Our new book, Driving Project, Program, and Portfolio Success: The Sustainability Wheel is at the publisher.  This post is not meant to be a plug for the book (okay…maybe a little) but more of a recognition that we were on the right track.  Again and again, we see references in business and PM literature and discussion groups to an expanded version of project success – a major theme of our first book (Green Project Management) but even more so in this new one.  And just as we celebrated getting the manuscript over to the publisher, PMI delivered its technical journal “The Project Management Journal(R) to our door.

Featured both in the “From the Editor” section and in one of the principal articles is this theme of a broadened, more holistic view of project success.

From one particular article, “The Relationship Between Project Success and Project Efficiency (Serrador and Turner, 2015), we have this quote:


The importance of broader success measures for projects is now the norm. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)– Fifth Edition, as an example, no longer just mentions the triple constraint (Project Management Institute, 2013) and now includes project constraints such as scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources, and risks. It also refers to stakeholder satisfaction as well as other constraints that are not mentioned but may impact project success.
Now that the most recent edition of the PMBOK® Guide (Project Management Institute, 2013) recognizes stakeholder satisfaction as an additional measure of project success, it is timely to ask what the correlation is between that and project efficiency. Thus we see there are two competing measures of success on projects, what Cooke-Davies (2002) calls ‘project management success’ and ‘project success.’ We adopt more current terminology, which uses ‘project efficiency’ instead of project management success’ (Shenhar et al., 1997; Shenhar & Dvir, 2007) and define the two competing measures as: Project efficiency: meeting cost, time, and scope goals; and Project success: meeting wider business and enterprise goals as defined by key stakeholders.

As in many other cases, these articles eloquently describe this expanded view, and provide data and references to back up their assertions.

But they almost always leave out the aspect of sustainability – or at least what we would call a full, rich, connected coverage of sustainability in the business sense: economic, ecological, and social sustainability.  They tend to focus uniquely on the economic bottom line.  Our book takes these ideas conveyed in articles such as the one referenced here and include the aspects of sustainability identified by Sloan/MIT and others in their studies of thousands of business in which triple-bottom-line ‘embracers’ are the ones that are becoming more successful, not only in the altruistic goals of social and environmental justice, but in real, lasting, economic success, higher morale, and – ironically – more efficiently-run projects.

So it’s great for us to note the reaffirmation of white papers like this one for our upcoming book – and we hope you look forward to its arrival and to reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.


Reference: Serrador and Turner, Project Management Journal 46(1), 30-38



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Front and Centre



Recently, the UK newspaper, The Guardian, decided to place climate change – as a topic – front and centre (we choose the British spelling for obvious reasons). in their reporting.

In an article from earlier this month, the paper explained why.  Here’s a quote:

Journalism tends to be a rear-view mirror. We prefer to deal with what has happened, not what lies ahead. We favour what is exceptional and in full view over what is ordinary and hidden.

Famously, as a tribe, we are more interested in the man who bites a dog than the other way round. But even when a dog does plant its teeth in a man, there is at least something new to report, even if it is not very remarkable or important.

There may be other extraordinary and significant things happening – but they may be occurring too slowly or invisibly for the impatient tick-tock of the newsroom or to snatch the attention of a harassed reader on the way to work.

What is even more complex: there may be things that have yet to happen – stuff that cannot even be described as news on the grounds that news is stuff that has already happened. If it is not yet news – if it is in the realm of prediction, speculation and uncertainty – it is difficult for a news editor to cope with. Not her job.

For these, and other, reasons changes to the Earth’s climate rarely make it to the top of the news list. The changes may be happening too fast for human comfort, but they happen too slowly for the newsmakers – and, to be fair, for most readers.

We think project managers are a little more focused on the future – that is, we are at least a little bit proactive and forward looking.  But not much more than the general public.  We’re necessarily focused on the end-date of our projects and tend to avoid looking at the long term, thinking of that as “after the handoff” and sometimes minimizing the considerations of the impact of the steady state of our project’s product.

This will be the theme of our upcoming book, “Driving Success in Projects, Programs, and Portfolios: The Sustainability Wheel”.  We’re proud to be building on the foundation of our Cleland Award-winning Green Project Management and to be more expansive in the audience and intent, now broadening the intersection of sustainability and PM to all of the P’s – Project, Program, and Portfolio Management, and moving closer to the ‘enterprise’ level, where companies have a strong bond between their mission, vision, and values – their “purpose” and the portfolios that make those a reality via projects and programs.

Our focus is on sustainability as Auden Schindler puts it – sustainability is about’being in business forever’ – as opposed to a purely ecological view.  So we’re focused on Triple Bottom Line thinking, not just considering the environment.  But the Guardian reminds us just how important that ecological aspect is – perhaps, as we say in our project management risk training – it contains an “overarching risk” that will make the economic and social considerations moot.  They do this with points like this:

There are three really simple numbers which explain this …

  1. 2C: There is overwhelming agreement – from governments, corporations, NGOs, banks, scientists, you name it – that a rise in temperatures of more than 2C by the end of the century would lead to disastrous consequences for any kind of recognised global order.

