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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Not all wet


Water.  It’s one of our key resources.  After all, we project managers, like most humans, are mostly water.  Yes, it’s true that some stakeholders are made from sugar and spice and everything nice, and some of snakes and snails and puppy-dog tails, but that’s a post for another day.

Something recently came to our attention which we think is exceedingly newsworthy.  It’s in two parts, so you’ll have to be a bit patient – but given that we’re at the start of the new year, and one of your resolutions was to be patient…. you can do it…

The first part is actually a few months old and it has to do with the IDB – the Inter-American Development Bank, and,  basically it is about a new app and software suite that helps deal with preserving water.  And…well, we’ll let them tell you about it:

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) provides substantial financial and technical support for infrastructure projects in water and sanitation, irrigation, flood control, transportation and energy. Many of these projects depend upon water resources and have a significant potential of being negatively affected by local and regional changes in development variables that alter water availability, such as climate, population growth and shifts in land use associated with urbanization, industrial growth and agriculture. Assessing the potential for future changes in water availability is an important step for ensuring that infrastructure projects meet their operational, financial and economic goals. It is also important to examine the implications of such projects for the future allocation of available water among competing users and uses, to anticipate and help mitigate potential conflict, thus enabling such projects to be consistent with long-term regional development plans and preservation of essential ecosystem services.

The IDB has sponsored work to develop and apply an integrated suite of water resources
modeling tools, collectively referred to as Hydro-BID. The Hydro-BID modeling system includes hydrologic analysis modules to estimate the availability (volumes and fluxes) of freshwater at the regional, basin and sub-basin scales.  The Hydro-BID system currently includes:

  • an Analytical Hydrography Dataset (AHD) representing over 230,000 catchments in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region and their corresponding topography, river and stream segments;
  •  a GIS-based navigation tool to browse AHD catchments and streams with the capability of navigating upstream and downstream;
  •  a user interface for specifying the area and time period to be modeled and the location at which water availability will be modeled;
  • a climate data interface to obtain rainfall and temperature inputs for the area and period of interest;
  • a rainfall-run-off model based on the Generalized Watershed Loading Factor formulation;
  • a routing scheme for quantifying time of travel and cumulative flow estimates across
    downstream catchments.

Hydro-BID generates output in the form of a time series (with a choice of time interval, e.g., hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) of changes in water storage and flow rates for the selected basins and time period. A case study addressing water allocation issues in the Rio Grande basin in Argentina as an illustration of the simulation modeling system’s inputs, operation and outputs was finalized recently. The initial version of Hydro-BID has been received enthusiastically in presentations to potential users and constituents in the IDB and to outside technical audiences via conferences and workshops, and there are several requests for parameterization of the model and practical applications from strategic Bank clients within the Water Resources Sector in LAC (e.g., in Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and Perú).

In this next phase of development of Hydro-BID, it will also include economic analysis and
decision support tools to estimate the costs and benefits of adaptive measures and help decision makers (including project managers!) make informed choices among alternative designs for infrastructure projects and alternative policies for water resources management.


Here’s a video that shows how it works.

The second part is the really meaningful part to us.  And that is that the story about this software showed up in a segment of the most recent PMNetwork magazine.  And the way it was presented makes the exact point that we’ve been trying to make for the past 6 years: project managers need to see a bigger picture, and to do that, sometimes need to be given tools to help them do that.  Here is the key quote:

The Inter-American Development Bank and PepsiCo have partnered on a product development project to help communities and organizations better understand how proposed projects could affect freshwater supplies.  The resulting water-resource data-management and modeling tool, called Hydro-BID, allows project practitioners
and planners to generate water availability projections based on variables ranging from population to rainfall to land-use scenarios.

It may not seem like much, but it’s huge.  Why?

  • It involves a large multinational company, PepsiCo, buying into the fact that it should care about sustainability issues
  • It shows good cooperation between NGOs, companies, and government
  • And most importantly, it recognizes that projects’ products are not only the immediate product but the product considered for the steady-state, for the long term, within its environment.  It supports the idea that project success is not the same as project management success.  Success is the project’s product delivering its outcome and realizing benefits for the longer term, benefits which align with the enterprise’s stated mission, vision, and values.

This is what our upcoming book – Sustainability in Projects, Programs, and Portfolios – Realizing Enterprise Benefits and Goals –  will cover.  More than coverage, it will actually provide an assessment tool (the Sustainability Wheel(TM)  which will allow you to see how well this type of thinking and action is already embedded in your organization and will provide coaching on how to improve in this area.

But for the meantime, we’re happy to see stories like this appearing in PMNetwork.

We hope it is part of a cascade of improvements in this major gap area for project managers and our discipline of project management.  A wave of sustainability thinking!


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Begin the New Year with a new view – Sustainability in PM


Thanks for a great 2014, everyone!  As we approach the end of the year it’s a perfect time for some introspection, reflection, and planning for the long term.

And what better way to prepare for the long term than to attend a free webinar near the start of 2015, in which you’ll get a set of diverse speakers on the subject we’ve been discussing FOR the long term – sustainability in project management?

Mark your calendars for 14-January-2015.  And while you’re at it, practice writing that strange number…. 2015.  Soon you’ll be putting that in your appointment books, checks, and emails, so we can help you get used to it!

Please forward the post to your friends who are interested in project, program, or portfolio management and/or sustainability.

I know that our presentation has a couple of mysteries and surprises…so we hope to see you there!  See the promotional video below, which has all of the details.

Here is the Google Events page for the Webinar:


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