Episode 151 – Maximizing Value: From PMO to Agile VMO 

Episode #151
Original Air Date: 04.18.2022

31 Minutes

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Our Guest This Episode: Sanjiv Augustine

“A Value Management Office is a cross-functional, cross-hierarchy and cross-silo team of teams.” These are the words of author and industry-leading agile and lean expert, Sanjiv Augustine. Our guest, Sanjiv, presents powerful ideas and strategies for transforming the Project Management Office into an Agile Value Management Office. In this episode, Sanjiv describes successes and challenges he is seeing with recent enterprise agile transformations. He describes how teams can use agile methods and orient them towards business outcomes, which deliver business agility and build resilience.

Sanjiv explains that the challenges of scaling agile up include integrating multiple teams to desired business outcomes and purpose. In light of these transformations, how should project managers regard the role of a value manager? Sanjiv addresses the rumor of large organizations who are questioning the value of project managers or eliminating project management functions altogether. Don’t worry – you’ll like his response! Sanjiv recently authored the book: “From PMO to VMO: Managing for Value Delivery.” He shares his definition of the agile VMO and the work performed by that office.

Sanjiv Augustine is founder and CEO of LitheSpeed LLC and the Agile Leadership Academy. He is an entrepreneur, industry-leading agile and lean expert, speaker, management consultant, and trainer. Augustine has served as a trusted advisor over the past twenty years to executives and management at leading firms and agencies. He is the author of the books From PMO to VMO, Managing Agile Projects and Scaling Agile.

Learn More About Our Course by Eric Norman: THE END OF THE PMO (AS WE KNOW IT)

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"We need middle managers, including project managers, because close to 90% of successful organizational change initiatives are driven by middle management.  And that includes project managers.  So what we need to do is to find a way to more clearly define what people with that skill, that project management skill, add within the agile context."

- Sanjiv Augustine

"What is the way that I can add value to my particular environment, my particular department, my particular organization?  And then we start from there."

- Sanjiv Augustine

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The podcast by project managers for project managers. Hear how teams can use agile methods and orient them towards business outcomes, which deliver business agility and build resilience. In this episode ‘Maximizing Value: From PMO to Agile VMO’ – you’ll also hear ideas and strategies for transforming the Project Management Office into an Agile Value Management Office. 

 Table of Contents

01:24 … Sanjiv’s Background Story
02:41 … Current Trends with Enterprise Agile Transformations
06:00 … Measuring Success
07:33 … How to Tell When Groups are Struggling
09:33 … Organizations Eliminating Project Management Function
12:23 … The Value-Adding Role of the Project Manager
14:59 … Lessons Learned and Retrospectives
18:26 … Compare and Contrast Agile and Traditional
20:37 … Defining the Agile VMO
25:10 … Organizations Embracing Agile VMO
26:43 … Resistance to Flexible Funding
28:22 … Get in Touch with Sanjiv
29:41 … Closing

SANJIV AUGUSTINE: We need middle managers, including project managers, because close to 90% of successful organizational change initiatives are driven by middle management.  And that includes project managers.  So what we need to do is to find a way to more clearly define what people with that skill, that project management skill, add within the agile context.

WENDY GROUNDS:  Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers. My name is Wendy Grounds, and with me in the studio is Bill Yates.  This podcast is about project management.  Join us to be motivated and inspired by project stories, leadership lessons, and wise advice from industry experts from all across the world. One of those leadership experts is who we’re talking to today.  Sanjiv Augustine is the founder and CEO of LitheSpeed LLC and the Agile Leadership Academy.  Sanjiv is the author of the books “From PMO to VMO,” “Managing Agile Projects,” and “Scaling Agile.”  He’s been an in-the-trenches practitioner.  He’s also managed many agile projects, and he has trained thousands of agile practitioners.

BILL YATES:  Sanjiv is the chair of the Agile Alliance’s Agile Executive Forum and the founder and moderator of the Lean Startup in the Enterprise Meetup.  He was also a founding member of the Project Management Institute’s agile community of practice.  So not only is he a well-versed practitioner, but he’s had a lot of influence in shaping how many of these organizations have addressed and scaled agile.

