Susanne Madsen is a project/program manager, mentor and coach with over 15 years experience in managing and rolling out large change programs, using both agile and waterfall methodologies. She is a PRINCE2 and MSP practitioner and a qualified Corporate and Executive coach. Currently, she is employed as a Program Director for one of the world’s largest financial institutions.
Most of her experience comes from the field – working with investment banks as a consultant and as a permanent employee.
During this time, not only has she successfully managed a number of large multi-million dollar projects, she has also set up several coaching and mentoring programs to improve project management performance.
Her 6-step project management coaching framework which benchmarks the individual’s capabilities and helps the project manager improve her performance, skills and well-being. This 6 step framework is currently in the process of being published as a book by Management Concepts. It will be available for sale early 2012 – see below for details.
We sat down (virtually, of course) with Susanne and had a nice chat over virtual tea.
Here it is – the chat, that is – preserved for posteri-tea.
EarthPM: What inspired you to write the book, and what sustained your effort as you went through what we know to be a lengthy process?
Susanne Madsen: I wrote The Project Management Coaching Workbook because I wanted to contribute and help other project managers overcome some of the challenges I had experienced myself. I am passionate about coaching and empowering project managers – and have written the book in that spirit. I loved every bit of the process and never really perceived it as hard work (although it is!). Knowing that the publisher was waiting for my manuscript was of course also a major motivator to keep going!
EarthPM: [In your interview with Cornelius Fichtner’s PM Podcast] you first spend time distinguishing management from leadership – and then within “leading” you distinguish 4 styles of interaction with team members. Please tell us about those distinctions, starting with management/leadership.
Susanne Madsen: The way I would distinguish management from leadership is that management typically focuses on achieving a goal through tasks, events and processes – whereas leadership is concerned with achieving of a goal through the involvement of people. As a manager, you are typically involved in scheduling work, delegating tasks, coordinating effort and resources, monitoring and guiding progress, and appealing to rational thinking. As a leader, however, your role is to inspire people, share the vision, provide focus, be a role model, create a positive team feeling, and unleash potential. When I coach project managers – and get them to make this distinction – they often come to realize that they spend most of their time managing, and very little time (if any) leading. To become a successful project management leader, PM’s need to be as good at leading people as they are at managing tasks.
One of the aspects of leadership I spoke about in the interview is adaptive leadership. I use this term to describe a project leader who adapts her leadership style to the people she interacts with on a project. Every team member is different, and the leadership style of the project manager needs to change accordingly. The better the project manager is at adapting his or her leadership style, the more effective she will be at managing and leading the team.
To simplify the concept, you could say that there are four basic ways for an adaptive leader to interact with her team members. The most appropriate style depends on how competent and confident the individual team member is.
1. Instruct: When you instruct someone, you give precise direction and tell the individual what you want accomplished and produced. Instruction helps people who are relatively inexperienced and therefore need direction. You should not use this style when people are very competent or when people lack commitment. If they lack commitment they will need more support from you than this style offers.
2. Nurture: When you nurture someone, you offer the individual a lot of support and praise in addition to precise direction. You should use this style with relatively inexperienced team members who lack motivation and drive. These individuals may have low self-confidence and will need as much of your support as possible. Explain decisions, listen to their concerns, provide perspective, and praise progress. Involve them in decision-making and show them how to do things; this will help you restore their confidence and competence.
3. Encourage: When you encourage someone, you offer a lot of support and praise without giving a lot of direction. This type of encouragement helps team members who are competent and skillful, but who are also discouraged or lack confidence in their own abilities. You may find that, despite their skills and experience, these individuals are cautious or reluctant to contribute. They need a lot of support and recognition from you to improve their confidence; otherwise, they need hardly any direction.
4. Self-govern: When you use a self-governing style, you give relatively little support and direction to the team member and effectively turn over responsibility for decision-making and problem-solving to the individual. Use this style with people who are both competent and committed and who therefore need minimal support and direction. They are capable and willing to work on a project by themselves with little supervision and support.
