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Portfolio Development and Management
A portfolio approach helps to ensure that projects are integrated into a strategic pathway towards an overall mission.
A common current reality is that a community’s development actions are too fragmented and incremental to lead to radical enough change. Mission-portfolio development and management is an important tool to help overcome this issue and better align action towards a community’s missions.
Developing community mission portfolios makes sense from 3 different professional perspectives:
- Project managers use portfolios as a way of organising a suite of projects and programmes that need to be delivered in harmony, aligning them towards a common strategic objective. Community missions demand this alignment of action at scale.
- Investors ‘spread their bets’ across portfolios of assets because they cannot know exactly what will be really successful. Communities need to approach mission portfolios in this way too, as not everything will work as we hope. A portfolio investment approach builds greater resilience, and scope for risk and learning. This is a mindset that is especially important for public sector investors to adopt.
- Designers and creators use portfolios to demonstrate their creations to others. It is also important for communities to share successes and learnings from their action portfolios, as this helps to build a wider movement for radical community change.
The portfolio development and management process needs to be continuous and iterative. Steps can include:
- Short-term Portfolio Building: identifying and prioritising the most promising ideas and plans for projects that already exist in the community, have change potential aligned with the community’s missions, and need accelerating. Unlocking barriers and moving these actions into near-term implementation helps to advance learning and builds confidence.
- Strategic Action Design: Developing detailed plans for mission-aligned actions and experiments that build from work on backcasting, developing scenarios, enablers and systems analysis done as part of the overall Change Management Process. Co-creation is essential for designing robust actions that will have consistent stakeholder support.
- Mission-Gap Filling: The role of the Mission Incubator team is to keep a clear eye on what is on the critical pathways to achieve the missions, and facilitate action development and design to fill gaps in these pathways.
- Action Financing: design and execute financing solutions to connect appropriate public, private and community capital into implementation. This connects portfolio financing with overall work on Transformative Investment.
- Implementation Management: Finalise plans to advance actions into implementation, including, detailed design, contracting, construction/delivery and evaluation. The idea is that communities take shared responsibility for action implementation, and clear commitment from appropriate community actors to manage specific action implementation should be established
- Evaluation: Monitoring and evaluating portfolio implementation progress and connecting lessons learned to Collective Learning.
Portfolio development and management work should be steered and facilitated by the Mission Incubator team, who have a focus on the overall mission. The deep work to fully develop and implement actions will require the efforts of many stakeholders from across the community and harnessing additional expertise as needed. Because the status quo is usually dispersed responsibility and purpose, even conflict, between what different organisations are currently doing, this work for communities to properly align effort into a portfolio approach should not be underestimated.