WENDY GROUNDS:  Sanjiv, welcome to Manage This.  Thank you so much for being our guest.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Thank you very much, Wendy.  I really appreciate being here with both Bill and you.

Sanjiv’s Background Story

WENDY GROUNDS:  Yeah, we’re looking forward to tackling this topic and getting your expertise.  But before we get into that, can you tell us about your background working with organizations and those in the trenches who want to adopt agile practices, and just a little bit about what you do.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Thanks for this opportunity, once again.  And I want to start with about 20 years ago, believe it or not.  I’ve been in the industry for about 30 years.  But 20 years ago I started my agile journey.  This is with an organization that you might know.  It’s the Capital One Bank.  And the CIO at that time was looking for a way to cut their time to market by 50%.  And so he went to his CTO and said, “Please find a way to do this with agile methods.”  And in those days nobody was crazy enough to sign up for that.

But we ended up partnering with the CTO of Capital One and ending up rolling out agile methods, more specifically scrum, in three countries, with 5,000 people.  So it was a massive enterprise adoption.  We made mistakes along the way, learned lots of great lessons along the way, and here we are 20 years later.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, you were on the cutting edge 20 years ago.  That’s amazing that you guys were kind of in the lab of, okay, we think this works for scrum.  Let’s go see what they do with it.  Yeah.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  I would say it’s more of a crucible than a lab because it was pretty hot in there.

Current Trends with Enterprise Agile Transformations

BILL YATES:  I’ll bet, I’ll bet, a lot of pressure to get things done.  That brings us to the next question, which is kind of about, all right, what about current trends?  Let’s take a look at the current trends.  What successes and challenges are you seeing with recent enterprise agile transformations?

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  That’s a great question.  There’s a lot of confusion, right, there’s a confusion in the set of method, as people try to roll out those methods.  And so with enterprise agile transformations, what we’re really talking about is taking more than a few teams, because people have been operating with agile teams for let’s say 20 years or more.  Let’s say you have five teams.  And then on one hand there’s a question of how you aggregate and align the work of those teams to scale them, basically what we know as “scaling up.”  So there are scaling methodologies.  Most popularly there is the scaled agile framework or SAFe.  There is disciplined agile which is the PMI method, and there’s scrum that scale in others; right?

So one challenge is to say, okay, if we have a few agile teams, how do we take these teams and scale up that solution using a scaling framework.  Some people want to roll their own scaling framework.  They might use something like lean thinking and do that.  That’s all well.  So that’s one side of the challenge.  The other challenge we’re finding, and this is very much apropos to talk about in our current pandemic environment, is also using agile method as a platform for business agility.  So it’s not just, hey, we’re going to go off and implement scrum or some other scaling framework like SAFe or disciplined agile.  It’s how can we take these agile methods and orient them towards business outcomes and deliver business agility.

So what’s business agility?  It’s the ability to respond and pivot and change direction on a dime for a dime.  Right?  So very quickly for a relatively low cost.  So we’re building resilience.  We’re using agile methods.  So the challenge becomes how can we on one hand scale up, right, as an implemented scaling framework to bring in multiple teams under a fold.  And the other hand now take these functions which might have been predominantly within the IT space and shift left into the business side, bring in HR, bring in legal, bring in the business partners, bring in sales, bring in marketing.  And now what we’re talking about is an end-to-end adoption of agile.

So that comes with challenges.  The main challenge we’re seeing, or main two challenges we’re seeing, is one is in going end to end we encounter silos, so nine to 12 silos in large organizations.  It’s kind of stunning in today’s world that we’re dealing with this.  But that’s the reality of most organizations.  So we have to figure out how to get people to work across those silos.

The second thing we have to figure out is how to connect strategy to execution.  Right.  So most organizations will have a decent strategy.  And yet they fail at connecting that strategy to execution.  So even as we are moving towards scaling agile methods up, even as we are looking to shift left into the business, we also have to always keep our eye on that North Star, which is our strategic goal, and then figure out how to link what we’re doing on the ground with our teams or whatever construct we put in place to scale, and always link that back to business outcomes and our North Star purpose.