So in summary, team members who are more junior or inexperienced will need more direction. Team members who are unmotivated or who lack confidence will need more support and encouragement. The most competent and committed individuals on the team will need very little direction and very little support and encouragement.
EarthPM: What was the single biggest mistake you’ve seen a project manager make (names changed to protect the guilty!) with respect to coaching their project team?
I can’t think of one big mistake I have witnessed, but the mistakes I most often see PMs make is to not coach their team at all. It all comes down to being a project leader and connecting with people – be it team members or stakeholders. You don’t become an effective project manager by sitting behind your desk tracking a plan. You have to get out there; liaise with your team members; build relationships and find out what motivates each individual by asking questions and really listening to what is being said. Only then will the PM be able to build a successful team and deliver the project effectively. My book contains specific exercises and self assessments regarding the people side of project management to address this gap.
EarthPM: Your blog has some excellent free resources – mini-papers that cover topics from risk and issue management to dealing with leadership and team building aspects of project management. Has anyone at least thanked you for your good work in this area, and do you feel that these resources have been benefiting PMs? How does the providing of these artifacts benefit you?
Thank you! It’s always nice to hear that the free resources add benefit; that’s why they are there. I do occasionally get feedback via my website – or from people who mention them on Twitter. Some people have even asked permission to re-use them and save them on their company intranets. I’m pleased they are being used as it makes it all worthwhile! The free resources also help promote my new book and my own project management skills and capabilities. My interview with Cornelius Fichtner on PM Podcasts, for instance, came about after he read one of my free mini-papers.
EarthPM: At the end of your interview with Cornelius Fichtner’s PM Podcast, you said something very interesting in response to his question about your most significant lesson learned. Can you share that with us again here, briefly? (NOTE: this was the anecdote about ‘seeing the forest for the trees’ in your large financial project).
In essence I was once in charge of a large project for a financial institution without really understanding the intricate details of what we were delivering. It was a very stressful and uncomfortable situation because I felt ineffective and had to rely on the subject matter experts to make decisions. As the project progressed I did of course pick up more and more of the detail, but it took a while. The experience taught me that PM’s do need subject matter expertise to be effective and be able to challenge decisions and solutions. And it taught me that it’s better to bite the bullet up front and learn what there is to learn about the business and the client as opposed to busying yourself managing tasks an hoping no one will notice your lack of knowledge. A PM cannot be truly successful without understanding the project’s detailed requirements – and questioning these requirements to make sure the client gets what he truly needs.
EarthPM: What other connection points, if any, do you see, with regards to sustainability in PM and the coaching you give?
I see quite a few connection points, as the purpose of the coaching I give is to provide project managers with clarity of mind so that they can work smarter, improve project effectiveness and deliver sustainable and viable projects. They can do that, for instance, by using effective leadership techniques and project management best practices. The right focus and techniques will help the project manager deliver the best solution with the least amount of resources, time and cost. I also coach project managers to thoroughly understand the customer’s needs and ambitions – and in turn lead the team to achieve that vision. Sustainable projects are delivered when the project manager puts himself in the customer’s shoes and applies the right amount of management and leadership techniques.
EarthPM: What reactions have you had to your book’s proof copies, and what do YOU expect to learn from this entire authoring process?
I have been really surprised and humbled by all the support there has been for the book. I had it endorsed by a number of project managers and published authors who I have a lot of respect for. They have said some really nice things. That’s huge! One said; “I wish I had this book when I first started out as a project manager.” Another said; “Whether you are building your own project management career development plan or managing the professional development of project managers, this book is a must-have.” All the reviews are available on my website and some of them have been printed on the cover of the book.
No doubt I will get a lot of feedback from people who read the book. I certainly would like to, and I expect to learn a lot from that. I imagine I will find out more about what the PM community is really interested in; what the pains are – and in turn understand what I can do to keep refining and improving the PM coaching material I have put together.
