Well another New Year begins and no doubt all of us have made a few resolutions; some of which we’ll keep and others that will fall off. Here’s a thought. Instead of beating yourself up when you fall off, how ‘bout accepting that you aren’t perfect, but can still make progress. Keep trying.

The rebel in me prevented me from making a bunch of resolutions, but I’m happy to report that the weight loss program I started in October is still progressing. I’ve been doing some of the right things like keeping a nutrition journal and allowing myself treats on occasion. I find it interesting that my success in this area has caused me to think about how easy it might be to remedy some other areas where I’ve exhibited less than stellar performance, if I simply chose to keep track of what I am doing- or not! It’s well known that people who have written goals do better at achieving them. Be realistic in your approach. Pick one or at most two things that you want to do better and focus on them. If keeping a journal helps you, then do it.


When working with my clients, one of the most common questions I hear is, "How do we move forward, when there is so much to do and so few resources?" This underlying issue is how well their project portfolio is balanced. The four most tangible issues in managing portfolios are:

1. There are too many projects on the go. You need to have a clear definition of how many projects are being worked on. This isn’t as easy as it seems. ‘Pet’ projects often fall under the radar when an inventory of active projects is done. The problem is that ‘pet’ projects are often not well aligned with strategy and of equal importance, they consume valuable resources.

2. Resources are working efficiently, but they are working on the wrong projects. The right projects contribute to the ongoing welfare of the organization. Projects must provide value to the organization by increasing ROI, (cost savings or increased revenue generation), enhancing future organizational capability, (increased skills, knowledge or resource capacity, more production capacity, improved processes, etc.) or some combination of the above. "Value" is different in different types of organizations. Governments and non-profits measure value using different metrics.

3. Projects must be aligned with strategy. This seems obvious enough however; I’ve worked in too many places where the strategy was not communicated throughout the organization. Resources find it difficult to prioritize their time when they are confronted with conflicting priorities. All projects can’t be priority #1. Do you know how much each project contributes to each strategic goal and hence which project provides the greatest value to your organization?

4. What about balance? If you want to stay on the tightrope, you have to have the right mix of projects. Balancing a project portfolio follows the same principles as balancing an investment portfolio in many ways. Balanced portfolios are comprised of projects that:

  • Blend short, medium, and long term projects. We want the project start and completion dates to be staggered so that we can smooth resource workloads.

  • Are a mix of infrastructure and revenue generation projects. Launching an advertising or sales campaign that fills your sales generation pipeline, when you don’t have the production capability to fill the orders is less than optimal. You need to have an optimal mix.

  • Use the organization’s core competencies. If you lack expertise in a particular area, it makes sense to outsource that work so that your resources are focused on doing projects that utilize their best talents. Why spend precious resources executing a fleet management project if you are in the training business? Many companies establish relationships with specialty companies that handle travel arrangements, payroll, fleet management, advertising, etc. so that they can focus on what they do best.

  • Include a healthy mix of innovation, research, and development vs. day-to-day production. Offering a mix of new products with tried and true products provides the opportunity to grow without excessive risk.

Companies that fail to balance their portfolio effectively, squander valuable resources on projects that fail to make a meaningful contribution to the organization. In competitive terms, this equates to a company that loses ground. Talented resources eventually bail, when the stress of trying to do too much with too little for too long takes over. Better to balance the portfolio and stay on the tightrope!



Here are some examples of what I think makes a great team player. Think about which ones apply to you or which ones you could be better at.

  • You don’t partake in conversations that involve hearsay about others.
  • You keep others informed of what you are working on, especially if there are challenges involved.
  • You take responsibility for your actions and share credit whenever possible.
  • You continually look for opportunities to expand your knowledge base and you share your knowledge with others.
  • You show up at meetings on time and you are prepared. If you have to send a proxy, make sure they are well enough versed to make decisions on your behalf.
  • You confront others with respect when necessary, not a month after the fact when issues have become unmanageable.
  • You look after yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally so that you are working from a strong foundation.
  • You escalate issues in an appropriate and timely manner.
  • You offer constructive feedback to others when they ask for it.
  • You manage your time and say, "No" when asked to take on additional work when your plate is full.


"Ups and downs are easier to manage when you focus on outcomes. Results matter, not the path chosen."

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Communi-Kate is a free, monthly newsletter on improving bottom line results through better management of projects, programs, and portfolios. Back issues can be downloaded for free at Kathryn Pottruff is a senior business executive and President of Pottruff Consulting Inc. Working with individuals and organizations, we drive profitability by improving how projects, programs, and portfolios are managed. We work with our clients to establish processes, systems and tools that deliver value and build competitive advantage. In short, we transform paralyzing complexity into dramatic results!

Kathryn Pottruff, President Pottruff Consulting Inc.

Phone: 905-901-4266


Jason Friedman and
David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework challenges traditional thinking about what it takes to be successful in business. I’m not suggesting that the authors have all the answers; just that it’s useful to consider that the way we’ve always done things isn’t necessarily the best way.

In my classes I encourage people to keep in touch. Typically I hear from them 3-5 years later when they are contemplating a career change. Many of them have hit a mid-level ceiling and are quickly tiring of the grind. They’re listening to an inner voice that tells them, "It’s time to move." Rework is a great read if you are in that space. The truth is, "You can go it alone. You don’t have to be huge. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on branding. Shake up the thoughts that hold you back. At least consider that there may be a better way.

Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Mark Cuban, and I all think Rework it is great thinking material.