Connecting the Dots: Aligning Projects With Objectives in Unpredictable Times. Cathleen Benko, F. Warren McFarlan. Harvard Business Review Press.

Connecting the Dots: Aligning Projects With Objectives in Unpredictable Times Book Cover Connecting the Dots: Aligning Projects With Objectives in Unpredictable Times
Cathleen Benko, F. Warren McFarlan
Harvard Business Review Press
March 1, 2003

The question is all too familiar. The concern is real and legitimate. Technology and other project initiatives have grown faster than the ability of most companies to manage them – affecting the return on the investment of trillions of dollars while ill preparing companies for today’s unpredictable environment.

As you look for ways to unlock shareholder value, restore investor confidence, and adapt to uncertainty, focusing on your organization’s project portfolio is a smart place to begin. Why? Because the portfolio is the truest measure of organizational intent.

Indeed, in Connecting the Dots, Cathleen Benko and F Warren McFarlan argue that the portfolio is your organization’s future currency – the single most important asset for delivering on strategic and operational objectives. And the best way to leverage this currency is through greater alignment.

Simply put, alignment is about better matching your company’s portfolio with its objectives, since better aligned companies achieve greater investment returns. Connecting the Dots employs a practical, “play the hand you are holding” approach, providing a balance of concepts and roll-up-your-sleeves guidance on how to:

  • Determine how well-aligned – or misaligned – your organization is today
  • Reveal opportunities for increasing portfolio economics
  • Apply tools to reduce portfolio risk while improving its efficiency, flexibility, and direction
  • Instill new mind-sets to better respond to whatever future presents itself

If you’re like most executives, you already know your portfolio is not delivering as expected. Alignment is not about spending more; it’s about getting greater return for what you are already spending. This guidebook helps you “connect the dots” between your organization’s intentions and its project activities, capturing hidden value today while better preparing for tomorrow.

Cathleen Benko is Braxton’s Global e-Business Leader. F. Warren McFarlan is Senior Associate Dean and Albert H. Gordon Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.