EarthPM: Thanks so much, Susanne, we’re increasingly impressed with your work and really think PMs should take advantage of the resources they’ll find on your site, and we think they should really consider reading her book as a great new year’s resolution! It will be published by Management Concepts in January and will be available through Foyles and Amazon – also for Kindle! Pre-order your copy on +44 (0) 1752 202301 or by emailing email@example.com
Our interview with Paul Reale, Founder and CEO of GreenAllowance
UPDATE! Take a sneak peek at Green Allowance’s web page here.
Our interview with Koen Olthuis, WaterStudio.NL
Earth PM: We’re sitting (virtually) with Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio.nl, a Dutch architectural firm whose amazing ocean project was recently featured in the Opening Shot segment of PMI’s PM Network magazine.
This project is rather large and it has a rather large and specialized – but very interesting product. It’s a floating cruise ship terminal. We wanted to talk with Koen about his company’s project from a green perspective.
Koen (turning the tables!): First, please tell me a little bit about your company and the things that you are doing so I can fit what we are doing with what you are doing.
EarthPM: Ok, so we are two very experienced project managers and Rich even worked in Holland at Huizen managing telecommunication projects. Dave also has a background in telecommunications as well as experience in environmental sciences and healthcare. We are not “tree huggers”, but are conscious of the environment and have realized that project managers are the ones who bring ideas to reality. They take a concept like your cruise terminal and execute it. By definition, they are the ones who use resources. If you are familiar with PMI, their definition of a project includes the aspect that it “uses resources.” So we saw a lot of concentration on “green business.” We also see a lot of what is called “green washing”, companies advertising how green they are. So we see a lot of green curtains, but don’t necessarily know what is behind the curtain.
We particularly saw a gap in what we call “green project management.” Specifically, how you run your projects, even if it is not purely green. You are running projects or your company works on projects that combine environmental science and housing, etc. But there are companies that just do software releases for example. For the project manager working on a new release of Skype, we assert that person should think green and that even that project has to be green. Why? Any project is going to consume resources, and must be managed efficiently and effectively. So, there is a whole spectrum of projects from a person setting up a wind farm in Flevoland to a person planning a large wedding or a software release. We think all of them have to be green and our focus is on that and we are going into the process, for example, of coming up with a certification for project managers in Green PM, training and consulting. In short, we are a new company, about a week old…
and haven’t fallen on our nose yet, but probably will.
Koen: We’ve done so many times (laugh).
EarthPM: And, we are learning by doing and have a contract to write a book, so one of the things we are interested in doing is featuring companies and interviews like yours in our book.
Koen: So the reason for your website to give Project Managers a message – and so from this interview, if you wanted to give them an inspiring message, what should that be?
EarthPM: If I had my fantasy interview with you, you would talk about not only the fact that your projects not only are aimed at the environment, but also that you talk about what you did within your project itself to make it green. In other words, the resources you use when you design or build the water terminal or other architectural projects. We are also interested in the process you use, not just the product of the process. For instance, how do you communicate with your stakeholders? Do you use electronic media over generating a lot of paper?
Koen: Well then… maybe I will start. The most important thing about our company is that we are also a young company. We are now six years old, and are a new player in a new market. If you go back to around 2000, almost no one was really active in building water projects. Now you’ve been in Holland and seen all this water and the things that are being built on the water are very simple houseboats and we have a history of houseboats for more than 80 years, mostly for the poor people. 8 years ago, the first project I came in contact with, I was asked to help design an urban plan on the water. The only concept we had at the time were traditional building methods and we had to come up with new concepts to make the implementation more mature and innovative.
The first designs were of floating houses, floating houses in a row, floating roads, floating apartment buildings, mostly at the concept stage. Trying to sell this concept to developers who were used to traditional designs was very difficult. However, the opportunity arose for a better understanding of the concepts and the issues because of global warming predictions and Hurricane Katrina in the US, and all sorts of little disasters in Holland, minor flooding where no flooding had ever occurred before. The idea that we had to live with the water, rather than fight against it began to take hold. Because our company already had those concepts in our portfolio we were in a good position to enter that market. From there the next step was that we started building. We also expanded to other countries. Dubai is a very different market because they are much more progressive and open to new ideas. Holland is a very conservative country in terms of building. There are lots of things you have to do if you want to do something new, rules and regulations you have to hurtle. Dubai is different. They only ask for a solution to a problem and in the meantime it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there. They are also open for complete new innovative ways to do things. We were asked to look at the floating islands project, the Jebel Ali Palms Project. Do you know Dubai a little bit?
