Integral Life Practice–Chapter 7: The Spirit Module


The purpose of the Body Module is to introduce you to practices which cultivate your health by taking care of the matter of your gross physical body.   But beyond this, the module introduces you to the other bodies that are also vital for one’s health, the energy in your subtle body, and the causal body of stillness within which the other two bodies rest.

1.   Three Bodies

In the same way that your consciousness normally has three states–waking, dreaming, and deep sleep–your body also has the corresponding gross, subtle, and causal bodies.    Remember the distinction in the quadrants between the interior and exterior dimensions of reality?   The interior quadrants are the ones are the left, and the exterior quadrants are the ones on the right.

Each state of consciousness is an interior dimension which has a corresponding exterior form or dimension that is referred to as a body.   Let’s take a look at each of the three states of consciousness in turn and the associated form or body which encapsulates them.

this post to be continued

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Mastering the First Critical Strategic Question–Part 4


The second part of Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Management Made Simple focuses in on the relationship between the four critical strategic questions and how they are captured visually in the Logical Framework approach.   As a review from the first part of his book which introduced them, those four critical strategic questions are:

–What are we trying to accomplish and why?

–How will we measure success?

–What other conditions must exist?

–How do we get there?

The first chapter of this second part focuses in on the first critical strategic question, “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”   In the last post, I discussed how the Logical Framework approach can be used by the project team to discuss the various Objectives of the project:  the Outcomes (what the project will create), the Purpose (the business need of the project), the Goal (the strategic interest of the organization in doing the project), and the Inputs (the steps needed to achieve the Outcomes).

This post will discuss how the Logical Framework approach can be used by the project manager to gain stakeholder collaboration.

1.   Problem Analysis

Rather than casting the project in terms of its Outcomes, one creative approach to discussing a project with stakeholders is to cast it in terms of a solution to a problem.    This kind of problem analysis can be used to discuss how the problem affects the stakeholder, because that will show the stakeholder that he or she will also be affected by the solution which the project will create.

2.  Logical Framework approach

Here are a list of questions that Terry Schmidt gives in his book that he suggests you ask your stakeholders in discussing the problem that your project is designed to address.    What I have done is put a column to the right that indicates which element of the Logical Framework approach each question pertains to, at least as I understand the question.

Question for Stakeholders

Logical Framework Element

What do you see as the problem?What might an ideal solution look like? Outcomes (the solution of the problem)
Why is this a problem and for whom?What are the consequences if we ignore the problem? Purpose (the business need for the solution)
What benefits will a solution bring? Goal (the strategic benefit of the solution for the organization)
How will you know when the problem is gone? Success Measures and Verification (of solution)
What causes the problem? Assumptions (what conditions must exist for the solution to be realized)

The responses can be used to fill in the LogFrame matrix by using them to put detail into the element listed in the column to the right.

3.  Other Problem Analysis methodologies

The problem analysis listed above that Terry Schmidt has devised is just one suggestion.   Other proven methodologies include:

–Fishbone or Ishikawa Analysis

–Five Why Questions (from Toyota)

–Total Quality Management tools

–LEAN Value Stream Mapping

–Six Sigma processes

Some of these methodologies, such as LEAN Value Stream Mapping and Six Sigma processes, are not as much for creating new products, services, or results, as for improving existing products, services, or results.   Their growing importance in manufacturing is recognized by the Project Management Institute by including the improvement of existing products, services, or results in the definition of a project, which used to just account for the creation of new product, service, or result.

After discussing the Objectives (Inputs, Outcomes, Purpose, and Goals), which are the answer to the first critical strategic question of “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”, the next critical strategic question is “How will we measure success”?    If you cannot come up with a concrete measure of success that is verifiable, then your problem most likely is that the Objectives are too vague.   How do you avoid that mistake of having vague objectives so that the second critical strategic question can also be answered with clarity?   That is the subject of the next post.

Mastering the First Critical Strategic Question–Part 3


The second part of Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Management Made Simple focuses in on the relationship between the four critical strategic questions and how they are captured visually in the Logical Framework approach.   As a review from the first part of his book which introduced them, those four critical strategic questions are:

–What are we trying to accomplish and why?

–How will we measure success?

–What other conditions must exist?

–How do we get there?

