WHEN SENSEMAKING MEETS RESOURCE ALLOCATION: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF AMBIGUOUS IDEAS IN PROJECT PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT
DS 68-1: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 11), Impacting Society through Engineering Design, Vol. 1: Design Processes, Lyngby/Copenhagen, Denmark, 15.-19.08.2011
Editor: Culley, S.J.; Hicks, B.J.; McAloone, T.C.; Howard, T.J. & Clarkson, P.J.
Author: Gutiérrez, Ernesto
Section: Design Processes
Research in Project Portfolio Management (PPM) has proposed tools and models for evaluating, selecting and prioritizing ideas and projects in product development. However, empirical evidence indicates that most companies still experience problems when managing their portfolios. PPM literature has mainly focused on evaluation models in which clearly defined ideas are evaluated against predetermined decision criteria. It is considered that this approach is not suitable for ambiguous ideas, where people face difficulties in understanding or classifying an idea. In this article we explore the evaluation of ambiguous ideas in PPM. We found that when people experience ambiguity they take small steps in the further development of an idea for giving to it the clarity that it was lacking before. This process for making sense of the ambiguous situation is conditioned by the resource allocation process which has its own logic and dynamic. We discuss these findings for explaining why some ideas are not evaluated according to the evaluation models proposed in PPM literature; and why the resource allocation process within PPM does not work as management planned it to.