Beware of Robots and Millennials (Part 2 of 2)

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Richard Maltzman
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In Part 1, I discussed how Millennials are driving change to the way that wealth is invested, with their propensity to insist that ethics, and along with it, assuring that social, economic, and ecological bottom lines are considered and balanced.  I was pleased to see that this triggered some interest and comments.
In Part 2, I’d like to focus on some particulars – an example of one of the funds promoting this style of investing, and also the outcome areas (types of impacts) on which the investors are focusing.

Let’s start with the RISE fund.
You can definitely learn a lot about the RISE fund from this video which describes why U2’s Bono and Ebay's Jeff Skoll invested in it.  Note the triple-bottom-line focus.

Here’s how the RISE Fund describes itself:
Vision: Drive global impact through uncompromised business performance.

Measurable Global Impact:  The Rise Fund is creating a rigorous impact assessment model that uses independent, third-party research to measure and quantify social and environmental impact throughout the investment cycle, from underwriting to exit. This innovative, data-driven methodology aligns The Rise Fund’s objectives with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and pioneers evidence-based impact investing.

Uncompromised Business Performance: Impact investing upends a long-held tenet that financial success is antithetical to a social mission. Impact investors aim to harness the power of the market to drive sustainable social and environmental change, which means that profits are both possible and necessary to fulfill the mission. The Rise Fund will invest in companies that create positive impact through their core business operations, seeking out those situations where business success and meaningful social and environmental impact are inextricable—one drives the other.
Even business magazines are getting in on the action. Case in point: According to this article in Forbes, RISE recently help sponsor an investment challenge with a $500,000 for young founders of companies. Just reading the article gives you an idea of the spirit behind this sort of investment firm.

So how do they do this?  

From the RISE website: "We have defined 30 key outcome areas (see image below), aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in which impact is both achievable and measurable through research-backed, quantifiable assessment. Using our unique assessment methodology, we can estimate a company’s potential for impact at a scale and rigor that is consistent with our commitment to a data-driven approach and enables us to measure and drive impact results throughout the course of our investment."

So, since I’d like to bring this back to project management - how can we connect this to our projects?  Already, I hope you got the idea from Part 1 – projects depend on sponsors, and sponsors are usually either investors or are driven by investors.  How can you see if your existing projects are linked to these increasingly attractive outcomes, outcomes that this type of investor is seeking? Let’s start by looking at the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mentioned above.  Let’s start with one we’ve featured on this website before, understand it, and then zoom out and look at the set of 30 holistically.

SDG 13 is Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and Its Impacts.  Much more detail can be had here and in particular here.  Here’s a small extract:
"Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts.
But climate change is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. Emissions anywhere affect people everywhere. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level and it requires international cooperation to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.
The measurement and action associated with the goal is to strengthen the global response to keep global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue further efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Not a fan of Climate Change, or are you interested in other causes?  No worries – there’s a lot to look at here; if you were perhaps bored thinking that all you have to do is complete your project on time, achieving full scope, and under budget, there are a lot of other considerations.


Above, you see 17 of the SDGs and also how investors use them to track performance.  Letting our friend Vilfredo Pareto step in, we can see that the top SDGs that are considered include:

⦁    Good jobs and economic growth
⦁    Renewable energy
⦁    No poverty
⦁    Gender equality
⦁    Climate action

Notice something?  Does the concept of sustainabililty’s triple bottom line come to mind?  It should.  These top SDGs are in line with economic (good jobs and economic growth), social (no poverty, gender equality) and ecological (renewable energy, climate action) bottom lines.  I think as PMs we need to think triple constraint AND triple bottom line.  How about you?

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: December 02, 2017 04:35 PM | Permalink

Comments (14)

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Nice article, although a little hard to see the images.

Richard, Thanks for this nice series

Nothing new below the sun. That is the same from sixties. The change is: digital world is making the same change than pinting invention: information for everything.

I agree with Sergio that the concepts in this article are not new but I appreciate highlighting the topics. In fact, it is easy for Forbes or Bono to make small donations to charity given they have huge resources to draw from. we as Project Managers will increasingly find it difficult to motivate organizations to do the same given they are not drawing from the same pool of resources, especially in the the nonprofit sector. I would have liked to see a real example for us PMs to be able to use, not for the rich like Forbes Magazine or Bono. How much do we have common with them?

New generation has always been more advanced and it has been beneficial to give them chance to experiment and bring transformation to the organizational operations and culture. Organizations need to continuously adapt in order to sustain in the environments they are working.

Richard, thank you for putting together the articles!

I agree someone has to think beyond the project's triple constraint. Is that realistically the PM's domain or is it more within the sponsor's?

Great comments and good discussion. @Stéphane - to your question: is thinking beyond the triple constraint the PM's domain or the sponsor's? My answer is .... yes.

@Ryan, good point, although I would say that what RISE is about is not a 'small donation', it is about directing potentially trillions of dollars towards more responsible investing. To your other excellent point about examples, I am always on the lookout for such. In the meantime, I would give you the example of a leader like the former Ray Anderson of Interface (an engineer by training, and eventually founder of a sustainability-focused company). See his inspirational background here:

Great example Richard, Ray Anderson broke the mold on finding ways to make a zero footprint, back in 2007. Since than has received countless awards.

Let me also provide an excellent resource for anyone who wants more info on this, a book by Kristina Kohl called "Becoming a Sustainable Organization", in particular, her section 5.9 "Building Sustainability into All Projects". Outstanding work. I'm not the only one in this space and I would argue that there are lots of new ideas "under the sun".

If you are interested in SDG Goal 5 -Gender Equality-great piece in WSJ on Gender Diversity ETF.
Building a more diverse leadership team creates opportunities and reduces risks. With the daily news of sexual harassment cases, it is time to think deeply about who holds the power within organizations. As PMPs we need to think about the diversity of our teams and those who lead them.

@Kristina, thanks for your comment. Perhaps a post on this topic is in your future...?

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