EarthPM: We have not been there ourselves, but know it from people who have been there recently. We are familiar with the World Project, is that what you are referring to?
Koen: No, but we are involved with that, too. Traditional methods of making land by dredging enormously influence the water condition, the normal flow of water. It got to a point in Dubai where there is a very bad quality of water. It is green (literally green), stagnant, and smelly. Things would be better in some places if they used floating islands. It is a place where you can build and not disrupt the normal flow of water. We brought those ideas to some developers in Dubai. We had some simple ones for 10X10 meter to larger ones 100X100 meters on which you can build roads, houses, and gardens. Now also Holland believes we can use these concepts and we are even in process of early development where we de-polderizing Holland, in which we are letting water come on to dry land, where it wants to go, and putting floating houses, apartment buildings, so I think you could say that we have come full circle, with water coming back into Holland.
EarthPM: Could you say then that you were able to get over some of the bureaucratic hurdles in the Netherlands after showing success with some of the things you are doing in Dubai.
Koen: Absolutely, they now see what is possible. Of course in Holland they had a bad history building on water, housing for the poor people. This negativity did not exist in Dubai about these houseboats, so they were very open to the concept. In Holland we have about 3500 polders, and a polder is a big water cell where you pump out the water to make dry land. Most is below sea level and you have to continually pump out water to keep the country dry. It’s worked for a couple of hundred years, but now with climate change [rising sea levels and changes in weather patterns] and more pressure on cities by urban development, this very balanced system between pumping out water and keeping the country dry is no longer working.
As a result, in the area of The Hague, they’ve had some very small floods. I’m not talking about a few meters, but a few centimeters, not in agricultural areas, but areas with a lot of greenhouses. I suppose this is a form of a warning or risk trigger. We had to find solutions. Part of the solution is to store the water. That is, pump water in for a short time 2-3 weeks during heavy rains and when the seas are very high, and afterward, when the rivers and seas are lower you can pump the water from the storage areas back into the rivers and sea. In a country as small as Holland it is very hard to find areas to do this. So what’s proposed is to demolish the greenhouses and make a big polder to use during this time. So our idea is to combine water storage and houses. It is a way to compensate the farmers who have to leave that area. It will be a public/private partnership with developers and the government for instance, The Dutch Bank, Water Boards that control all the water in Holland, cities, and the architects.
EarthPM: I don’t mean to interrupt, but you touched upon one of the areas of interest from one of the books we highly recommend, The Truth About Green Business by Gil Friend. In the book he talks about, and there’s another, Green to Gold by Esty and Winston that talks about the same thing, the “green wave,” consciousness or awareness of the environment in business. They said that the companies that will survive are those that are ahead of the green wave, not the ones who react to it. So when I hear you talk about these projects, you took the risks and went ahead with these kinds of plans preparing yourself to do these kinds of projects, and then along came climate change and awareness of that, that’s the green wave. That’s what gave you a head start. We’re trying to use the philosophy that project managers who are smart about the environment will have the advantage when taking on projects, which like yours, give a kind of a validation when climate change actually starts to show itself.
Koen: The problem with this is that you have to be a little bit lucky. If we tried this a couple of years ago, we would have been too early.
EarthPM: Yes, timing is everything.
Koen: Also, a little bit of luck because we saw the results of Katrina, and we have a demonstration of climate change. You can’t force people to understand, but when they have tangible examples, it is much more meaningful [content vs. context]. I was a young architect. I started my company when I was 30. I had a companion and we started a business. It was so hard to get a good assignment because of no track record. All you could do was an eye-catching, colorful design, etc, not really come up with new concepts.