The first chapter of this second part focuses in on the first critical strategic question, “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”   In the last post, I discussed how the Logical Framework approach can be used by the project team to discuss the various Objectives of the project:  the Outcomes (what the project will create), the Purpose (the business need of the project), the Goal (the strategic interest of the organization in doing the project), and the Inputs (the steps needed to achieve the Outcomes).

This post will discuss how the Logical Framework approach can be used by the project manager to gain stakeholder collaboration.

1.   Problem Analysis

Rather than casting the project in terms of its Outcomes, one creative approach to discussing a project with stakeholders is to cast it in terms of a solution to a problem.    This kind of problem analysis can be used to discuss how the problem affects the stakeholder, because that will show the stakeholder that he or she will also be affected by the solution which the project will create.

2.  Logical Framework approach

Here are a list of questions that Terry Schmidt gives in his book that he suggests you ask your stakeholders in discussing the problem that your project is designed to address.    What I have done is put a column to the right that indicates which element of the Logical Framework approach each question pertains to, at least as I understand the question.

Question for Stakeholders

Logical Framework Element

What do you see as the problem?What might an ideal solution look like? Outcomes (the solution of the problem)
Why is this a problem and for whom?What are the consequences if we ignore the problem? Purpose (the business need for the solution)
What benefits will a solution bring? Goal (the strategic benefit of the solution for the organization)
How will you know when the problem is gone? Success Measures and Verification (of solution)
What causes the problem? Assumptions (what conditions must exist for the solution to be realized)

The responses can be used to fill in the LogFrame matrix by using them to put detail into the element listed in the column to the right.

3.  Other Problem Analysis methodologies

The problem analysis listed above that Terry Schmidt has devised is just one suggestion.   Other proven methodologies include:

–Fishbone or Ishikawa Analysis

–Five Why Questions (from Toyota)

–Total Quality Management tools

–LEAN Value Stream Mapping

–Six Sigma processes

Some of these methodologies, such as LEAN Value Stream Mapping and Six Sigma processes, are not as much for creating new products, services, or results, as for improving existing products, services, or results.   Their growing importance in manufacturing is recognized by the Project Management Institute by including the improvement of existing products, services, or results in the definition of a project, which used to just account for the creation of new product, service, or result.

After discussing the Objectives (Inputs, Outcomes, Purpose, and Goals), which are the answer to the first critical strategic question of “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”, the next critical strategic question is “How will we measure success”?    If you cannot come up with a concrete measure of success that is verifiable, then your problem most likely is that the Objectives are too vague.   How do you avoid that mistake of having vague objectives so that the second critical strategic question can also be answered with clarity?   That is the subject of the next post.

Mastering the First Critical Strategic Question–Part 2


The second part of Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Management Made Simple focuses in on the relationship between the four critical strategic questions and how they are captured visually in the Logical Framework approach.   As a review from the first part of his book which introduced them, those four critical strategic questions are:

–What are we trying to accomplish and why?

–How will we measure success?

–What other conditions must exist?

–How do we get there?

The first chapter of this second part focuses in on the first critical strategic question, “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”   In the last post, I discussed how the Logical Framework approach can be used by the project team to discuss the various Objectives of the project:  the Outcomes (what the project will create), the Purpose (the business need of the project), the Goal (the strategic interest of the organization in doing the project), and the Inputs (the steps needed to achieve the Outcomes).

This post will discuss how the Logical Framework approach can be used by the project manager to gain stakeholder collaboration.

1.   Problem Analysis

Rather than casting the project in terms of its Outcomes, one creative approach to discussing a project with stakeholders is to cast it in terms of a solution to a problem.    This kind of problem analysis can be used to discuss how the problem affects the stakeholder, because that will show the stakeholder that he or she will also be affected by the solution which the project will create.

2.  Logical Framework approach

Here are a list of questions that Terry Schmidt gives in his book that he suggests you ask your stakeholders in discussing the problem that your project is designed to address.    What I have done is put a column to the right that indicates which element of the Logical Framework approach each question pertains to, at least as I understand the question.

Question for Stakeholders

Logical Framework Element

What do you see as the problem?

What might an ideal solution look like?

Outcomes (the solution of the problem)
Why is this a problem and for whom?

What are the consequences if we ignore the problem?