Measuring Success

BILL YATES:  Sanjiv, what does success look like in those organizations, given those challenges that you see?  When companies are doing it the right way, what does success look like? 

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Yeah, I see success as being measured and should be measured on two dimensions.  One is clearly the business dimension.  So if you are measuring success with a business dimension, then very popularly out in the industry, the most popular technique over there is using objectives and key results, OKRs; right?  So we get our executives to sit down.  They tell us what our North Star is with our strategy.  We translate that into very specific objectives and then very granular quantifiable key results.  And then measuring success becomes clear and unequivocal; right?  We either meet a key result or we don’t.

The second thing that we have to watch out for, the other dimension, and this is where agile methods really bring something that no other methods do to the table, that is the people dimension.  I mean, we’re hearing a lot about this great resignation, unhappy people, isolation, stress, depression, all these things that are very up in front in the radar during the pandemic.  Well, success also means that we have engaged staff members.  We have engaged team members.  We have employees who are happy and engaged.  And that we’re operating and delivering solutions and meeting our business outcomes, but we’re doing it in a sustainable way that really grows our people happiness, as well.  So two dimensions, business dimension and the people dimension.

How to Tell When Groups are Struggling

BILL YATES:  Got it.  Okay, now, that’s helpful.  So I can almost answer my own question.  But I want to go ahead and go there anyway.  What about the flipside of that?  How can you tell when groups are struggling?  You talked a bit about silos and connecting strategy to execution.  What does it look like when those things are falling off the rails, when that’s not working? What are the frustrations that you see?

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Yeah, so those become evident pretty clearly; right?  So in today’s world, especially with the switch to virtual and what we are calling like digital first, if you will, there are companies that already had very strong process discipline.  And whether it’s lean or agile, they’re the ones who are able to make that shift relatively seamlessly.  And there are others that either didn’t have a good process discipline and/or a good respect for their people that have struggled.

So we don’t actually need to introduce agile or any other process to figure out that things are not working.  Many of these organizations you can already see it from their financial indicators that they are not meeting their targets, or they’re not successful, or they’re having a lot of problem with attrition, and their good people are leaving.  There’s obviously attrition.  People are moving around, everybody’s facing that.  But you don’t want your good or your best people to leave.  So that will just end up making the bad worse; right?  So whether it’s missing project deadlines, not getting good products to market, not getting good customer satisfaction, putting products onto the market that are not meeting their customer needs or user needs.  These are all indicators of challenges.  And you can start to see that.

And the other way you can look at it is who’s doing it properly?  I’m just going to use some product companies over here.  You look at Microsoft, or you look at some of these other companies, even like a Tesla, they’re able to meet their goals, even though they’re aggressive.  I just saw something about Microsoft come through that, oh, they met their financial goals, and they’re able to keep their people happy.  Their management philosophy aligns, their people are happy, and their customers are happy.  They’re growing.  It’s all good, in spite of a pandemic.

BILL YATES:  Right, yeah.

Organizations Eliminating Project Management Function

 WENDY GROUNDS:  Another thing that we really want to get your opinion on is observations you have made that some large organizations are questioning the value and even laying off project managers or eliminating that project management function altogether.  So is this something that is widespread?  And why are organizations doing this?

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  You remember that movie “Groundhog Day”?  It is a cult classic; right?  Within the agile community there’s this Groundhog Day question that comes up.  And it is, what value can project managers contribute to agile initiatives?  I’ve been hearing it for the past five years, for the past 10 years, for the last 15 years, as long as I can remember.  And there’s a bit of the mea culpa that we need to take within the agile community because one of the things that we haven’t done is to clearly specify value-adding roles for project managers within the agile context.

Example, scrum has product owners.  They have a scrum master.  You have team role.  Other methodologies have other things.  And we’re still 20 years in, and every year at Groundhog Day time we’re answering this question.  Where do project managers fit in?  So hopefully we can have a clearer answer.  And the issue is that there’s a lack of clarity around how project managers or people with their skill sets can add value within an agile model; right?  Quite often what we’re seeing now is that there’s a larger trend as organizations are shifting from a project model, which is a time bomb model where we start something, we go on for a transient period of time, and then we finish something; right?  They’re shifting to what we call a product model.