The beauty about water is that you are not a slave to a developer. You are actually a friend of the developer because you made it possible for the developer to turn a worthless, but necessary element, and prove you can make money with it. Taking it to another level, the ability to build on water brings another dimension to cities worldwide. It can really change the face of cities. Like the elevator from Mr. Otis, it allowed cities to build up, to make the city denser.
The second one is the underground, the metro system. It allowed cities to expand downward, although it is not really feasible in Holland because of the water, but Toronto – which I just recently visited – has an entire city under a city. But we have in Holland is a lot of water, which can give our cities another dimension and try solve the infrastructural and development limitations we have by using more space. By doing this you have to be very aware of the environment. It is much more difficult than building on land, because it not only affects your location, but has far reaching consequences to those who are connected to the water. Everyone is downstream from someone else.
There are many innovative things you can do with water and I am talking about affecting the climate inside the building. In Dubai we are using the sea water to cool down the buildings by pumping water through the walls and through the floor. This can also be done on land, but not as easily as you can on water. Relocation is another factor. You can build a building on water, and then more easily move it. Perhaps when the building, in 20 or 30 years, becomes out of balance with the area, instead of demolishing it and building a new one, you can move the building to an area more suited for it. That will save a lot of energy. Buildings can be treated more like premium second hand cars [rather than clunkers]. In the end, it will deliver much more sustainability and is more green.
EarthPM: Yes Koen, you actually bring up another idea we are trying to get to project managers because if you are familiar with the science and the art of project management, we think from project start to project end. Very rarely does the project manager think about what happens when the project is over, because their part is virtually complete when they hand off the product of the project. What you just said is a very good example of what we call lifecycle thinking on a project. Think about their product and its disposal, not just “Ok, clap your hands, have a party, we finished the project.”
Koen: Your responsibility goes on much longer. Of course the cradle to cradle thoughts are beautiful, and do a lot, but I think we can go one step further. It seems like New York when you have an older tower of 15 stories, and a developer wants to build a 50 story tower, now the old building must be demolished. Of course you can reuse some of the materials. [Redesign over recycling.] With floating, you can just relocate the 15 story tower and make room for a 50 story tower. These ideas change the resource use. If you calculate that in energy and in process there is a huge savings because each product can be used for its full life span for which it has been designed, whether in that location or another. If you multiply that by the millions of buildings being built yearly, that is an enormous amount of savings.
EarthPM: So when you are designing something like the cruise terminal what kinds of efforts take place in project itself to make sure that project is green. You said the product of the project, the cruise ship terminal itself, you have to take into consideration the reaction to the environment around it. I probably should get this question answered first, do you project manage these efforts yourself or hand them off to project managers?
Koen: Let me just tell you a little more about this project. We were asked by an intermediate developer in Dubai to look at a project. Dubai has about 35 cruise ships a year visit their shores per year and want to grow to 100 cruise ships a year. The cities have to be prepared to handle the additional people, and the harbors have to be prepared to handle the increase in ships. So, they could physically change the harbor (their land) or come up with a new solution. Well, we proposed a triangular floating terminal of 300X300X300 meters. They came back a said, “too small”, we need something bigger. Bigger! We went back to the drawing board and came up with a design 700X700X700 meters, and one corner is raised so that it will be 35 meters high. That makes it possible for ships to pass underneath that raised lip into an inner “harbor”, where taxi boats can park to ferry people to the cities. On the triangle’s outside perimeter, you have a place for the largest cruise ships berthing at one time. It’s not such a difficult building because we use existing technology like a rotating tower already used in other applications. It’s like three large oil tankers connected to each other, and on one corner, like a crane all connected to each other with a façade of aluminum. It’s very large and very stable. It’s so large and resting on so many heads of waves, it is almost impossible to get it out of balance. Inside there is more than just functions for the cruise ships, but expo space, retail, hotel, restaurants, and conference rooms.
NOTE: This is the terminal featured in PMI’s PM Network Magazine – “Opening Shot”. ((DATE)).
We were in the process of planning all the functionality and the financial crisis hit Dubai. The project is not stopped, but slowed. Hopefully it will gain full momentum again around January 2010. It still shows what is possible on water than changing the harbor.