Purpose (the business need for the solution)
What benefits will a solution bring? Goal (the strategic benefit of the solution for the organization)
How will you know when the problem is gone? Success Measures and Verification (of solution)
What causes the problem? Assumptions (what conditions must exist for the solution to be realized)

The responses can be used to fill in the LogFrame matrix by using them to put detail into the element listed in the column to the right.

3.  Other Problem Analysis methodologies

The problem analysis listed above that Terry Schmidt has devised is just one suggestion.   Other proven methodologies include:

–Fishbone or Ishikawa Analysis

–Five Why Questions (from Toyota)

–Total Quality Management tools

–LEAN Value Stream Mapping

–Six Sigma processes

Some of these methodologies, such as LEAN Value Stream Mapping and Six Sigma processes, are not as much for creating new products, services, or results, as for improving existing products, services, or results.   Their growing importance in manufacturing is recognized by the Project Management Institute by including the improvement of existing products, services, or results in the definition of a project, which used to just account for the creation of new product, service, or result.

After discussing the Objectives (Inputs, Outcomes, Purpose, and Goals), which are the answer to the first critical strategic question of “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”, the next critical strategic question is “How will we measure success”?    If you cannot come up with a concrete measure of success that is verifiable, then your problem most likely is that the Objectives are too vague.   How do you avoid that mistake of having vague objectives so that the second critical strategic question can also be answered with clarity?   That is the subject of the next post.

Mastering the First Critical Strategic Question–part 1


The second part of Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Management Made Simple focuses in on the relationship between the four critical strategic questions and how they are captured visually in the Logical Framework approach.   As a review from the first part of his book which introduced them, those four critical strategic questions are:

–What are we trying to accomplish and why?

–How will we measure success?

–What other conditions must exist?

–How do we get there?

The first chapter of this second part focuses in on the first critical strategic question, “What are we trying to accomplish and why?”

1.  Linking Objectives into Logical Levels

As mentioned in the first part, the answer to one part of the first critical strategic question, namely, “What are we trying to accomplish?” is the Outcome of the project, sometimes referred to as the deliverable.   There are two answers to the other part of the first critical strategic question, namely, the “why” part:  these are the Purpose of the project, and the Goal of the project.   The Purpose is the business need for the project, whether it be the need by customers in the marketplace for the product or the service that the project will produce, or the organization itself that will end up using the result of that project (for example, an improvement to existing processes).    The Goal is the way that the organization will profit or benefit by offering this new product, service, or result.     I say the word “benefit” because it is possible that the result may not be a profit per se, but an intangible benefit such as positive name recognition, which could happen if the organization participates in some charity event.

Once the Outcomes have been decided upon that are consistent with the Purpose and the Goal, then you can work on the Inputs that will create those Outcomes.   This is in reality skipping ahead to the fourth critical strategic question of “how do we get there?”  But for now, let’s just consider these four items, the Inputs, Outcomes, Purpose, and Goal and label them collectively as the Objectives.

They should be logically linked as follows:

Inputs –>  Outcomes –> Purpose –> Goal

This is visual shorthand for saying,

“if the Inputs are applied, then the Outcomes will be produced,”

“if the Outcomes are produced, then the Purpose will be accomplished,” and

“if the Purpose is accomplished, then the Goal will be achieved.”

As the fourth chapter of the first part details, there may be higher level Purposes at the level of a program, higher level Goals at the level of a portfolio, or even a higher level Vision that ties them all together at the level of the enterprise.   But for now, let’s just consider the four levels of Objectives of a single project.

2.  Linking Objectives Thematically

How are these levels linked to each other, not logically, but thematically?    For that, see the chart below:

Objectives

Level

Definition Elaboration
Goal The higher-level strategic Objective to which the project contributes by fulfilling the Purpose of the project. The 10,000-foot view.  This can be the overarching umbrella for multiple projects and programs in a single portfolio.
Purpose The impact or behavior change(external or internal) we anticipate by producing the Outcomes of the project This can be the overarching umbrella for multiple projects in a single program.

NOTE:  This is the Objective of the project that’s usually missing in strategic planning.

Outcomes The specific result(s) the project team must deliver by managing the Inputs to the project. Interim deliverables, final end products, and processes.  The project team is responsible for delivering the Outcomes.
Inputs The activities and tasks we undertake and the resources necessary to produce the Outcomes of the project. Project management software can be helpful here in implementing the plan and the schedule.