And so some of the cognitive dissonance comes in, it’s like, well, we’re moving to product model.  We have this mantra going project to product.  We don’t need no stinkin’ project managers.  Right?  And so there’s a bit of a kneejerk reaction in that, wow, maybe we don’t need these people.  And what we’ve found is that the opposite is exactly true.  We need middle managers, including project managers, because close to 90% of successful organizational change initiatives are driven by middle management.  And that includes project managers.  So what we need to do is to find a way to more clearly define what people with that skill, that project management skill, add within the agile context.

BILL YATES:  That’s great.  And I am thinking of that fun movie, “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray, and just how ridiculously fun that was.  And it’s such a great analogy because I hear that over and over.  It’s like, yeah, oh, we don’t need project managers anymore.  We have product managers.  Or we’re using agile, so everybody on the team is a project manager.  It’s like, let’s take a little sanity check here.

The Value-Adding Role of the Project Manager

Okay.  So let’s be practical, though, because I’m sure just by having this conversation we’re probably making some of our listeners a little bit anxious, like, okay, I actually do have “project manager” on my business card.  That is my title.  I’m nervous now.  You know, you talk about the value-adding role of the project manager.  What else can we do about it?  As a project manager, how can we kind of stake our claim, or say this is the value that we add to the organization, or this is what sets us apart?

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  So whatever our title is, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a title of “project manager,” right, especially when you have a project model.  Whatever the title is, the question every project manager, in fact every person should ask is “How can I add value in this environment?”  If it’s a traditional environment, great.  If it’s an agile environment, okay, fantastic.  And if it’s post-agile two years from now, we might be talking about something else.  What is the way that I can add value to my particular environment, my particular department, my particular organization?  And then we start from there. 

And so for a project manager, if you have a project, then it’s about making sure that we can deliver the triple constraints – scope, schedule, and budget – in a more modern way, making more transparent using the tools that we have now with any sort of an agile tool or non-agile tool, traditional tool, and linking those three things to customer outcomes; right?

And so I do think that the traditional project management definition of the role needs to be oriented much more towards the value side of the equation using these OKRs.  Because you could deliver, for example, a solution with all the scope that was initially envisioned, exactly on time, on schedule, exactly within budget, and we could have totally dissatisfied customers and end users because we delivered the wrong thing; right?  And so as a project manager, whatever role that we’re undertaking, whatever the title is, let’s start to have this conversation about what is value and how do link my role to them.

Now, in an agile situation, if we adopted agile, and many organizations are five years, 10 years into Agile, there’s an aggressive move underway – inexorable, if you will – towards the product model.  And so then it might be that the title might change.  And so the Project Management Institute themselves has put out a paper on this saying the role of Project Managers and  the PMO, the Project Management Office, is very likely going to change, and it’s going to move towards value management.  In that situation, what we would recommend is that every project manager consider this role of a value manager.

Lessons Learned and Retrospectives

WENDY GROUNDS:  So let’s look at project management and project managers who are adding value to agile initiatives, especially in the virtual world, which is what we’re all part of right now with so much remote work.  Also, do you have advice for project managers who work exclusively on traditional projects?  What advice can you give to them?

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Yeah.  So that’s a great question.  I’m going to dial back and take you a little bit down memory lane over here to tell you about the origins of agile.  So agile methods, especially agile product development or agile product management, has its roots in the lean movement; right?  This is the stuff that came out of Toyota post-World War II, Edwards Deming, and even older than that.  It goes back to the work of Bill Shewhart in AT&T Bell Labs and statistical process control and such.

So if we are dealing with traditional project models, and we don’t actually have an agile model or nomenclature or taxonomy, it doesn’t matter.  Again, if you look at it from the triple constraints of scope, schedule, and budget, with of course an eye towards aligning that towards value, let’s put on our lean hat.  You can pick up the PMBOK.  By the way, the latest edition of the PMBOK, the Project Management Body of Knowledge, has a lot of agile stuff in there.  So even if we have a more quote, unquote “traditional environment,” the techniques that are being manifested on agile methods are nothing but things that have come to us and that have been handed down from lean.

