The success of an Adaptive Project Manager (APM) rests on their ability to maintain focus on how their project fits within an organization’s Value Delivery System.
For those who are new to the term, “Value Delivery System” (VDS) is how a couple of McKinsey consultants in 1988 (M.J. Lanning and Michaels) described business enterprises in general. 12 years later (2000) Lanning published “Delivering Profitable Value: A Revolutionary Framework to Accelerate Growth, Generate Wealth, and Rediscover the Heart of a Business” expanding on the original concept. In 2021 with the publication of the PMBOK version 7, the PMI is attempting to reinvigorate the concept yet again. Here’s a simplified explanation of what it means:
Every part of a business should be creating value for a customer. For the customer to receive that value, all parts need to be contributing. Put another way, if any part of the VDS is not performing, customer value potentially suffers.
In the same way a supply chain can be traced from origin to destination, value chains can be depicted as well. Using this analogy, the APM should be able to identify where in the value chain their project falls, and by association, how each part of the project contributes to that position.
Having a firm grasp of this concept, means continuously asking the question, “how does this add value for the customer?” whenever and wherever appropriate. Ideally a product owner, product manager or sponsor should be able to quickly answer the question. But if they can’t, this points to potential work that may not be required to satisfy the customer, and thus something to minimally validate, or most likely discard.
So while business skills tied to specific areas of expertise may be beneficial, the core business skill an APM needs is the ability to understand how value is created within the context of what they are trying to accomplish.
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