Project Management

Declaring Independence (and interdependence) for Projects, Programs, and Portfolios

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With the USA's Independence Day celebrations upon us, it seemed appropriate to talk about independence and interdependence.  In both cases, we refer you to the very PMBOK(R) Guide that defines the framework, knowledge areas, and processes of project management.

Let's get ::interdependence:: out of the way first.  As we know, projects are run by organizations to accomplish the mission, vision, and values of the organization.  We only ininitiate a project if it is aligned with the business objectives of the entity that sponsors it.  So there is an inherent interdependency between projects and the programs and portfolios under which they are executed.

This concept can be carried forward to our message* of sustainability by virtue of the need to line up the projects with the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) messaging of the parent organizations.  We'll repeat our ongoing challenge to project managers: check the "About Us" section of your company's external web page and se what your leaders are saying to the world about their commitment to the environment, to employees, to the community, to the shareholders.  Is your project connected to (interdependence!) these statements?

We have seen significant evidence of projects that may line up with one element (usually, of course, economic in nature) but are way, way, WAY off in terms of the other 2 pieces of the bottom line (social and ecological).

So - in the interest of brevity - just know that the PMBOK(R) Guide speaks to this significantly. If you don't believe us, have a look at Figure 1-1 of the Guide on page 5, and this sentence from page 4:

"Although the projects or programs within the portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent or directly related, they are linked to the organization's strategic plan by means of the organization's portfoliio".

So now on to independence!

In this context we want to talk about independence from bias and reliance on facts (as in, "we hold these truths to be self-evident"). 

As the hurricaine season begins to unfold, we were looking at Hurrricaine Arthur on, a website devoted to independent weather reporting.  There we found a great page which provides facts on climate change based strictly on independent science.  Unfortunately, due to the politicizing of this science, even an independent weather page was compelled to put this statement on their page:

"Based on the evidence, more than 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening. Climate change is already causing significant impacts to people and ecosystems, and these impacts will grow much more severe in the coming years. We can choose to take economically sensible steps to lessen the damage of climate change, and the cost of inaction is much higher than the cost of action."

Click here for the full Wunderground page on climate change - it's a great resource for facts.

The other piece related to independent climate change facts was found oun this site:

Click here for a report on climate change funded by the Koch brothers which should please even those who are concerned about any fraud in climate change.

So to wrap up:

As project managers, we are - by definition - interdependent on our organization's mission, vision, and values.  We can use this interdependency to our advantage, as an opportunity as a source of authority and power when we want to assure that our projects are properly linked to the goals of the organization.

Also - as project managers, we should seek facts and base our decisions on independent, validated sources of information.  We should remain independent when it comes to negotiating differences amongst our project team members.  Independence is key for us, even as mentioned in the PMBOK(R) Guide in terms of procurement and arbitration.

So declare your own PM independence gather and deal with facts only as facts, whether it's dealing with CSR objectives, climate change, or a simple argument between team members that you are refereeing.

To our American readers, happy July 4th!  And since that is a date on EVERYONE's calendar, we wish EVERYONE a happy July 4th, too!

*The best way to see our message is here at [email protected] in this blog, at, and even better by reading our book, Green Project Management.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: July 03, 2014 02:05 PM | Permalink

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