Boosting PMOs with Lean Thinking

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

Lean thinking, described and popularized in the book Lean Thinking by James Womack and Daniel Jones, is summarized as: “focusing on delivering the most value from a customer perspective, while reducing waste and fully utilizing the skills and knowledge of those doing the work.” These are all relevant goals for today’s project management office, and the reason that organizations are increasingly using lean thinking to boost value and reduce waste in the PMO.

Lean thinking embodies a wide range of principles and techniques. I like to think of it as a philosophy plus a toolbox of techniques. For this article, we will focus on applying some basic principles for delivering value and identifying wastes to avoid within the PMO.

It’s About People First
Unlike some other project management approaches, lean is human-centered, not process-centered. Two overarching themes prevail over all the practices:

  1. Involve everyone. Always make sure everyone involved, impacted and perceived to be impacted is consulted and engaged in the process. This does not mean every font change of a project charter template needs CFO approval, but it does mean that all plans, initiatives and work are open and available for contribution or comment to anyone who is interested. Basically, be open and transparent; you never know who might have great insight or spot a flaw before it…

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