As you can see from the chart, you start with the Outcomes, or the “what” question.   Then you ask yourself the “why” question and link upwards to fill in the Purpose and Goal.    Once these are linked logically and thematically according to the description in the above chart, you then link downwards to fill in the Inputs.   

This is how you build the Logical Framework with the project team.   How do you involve the stakeholders in the Logical Framework?   That is the subject of the next post.

Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent–Part 3


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework or LogFrame Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning. The fourth chapter of his book is called “Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent”, and it takes the concepts of the LogFrame Approach that were applied to individual projects in chapters 2 and 3, and shows how they can be used at the level of programs and portfolios.   The first part I wrote last Friday details how programs and portfolios are related to projects.  The second part I wrote yesterday today details how the strategic vision of the organization percolates down through portfolios, programs, and projects, and how the LogFrame Approach can be used to make sure that they all remain connected to that strategic vision.    This third part today talks about the eight logical planning steps involved in strategic planning and execution at the level of the business unit.

Step 1–Clarify the Planning Context and Issues

Question 1:  What are your primary motivations from the planning process?  Are the primary motivations related to:

–Attracting new customers

–Improving existing procedures

–Strengthening teamwork

–Entering a new market (new to the organization)

Question 2:  What are the desired Outcomes (multiple Outcomes are possible) from the planning process?

Question 3:  Identify the “system” for which you are doing the plan.

–Intact units

–Cross-functional group

NOTE:  Sometimes you need to define what is not included in your system of interest.

Step 2:  Involve Key Players

Get input from all key players.   This means key internal and external stakeholders (customers in particular) to identify their concerns and needs.   Now the means of giving input can vary, from:

–Structured focus groups

–Customer surveys

–Joining planning team meetings

–Reviewing interim results

–Getting briefed on final results

Step 3:  Scan Your Environment

1.  Examine the plans of

–All relevant business units

–Key outside organizations

–Customer base

Extract Objectives and highlights those efforts that relate to yours.

2.  Conduct an broad-brush, external environmental scan to identify trends, events, and drivers that influence your future directions.

Identify the SKEPTIC factors to see which may impact your project during its life:

  • S (Societal)
  • K (Competitive)
  • E (Economic/Environmental)
  • P (Political)
  • T (Technological)
  • I (Industrial)
  • C (Consumer/Client)

Step 4:  Revisit Your Vision/Mission/Values

Having each unit develop its own vision, mission, and value or VMV statements allows them to appreciate how they deliver real value to their customers and to each other.

Vision means what we wish to see in the future that we can affect.   

Mission means how we will get there.   

Values are norms of conduct, such as:

  • Take responsibility for actions
  • Continuously improve
  • Focus on the customer
  • Respect each other

These values represent a shared code of conduct, and they can be made less vague and more real for by converting them into a a set of observable behaviors (do’s and don’ts).

Step 5:  Sharpen Your Goals and Measures

Examples of measures you can use are:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Provide products efficiently (delivering products on time and at reasonable cost)
  • Team effectiveness, cohesiveness
  • Utilization of best practices
  • Increased public awareness of products

These measures should ultimately support those Goals mentioned in the Vision statement.

Step 6:  Develop Core Strategies

The various Goals derived from the Vision statement need to be developed into a manageable set of strategies which collectively deliver the measurable results set forth in Step 5.   The chosen strategies should provide solutions to current problems and build future capacity.

Then you need to analyze those strategies in relationship to the success measures developed in Step 5.   Here’s a generic Strategies-Measures matrix.

KEY SUCCESS MEASURES

CORE STRATEGIES

1. 2. 3. 4.
1.  Financial
2.  Customers
3.  Operational Effectiveness
4.  Employee
5.  Community

You can put a checkmark or put a score from 1 to 5 to show the estimated degree of impact of each strategy on each of the success measures.   This will establish a strong framework for achieving superior performance and delivering outstanding customer value.

Step 7.  Turn Strategies Into Execution Plan

After the coherent set of strategies has been defined, the next step is creating an action plan and building unified implementation teams.   In order to not interfere with the regular operational work, you may stagger the implementation of the various core strategies.  Using the matrix shown above in Step 6, you can list the owner’s of each of the core strategies and list the start of their implementation chronologically, like so:

CORE STRATEGIES

1. 2. 3. 4.
Strategy Owner Name 1 Name 2 Name 3 Name 4
1st Quarter
2nd Quarter
3rd Quarter
4th Quarter

Each of these core strategies will have its own LogFrame, of course.

