Regardez! La Tour Eiffel a maintenant l’énergie verte!




You will have to look carefully (and that’s the way it should be, of course) but the Eiffel Tower now sports wind turbines.  In this very interesting article you can read about a project to add wind power and other sustainability-oriented features to the French landmark.

What we like about this project is the connection to the mission statement and vision of the leadership of the organization which maintains the tower.  Run by SETE (Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel) the group plans to to reduce the tower’s environmental impact by 25 percent as part of the City of Paris Climate Plan.  Tying their goals to their projects is exactly what we had in mind for enterprise in our new book, Driving Sustainability Success in Projects, Programs and Portfolios.

Have a look at the article.


Winding up with savings

An article in yesterday’s Boston Globe describes a project in Gloucester (pronounced “Gloss-tah”*), Massachusetts, in which the city will power its school and city buildings fully from wind power.  The windmills will save Gloucester at least $450,000 per year and more than $11 million over the next 25 years.  Located in one of the windiest areas of the state, averaging over 16 miles per hour, and away from any neighborhoods, this project has received little in the way of protest.

Investment in the project is about $10M, and with the savings from the agreement, the town is now jumpstarting two other projects in the next two years, a new police and fire safety building and a new elementary school.

So: project begets project begets project, and the city ends up with ongoing savings that pay back on its original investment.

Not a bad deal – winding up with savings.  And not a bad deal for all of the project managers who’ll be gainfully employed to bring these deliverables in on time, within budget, and with proper scope management.



You can read the entire article by clicking here.




In this case, unplugged is a BAD thing

You’d think we would be in favor of unplugging.  That is, saving energy, preventing waste…you know, being “green”.

And we are in favor of unplugging.

But there’s an exception – a big one.

That exception has to do with a huge source of power for Project Managers, a renewable source of endless project energy that often, as shown in the sophisticated schematic diagram on the right, goes untapped.  What is this power of which we speak?

It’s simple – it’s the power of your own organization. And it’s right there ‘above’ and ‘below’ you.

Let’s start at the top. We refer to the power in your organization’s Purpose, Identity, and Long-term Intentions.  These are the Top Leadership ideals that are often publicly stated, and always should be communicated to shareholders and employees.  They give “ideation” to  your organization.

Now let’s jump down to the bottom.  Your organization’s heartbeat, its flow, is its operations.  This is the day-to-day reality of your business.

And where are we, the project, program, and portfolio managers of the world?  We, dear friends, are where the rubber (the strategy that comes from Ideation) meets the road (the operations).

What’s all this coming from?

Below you see the Strategic Execution Framework or SEF (courtesy and copyright of IPS), which is used as the basis of Stanford University’s Center for Professional Development’s Certificate in Advanced Project Management.  We were lucky enough to attend one of their courses where this was presented.  It struck a chord with us because we have always preached that project managers can gain power by aligning with the organization’s strategy, and often overlook this.  Furthermore we have insisted that project managers often put on blinders when it comes to the “end” of their project, failing to connect with (or plug in to) the operations of the company.  Why?  We’re programmed to consider a project as having a definitive beginning and end – and that end occurs when we hand over the final deliverable.

Only “final” is not so final, after all.  When a project, say a bridge, is “done”, that only means that it can BEGIN sending pedestrians and/or vehicles over a river.  Does this mean we, as project managers, have to continue monitoring each car as it goes over the bridge?  Of course not.  But it DOES mean that we should think about the long-term disposition of the bridge in the steady state.  It will help us identify risk, connect with stakeholders that we mightn’t have thought of, and in general do a better job of creating sustainable projects.  In the bridge example, we assert that the project manager should consider the paving material, not just for its ability to provide improved mileage for vehicles, but also for its ability to withstand heating and cooling without breaking up and requiring repaving every year.  At least ask these questions.  It will help you connect to the operations ‘below’ and the ‘long term initiatives’ above.

Take a look at the SEF (you forgot already?  It stands for Strategic Execution Framework) below.  See how important it is for an organization to plug together all of the pieces if they want to get to a sustainable steady-state.  And guess who is at the center of it allYou.  The well-connected project, program, and/or portfolio manager.

What we expound here are great general PM principles and practices, and by no coincidence, are great green (or better-stated) sustainable PM principles.  Even Stanford’s naming of the areas is important.  Notice “Long-term Intentions”.  Long-term.  Smacks of the word “sustainable”, doesn’t it?  How about “operations”?  Hmm, that word also implies ongoing, enduring…. yes, there it is – sustainability, again.

So why wouldn’t the middle portion of this flowchart (where we PMs live) not ALSO think sustainably?  We should!  We need to plug in!

  • Connect upwards: You don’t have to be a top corporate HQ leader or CEO to know and live the organizations’ strategies.
    • Read and re-read your organization’s mission, vision and values.  Check messaging from company leaders.  Of course we would steer you to messages on sustainability and the environment, but you can derive power for your projects’ charters from any of the messages at the top of the SEF.
  • Connect downwards: You can, and should, consider our discipline of PM as distinct from operations.  But that doesn’t mean we have to ignore them.
    • Get to know the people who will operate the product of your project
    • Understand the set of users as a stakeholder group and drink in their requirements and expectations as fodder for risk identification
    • Think life-cycle.  What happens to the final product of the operations of your product in the long term?  Can you learn anything with that mindset?  We assert that you absolutely can.
  • PLUG IN! Peers in both directions are working towards sustainability, both economic and ecological.  We need to pair with these colleagues and learn from both.

Have a look at the SEF, we provide a large version below.

