I’m sure the vast majority of you have at some point looked at the list of approved projects within the organization you work for and shaken your head. It seems to be almost universal that way too many projects get approved than can ever be delivered. Rather than trying to control the volume of projects the assumption is that teams just need to work harder to get those projects delivered. As a result, just as many projects are approved for the next cycle. The organization hasn’t come close to completing that much work in any of the five previous years, but that doesn’t mean a miracle won’t happen next time!
So why does this happen? Leaders know there is a limited capacity for work, and they aren’t going to deliberately sabotage themselves by having people work on more projects than can ever be delivered. In my experience, the issue is not so much a failure to understand how much work the organization is completing, but rather a failure to understand how much work the organization is being asked to do.
The sources of project work
Let’s start by understanding where project work comes from. There are multiple layers of projects that soon add up to a lot of work:
> At the top of the organization there is the large scale transformational or major investment initiatives that form the enterprise portfolio. These are
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