So for example, within an agile method there’s a technique called a “retrospective,” which we would recognize as being a lessons-learned meeting from a traditional project management model.  Well, that is nothing but lean kaizen, continuous improvement, where people get together and say, okay, what’s working?  What’s not working?  And there are other parallels, as well.  In the military they’ll say, well, we want to have an after-action review.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, debriefs.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  We do something, we check it, we see is it working, what we need to tweak.  And so the fundamental underlying principle is improvement in that case.  The tactic that we might have used in the old days is a lessons-learned meeting.  The way we translate it to the modern day is we just do it more often.  Whether you want to still call it a “lessons-learned meeting” or you want to call it a “retrospective,” it doesn’t matter.  What we’re doing is we are implementing that lean principle of continuous improvement.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, that’s so on point.  Even back to Deming, I mean, back in the ‘50s, 1950s, he was introducing or taking ideas that he had learned and codifying them or tweaking those.  And, you know, just a simple plan, do, check, and either act or study, depending on where you want to pick it up.  There’s an iterative approach to that that was built in.  And we’re talking Deming, I mean, he was the ultimate number nerd; right?  He was a statistician.  So he was all about quality control and looking for ways to make tiny little improvements to processes.  And he was focused on the minute detail.  But it involved iterations and kaizen.  It was all about kaizen.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  It’s funny you should mention that.  Many people may not understand or appreciate that within scrum, for example, right, one of the leading agile methods, we have short time boxes that we call “sprints,” typically about two weeks each.  However, the scrum process follows the Deming model.

BILL YATES:  Yes, exactly.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  It’s a Plan-Do-Check-Act, within every sprint.  So any lean person coming out of that will come and look at scrum.  It’s like, oh, yeah, this looks familiar.  It’s like you’re visiting from another planet, but this planet looks very much the same as your own, maybe with a different colored moon.

Compare and Contrast Agile and Traditional

BILL YATES:  Yes, right.  Sanjiv, agile and traditional are two methods for getting things done.  I think sometimes traditional gets a bad rap as being seen as slow, expensive, kind of uncool like, you know, that’s my grandfather’s way of managing projects, and all the cool kids are using Agile now.  Just speak to this a bit, and let’s kind of compare and contrast and maybe find a point of sanity with Agile and traditional.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Yeah, for this one I have to come down on the side of the folks within the Project Management Institute and certainly of some of the leading organizations.  What they’ve done is they’ve actually moved the discipline of project management forward.  So there is certainly no sin of omission over there on the part of the organizing bodies of the industry credentialing and all that.

I believe what we’re dealing with is a legacy of 20, 30 years of people and organizations that have just become creaky and bureaucratic and just gotten used to doing things the way we used to do things 20 years ago.  And then maybe when they don’t want to change, what they’re saying is, well, the Project Management Institute says this, so therefore I’m following this.  Not true; right?  The Project Management Institute has moved into the future.  What we’re doing is we’re stuck in the past sometimes, and those methods of the past, bureaucratic as they are, non-people-focused as they are, non-business-aligned as they are, lead us to failure.

And so some of the wrath that’s being directed towards the project management techniques is not deserved at all.  It’s the bureaucratic hidebound organizations that are the problem, not necessarily project management per se as a discipline.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, I’m amused by some of the conversations that I see out there, and I’m like, okay, again, guys, these are two different toolsets that you have.  You need to look at the environment that you’re going to manage your project in, assess that environment, and determine which toolset makes the most sense.  And don’t be surprised when there are a lot of activities that you’re doing that are going to apply regardless, whether it’s agile, you know, whether it’s the scrum method, or whether it’s more of a waterfall approach.  There are still some basic things that you’ve got to do, regardless of the toolset that you grab.  So just pick the thing that gets the job done; right?

Defining the Agile VMO

WENDY GROUNDS:  Sanjiv, you coauthored the book “From PMO to VMO:  Managing for Value Delivery.”  Can you just give us a definition of the Agile VMO?

