Project Management

People, Planet, Profits & Projects

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Richard Maltzman
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Becoming a Climate Change Leader - Part 2 (of 3)

Becoming a Climate Change Project Leader - Part 1

Hot Boston: Part 3

Hot Boston: Part 2

Hot Boston: Part 1

Becoming a Climate Change Leader - Part 2 (of 3)

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 (0)

Becoming a Climate Change Project Leader - Part 1

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 | Comments (1)

Hot Boston: Part 3

In the first two parts of this series, I have discussed the Boston Heat Plan, its inception, and its focus on stakeholder engagement.  The focus is on being resilient to the Heat*.  In this part, I will focus on the way the overall Plan is organized, particularly in terms of an implementation roadmap.

The City calls the entire resilience plan a project but then goes on to define projects within the project.  My PMO background and experience tells me that really the Plan is a Program, not a project, but that’s a geeky PM view so I think we can forgive them for calling it a project.

They further breakdown the resilience strategies into different categories.  From the Report:

"The implementation of heat resilience strategies is organized into catalytic projects, near-term projects, and long-term solutions. The plan’s strategies provide a framework for improved heat resilience across Boston. The timing of implementation considers the impact of each strategy, as represented by the evaluation criteria, the level of coordination needed, ownership and jurisdiction, regulatory review, and other factors. Community priorities, articulated by the CAB and through feedback from broader community engagement as well as ongoing and future City initiatives, informed the proposed implementation timeline."

As I spelled out in Part 1 of the series, there are 26 strategies organized into workstreams.

 

The project’s phases (as shown above) are:

  • Phase 1: Analysis and existing information review
  • Phase 2: Heat Resilience Strategies
  • Phase 3: Implementation Roadmap

 

In this short post I want to demonstrate how the City shows the implementation timeline for the 8 workstreams.  They’ve done a good job in showing – at an executive level – what types of projects make up the Program, when they take place, and (via color code) whether it is a Catalytic Project, part of Design, Development, and Pilots, Implementation, or ongoing program, monitoring or evaluation.  This smacks of the long-term view I’ve long espoused, putting “ongoing” on the timeline.  We tend to shy away from this as project managers.  We really, REALLY love that black diamond milestone that says DONE at the end of our project.  We want to have that pizza party (who doesn’t?) and get on to our next project.  The longer-term view considers the project as an important means to, well not to end, but to a new beginning – an ongoing operation or result that was enabled by our project.

Here are those timelines:

In Part 4, I will continue the long-term theme and focus on the way the Plan considers Benefits as the raison d'être of the Plan.

 

 

*if you are a fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA), our Boston Celtics have already taken care of that this year.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: May 31, 2022 05:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hot Boston: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the Boston Heat Plan, and marveled a bit at its thorough planning section.  In Part 2, I take you on a quick tour of the Stakeholder Engagement section.  Notable even in name, this section doesn’t discuss stakeholder management because (as PMI has recognized) we don’t manage stakeholders, we need to do a great job of identifying them and engaging (communicating, listening, partnering, understanding) them.

Clearly one of the most obvious stakeholders are the people of Boston.  Which type of people and communities are impacted by heat?  From the City of Boston website:

Who heat impacts:

Extreme heat affects us all but does not affect us all equally. More impacted groups include:

  • low-income communities
  • communities of color
  • indigenous and tribal communities
  • infants, children, and older adults 
  • those who do not have access to cool spaces in the summer
  • individuals with chronic illnesses and conditions that worsen with heat exposure, and
  • residents in areas with less green space.

The planners did an outstanding and creative job (in my opinion) in coming up with ways to elicit input from the residents of various communities of Boston.  Note: some of the text below comes directly from the report.

Participants in the process shared perspectives from their lived experience in Boston with heat and access to cooling. Community feedback directly shaped the heat resilience strategies included in this plan.

The City’s approach to community engagement included a range of ways for residents to engage including the following methods:

Considering that this was done during the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, virtual meetings were used to engage discussion and collaborative strategy development.  The planners used innovative techniques for the meetings themselves, including live sketching sessions where people could draw their ideas collaboratively onto a cityscape and build off others’ ideas – in real time.

