured project prioritization process (based on analytical hierarchy process, for example) will largely eliminate politics.

  2. Most organizations suffer from “stove pipes”. This is a very common disease that prevents communication, encourages “local optimization” and generally leads to turf-wars. If you’re running a stove-pipe, it’s like you’re in your own little kingdom. There’s little incentive to engage in corporate-wide discussions about resources, projects and budgets… because you might lose control.

  3. Many PMOs (or EPMOs) are not confident enough to start a campaign to change the way things are done. They are battling momentum (“we’ve always done it this way”), they are fighting culture, they don’t feel empowered. But you can, and should, start the conversation and keep re-starting it if you get blocked. 

Where to go from here?

I’d encourage you to read our blogs, digest them and try something new. Engage the team at TransparentChoice in a conversation, do a proof of concept. We have partners who can help you learn about good quality prioritization. Engage in a conversation. Get help.

I’m not normally this blunt in my blogs. I don't like overtly promoting TransparentChoice's offerings here, but I'm doing it in a spirit of trying to jolt people into taking action. I really am shocked at this 70% exec non-engagement statistic and I want to challenge each and every one of you to take some kind of action to change it.

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