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Yes.  Thank you for asking.  We’re very excited about that work.  It’s been a labor of love over the last five years.  So here’s what a Value Management Office is.  It is a team of teams which is cross-functional, cross-silo, and cross-hierarchy – I’ll unpack each one of those three things – that is responsible for lean portfolio management and adaptive governance.  So put it all together, the cross-functional, cross-hierarchy, cross-silo team of teams that’s responsible for  lean portfolio management and adaptive governance.

So cross-silo, pretty self-explanatory.  Cross-hierarchy, what we want to make sure is that when we put this team of teams together, it’s usually one level above the teams.  Remember I  talk about the two major challenges that we have.  One is scaling methods up, and the other is moving into the business side.  So what we want to do is to put together a group of people, mid-level management group that includes business and IT together, executives as well because we want it to be cross-hierarchy, and team members, as well.  So this is cross-hierarchy, cross-silo and cross-functional because we might have business stakeholders.  We might have operations.  You might have IT.  So all of those people are coming together.

Now, what’s the work that they’re doing?  Lean portfolio management and adaptive governance.  Let’s take the first one.  So traditional portfolio management does need a little of bit of rethinking.  It is big-batch type manufacturing.  So if you were talking about Deming, you know, what Deming brought was moving toward the lean model with smaller batches.  And so lean portfolio management is again taking those Deming principles and applying them to traditional portfolio management.  Let’s not take a huge stack of projects and put it together in a book of work in a traditional technique.  It’s like, oh, let’s get a book of work that has every single project, 400 projects, and now we’re going to jam these 400 projects into the book.  And who knows where they are and how they’re getting done.

And so the lean technique would be to put that group of work together, break those projects down into smaller pieces, and prioritize them, and then deliver them in conjunction with our business goals, our work objectives and key results.  So the lean equivalent would be a prioritized portfolio backlog, take that book of work, break those projects down in smaller pieces, reprioritize them and link them back to our objectives and key results, and then we deliver them in small batches because we know from lean that’s the fastest, most efficient, and the most customer-savvy way of doing things.  Right, so that’s lean portfolio management.

In today’s world, we also have to make sure that we consider, incorporate, and integrate key governance functions.  So the biggest obstacle to business agility, and the Business Agility Institute pushed this out, is our funding model.  Again, a big batch funding model.  We get a group budget.  You have to go beg, plead, borrow, get money for your project.  And then we go off and nobody checks to see whether we’re delivering value or not.  So we need a different funding model.  And the model that we advocate is something that we call “flexible funding” by lean value stream.  So let’s align with what our customers are doing.  Those are the value streams.  Let’s get our executives to fund those value streams, and let’s get flexible funding so that we can make the money available where it’s needed, when it’s needed.

So as things change, we might need to move things around.  So that’s the funding piece of it.  And then there are other enterprise considerations that are not usually taken into consideration.  So I’m going to give you guys this five-letter acronym, CARLA, C-A-R-L-A.  And it is a cute name, but in our case it’s an acronym.  So Compliance, Audit, Risk, Legal, and Architecture.  And all of those enterprise functions – Compliance, Audit, Risk, Legal, and Architecture – need to be considered and aligned with our business strategy, integrated upfront, so that we are not facing any issues in terms of security, architecture, or audit, or risk, and all of these things as part and parcel of the way we do that.  So that’s the work of the agile VMO, agile Value Management Office, focusing on lean portfolio management and adaptive governance.

Organizations Embracing Agile VMO

BILL YATES:  That’s a powerful model.  And kudos to you guys for putting that in the book and creating that path for those who are looking to do things in a better way.  I’m super curious.  Can you share an example of an organization that’s embraced this approach, and how did it benefit them? 

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  So because of client confidentiality I can’t share the name of particular clients.  But there are at least three major financial services companies that we’ve worked with over the last three to five years.  And also the one that I can share because it’s public knowledge is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.  You know, a number of years ago when Mark Schwartz, he was the CIO over there, introduced many of these principles and implemented them before of course we called it a VMO and such.  But some of the credit goes to Mark and his vision and his leadership over at the USCIS within the federal government here in the United States.

