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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Apr 17, 2020

This week, Dan Neumann is joined by his colleague and return guest, Quincy Jordan! Quincy is a Principal Transformation Consultant and Agile Competency Lead who has been with AgileThought for just over two years. Prior to AgileThought, Quincy was the Transformation Lead for Pivotal’s Atlanta Office, where he consulted with clients to help them reach enterprise scale. Quincy also served as a Principal Consultant and Agile Coach at for over six years.


In this episode, they’re going to be discussing portfolio management. A lot of times, Agility is thought of as team practices or activities that go around the team. And yet, there’s a lot of disruption and a lack of clarity that can happen when the higher-level contacts around those teams aren’t set. And a lot of times, that vision and strategy are being set at the portfolio level. So in Dan’s and Quincy’s discussion today, they shed some light on Lean and Agile portfolios in particular, as well as how portfolios fit into Agile ways of working and how it could help. They also provide actionable advice around how to keep the communication clear and transparent, key takeaways around the sustainability of the portfolio, and how to add Agile or Lean components to portfolio management.


Key Takeaways

How to add Agile or Lean components to portfolio management:

Make sure that alignment is there (when you don’t have alignment from the portfolio level you run into a lot of challenges around teams not being clear about why they’re doing the work that they’re doing and the overall vision)

Capture the vision through a framework (like OKRs) to add clarity

Make sure that alignment is created and that there is a concise and clear vision that everyone can execute on

Ensure that the team knows where the organization is going (so that they know what that the goals are beyond just delivering on a project)

Good alignment from the top-down is critical

You don’t want to spend time on products that are not going to bring value, so the portfolio of products needs to be constantly reprioritized and reevaluated

Make sure that the team is not putting emphasis or focus on products that are not bringing value to the portfolio of products

Ways to keep communication clear and transparent:

Once alignment is established and everyone understands what the vision is, you then have to make sure that everything/everyone is very transparent about them

Establish good, clear, and frequent communication

Potential downfalls with portfolio management and agile transformations: forgetting to communicate on a frequent basis with those on the ground who are helping to bring this vision to pass (when people aren’t clear on the ‘why’ they don’t have as much of an invested interest in the outcome)

Make sure communication is flowing both ways

Value mapping can be a valuable method for making the value creation visible, which improves communication and understanding

Within a portfolio of products, you can utilize Kanban boards which will show all of the products within that portfolio that are in flight and all of the teams that are supporting those products (they’re also highly visible to all the teams and it’s a nice transparent way for people to see how their team fits into the bigger picture)

Key takeaways around the sustainability of the portfolio:

Within the portfolio, you want to make sure that you’re looking at the cross-team dependencies and using an appropriate model that will allow the management of the portfolio to be sustainable

To make things sustainable, you need to look at what the post-transformation sustainability and the overall sustainability model looks like

Conduct change in a series of ‘push and let go’

Have a portfolio combined of different horizons (reference the ‘Three Horizons Method’)

You don’t want to spend so much time keeping the lights on that you end up being a ‘blockbuster video’ (i.e. remember to look ahead at Horizons 1 and 2 as referenced in the ‘Three Horizons Method’)


Mentioned in this Episode:

Quincy Jordan


“How to Avoid OKR Fake News — Felipe Castro at the OKR Forum Amsterdam 2019” Video

Value Mapping

McKinsey’s Three Horizons Model


Quincy Jordan’s Book Pick:

Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results, by Barry O’Reilly


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