The discipline of project and program management contains a helpful framework for thinking about the levels within which we function.
Project – An activity with a beginning, middle, and end that we pursue in order to create change. In a personal context, this could be writing a book, following the initiation phase of a diet, training for an event, etc.
Program – A collection of related projects + operational activities. This could be organized as the slices in the Wheel of Life. Example: Everything I do to maintain my health can be one program. All of the stuff I do for work can be another program.
At this level, we look at programmatic
Portfolio – Everything an organization (or person) does to fulfill its life mission. The big umbrella. Why are you doing what you are doing? What’s your north star? These are your big strategic questions.
Portfolio > Program > Project are all
From here, we start looking outward. It’s also at this point where Project and Portfolio management stops. These disciplines tend to face internally – with Portfolio management just starting to look outside at how to fit with the environment.
I want to propose two other levels. This isn’t reinventing the wheel – business strategy, marketing, and design ask these types of questions. However, I want to place this in a personal context.
I’m open to better names for these levels 🙂
Local – How does my portfolio/life integrate and interact with my immediate environment? What is the impact of my work, effort, and being on the people and things I am closest to? What is the immediate short-term impact of my work, effort, and being?
Global – How does my portfolio/life integrate and interact globally? How might I influence the environment (people and things) 2-6 degrees of separation out? How might what I am doing/being in the now impact the long-term future? We may never truly know. I strongly feel that we need to consider our decisions based on the long-term and distant impact, not just short term.
We have swung too far into short-term, selfish, survivalist thinking. I can’t fault anyone for that. It’s what is rewarded right now.
Furthermore, our brains search for certainty and control. We’re more likely to find certainty and control inside, right now and next to us.
This month, I invite you to take a look at your Projects, your Programs, and your Portfolio.
How’s your life portfolio? How
Once you are clear on that, you can then ask “What is the impact of your life on your local environment? How might you be impacting the global collective?”
We’re being asked to think and act at different levels. My suspicion is that the seeming chaos is a result of us trying to think and act locally and globally without having a solid foundation for ourselves.