In the financial services sector we have insurance companies, private equity companies, and regional banks that have adopted these techniques and have gotten a tremendous amount of success.  A lot of them are growth-oriented.  They have growth targets, and they’re like, well, we need to build on these agile adoptions.  We need to use those agile teams or leverage those agile teams to continue to deliver better customer value to our customers.  And now we’re going to use that as a growth mechanism.  So the success has been in the financial growth, as well as product and service growth, as well as always happy people and engaged employees.

Resistance to Flexible Funding

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  Fantastic.  When I think about a team of teams, and you’re going cross-silo, cross-functional, cross-hierarchy, that feels like a formula for success.  The piece that I wanted to ask you about, though, the flexible funding, I mean, I could see the buy-in for the cross-silo, cross-functional, cross-hierarchy.  But then when they say, okay, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, flexible funding?  Eh, I don’t know about that.  So how is that playing out?  Am I right?  Is that where you get a lot of the resistance?  Or has that gone pretty smoothly, as well?

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Has it gone pretty smoothly, and do you get a lot of resistance, yes and yes.

BILL YATES:  Okay.  Right.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  It goes smoothly if you’re talking to the right person.


SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  So I’m going to ask you a question.  Who do you think the right person is?

BILL YATES:  Wow.  I’d go as high up the chain as possible.


BILL YATES:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Yeah.  You have to go to the CFO; right?


SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  If they’re not getting a rethinking in the model, and if the CFO’s not at the table, it’s not going to happen because you just cannot rewire, rethink, reengineer this manual budgeting and funding model without going to the top.  Once you get the CFO sitting at the opposite side of the table, things are great; right?  Because guess what they want?  They want oversight.  They want governance.  And what they’ve been hearing is we’ve gone agile.  We don’t need to give you a stinking timeline.  We don’t need to tell you there’s more cost.

BILL YATES:  We don’t do budgets anymore.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  We don’t do budgets anymore.


SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  And CFOs, when you go and tell them here’s a lean portfolio management model, here’s how you’re going to track your OKR, and here’s how you’re going to track your costs, and you now have to go and report to your boss, who’s the CEO.  Here’s how you’re going to tell them you’re going to grow the business.  It’s a win-win situation.

BILL YATES:  Okay, yeah.  You sold me.  That’s good.

Get in Touch with Sanjiv

WENDY GROUNDS:  Sanjiv, this has been great.  Excellent advice.  It’s been really good talking with you.  How can our listeners get in touch with you, if they want to get your book or if they want to hear more about the work that you do?  Which is the best way that they can reach you?

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Yes, I really appreciate that question.  Google and Amazon are our friends.  So all we need to do is to google Sanjiv Augustine – S-A-N-J-I-V AUGUSTINE – and that’ll lead our listeners out to our website.  The name of the company is LitheSpeed, L-I-T-H-E-S-P-E-E-D, dot com.  However, that’s a bit of a mouthful, so Google’s the best way.  Just google Sanjiv Augustine.  And the book is called “From PMO to VMO:  Managing for Value Delivery,” Amazon.

BILL YATES:  Well, this has been great talking through with you.  I really appreciate it.  And again, the work you guys have done with the book and laying out this new model is so different, and the approach that you guys have taken it makes a lot of sense building the team of teams this way.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Thank you so much.  I know that Scott Ambler, who’s the Chief Scientist from the PMI, the Project Management Institute, he has said publicly on his blog he believes our book is going to be a game changer for VMOs.

BILL YATES:  Fantastic.  Well, well done, sir.  Thank you for your contribution.  And thank you for your time today.  I really appreciate it.

SANJIV AUGUSTINE:  Thank you so much.  I really appreciate your having me.


WENDY GROUNDS:  That’s it for us here on Manage This.  Thank you for joining us today.  You can visit us at Velociteach.com, where you can subscribe to this podcast and see a complete transcript of the show.  We also want to take a moment to say thank you to our listeners who reach out to us and leave comments on our website or on social media.

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