Shaping Portfolio Agility E2 - What makes a portfolio lean, and what are its jobs to be done?

Mar 25, 2024

"In nearly half of the cases I can think of, the things that the teams most hate providing to governance are the same things the governance team doesn't actually want and doesn't know how to tell the teams to stop providing"

Eric Willeke


This episode dives into the 'Lean' aspect of lean portfolio management. It begins with a brief exploration of lean and systems thinking and their focus on optimizing the whole, improving flow, and reducing waste. We then 'put our lean hats on' to explore lean’s relation to strategy, operations, and governance.

Treating these elements as a portfolio's 'jobs to be done,' we stress the importance of taking the portfolio in your line of sight and understanding its mandate for each job. We share common patterns and variations of mandates we've seen and typical ways in which lean thinking generates positive change.

In this episode, we cover:

  • (00:39) Intro
  • (01:34) Where do you start with lean portfolio management?
  • (16:45) What are the first questions you ask?
  • (25:47) What are the primary jobs of a portfolio?
  • (29:50) How do the mandates typically vary for these jobs?
  • (36:56) Governance is often a dominant mandate. How does lean shift the governance mindset?
  • (42:00) What are the significant opportunities with lean operations?
  • (46:14) How do strategic mandates vary, and how does this affect your initial lean focus?
  • (54:07) What are the most common first steps in the lean governance space?
  • (58:13) Wrap


Eric Willeke

Mark Richards