There are many models, frameworks, standards, methodologies, methods and practices to support us in our initiative’s management process. There are really so many that sometimes we get stuck on which direction to go. Among these initiatives we can cite processes that run the business, usually called operations, projects, programs, portfolios or even product launch and its subsequent evolutions. 

Depending on the organizational maturity, project criticality, team characteristics, the level of uncertainty about the scope to be developed, expected changes, among others, the Management Approach (MAp) should be tailored, since there is no “one size fits all”.

However, experience has shown that there are some practical rules that can help and give us important insights to spot a MAp and avoid the trial-and-error process, save resources and time, especially organizations and teams with a low level of maturity.

The attempt to define a perfect and universal process that encompasses all possibilities is extremely challenging and mostly effort-wise, since some concepts are still under debate and there are many interpretations regarding this theme. Some models were already created and are in use such as:

  • Cynefin Framework by Dave Snowden;
  • Choose your WOW cited on the Disciplined Agile toolkit;
  • Model for Suitability of Agile Approaches cited on the Agile Practice Guide;
  • Agile Project Suitability Questionnaire cited on the Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM);
  • Suitability Criteria cited on the Crystal Family, and last but not least;
  • The Radar Chart cited on the book Balancing Agility and Discipline by Barry Boehm and Richard Turner.

Thus, the SPOT YOUR MAp Model is another try, and we acknowledge the possibility to be wrong in our proposed model, but the goal is to stir up the discussion and improve the way organizations and practitioners choose their management approaches. The Model is composed by many questions (blue boxes) that direct the flow, the type of initiatives (orange boxes) and the suggested management approaches (red boxes). Along this article we are going to cite some of them for the purpose of illustration, but we absolutely do not intend to be exhaustive in our present proposal.

The flow starts with the question that aims to highlight the importance of analyzing the context before any further step. Next, we try to define if the initiative is a scaled initiative such as a program or portfolio. If the answer is YES we then ask if the user need to apply mostly exploratory practices to manage the initiative. If the answer is YES we try to define if the idea is to deliver value in regular intervals such as iterations. If the answer is YES we suggest scaled agile frameworks or models such as SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, Scrum@Scale, The Agile Shift, the Enterprise Business Agility (EBA), the Business Agility Management (BAM), and the Agile Upstream Framework If the answer is NO, it means that the idea is to have a continuous workflow not defined by regular intervals and the suggestion is the Kanban Flight Levels or the Portfolio Kanban System

If the answer to the “most exploratory question” is NO, it is supposed the need to apply pure predictive approach or a hybrid one and this differentiation is made by the question asking if the practitioner is willing to apply only predictive practices. If the answer is YES, then the flow reaches the Scaled Predictive box, which could be The Standards for Program or Portfolio Management, Managing Successful Programme, Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices, and the Individual Competence Baseline However, if the answer is NO we reach the Scaled Hybrid box and we could cite the FLEKS Hybrid Model as an example.

Returning to main flow, if the answer to scaled initiatives is NO, the next situation is to check if we are dealing with operations. If the answer is YES our suggestion is to choose any Lean approach depending on what type of operations the organization is developing. Examples can be the Kanban System like the one created by Toyota (Toyota Production System) or even the Kanban Method, depending on the organization’s characteristics.

If the answer is NO, we have to check if the initiative is a project or a product evolution process.  If the answer is YES to any of these options, once again we have to check if we need to mostly apply exploratory practices to manage the initiative. 

If the answer is YES, it means we are in an environment highly adaptive and our option will be to adopt a pure agile approach or once again a lean method. The difference, in our opinion is if you need or plan to deliver value in regular intervals such as iterations or not. If the answer to this question is NO, the Kanban Method or the Lean Startup are our suggestions. On the other hand, if the answer is YES, the Scrum Framework or is the most traditional and adopted choices. It is important to highlight that this branch of the model is strongly recommended to innovation initiatives, despite the fact that innovation is also possible in predictive or hybrid approaches.

If the answer is NO for the question related to use of mostly exploratory practices, we must decide if we need or want to apply only predictive practices or no. If the answer is NO, we come across, once again, to hybrid approaches and examples are the FLEKS Hybrid Model, and the Prince2 Agile On the other hand if we are willing to apply mostly predictive practices there are many options like the PMBOK Guide, the Prince2, the ICB, and the PM2 Methodology

Ultimately, we hope the SPOT YOUR MAp Model may help organizations to find a more suitable approach to manage initiatives and deliver value for its stakeholders, remembering that even inside the same organization we may wish to apply different approaches depending on the context or the goals to be achieved. Despite of any suggestions given here or in any other model, the most important thing we should do is to analyze our context and have in mind that any approach, framework, methodology, model, guide, or standard should serve to our purpose and not the other way around.

Helio Costa and Alexandre Caramelo