Step 8.  Follow Up and Continue the Process

With the implementation calendar developed in Step 7, you can have periodic reviews and refinement of the implementation plan.
With these steps, the LogFrame approach can be used to take a Vision, Mission, and Value statement of the organization, and turn it into a strategic implementation plan that can be used by various units, a cross-functional team, or any designated subsection of the organization.
This concludes the fourth chapter, and the first part of the book which illustrates what strategic thinking is and how the LogFrame approach can facilitate it.   The second part of the book delves into the four critical strategic questions that were introduced in chapter 2, and illustrates how the LogFrame approach introduced in chapter 3 can answer those questions.   It gets into the nitty-gritty detail about how to create a LogFrame for your project, so if your appetite was stimulated by the first part of the book, it’s now time to dive into the buffet!

Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent–Part 2


This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework or LogFrame Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning. The fourth chapter of his book is called “Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent”, and it takes the concepts of the LogFrame Approach that were applied to individual projects in chapters 2 and 3, and shows how they can be used at the level of programs and portfolios.   The first part I wrote last Friday details how programs and portfolios are related to projects.  This second part today details how the strategic vision of the organization percolates down through portfolios, programs, and projects, and how the LogFrame Approach can be used to make sure that they all remain connected to that strategic vision.

1.  Outcome, Purpose, and Goal of a Project

Remember that the first critical strategic question at the level of a project asks

What are we trying to accomplish and why?

Well, the “What are we trying to accomplish” portion of this critical strategic question corresponds to the Outcome of the project, in other words, what product, service, or result is the project designed to create?

The “and why?” portion of this critical strategic question actually encompasses two concepts.   The Outcome of the project is designed to fulfill some business need, either out in the marketplace or even within the organization itself.  That business need corresponds to the Purpose of the project.

In addition, the Outcome of the project is designed to accomplish some strategic goal of the organization so that, for example, if the Purpose is achieved, revenue will flow into the organization and make a profit.   The Purpose of the project can be internal or external to the organization; the Goal is always internal to the organization itself.

2.  Linking Projects into Programs through a common Purpose

The business need of one project can be related to the business need of another project.   For example, in constructing an airplane, each system of the airplane can be designed as a separate project, and these projects are coordinated into a common Program.   They have a common Purpose, which is to create a high-quality aircraft.   The systems not only have to work well on their own, but they have to work well together.   The reason for integrating them into a common Program will create some strategic benefit for the organization as well, because there will be cost savings if parts are shared between systems, and there will be fewer mistakes in the manufacturing process if the engineers who work on the design of the various systems communicate well with each other from the start.

3.  Linking Programs into Portfolios through a common Goal

Although the design of a helicopter, a commercial aircraft, and a fighter jet may be very different, because they are all designed to fit different business needs, they will have a common strategic goal in making more profitable the company which makes the aircraft.   So a Portfolio links Programs together through a Common Goal.

4.  Linking Goals into a Strategic Vision

The financial goal of profitability is one of the most common goals of an organization, and it is often referred to by the phrase “the bottom line.”  However, there are other possible “bottom lines” or strategic goals and ways of measuring them.   Here are five possible strategic Goals/Measures for an organization.

Type of Strategic Goals Possible Measures
1. Financial Goals Rate of return, profits, sales growth, cash flow, savings
2. Customer Goals Numbers, satisfaction level
3. Operational Effectiveness Performance indicators (hotel occupancy, mean time between   failure, efficiency ratios)
4. Employee Goals Number, turnover, skills growth
5. Community Goals Impact on local community

What could link these various Goals together?   The strategic vision of a company, which should be the responsibility of a CEO to create and then share with the organization.   Ideally, all of the above goals that are relevant to an organization should somehow be included in this strategic vision.

If the strategic vision is written in clearly and compellingly, it should be possible to make sure that it is harmonious with the various strategic Goals of the Portfolios, the various Purposes of the Programs, and the various Outcomes of the Projects.

How to do this?  The next post covers the eight logical planning steps involved in making sure a strategic Vision of an organization gets transmitted and translated to it various units.