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Orchestrating Excellence the Yahoo! India way

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My presentation at the 4th PMO Symposium organized by the PMI PMO Community of Practice (, Nov 6-9, 2011 at Orlando, Florida

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Orchestrating Excellence the Yahoo! India way

  1. 1. Tathagat Varma, PMP, PRINCE2, CSM, Sr. Member IEEE Head Strategic PMO and Business Operations Yahoo! R&D India, Bangalore, India
  2. 2.  Context Our needs Our approach Results so far The road ahead…
  3. 3.  Largest R&D setup for Yahoo! outside Sunnyvale Established expertize in ◦ End-to-end Product Development, ◦ Research, ◦ Customer-centric Innovation, and ◦ Service Engineering
  4. 4. Year : 2008 onward High HC Growth : 1400 to 2000+Strategic Objective : World-class Impact Product & Services Hub Year : 2005 - 2008 HC Growth : 600 to Modus Operandi: 1400 Products Ownership, Innovation, New Product Objective : Efficiency, Development, OPD Impact delivered Year : 2002 – 2005 Engineering Capability,Business HC Growth : 0 to 600 Modus Operandi: Impact Projects ownership, Objective : Cost, Delivery Leadership, Training, Learn products Sustenance, QA and technologies Modus Operandi: Shared projects, staffing Cost augmentation Impact Low Yahoo! Presentation, Confidential 4 10/10/2011
  5. 5.  Create higher value for Yahoo! ◦ Delivery is “necessary, but not sufficient” Align goals and results to organization ◦ “Brick-layer vs. Cathedral-builder” Holistic and scalable improvement ◦ “Optimize whole vs. parts” Create a winning culture ◦ “Sustain through process where required and cultural transformation where needed”
  6. 6.  Just 2% lean programs deliver anticipated results! (and even lesser are sustained!) 6% organizational culture change and transformation projects reported ‘complete success’, and 33% reported ‘somewhat successful’ 30% Success rate of Change Management Initiatives 40% of 6σ initiatives yield the desire results
  7. 7.  Lack of strategic intent ◦ misalignment with corporate goals and direction Poor systems thinking ◦ ignoring people and culture issues over process efficiency goals, optimizing parts but ignoring the whole Weak execution ◦ execution challenges in a matrix organization, prioritizing horizontal strategic programs vs. vertical delivery goals Inconsistent measurement systems ◦ failing to track the real progress on a periodic basis through a combination of hard data and insights
  8. 8.  Self-improvement is for “self” Define “excellence” to meet our needs Align with top-down and sideways goals Create ‘interlock’ between components Execute as a center-wide horizontal effort Balanced Scorecard for holistic measurement Quarterly rollup and review of results
  9. 9.  Consistently delivering world-class performance by applying systems thinking approach to achieve ◦ a winning culture that promotes continuous learning, personal growth and inter-group collaboration, and makes us “Proud to be a Yahoo!” ◦ an execution system that supports operating as one product team to achieve agility, faster innovation, meaningful risk- taking and consistent delivery of world-class products with “wow” user experience ◦ an operational model that makes best usage of company resources to provide a wow experience to employees and leaders
  10. 10. Execution InnovationCulture Operations Excellence
  11. 11.  Culture: refers to the sum total of people we hire, how they excel, values we live by, teamwork and how do we create a culture of excellence Execution: reflects systems thinking in how we operate to achieve world-class excellence in whatever we do or deliver, whether internal or external Innovation: relates to how we challenge status quo and ‘predictability’ and apply customer-centric thinking to build tomorrow’s winning products Operations: create a great workplace as a theatre for world- place performance!
  12. 12.  Two quarters of results (third due in Oct) Q1: objective assessment of where are we Q2: what is sustaining/smelling Q3: make the call on start/stop/sustain
  13. 13.  Spawn new horizontals to focus on critical areas Adjust goals where the bar is currently set low Evaluate consistent low result areas Study causal/collateral correlation with other engagement metrics
  14. 14.  Leadership plays key role in setting the agenda However, program team must work through issues Agency theory is always at work! Strategic PMO must build credibility through periodic multi-level communication and sharing status and results When there is no top-down mandate, establishing beachhead and sharing stories works better Interlock is required to ensure there are no disjointed efforts that don’t support or reinforce each other
  15. 15.  Multiple reporting lines, conflicting priorities, competing projects and moving parts in a large matrixed organization – frequent realignment is a must Achieving scalability and sustainability are significant challenges in a large company setup Program team needs to be funded full-time Tools is a subsidiary issue!
  16. 16.  It’s still about people and culture: even the best of systems can only be effective to the extent that they recognize the local work culture and people attitudes. A long-term excellence program must be based on realistic assessment of individual motivations and team capabilities. Creating an ‘interlock’ is most critical for systems thinking: isolated and uncoordinated business excellence approaches might only sub- optimize a local problem and will generally only move the constraint out to another part of the organization. It is critical to identify and sustain a holistic framework Execution is the force multiplier: Having the right strategy is critical, but perhaps even more critical is the right execution – maintaining tight focus and ensuing that all action items are tracked to closure and appropriate measurements are made consistently and reported timely.
  17. 17.  Strategic Alignment of Horizontal and Vertical PMO Goals – Tathagat Varma, Project Management National Conference, Bangalore, India Sep 2010, Balridge Criteria for Performance Excellence 2011-2012, EFQM Excellence Model, Why Change Programs fail – George Smart, Why Lean Programs Fail – Jeff Liker and Mike Rother, 02-Feb-2011, Lean Enterprise Institute newsletter, Excellence through Culture, Talent and Change – Tjitra & Associates, Why Change Programs don’t Produce Change – Michael Beer, Russell Eisenstat and Bert Spector, Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 1990,
  18. 18.  The Change Management Lifecycle: How to involve your people to ensure success at every stage, An ESI International whitepaper, 2008, Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts fail – John Kotter, Harvard Business Review, Jan 2007 Avoid the 70% Failure Rate of Change Management Initiatives – Claire Schooley, avoid_the_70_failure_rate_of_change_management_initiatives Where Process Improvement projects go wrong – Satya Chakravorty, 25-Jan-2010, Wall Street Journal, ml?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines How to make cultural change and corporate transformation projects work, effortlessly - Christo, 28-Nov-2010,
  19. 19. Twitter: @tathagatvarma Blog: Email: tathagat@yahoo-inc.comPresentations:

My presentation at the 4th PMO Symposium organized by the PMI PMO Community of Practice (, Nov 6-9, 2011 at Orlando, Florida


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