The Value of Giving Back With Project Management

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

As some of you know, I recently relocated to the island of Roatan in the Caribbean. It has a big expat community and there are a lot of different initiatives undertaken to try and give back to the local area. It’s a great environment for that to occur—people with time on their hands from very diverse backgrounds who are able to do their bit to support a local community that doesn’t always have the resources to do things for itself. It creates a great volunteering culture, but there’s one area where volunteering doesn’t seem to work so well: project management.

I don’t think this is unique to this community; in fact, it’s something I believe occurs throughout the world. However, I also think it’s something that we as project managers have a duty to address, so that’s what I want to look at in this article. Let’s start by considering what I believe is the fundamental problem—that volunteers feel a real pressure to actively do something.

Here’s an example of what I mean. A group of us recently volunteered to help out with a day-long event that was being put on to raise money for a local cause. It wasn’t anything huge, but there were a lot of moving pieces. We all turned up at the start of the day and there was the immediate chaos of figuring out who would be doing what—who would man the …

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That's the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me.

- Jerry Seinfeld

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