To see if your portfolio has the potential for renewal, use the Innovation Screen (see Figure 1), which plots each project based on its Difficulty (probability of success) and Size (financial returns if successful). This results in four quadrants:
- Small, easy projects are the organization’s Bread and Butter
- Small, difficult projects are White Elephants
- Large, easy projects are Pearls
- Large, difficult projects are Oysters (which may create future Pearls as they prove out)
See if your company has Oysters. If not, you urgently need to find projects of Significance (September ValuePoint). If you have Oysters, you have renewal potential. Fund them.
- Fund an Oyster Farm. Understand Oysters through the lens of uncertainty and multiple scenarios: think of them as buying “options” to invest more later if things prove out. It takes a lot of attempts to get just one success.
- Manage Oysters for learning (not delivery). Most management processes are geared to deliver on “promises” or reach the next phase-gate milestone. These approaches kill Oysters.
- Kill or rehabilitate White Elephants. People get attached to these projects, not realizing that difficult and small is a bad combination. Sometimes these are big ideas hiding inside of small projects and can be reformed as Oysters.
- Create space for Oysters by decluttering. Most companies have too many Bread & Butter projects that simply need to go. This is hard because it requires letting go of good and predictable projects to
Sufficiency: Do we have enough to achieve our goals?
Significance: Are we focusing on things that matter?
Renewal: Can we thrive in the future?
Efficiency: Are we being good stewards of our resources?