One of the most cliched phrases I hear in my role is “baby steps”. In the context of a project portfolio management or project management improvement initiative, it relates to the organization change management good practice of introducing procedural changes in an incremental fashion such that the changes are assimilated and institutionalized before the next round of improvements is launched.
The reason this makes me wince is that the analogy to a baby taking its first steps is ambitious at best – babies go from being very unsteady to becoming accomplished cruisers, walkers & then runners. In the absence of any developmental conditions, progress is truly visible.
On the other hand, with PPM/PM initiatives, the baby often never seems to progress past those baby steps – in fact, in many organizations, the baby steps are followed by a regression in capabilities. Even worse (so much for those so called “Lessons Learned“!), it is not uncommon to find that the same changes are proposed, launched and shelved repeatedly as champions, stakeholders & motivations change.
For that reason, I would like to propose a more appropriate (although arguably more cynical) analogy for most organization’s “experiments” with PPM or PM maturity: a Möbius strip. Or, for those of you that are more musically inclined, perhaps “one step forward, two steps back”!