And think, really THINK about whether you are unplugged – and losing a precious source of project power.

So – are you unplugged?

Get connected.

Read our book – it has several chapters on these subjects.

Counting on you…

So, they tell us today is “Pi Day“, in honor of the constant Π which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, which works out to be approximately 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375.  Approximately.

Then they tell me that tomorrow is the “Ides of March”, the 15th day of March, and the date that, in 44 BC, was not such a good one for Julius Caesar, in that he was stabbed a number of times.  23 times in fact.  Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, and stab.  Yep.  A bummer of a day for Julius.

Um, so evidently there’s quite a bit of counting that takes place this time of year.  In fact, many of those in the northern hemisphere are counting the days until Spring.

What does this have to do with project management, or sustainability, or that intersection?

Well, one of the aspects of green project management that we’ve been describing and trying to convey to our (growing) audience (yet another thing we could count), is the fact that the company you are working for is most likely advertising to the world that they are becoming increasingly sustainable.  Whether you agree with the reasoning as to why they are becoming sustainable, and whether or not you agree that they should is rather a moot point.  They are making the claims, and there are people out there checking – and perhaps counting.

People, and organizations like Climate Counts.   We suggest you have a look at their site.

What are they about?  From their site:

Climate Counts is a collaborative effort to bring consumers and companies together in the fight against global climate change.

What you’ll find there is a rating system that determines how the companies stack up in terms of not only what they are saying, but what they are doing in the area of sustainability.

They use these criteria:

Has the company being analyzed…

  • MEASURED their climate “footprint”
  • REDUCED their impact on global warming
  • SUPPORTED (or suggest intent to block) progressive climate legislation
  • Publicly DISCLOSED their climate actions clearly and comprehensively

Explore your industry.  Check out your own company.  Who are the slackers, who are the leaders in this area?  Who, as they would say, are “Striding” (green icon), “Starting” (yellow), or “Stuck” (red).  Studies show that employees are motivated by their organization’s reputation.  What color is your company?  And also… know that  you aren’t the only one poking around at this site.  It’s extremely well-visited.  That means your customers are looking.  Your vendors are looking.  Your friends and family…  All kinds of stakeholders are looking.

Please take a moment and explore the site.  You will understand.

So why did we call this post, “Counting on you…”? Well, we think that your company leaders are counting on you, Mr. or Ms. Project Manager, to bring those scores up, and to have your company walk the talk – and in some cases, even start to talk the talk.  You are managing change.  You are driving the business objectives from the enterprise level with the execution of portfolios, programs, and projects.  We’ve written extensively on how you can do this, even if your project is what we call “Green in General” – that is, not directly related to energy, biodiversity, or conservation.  In fact, your project could be as unrelated as developing a new training program for a new payroll system.  There are still things you can do within that project and dealing with its product and steady-state that can help the organization along in the area of sustainability.  Our book has much more detail.  Buy a copy.  We are counting.





pushmi-pullyuIt’s almost time for New Year’s Resolutions, and we start with best New Year’s wishes for all of our readers and followers.  Happy New Year!

What will motivate you and your organizations as you move into this new year and set strategy?

In terms of setting projects and programs to become leaner, more efficient, and to reduce your impact on the environment, will you be pushed into this by regulation, legislation, laws, and limits?  Or will incentives from government, or better economics of doing things the right way have a pull on you and your projects?  Or, perhaps, it’s about image – an image that your advertising is projecting, which needs to match your actual way of behaving and performing?


Resolutions are set at the end of December, looking forward towards January.  Just as January is based on the Roman god Janus, with a forward and backward-looking face, the Pushmi-Pullyu, a creature from Dr. Dolittle, is the inspiration for this posting.

This is a good time to think about these forces which pull and push your organization – and thus your projects – in different directions.  Your PMO sits at a key point in the organization’s ability to execute portfolios, programs and projects, all of which should be tied firmly to the enterprise’s mission and values.  In our book (“Green Project Management“, CRC Press) we explore Interface Carpet and the way in which Ray Anderson made environmental commitments and how that in turn drove programs and projects for his enterprise – yielding tremendous savings in reduced waste, improvements in employee morale, and a better product.

Those of you who are sharp-eyed readers will have noted that the word “limits” above is a hyperlink.  And, in typical PM, Type A Personality fashion, you may have already clicked on that link and noticed that it was from a story in today’s Boston Globe.  This was another inspiration for today’s posting – the PUSH side of the equation.  But even in this story, the PULL comes out.  Let’s break it down for you, using some pull quotes from the story:


“Over the next decade, the plan aims to bring greenhouse gas emissions to levels that are 25 percent below those in 1990, the maximum possible limit allowed under the state Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008. That legislation mandates an 80 percent reduction in statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”


“Under the new plan, the state would cut at least an additional 7 percent through new initiatives and incentives, including a pilot program to make auto insurance cheaper for people who drive fewer miles.”

This story is interesting enough to read separately from the blog posting and we suggest you do just that by clicking here.

However we also – as is our habit – would like to share a a couple of  resources with you that resonate to this same theme – Pushmi-Pullyu.

Below is a chart from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change‘s Climate Change 101:

green can be gold - bar chart

Note the large number of “PULL” aspects to this chart – reasons to move towards acting with greenality, based on logic and necessity rather than mandate.  We think 2011 may be a key year for enterprises to realize this pull, and for governments to do whatever they can to accentuate and incentivize based on these pulls, while bringing out the mandates and limits – the pushes – where necessary.

As usual – it’s all about balance.

May 2011 be a very balanced year for all of you.