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I was going to make Part 2 a continuation of Part 1, based on Bruce Harpham’s post.  And indeed, I will continue discussing Bruce’s article as covered in Part 1, but I will do it in a new Part 3.  I’ve chosen to use Part 2 to amplify the even-more-recent post by Andy Jordan.

Andy starts out as follows:

Project managers as green catalysts
Well, I’m not sure how many industries and organizations are at the point where they have embraced the idea of environmentally conscious operations. Sure, many have pursued a few green initiatives, or invested in some research and development work to explore more sustainable options. But truly integrating green thinking into how the organization operates? Not so much.

However, what is happening is that project managers are continuing to be given more autonomy over how they deliver their projects. PMs and teams are enjoying greater freedom around scope and approach in order to ensure that projects can adapt and evolve to shifting operating needs, customer expectations, and so on.

This creates opportunity. Project managers can encourage their teams and stakeholders to be more environmentally conscious in their approach to their work.


Here is the key part.  It’s not about saving paper while you run the project or turning down the office lights as you run the project.  It’s about the steady state.  It’s about the operation of the product of your project.  It’s years away from the ribbon-cutting ceremony and yet you do have the opportunity to affect that product or service in its steady-state as a project leader.  It may not be easy, but you DO have that power.  You have had it all along, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  And it’s getting easier to click your heels three times and say, “there’s no place like a sustainable project outcome”.

Andy says it so well:

(Project managers) can influence stakeholders to be more considerate of green factors in the solutions that are developed, and so on. As project management influence increases in organizations, so it becomes easier for project managers to champion worthwhile approaches and concerns.

YES!  He nailed it.  It’s about the solutions.  It’s about the project’s outcomes.  It’s about the benefits that the PRODUCT of the project generates, which of course will produce value in the long term, but also may produce other impacts – social, environmental, and economic, that are long-lasting and may be negative.  I refer you to the excellent model that my colleague Alexandra Chapman, of Totally Optimized Projects (TOP) has been using for a long time (see below, courtesy of TOP).

By considering this up-front, and not after the project’s product is (and these are all real – and perhaps recognizable - examples):

  • Causing deadly airplane crashes
  • Emitting literally tons of carbon monoxide within their cars’ cabin
  • Resulting in explosions or fires in over 130 homes
  • Causing construction failures which were preventable with better materials
  • Creating tens of billions of non-recyclable plastic cups with a 450-year life
  • Disrupting the ability of local farmers to produce their crops
  • A lasting hazard after it reaches end-of-life

This focus on the steady state – on the long-term operation of whatever it is you are delivering – has to become part of the culture of an organization if it is to have purchase.  As Andy says:

Don’t discount the value of a sustainability victory. Unless organizations and their stakeholders recognize the value of those environmentally conscious adjustments, they won’t become a core part of how business gets done.


Keeping the Oz theme, I have previously written about the “Three-Click Challenge”.  Consider the fact that your organization is very likely (and you can and should check this out yourself) making all sorts of statements to the world about its efforts to be a good corporate citizen, to respect the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to focus on ESG (Environment, Social and Governance).  If you need a rationale and ‘source of power’ for changes you’d like to make to your project’s product, and you are limited by very ‘local’ project constraints, click three times in your organization’s website structure, seeking their statements on ESG, CSR, sustainability efforts.  That’s where you can help align your project to what your organization is telling the world.


Posted by Richard Maltzman on: July 01, 2022 01:52 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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We don't all have Dorothy leading our projects. What to do when you have a scarecrow or cowardly lion leading your project?

Ah, Stéphane... this is when you become the Wizard and give the scarecrow his brain and the lion his courage!

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