Below are some images from the report showing the creativity they used – a “comic builder” to make avatars, virtual self-reflection, the sketching tool mentioned above, and a “gathering screen” (the blog post header image above) taking advantage of those avatars.

Meetings (virtual, due to the Pandemic) included two open houses, five neighborhood ideas sessions, and a forum specifically designed for youth. These sessions were recorded and made available on the project website to provide more opportunities for ongoing feedback in response to the same questions discussed in the live event.

In addition to the meetings, the planners also used citywide surveys, neighborhood idea sessions, and a special youth-led survey.

Although not many details were provided, the planners also identified other stakeholders with whom they would engage.  They include:

  • Civic organizations
  • Data privacy experts
  • Workforce safety organizations
  • Unions
  • Worker centers
  • City and state regulators
  • Expert focus groups
  • Industry groups

…and more.  As I preach to my project management students, “broad and deep” is the way to identify stakeholders.  Broad – meaning all categories of stakeholders, and deep – meaning all of the possible stakeholders in that category.

In Parts 3 and 4, I’ll shift to discussing the roadmap they established and their plan for benefits realization of the heat plan project.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: May 28, 2022 12:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hot Boston: Part 1

Categories: b, boston

Think about hot cities. Not 'hot' as in 'popular' or 'desirable' , or 'interesting.  We're talking physically hot cities. What comes to mind?  For me, I close my eyes and picture wavy heat lines coming up from the ground in places like Timbuktu, Mali, Kuwait City, Yuma, Arizona, Quito, Ecuador, Xi’an, China, or Cochin, India.

Then I open my eyes, and see that Boston, Massachusetts is making news for developing a (say, what!?) Heat Plan.  A heat plan?  For Boston, Massachusetts?  The one with the swan boats, snowstorms, and Fenway Paaahk?

Climate change, believe it or not, real or not (it is), has real project consequences.  Project managers will be taking the heat.  Literally.  Boston, Massachusetts is, in fact, already facing increasing temperatures not seen before, and is preparing to deal with it.

The key word here, in fact, is “change”.  It’s not that Boston is a particularly hot city.  It’s that the change to a warmer climate is going to cause hardships, and more so for some communities than others. Boston is one of the cities with the highest rate of change in temperatures already under its belt and with one of the highest forecast increases - in the world. Project Managers as change agents are going to be needed to facilitate – better said, to lead - the response to that change - by adding resilience and solutions to deal with it - and with efforts to help reduce the change in the first place.  This post is about the resilience-to-change part.

In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu (pictured below) has launched a program called Heat Resilience Solutions for Boston.  Just that name itself is a bit (excuse the irony here) chilling. 

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu

 

As a reminder, we are talking about climate change here.  Not temperature changes by the hour, or day, or week – that’s WEATHER.  Changes that accrue over time – years, or decades – that’s climate.

The heat plan consists of 26 strategies, which we’ll of course approach from a Portfolio, Program, and Project management perspective in this blog.

Here are the 26 strategies – categorized in to 5 … well, I will call them Program workstreams, which I’ll cover from an implementation perspective in future posts.

1. OPERATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS

1.1 Boston Extreme Temperatures Response Task Force

1.2 Pre-heat-wave Resources Mobilization

1.3 Heat Sensor Networks

2. COOLING OFF DURING HEAT WAVES

2.1 Pop-up Heat Relief

2.2 Enhanced and Expanded

2.3 Citywide Cooling Network

3. LOOKING OUT FOR NEIGHBORS

3.1 Expanded Community Climate Leadership

3.2 Extreme Temperature Plans for Outdoor Workers

4. AWARENESS, EDUCATION, AND TRAINING

4.1 Heat Resilience Public Education Campaign

4.2 Heat Survey

4.3 Expansion of Green Workforce Development for Heat Resilience

5. BUILDINGS

5.1 Home Cooling Resources Distribution

5.2 Cool Roofs Program

5.3 Home Energy Retrofits

5.4 Affordable Housing Resources and Retrofits

5.5 Cool Schools

6. PARKS, TREES, AND OUTDOOR SPACES

6.1 Enhanced Cooling in Pocket Green Spaces and Street-to-Green Conversions

6.2 Increased Shade on Municipal Sites

6.3 Expanded Drinking Fountain Network

6.4 Planning for Future Parks

7. TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

7.1 Cool Commutes

7.2 Energy Resilience Upgrades and Microgrids

7.3 Cool Main Streets

8. PLANNING, ZONING, AND PERMITTING

8.1 Updated Climate Resiliency Checklist

8.2 Heat Resilience Best Practice Guidelines

8.3 Zoning Revisions to Support Cooler Neighborhoods

 

Interestingly, the plan is focused on environmental justice communities that are hotspots in Boston and experience greater burdens as temperatures increase: Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury. 

