My Six Sigma mentor always focused on implementing Six Sigma principles on daily life. Taking his advice & implementation of Six Sigma Principles improved my life quality significantly.
When I was recently preparing for my PMP, a similar thought came into my mind. Can we draw a parallel between project and life? How can we apply project management principles in our life? Lets explore and compare phases of project to stages of lives?
According to PMBOK Sixth Edition
“A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. Projects are temporary which means they have a definite beginning and definite end. Temporary doesn’t necessarily mean a project has a short duration. Every project is unique.”
On the other hand, How do we define life? In my point of view,
Life has a definite beginning and a definite ending. Life is temporary in this world. Life is unique and has unique objectives and results. Life may or may not have a short duration. Each one of our lives is unique in this world. With the perspective of temporary nature and objective, we can safely say that Life is similar to Project, or life is a project. Now, if we compare life to a project, would you agree it can get very interesting?
Let’s compare every phases of project management lifecycle with the stages of Life. The project Management lifecycle consists of 5 Process groups or phases, Project Initiation; Project Planning; Project Execution; Project Monitoring and controlling; Project Closing. Let’s see what projects have in common with our lives.
- Initiation: Life starts when we are born to our parents. In project management terms, Parents are our Project Sponsors. Project sponsors authorize the project similar to how our parents give names. Organizational Process Assets (OPAs) are project plans, procedures, and knowledge base specific to the organization. They influence the management of the project. We can compare OPAs with the culture, the experiences of our parents and other factors in every family. Culture and traditions of our family affect our upbringing. This is all part of our Family legacy. Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEFs) originate outside of the enterprise, are not in control of the project team, and that influence or direct the project. In our life, we can compare EEFs with the conditions around the society. The school we go to, the area we live in, which influence our thought process.In Initiating stage, the initial scope of a project is defined. Likewise, parents name the child. They have expectations from their child. The ages from 0 to 5 can be included in the Initiating stage.
- Planning: In the project planning process, total scope of the project is defined, the course of action to attain those objectives is developed. Triple Constraints of the project (i.e. Scope, time and cost) are planned. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is developed by dividing project deliverables & work into smaller and more manageable components. The project team estimates the time required to achieve the deliverables and devises the Gantt chart. In our life, we go to school, learn more about our lives, and gather more information about our surrounding. We seek inputs from our family members. We dream of becoming someone great (project manager) when we grow up. And explore the plan of action to achieve our dream/ Objectives. Planning is iterative and progressively elaborative in nature. Similarly, we change our life’s objectives, reiterate our dreams. Our parent and we decide what the timeline will be for our lives, how & when we want to achieve our goals. In a way, we develop Gantt Chart for our life. Then we divide project work into smaller and more manageable components like which school to attend, which courses to take, what skills to learn etc. The ages from 5 to 15 can be included under the Planning stage.
- Executing: In the executing phase, actions are performed to complete the work defined in the Initiating & planning stages. The benefit of this stage is that the work needed to meet the project requirements and objectives is performed according to the plan. The ACTION to complete the deliverables is taken. A large portion of project budget, resources and time are expended in performing this stage. After planning our life & project work, we attend the schools/ Universities, we study hard and score good marks. We look for jobs in our desired field. We work in the field and learn more and advance in the field. This is where we take action to achieve our dreams and goals. We execute our life plans. We move closer to achieving our goals. Similar to the project, we spend most of our time, resources and budget in this executing stage of our life. The ages of 16 to 50 can be included under the Executing stage.
- Managing & Controlling: Managing and controlling stage consist of those processes required to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project, identifying any areas in which changes to the plan are required. Monitoring and controlling stage occur concurrently with execution phase. The benefit of this stage is that the project performance is measured and analyzed at regular intervals, appropriate events, in order to identify and correct variances from project planning stage. For our lives, this is where we understand where are we going? We track our life and see if we are achieving our dreams or not. We analyze if we are on the right path. We measure our life’s achievements. Continuously monitoring our life will give us insights into the status of our life goals and identify the areas which might require the attention. If we are not on the right path we intervene and take necessary steps to regain control. We take actions to control our life the way we want. We reinstate our life goals and take steps to achieve it. This stage can occur with Executing stage from the ages of 16 to 50.
- Closing: The closing stage consists of the processes to formally complete or close the project. This is where we review our project. Project team verifies that the defined processes are completed within all the stages to formally close the project.
For our lives, we analyze what went well, did we achieve our goals? Our dreams? What legacy we are leaving behind. It’s up to us to determine what that legacy will be. In this process, we add into the Organizational Process Assets of our family for our children. Observing these similarities in project and life.
Using these principles will make you more organized, resilient and achieve your goals faster. Simple project management skills can make you less stressed every activity in your life can be managed efficiently using these principles.
At last, life is the biggest project anyone can handle. You’re the one who chose what happens to your life because you’re the project owner and project manager. Make sure you have a goal identified, deadlines established and worked backward to achieve those goals.
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Author: Sushrut Bhalerao, CAPM®, SSYB