Tuesday, 5 May 2009

What has the P3O (Portfolio, Programme Project Offices) guidance got to do with Yin and Yang?

By Graham Shreeve, Training Consultant at Maven Training.

The Chinese ancients believed that Yin and Yang is the interplay of opposites and stresses the importance of balance. “All things connote the Yin and the Yang, and the Yin and the Yang keep acting upon each other and thus things keep changing and unifying themselves.” The Book of Tao, describes two kinds of energy, two modes of consciousness

• Yin
- Feminine
- Contractive
- Conservative
- Responsive
- Cooperative
- Intuitive
- Synthesising

• Yang
- Masculine
- Expansive
- Demanding
- Aggressive
- Competitive
- Rational
- Analytic

Fritjof Capra, physicist and systems theorist, sees Yin and Yang energy as related to two modes of consciousness, two different kinds of knowing. The rational and the intuitive are complementary modes of functioning of the human mind.

- Rational thinking is linear, focused and analytic. Rational knowledge tends to be fragmented.
- Intuitive knowledge is based on a direct, non-intellectual experience of reality arising in an expanded state of awareness. It tends to be synthesising, holistic, and nonlinear.

The P3O guidance gives significant attention to centres of excellence and knowledge management. Also, the guide suggests that using the “Value Matrix” (a diagram embedded in the P3O guide) can identify the core problems and determine the scope of the P3O. The matrix considers three levels of change management that an organisation may experience in handling its portfolio, programmes and projects and could prompt a debate to how a P3O model could provide support and assurances services across the levels. The catalyst of the debate is the parallel governance activities of “Enabling and Restraining”. If we recognise the word governance, as to exercise authority the dialogue between the P3O and Programme Managers and Project Managers and their teams could cover a number of paths: “Enabling” and “Restraining” P3O:

• Enabling P3O
- Providing the best practice knowledge and opportunities for Project and Programme Managers to improve programme, project, team and individual performance;
- Supporting Tools and Techniques that enable Project and Programme Managers to build and deliver and/or repair the programmes and projects with efficacy;
- Making resources available to enable definition and implementation of new projects and programmes;
- Empowering Project and Programme Managers with authority to improve performance and best practice.

• Restraining P3O
- Holding back the Project and Programme Managers from action, keeping them in check or under control;
- Depriving the Project and Programme Managers the liberty to improve performance by constraining innovation and ingenuity;
- Limiting the Project and Programme Manager’s activities, growth, or effect in their work.

Has the debated started in your organisation when establishing or re-energising your P3O? Is the debate focused on rational or intuitive thinking? How will you strike a balance between enabling and restraining? Share some experiences and best practice, let us know.

Graham Shreeve ©Target Practice Ltd 2009

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