  2. 565 gigatons: “Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by mid-century and still have some reasonable hope of staying below 2C,” is how McKibben crisply puts it. Few dispute that this idea of a global “carbon budget” is broadly right.

  3. 2,795 gigatons: This is the amount of carbon dioxide that if they were burned would be released from the proven reserves of fossil fuel – ie the fuel we are planning to extract and use.

So the ecological piece is indeed key.

In any case, we’re glad to see The Guardian take this stance.  We’ll continue to research, consult, and advise on the intersection of sustainability and PM (all the P’s!) and stay tuned to EarthPM as newspapers like The Guardian put the Earth front and…centre.

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Fifty Shades of Green


You may want to send the kids out of the room for this post.

It’s about bondage.  It’s about instruments.   It’s about taking risks.  It’s about desire.

But it’s not what you think.  At least – I don’t think so.  This is about bondage, in terms of financial bonds.  Instruments to assess and measure performance of companies, and a penchant for those who invest to get the desired result when they put their money into that investment.

A recent article, “Influence of Climate Science on Financial Decisions“, in Nature: Climate Change – actually a commentary piece, discusses the use of green bonds in shaping how a new financial market is developing.

The key quote is here:

Science should play a crucial role in defining green investments and shifting finance from brown to green activities. We need more green bonds and carbon pricing and less financing of coal and fossil-fuel subsidies to shift economies to a low-carbon future. To grow the market for green bonds and other green financial instruments, trust is of upmost importance for investors, issuers and the environmental community, as well as the general public. It is therefore essential over time to develop easily implementable environmental standards that can be used to grade green investments, if not into ‘fifty shades of green’, then into easily recognizable dark and light green categories that can guide investors in their quest for environmentally responsible investments. Such categories should be guided by the latest knowledge in climate science, leaving the financial community to choose the risk/return profile they desire.

We won’t reveal the entire article here, we’re just providing a tease.  However the main point is this:  Green Bonds are growing in importance and making a difference.  “Brown” investment, such as in fossil-fuel development is still dominant (another shade of green, we suppose) but instruments such as Green Bonds have a chance to turn things around, especially if fact-based science gets to play its deserved role in decision making.  From the article:

Green bonds are a simple financial instrument that, when coupled with climate science, can make a positive investment in a low-carbon climate-resilient future. A company or institution that issues a green bond also needs to coordinate across its internal financial and environmental departments, sending a signal to investors that it is better prepared to  proactively manage climate risk. The green bond market, although in its infancy, is growing rapidly.

We’re sure you see the connection between (at least) portfolio management and risk and investment in this idea of green bonds.  We suggest  you take time out from your varied activities (ahem!) to have a look at this piece and consider the use of financial investment and risk/reward as a way to bring that lasting power to your boardroom.  Boardroom!  We said Boardroom!

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An Omission Of Olympic Proportions



PMI added an entire chapter on it.

It’s so fundamentally important, that leaving this out can ruin even a small project before it starts.

And yet, there it was – on the front page of The Boston Globe.

I’m talking about stakeholders.  For PMI, this is now a dedicated chapter – Chapter 13 of the PMBOK(R) Guide.

Turns out (you can read the whole story HERE) that the organizing committee did not discuss their plans with key real-estate and business owners who would be significantly affected by the events.

Remember: a stakeholder is anyone affected by the project during its construction (or execution) as well as anyone affected by the product of the project (in this case, the Olympics themselves and any lasting infrastructure).

Several other landowners, including those whose Dorchester properties would be part of the proposed Athletes Village, said Friday they, too, have not heard directly from organizers.
Corcoran Jennison Cos. owns several properties adjacent to the Bayside Exposition Center, which is owned by the University of Massachusetts and would be the center of the Athletes Village. The company owns the Bayside Office Center and the DoubleTree Hotel, which is slated for a $28 million expansion. It is also planning a $40 million residential complex. But Boston 2024 proposes using those properties for housing, a media staging area, or retail shops for competitors.


The irony of this is that the properties discussed above are exactly where we teach a course in Practical Project Management for the University, in which one of the main subjects is… you guessed it… stakeholder identification and engagement.

“We were under the impression that [the Athletes Village] was only on the UMass Boston portion of the property,” said Michael Corcoran, an executive at the firm. “They haven’t contacted us, and we have no intention of slowing our projects.”

Notice the attitude taken by this stakeholder.  Can you predict what this will do to set the tone for future negotiations for them to abandon their project?  It’s not only wrong to leave out stakeholders, it can be deadly to the project and expensive.

Boy, do we have an excellent, and very, very local example to use for class!

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What’s your take?








Watch this!

What do you think?


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