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Where to Play and Portfolio Analysis: A blend of structure, data, and individual values

It allows for a comprehensive and balanced view of the future portfolio choices. The process systematizes what seemingly are “gut decisions” from management. 


Every business wants to plan for record growth, but there’s always the tug-of-war between to what end and at what expense?


At the end of the day, however complicated it sounds, the planning and decision-making process revolves around answering two main questions — “Gusto ba natin?” and “Kaya ba natin?” 


I find that it’s typically a hard conversation to ground given that:  a) as much as we want to, nobody can predict the future; and  b) like it or not, it involves feelings.


It’s simple in concept but in the final analysis, a company does not exist without people. And every person in the management committee has a different context and definition to answer the questions “Gusto ba natin?” and “Kaya ba natin?” 


It almost ALWAYS involves deeply ingrained principles and values that drive individual personalities. Anytime that a discussion touches remotely on individual values and context, it will be a hard conversation. Emotions will always get involved.


What I find incredibly useful with the Where to Play process developed by Acumen is that it unapologetically  takes into consideration the HUMAN aspect of management decisions.


The framework provides a structured approach to evaluating various opportunities starting with the creation of a customized criteria. The criteria should reflect:  a) the company’s purpose, ambitions and values; and  b) an amalgamation of the beliefs and values of the individuals running the company.


With consensus-building as an integral part of the process, it provides a venue to “speak now or forever hold your peace”. It allows for a comprehensive and balanced view of the future portfolio choices.  The process systematizes what seemingly are “gut decisions” from management.


It is also an inclusive process that involves more than just the management committee (mancom). Cross-functional working teams are pulled in to help populate the data based on the criteria. I have worked on several projects and what I find interesting is that sharing the criteria provides the lower levels with additional insight to how the mancom thinks, enabling the teams to better predict what their bosses are looking for even well after the planning process.


The process encourages transparent communication and collaboration. It gets people to talk and listen, to effectively communicate in a safe manner since there is a framework and structure. And  because it is collaborative, while consensus-building is a tall order, in the end, it results in higher buy-in.


The model is adaptable, iterative and flexible. There is no one-size fits all model that applies to all companies. It does not assume that truths in one industry apply to another industry. It can be updated to reflect changing market conditions, new information or shifts in strategic priorities. 


The resulting portfolio assessment against the criteria provides for a systematic, data-based and more objective decision-making.  While the tools serve as a guide, it is still up to management to decide on what to do with the opportunity.


I’ve seen mancoms prioritize the opportunities at their face value scores, but I’ve also seen mancoms still push to pursue lower-scored opportunities for their strategic value, with eyes wide open on the risks and the investment required to win in these opportunities.


In the end, harmonizing rational decision-making with human values fosters open dialogue and collaboration. This approach turns complex choices into more strategic actions, ensuring every voice is heard and aligned with the company's ambitions. This path paves the way for a more confident, unified growth.

   Written by: Trina Dumdumaya - Consultant, Acumen Strategy Consultants


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