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    May 23, 2024

    Empowering Teams with People-Centric Planning: Fund People, Not Work

    Within too many organizations, leaders continue to confront the futility of detailed, project-based planning. They see teams across business units make massive investments in time and money to establish a strategic long-term plan, say for an entire fiscal year.  Then, not long after the plan is final, it will invariably change, and when it does, teams will have to incur even more effort, lost time, and inefficiency.

    These scenarios are all too common. They make it abundantly clear that technology funding is broken. The key then is to determine how to fix it.

    To meet your pressing imperatives, you and your teams can’t continue to operate the same way, funding work and projects. Now, technology funding and planning needs to go through a fundamental shift. Now, it’s about funding the products and the teams that are delivering value. Now is the time to move to people-centric funding.

    Here are a few hallmarks of this approach:

    • Teams are given persistent, long-term funding.
    • Teams are organized around products and value streams, rather than in the siloed departments of the past.
    • Teams work toward common, business-level objectives.

    There are three key principles that enable teams to successfully deploy people-centric planning: governing innovation, aligning technology with the business, and empowering teams. In this post, I’ll take a closer look at empowering teams.

    The problem

    For most businesses, decision making is largely top down in nature. The problem is that centralized power tends to be slow and inefficient. Under the control of rigid corporate governance policies and processes, teams can’t do what’s needed when its needed. Particularly in today’s environment, it is impossible for a single central authority, whether that’s a leader, leadership team, center of excellence, or any other single entity to react quickly enough for every different group they’re responsible for.

    This reality is underscored in a number of ways. For example, a team receives funding for a project. When things change, whether due to the project being scrapped or paused, those funds need to be reallocated to a different project. To do so, staff have to go back to a central authority, make a request, wait for a response, follow up with additional details, and so on. The process is too slow, inefficient, and time consuming. Further, in large enterprises, this type of example is being repeated across hundreds or thousands of different groups.

    The people-centric planning approach

    To improve efficiency, not to mention speed and agility, organizations need to decentralize authority. Leaders need to have good people in place and have visibility into what they are doing, while enabling them to make decisions in a timely fashion, trusting that they’re best equipped to know the right thing to do.

    Instead of funding individual projects with temporary funding, organizations continuously fund the teams creating the products and services that deliver value. When teams have persistent funding, people have autonomy to figure out what needs to be done and do it. People can be empowered to adapt quickly and intelligently—without having to go back to a central authority.

    There’s still accountability, however. Common, value-stream-level metrics guide teams in prioritization and tracking progress. As long as the team continues to deliver value, they’ll continue to be funded. Leaders make portfolio-level decisions at the beginning of the fiscal year. Maybe they will decide to reduce or eliminate funding for a team that’s no longer delivering value, based on the metrics defined. Leaders empower teams, provide persistent funding, and get out of their way. They also decisively wind down products that no longer deliver value. That’s all the governance required.


    Through people-centric planning, organizations can minimize the effort and overhead associated with governance, while still ensuring the required value is being delivered. By employing people-centric planning and establishing truly decentralized decision-making, organizations achieve these gains:

    • Improved efficiency
    • Reduced waste
    • Accelerated time to market
    • Enhanced visibility and workflows that fuel continuous improvement


    Too much has changed in recent years to be employing a decades-old approach to technology funding. By employing people-centric planning approaches, your organization can eliminate the waste, inefficiency, and inflexibility of old-school approaches. Instead, you can establish alignment around key business metrics, empower teams, and streamline governance.

    To learn more, please visit our People-Centric Planning page.

    Tag(s): ValueOps , Clarity

    Alf Abuhajleh

    Alf Abuhajleh markets Clarity PPM from Broadcom. From early-days cloud computing, mobile apps and cognizant enterprise apps, Alf spent the past 20 years developing and launching emerging technologies in Silicon Valley.

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