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Measure and Match: A Way To Avoid "Mismatch Risk"

The Blurb:

Mismatch Risk occurs when the intrinsic unpredictability of a project context does not match the predictability requirements of a chosen project management approach. Recent findings by Flyvbjerg and Budzier show over 16% of projects have very large "Black Swan" overruns, where Black Swans are unpredictable or unforeseen events with severe consequences.  Clearly, when it comes to projects, unpredictable does not imply rare.  Black Swans in projects are significant off-balance-sheet liabilities.  They manifest as hundreds of billions of wasted dollars per year; and worse, as newsworthy company failures such as Knight Capital or FoxMeyer Drugs.

To mitigate Mismatch Risk, an objective way to identify unpredictability context and then select an appropriate project methodology is needed.  Measure and Match employs the Cynefin framework to identify Mismatch Risk. We'll show how project variance data can be used in a new way to identify the Cynefin operating context for a project. Once done, the corresponding action prototype for that context provides key criteria that must be met by any suitable project management approach.  Projects conducted in domains with and without Black Swan unpredictability are as different as stocks and bonds.  Reducing project returns volatility by mitigating Mismatch Risk defines an important step towards managing project portfolios as the investment portfolios they really are.

Speaker Bio:

John Helm is a technology executive whose career spans academia, nonprofits, financial services, and technology companies.  He currently does technology management consulting to support his research into improving the financial performance of technology systems.  John's work focuses on three areas: Financial tools, procedural tools and decision making.

Meeting Agenda:

• 6:30 - 7:00: Food and Social Time (Brought to you by Marchex)

• 7:00: Announcements

• Events

• Jobs sought/offered

• Next meeting

• 7:10: Measure and Match presentation by John Helm

• 8:20: Meeting Retrospective

• 8:30: Meeting Ends

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  • Michael R. W.

    This was such an inspiring talk that it just sparked another conversation with an agile transformation team -- over 2 years after the presentation. The spark: using the cynefin sense-making framework to select which control mechanism (project methodology) to use.

    The example(s): Choosing a commute route from Bellevue to Seattle.

    Thanks again, John Helm, for a great starting point for sense making.

    June 9, 2016

  • Damen E.

    This amazing talk provided a lot of insight on the topic of evaluating relative uncertainty, and would certainly be useful for helping larger, slower organizations make the transition to a some flavor of agile process, however, I was left a bit confused on whether this strategy also implies a case for less agile methodologies in certain contexts...

    April 24, 2014

  • John H.


    Here's the link to a pdf of the presentation:

    Please recall there are supporting notes that summarize the presentation content here:

    Thanks again for your valuable time and priceless feedback!


    April 24, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great presentation John! I The project approach classification diagram with the examples was informative and useful; I look forward to seeing the slides and applying the ideas in real-life context!

    April 24, 2014

  • Paul O.

    John demonstrated that his years of teaching class paid off - what a well put-together, informative presentation....gratz!

    April 23, 2014

  • Steve H.

    John was awesome as usual!

    April 23, 2014

  • John H.

    To support the slides I'll use in this talk, I've prepared a set of annotated figures that thread together the main ideas of Measure and Match. (Note we'll not have time to cover the "IC Map", which also is described.) You can find these notes here: Please know that comments, criticisms and feedback are always welcome. /John

    April 1, 2014

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