Engaged in an innovation portfolio management assignment a while ago, we struggled to define why one project should continue to suck up resources in preference to many other seemingly worthy opportunities.

We tried all sorts of models, financial and strategic, and really faced the dilemma that all were driven by assumptions, the accuracy of which was only clear with hindsight.

Not much help there.

We set about distilling all the data, assumptions, models, and diagrams we had collected into something simple, something that reflected more than the assumed commercial and strategic value of the initiatives, something we could engage with. We came up with one word, and three questions.


Who would benefit from this initiative?

Why was it better than anything else?

Why should anyone care?

Suddenly the task became clearer.

The discounted cash flows, competitive positioning, portfolio diagrams, and potential for stock exchange announcements became less important, and what become far more important was the simple notion, which of the projects we were considering was doing something important, solving a problem, adding value to someone unavailable elsewhere.

We developed a set of metrics covering these three questions we called the “Value Gap”

The value gap analysis between options to invest in new stuff became the benchmark for prioritizing projects, and we found there were only a very few from what had previously been a significant portfolio that were worth our effort.