The heat plan is actually part of a larger Portfolio of programs I talk about in my classes, and have blogged about here, called Climate Ready Boston.

The project management aspect of this initiative is gigantic.  For example, as I teach in my courses at Boston University, Programs are all about related projects (and perhaps other programs).  This heat plan (which I will call a Program) is intertwined with, and has dependencies on (amongst others), Boston’s Urban Forest Plan, which has as objectives to improve tree protection, stewardship, and new plantings for nature-based cooling solutions.  Worthy of a blog post or two of its own (which it may soon get), the Urban Forest Plan is described well by this graphic:

But let’s get back to the Heat Plan.

The motivation – the rationale - for this is simple.  Temperatures in Boston are rising.  Again, not by the hour or the day, but over time.  The Plan reference this NOAA data:

And the forecasts for 2070 are striking, making Boston's weather more like Atlanta or Miami by then.  What is important here is not just “rising temperatures” but the effect on people, and indeed, the effect on people who are less able to deal with the heat due to their economic situation and living conditions.  The image below is one of many in the report which provides scientific data that has been intelligently advanced into knowledge – this one showing population density and temperature levels, which shows the true concentration of problem areas and therefore the places that need the most attention from the program.

Like any good program, it starts with the vision of the Mayor’s office:

Our mission is to provide executive leadership, as well as set priorities and goals for the City and its neighborhoods.

And then gives a purpose to the Program itself (although it calls itself a project):

We are preparing Boston for extreme heat and its impacts, both today and in the coming decades.  The Heat Plan provides a citywide framework for heat resilience. Out work focuses on overburdened communities that will be most impacted by rising temperatures in Boston.

The project to develop the Heat Plan was divided into three phases (this is sourced at the Heat Plan):

PHASE 1: ANALYSIS AND EXISTING INFORMATION REVIEW

The first phase included data gathering, review of previous and ongoing planning efforts, and developing a citywide heat analysis. This phase included two stages of extreme heat analysis: citywide and neighborhood-level patterns. The neighborhood-level analysis focused on Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury.  The purpose of the neighborhood-level analysis was to evaluate how current day heat impacts vary across the city, identify temperature hot spots within environmental justice neighborhoods, and assess how racism, inequality, historic urban planning decisions, and other policies have influenced existing heat exposure and vulnerability. This phase also included the first community open house and the formation of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) to guide the planning process.

PHASE 2: HEAT RESILIENCE STRATEGIES

The second phase included drafting guiding principles for heat resilience based on community feedback from the first phase. The primary focus of the second phase was developing a series of draft strategies for heat resilience informed by findings from the citywide heat analysis and stakeholder and community perspectives. This phase explored considerations for heat resilience citywide and neighborhood specific applications of strategies within the five neighborhood focus areas.

PHASE 3: IMPLEMENTATION ROADMAP AND FINAL REPORT

The final phase of the project focused on refining the strategies, developing a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) for cooling homes, schools, and streets; creating a neighborhood-scale heat simulation to model the effectiveness of the physical heat reduction strategies; and developing an implementation roadmap.

Here is the roadmap for the creation of the plan:

Note that the report is 351 pages.  So far, all I’ve covered is the overarching program plan.  In future posts, I will discuss their plan for stakeholder engagement and, of course, the all-important implementation roadmap.

I admire the way that this team has structured the planning process and clarified the phases of planning with clear linkage to the purpose of the Program.  I’d even suggest that students of Project, Program, and Portfolio management look at the Heat Plan as a good example.  As mentioned, I’ll be continuing to review this initiative in future posts. 

The heat is on!

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: April 30, 2022 08:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
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