The KEY-9 Reference Model

KEY-9® consists of

  • a comprehensive reference model with 5 pillars
  • the KEY-9® Map which builds the innovative core of the model and which is based on the component map concept
  • an organizational development life cycle (not shown below)

The 5 Pillars of the KEY-9® Reference Model

While successful project results require good project management skills and experienced people, effective and sustainable project results require a "project-friendly environment".

If project work indeed shall be integrated into and sustainably anchored in the permanent line organization, corporate strategy, structure and culture must be aligned in this respect since the three elements are inter-related and influence one another. Because such alignment does not happen by itself, but rather has to be designed and implemented consciously and geared towards business purpose, a project-conscious management is at the center of the reference model. Once structure and culture are aligned regarding project work, the company has created an internal environment which is as project-friendly as the strategy and business activities demand.

The five pillars of the KEY-9® reference model are shown below:

5 Pillars

The Component Map Concept

A key strength of the human being is her cognitive capability that allows her coping with complex situations, challenges or environments. Whilst this strength is excellent to individually deal with complexity or changes it does not help sharing the acquired experience across a group.

In our highly interactive and constantly changing business environment we need instruments that allow structuring complexity or change via visualization, ordering, abstraction or reduction. This is key to enable constructive and focused discussions across individuals or groups and their alignment.

Our experience has shown that a simple two-dimensional map, which categorizes topics of a theme, represents a strong basis for a structured discussion. It enables mutual understanding and serves as a good starting point to further expand the exploration of the theme. A component represents a function which has the potential to operate autonomously with its own underlying standards, processes and resources.

In our business environment the grouping of business theme topics along the management layers “Strategic Management”, “Operational Management” and “Execution” has proven its benefits in many situations.

The KEY-9® Map

The KEY-9® Map was the first of several component maps we have developed that we happily share with the wider public. According to the component logic we identified competence areas (columns) and management layers (rows) and allocated the components accordingly. The KEY-9® Map has been proven in far more than 100 assessments. It is a stable instrument fitting the vast majority of organizations; over the years there were only a handful of cases where an additional competence area had to be developed specifically for an organization.

KEY-9 Map

The KEY-9® Map is generic and applicable to all industries and company sizes. Content characteristics and level of detail of the components will vary by size and industry of the respective enterprise and should be targeted at the significance of project work and/or change for that enterprise. To avoid over-engineering, using a simplified map for smaller companies may be advisable; contact us, we are happy to provide a map for small and medium businesses.

If you are interested in a more detailed presentation, just download it.

KEY-9® Book Review

Book Cover 3D
Stephen Rietiker: Der neunte Schlüssel - Vom Projektmanagement zum projektbewussten Management
Haupt Berne, 2006, 312 pages, ISBN: 3-258-07044-X

Book Review by Reinhard Wagner in projektMANAGEMENT aktuell, Volume 1/2007 (translated from German)

Once again (finally) a book is on the market standing apart from the mainstream project management textbooks. However, the chosen title “The ninth key” only reveals its relationship to project management at second sight. Who expects to read about further methods and tools for project management will search in vain. As the subtitle implies, Stephen Rietiker clearly provides direction, i.e. “from project management to project-conscious management”. On over 300 pages, the Swiss author explains why a rethinking is required and presents the consequences for practice.

His criticism of the traditional project management understanding is directed primarily at the insufficient consideration of the manifold interactions between projects and the corporate and social contexts. This is why – as per the base thesis of the book – more attentions needs to be given to indirect control (via the corporate environment). Here is where the KEY-9 reference model of “project-conscious management” sets in: “If project work indeed shall be integrated into and sustainably anchored in the permanent line organization, corporate strategy, structure and culture must be aligned in this respect since the three elements are inter-related and influence one another.” A project-conscious management is supposed to strengthen the consciousness of a company about its approach to project work, create a project-friendly environment and thus contribute to a (more) balanced relationship between the (permanent) line organization which is striving for stability and the (temporary) project organizations which are change-oriented.

By using a newly developed “map”, the author shows the complex connections between the permanent and temporary organizations and thus creates the transparency required for a transformation of their interplay. Moreover, with the provision of a specific life cycle for enterprise-wide implementation of project-conscious management and the profile for a “Chief Project Officer (CPO)” who is responsible for embedding project work into the main organization, the reader is given practical instruments for use.

The book persuades by a sound analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of modern project work and by an effective synthesis of line and project organizations which usually are perceived as quite irreconcilable. The KEY-9 reference model opens up a new, interesting perspective for all companies who require project work to contribute to corporate success. Although many of the touched upon aspects are not new - e.g. the important role of top management for successful project work - there is an essential difference with KEY-9: the influencing factors are not perceived anymore as part of a given hostile context which projects have to deal with but as part of a “project-friendly environment” which has to be designed and implemented consciously and geared towards business purpose. What a pity that the author does not elaborate more on the concept of the “Seven Keys to Success” which inspired the title of the book. However, this is anything but diminishing the excellent overall impression of the new release. To sum up, the book is a MUST for experienced (project) managers, consultants and trainers and should inspire the whole PM community to continue work on the professional know-how with even more consequence.
You may access the original book review by Reinhard Wagner in German on the web site of PMaktuell. © GPM-Magazin PMaktuell - Volume 1/2007, page 60. All rights reserved.