This is the first of a number of exploratory posts to express and refine my thinking on the subject. I want to pull together a selection of experiences with programme shaping by looking at them through the filter of lean/agile theory.
Traditionally programme management, especially in public sector, is heavily influenced by stage gates. Having said that, the authors of more recent methodologies (e.g. MSP 20071) recognise the need for iteration and conceived a “transformational flow” of work that delivers benefits over time.
The area that I am particularly interested in exploring is the shaping stage of a programme – the early part of the process when the stakeholders come together to agree the benefits to be achieved, the shape of the organisation after the change, the set of initiatives that will be needed, and the business case.
I see strong parallels between programme shaping and the world of software development – both are dealing with the development of concepts, and the progressive discovery of knowledge about the area of concern. So I freely acknowledge that my thinking is heavily influenced by pioneers in the field of software development such as the Poppendiecks2 and David J. Anderson3. Of course the challenge in drawing lessons from a different field is not just to find the translation, but to recognise where the concepts differ, so I would expect that my views will move around as I develop the thoughts.
The areas that I think need to be explored are:
- Understanding the value chain of programmes, especially the programme shaping stage
- Identifying the flow and where the “pull” comes from
- Applying lean principles
- Exploring what it looks like in practice – people, techniques and tools