EarthPM: So it does sound like you are involved in the project management.
Koen: Of course in the initial stages. Our architectural firm can come up with solutions and talk to project managers and showing them the newest concepts. By bringing these new creative ideas, it has opened up new work for the PMs. When these projects actually begin construction, we step aside and let the PMs manage it. We are now working on the floating Citadel, specifically an apartment building 120X80 meters, 4 stories high with floating car park underneath it for about150 cars. It’s only about 15 minutes from here in Rijsvijk, Holland. Architecture is exciting, but the effect of combining water storage and architecture makes it extremely exciting.
EarthPM: So you are involved as the project manager, developing Gantt Charts, etc.
Koen: No, no. We are involved with the project managers, but the project managers do the managing of the projects, we only get them started with concepts, etc. We are in a partnership with O&W and they hire the master planner, architect and project managers. We are together in a project team and of course we take the lead in the first part of the project.
EarthPM: Ok, so here comes a key question, at least in our opinion. One of things we are saying is that projects should have a charter; the Project Management Institute says that projects should have a charter. So that when you kick off a project it should have a formal charter that basically says here’s where we gain our authority and here’s what our end product should be. We assert that project charters should have a “green” statement whatever kind of project it is. So the question is how does your company institute “greenality,” a word we coined, a cross between green and quality, or how you add green quality to your project? How do you assert greenality, greenness, into your projects?
Koen: We are the integrators of the project and as I said in the beginning, we are now trying to bring greenality into our projects by telling all the people in the project what our ideas are and how those ideas can be of benefit. There is media attention and we could be frontrunners in this effort as it is a partnership with the government of Holland, also an educational project to show people how we can work with the water, rather than against it. It’s not that we step in and impose our will; it is more of a very open relationship, when all the people work together and bring ideas and greenality information to the project. I don’t think that really answered your question.
EarthPM: Oh, no, I think you actually did. What you said is that it is in the DNA of your team. It’s not a charter statement per sec, because it is an inspiring kind of a project in the first place.
Koen: You are correct and you are talking how our company is thinking about sustainability and how we can use water cooling, for instance. It is only in the last year that we have been thinking about larger issues like how we can save using solar and wind energy and using a building for its complete engineered life span. And you know, things change rapidly so we want to keep thinking ahead.
EarthPM: So when your project manager, for example, looks for materials for this floating cruise terminal, they go to vendors. So let’s say there are vendors A, B, and C. Vendor A shows that they are more of sustainable provider, they materials they provide are produced with less carbon, etc, yet B & C are cheaper upfront, but have larger carbon foot prints, for instance. Here in the US, the EPA provides some guidelines as to how to do what they call “environmentally preferable purchasing.” My question is; do you have policies, regulations, guidelines, or is it just back to the DNA when making choices.
Koen: Well, I think that we have a good handle on the implementation of these projects because we have a good idea about materials. We work with the project managers on renewable woods and companies with smaller carbon foot prints. They get a lot of their ideas from the media and the market place. One of the ideas for the cruise terminal is the façade of aluminum. Aluminum costs a lot of energy to produce, but it’s longevity in salt is great. After 100 years you can take it off of the building and reuse it. The architect is very influential, so when we recommend something, like the aluminum, they usually follow us and try to find the best company to deliver it.
We have also been involved with the differences in the aluminum producing companies and try to get PMs interested in materials and the complete process, not just the product of the process, but how they produce it.
EarthPM: So a question is, how do you get the project managers interested in choosing materials, choosing suppliers that are green? The suppliers are stakeholders, too, and a contributor to your project.
Koen: We’ve been lucky so far with these projects in that the architect is very powerful and people listen. When we recommend aluminum, people choose aluminum. Also, we’re involved early enough to be able to recommend what products we think should be used, unlike some of the other projects I’ve been involved in.
EarthPM: I’m thinking that the aluminum is a large part of the project, but there also are other things like insulation, lighting, etc; how do those materials get chosen.
