Running A Developmental Project is a project-oriented possible practice

Established Practice v.s. Possible Practice

Running is an Established Practice, Making A Cake is an Established Practice, Project Management is an Established Practice, and Using the Activity System Model is an Established Practice.

While established practices refer to popular social activities, possible practices refer to some ideas or actions that are not popular yet.

Running A Developmental Project is a possible practice because it is based on a new knowledge framework: Developmental Project Model.

Developmental Project Model (Oliver Ding, 2021)

Since the model was created in 2021, it is pretty new to most people. You can find more details in Developmental Project Model.

What's a Developmental Project?

From a theoretical perspective of adult development, the concept of “Developmental Project” emphasizes the life development of individuals within the context of Projects. It cares about the transformation of a person’s life themes and her or his identity in the stream of Projects.

You join a project, you leave a project. You initiate a project, you close a project. All kinds of activities form a chain of projects and they are projections of the development of your life.

If we read the chain of projects of your life, it is also a projection of social life.

By adopting the Developmental Project model, we have a way to reflect on the development of personal life and social life in one unit of analysis. We can connect psychology, sociology, and others.

Any project can be a Developmental Project

It all depends on your perception and awareness, any project can be a Developmental Project. The term “Development” can be understood from various dimensions and levels of abstraction.

Anyway, we can perceive a project as a Developmental Project if we believe it can contribute to our life development.

You can initiate a Developmental Project, or you can join an existing project and consider it a Developmental Project.

For example, the #Tim_Unscripted project is initiated by Tim Dickey. It is a Developmental Project for him.

Start A Developmental Project

Significant Insights could lead to Developmental Projects. If you want to start a Developmental Project, you can identify one or more significant insights that you have learned from your daily life reflection or Life Discovery Activity.

The diagram below shows the process of decision-making for starting a development project.

  • I SEE IT: The outcome of daily life reflection or Life Discovery Activity: Significant Insights.
  • I WANT IT: Not all Significant Insights lead to Developmental Projects.

Since Developmental Projects are about Present Performance, we need to consider at least the following three things:

  • Practical Interests: our motivation for running a development project.
  • Present Capabilities: our skills and knowledge for running a development project.
  • Present Resources: our material and other things that could support our performance.

Finally, we will have a decision that describes a plan for a Developmental Project. The plan doesn’t need rich details, but it should determine the following two things:

  • Objective: the final outcome of the Developmental Project.
  • Object: the thing you want to work on.

For example, I started the Activity U project in August 2020. The original objective of the project is to use Activity Theory as a case to test the HERO U framework while objects refer to Activity Theory and the HERO U framework.

The initial plan can be ambitious or realistic.

For example, I didn’t set a goal to write three books about Activity Theory for the Activity U project. My initial plan is only about writing one article.

I even didn’t know Andy Blunden’s idea of “project as a unit of activity”. The unfolding of the Activity U project guided me to discover Andy Blunden’s ideas and books. Then, I wrote several articles about his ideas. Then, I edited these articles and turned them into a book: Project-oriented Activity Theory.

However, the development of the Ecological Practice approach is an ambitious goal.

In Feb 2020, I wrote a 160-page private document titled Life Theory.

The “Life Theory” document is both a theoretical plan and a toolkit. As a theoretical plan, it describes the position and the direction of expanding the Ecological Practice approach to a social theory. As a toolkit, it curates six frameworks together. It is the beta version of the Ecological Practice approach.

Then I decided to write one book one year. Each year I write a book and each book introduces one theoretical concept of the approach. It is a long-term project. You can find more details in The Development of Ecological Practice Approach: Three versions of Ecological Practice Approach.

Unfold A Development Project

From the perspective of adult development, I designed a program called AAS4LT 1:1 life coaching which was formed with the following two parts:

  • Life Discovery Activity
  • Developmental Project

The AAS4LT program is designed with eight steps. See the picture below. For the second part, the five steps are about Deciding and Unfolding a Developmental Project.

Step 4 (Design) can be formal or informal. Once you have one or more significant insights, you have to connect them with your present situations and future possible selves. You need some creative ideas and strategic ideas to improve your design.

Step 5 (Deployment) is about working on a Developmental Project and watching it.

Step 6 (Delivery) is about evaluating the outcome of the Developmental Project.

Step 7 (Modeling) is about using the visualizing technique to represent your thoughts about the project for self-reflection or collaborative communication.

Step 8 (Storytelling) is about sharing your performance and emotions of running the Developmental Project with others.

I use “Step” to name these actions for the AA44LT 1:1 life coaching program because this is a learning process for the program. For real practice, I call them “Movement” since it is not a linear process.

You can find more details about the notion of “unfoldness” in Life Discovery: The Unfoldness of Activity.

You can find more details about the notion of “predictive model” and “modeling” in Life Discovery: The Predictive Model and Anticipatory Activity System and CALL for LIFE: Modeling A Developmental Project.

Embrace the Complexity of Project Network

While I encourage you to run one Developmental Project at a time, I also want to encourage you to pay attention to the complexity of "Project Network".

A Developmental Project will lead to several sub-projects, it also connects to other Developmental Projects. Your Developmental Projects is part of a large Project Network where you can see others’ Developmental Projects.

The model of “Project Network” is a multiple-level network that considers 1) a network of Themes, 2) a network of Projects, and 3) a network of People.

  • All theoretical approaches and frameworks belong to the network of themes.
  • All real activities such as developing a toolkit, designing a canvas, and hosting a program, are part of a network of projects.
  • All things about people’s biogeography are located in the network of People.

The complexity of Project Network means opportunities too. We need to understand the connections between different projects and discover potential structural tensions and opportunities.