While maturity models abound, to advance you merely need to change your frame of reference and think differently - as we explain

Einstein was looking at a clock tower when he realized that he wasn't seeing the clock but that the rays of light he was seeing were coming from the clock tower to him. This insight, this different way of thinking to him seeing the clock, was the spark that led to the theory of relativity and quantum physics.

In the world of theology (as you would all know!) for hundreds of years scholars talked about secular and religious law in the Old Testament. Then, in the 1960s, an experienced lawyer studied theology and saw that the laws in the Old Testament were simply standard civil and criminal laws. His insight has led to a different way of thinking about these Old Testament laws ever since.

Thinking differently

Did either of these insights or different ways of thinking require additional maturity? No. They involved changing your perspective – looking at the same thing a different way.

Once Einstein had thought in terms of the light coming towards him, he started asking about the speed of light and other issues, his whole frame of reference on the world changed.

Once Old Testament scholars, who were mostly ordained clergy with, therefore, a religious perspective, saw the laws in terms of being divided into civil and criminal, their whole frame of reference changed on how ancient Israel operated.

But in neither case did anyone suddenly ‘mature’; they merely accepted and used a new starting point as the basis of their subsequent work.

Project thinking

In the world of projects the existing frame of reference is – project delivery. Project delivery standards are built by and trained by people experienced in – projects. Every dimension of a project is viewed through the lens and from a perspective of – projects. The project delivery industry is led by the high priests of projects – as you’d expect.

Value thinking

But there is another more relevant frame of reference to be used in relation to projects – business strategy value delivery – initiating, directing, managing and measuring the delivery of business value from projects. Changing the lens and frame of reference from the delivery of projects to the delivery of value does not require ‘additional maturity’ – it requires changing your perspective and then following through on the resultant questions and implications.

Some of these implications can be significant. For example, when your focus is on the delivery of business value, you cannot say, “We’re not mature enough to think about benefits management” as it is to deliver benefits and value that you now do projects. Benefits management becomes central to your projects rather than peripheral.

With a value delivery frame of reference, benefits delivery is found to be neither hard nor extra work. What is already being done through project delivery mostly needs to be reframed into value delivery.

Changing your thinking

Moving to a value delivery-based mindset requires a change of thinking, not years of maturing.

The conventional maturity models of progression from basic repeatability to optimization require time and energy to master the relevant processes. But this type of ‘learning/use maturity’ is quite different to being able to see and adopt a new frame of reference. You can choose a new frame of reference today.

“We’re not mature enough to focus on delivering business value” is a belief, not a reason or maturity level. I ask, Why continue to destroy value when you can, simply by changing your way of thinking, create it instead?

Think about your answer.


Topics: Standards/Frameworks/Methods

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Oct 2010) as "Different Perspective Versus Maturity"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections