Project Management

Becoming a Climate Change Project Leader - Part 1

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Image: Inc. Magazine

In this two-part series of posts,  I would like to point you to an excellent post made right here on Projectmanagement.com by Bruce Harpham.

It’s entitled Climate Change: Micro and Macro Opportunities for Project Managers

It begins:

Climate change has arrived, and it is wreaking havoc across our world. The question now becomes: What can we do about it? There is no single correct answer to this complex question. The first step to coming up with solutions starts with understanding our situation.

Bruce goes on to talk about the disappointment some of us share that although global warming or climate change has been a topic of discussion for a long time, not much has been done about it.

Who are we?

We are project managers*!  Get-r-done people.  Don’t you find this lack of action reprehensible?  I do.  I think that we as “Executors” (see Dr. Barbara Trautlein’s wonderful book on Change Intelligence) want to get stuff done.  But there is an ironic twist here.  We executors like to get things done on time, accomplishing scope, and doing all of this within budget.  That often blinds us to thinking about the product of our project in the long-term - see the video at the end of this post for an example.  Whatever it is that we build – whether it’s an app or a bridge or a new house-cleaning service, we want it to go live, carry traffic, and clean houses.  Once that has started to happen, we do the old “wipe our hands” gesture and say, “now give me my next project!”.

That means we have not thought through to the operation of our project’s outcome.  Just that simple mind exercise, perhaps when doing risk identification, would make such a big difference in terms of making project outcomes sustainable.

 

But there’s a catch!

Many of the changes to the product or service we may want to make, which consider sustainability and impact (social, economic, or ecological) have to please our sponsors and may, on their surface, seem to be too expensive, or may delay the release of the project.  The project manager may be hesitant to raise these suggestions, partially due to a culture in an organization that makes it unsafe to speak up.  This topic is enough for an entire series of blog posts, and in fact is an entire chapter in an upcoming DeGruyter book, The Handbook of Responsible Project Management.  So I won’t follow that thread here; suffice it to say that it will take courage, supported by facts, supported by likely high-level commitments at the corporate level to Corporate Social Responsibility, to make these suggestions and, yes, perhaps delay the project or make the product or service more expensive, but to move the needle a little bit in terms of (for example) climate change.

 

In Part 2, I will take a look at Bruce’s point-by-point list of things we can do as project leaders and, for what it’s worth, add my opinion and angle on how you can make those a reality in your projects.

 

*I prefer (and am starting to assert the use of)"Project Leader" instead of project manager.  Look up the list of traits and attributes associated with manager, then do the same for leader.  You’ll see.  Your title should be Project Leader.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: June 26, 2022 12:36 PM | Permalink

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If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

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