Koen: Those choices are not crucial at this time because we are not there yet, however, we are thinking about how to make the project self-supporting, produce its own energy with solar panels, its own water with desalination. Because this project is disconnected to shore by 500 meters, so we need to take a close look at the logistics of providing shore power, gas, etc. We are thinking about turning 10% of the outside façade into solar panels. It should produce enough energy to be self-supporting. In this first part of the process we are looking at what is available and how far we can go to make it self-supporting.
EarthPM: I think that you answered the question very well. I believe that you are saying that as the architect you have much more control over how things will be and you already have kind of a built in charter of being efficient and being green. Because of the mission of the project itself it is filtering down to the people who specify material and choose vendors.
Koen: Yes, and also, the interesting about Dubai and Abu Dhabi, who have lots of resources in the form of oil reserves and money to do what they like, are very open to , and encourage energy savings and the next step of how you can make a carbon neutral city and Abu Dhabi is well on its way. For me it is the most exciting thing to be part of it.
EarthPM: Yes, and we noticed that because as you know we are a new entity and have a relatively new website, and do have hits from Holland, and the US, but have many hits, showing interest, from the Middle East.
Koen: Yes, yes, and my company has a particular challenge in that we are balancing between reality and new concepts like urban development on water, equal to the development on land. We think they will blend well with each other. In Dubai they’ve given us that opportunity to bring the concepts on step further.
EarthPM: What kind of opposition have you seen, from environmental activists for example?
Koen: While we expected it, we found that our ideas are being embraced. The activists are using them against the land based developers. The activists realize that what we are after is “scarless development,” unlike our land based developers. Because normally, in Holland, and Dubai, you make land from water. We develop without any scar at all. After the life expectancy has been exceeded, you can just tow them away and have the area be just like it was before the construction.
EarthPM: I have a related question. You’ve talked a lot about that you are more in the idea business and you are between the boundary between ideas and real projects. We, in the US, may say some of your projects are “out there”, literally and figuratively, but from the perspective of the environment; if you had two project managers, one had been through a certification program and they understood, green house gases, cradle to cradle, carbon trading, sustainability, and the idea of a life cycle that goes beyond the life of the project. You have this project manager and one who does not have the training, which would you choose.
Koen: To be honest I’d rather the one without the training, the one who knows nothing about greenality because the people at this moment, who are into the business, are too much trying to put in their own ideas. I’m concerned with what kinds of ideas may be brought in and how they might affect my architecture.
EarthPM: That is a very good and direct answer and I would expect nothing less from you. Very interesting, and from our perspective that is something we’d like to offer. For you company, it may in fact be a disadvantage. But for a company like HP, we’re hoping it would be advantageous, but won’t conflict with the company.
Koen: You are perfectly correct. A company like ours in innovative itself and also very strong characters, basically lead by one individual, and know what we want, different than a company like HP or IBM, led by a large team that may need to be made more uniform in their thinking.
EarthPM: I think we’ve taken about an hour and I know you are very busy, so I think we’ve covered the topic. Is there anything else you wanted to add, Koen?
Koen: I just wanted to say that we, as innovators, will be the ones who bring the ideas to the table to fight against climate change. If you don’t have any creativity in your concepts, you will be relegated to repeat past mistakes. I think it is very important to come up with new ideas from new perspectives.
EarthPM: Ok, and that’s what project managers like because by definition, a project is something that has never been done before, so project managers are driven by new ideas. The environment is a consideration, as of course it should be, but even without it, project managers are thankful for those who come up with new ideas because without them, we’d have no initiation of new projects, therefore no work for project managers.
Koen: And also, we are realistic, and we know that even though we are in a project team, it is about money and feasibility, so we try in the early stages to come up with creative ideas to bring about the projects, but also make money. I hope this interview covers the things you want.
EarthPM: I know it does, and also it’s about noticing companies that are doing innovative things to help the environment.
Koen: More importantly, you force me to rethink about my ideas. Every time I talk to someone in the media, I get questions that get me thinking about other ways to do things and ways to do things better. So thank you for that.
EarthPM: Thank you very much for your time. It was terrific talking with you.