Working with stakeholders of various backgrounds… with varying degrees of buy-in –and bones to pick with you as well as each other… getting them all to focus on a common goal.
Sound like project management?
Sure does. That’s why this article posted just a few days ago caught my attention. That stakeholder theme drew me in – as well as the fact that it was using the COP21 meetings in Paris as the context.
The article opens: “The business community is well-represented at the United Nations climate summit underway in Paris — and it will be much more engaged in finding positive solutions than ever before.”
Brief history lesson here:
1n 1992: Five thousand delegates at the first climate summit in Rio, 13 people — were representing the business sector in that first meeting. Why? Business was considered the cause of all evil and was seen as an enemy. Moving forward to 2015, to COP21 in Paris, and what do you have? “More than 1,000 business representatives will be in Paris and most will be supportive of climate action, says Edward Cameron, who represents We Mean Business, a nonprofit coalition that is working with companies on climate change.”
That’s quite a change! And here comes the other project management-y piece to this story. It doesn’t take too much imagination to conclude that 1,000 businesses focused on climate change are going to be launching tens of thousands of projects geared to make climate-change-oriented (and of course profit oriented!) goals. Goals that used to be considered at odds with each other, and now, by orders of magnitude, considered to be quite aligned.
As we said in our first book (Green Project Management, which, by the way, has a cover which features a tree that yields paper money) and now our second book (Driving Project, Program, and Portfolio Success), the two endeavors of social and planetary “good” and making money are not enemies.
They’re not at odds with each other at all – rather, they are complementary and (for lack of a better term) synergistic.
It’s yet to be seen if the stakeholders of COP21 can come up with an agreement – after all, another interest group represented is government – but we see good news in the fact that business is participating not as an enemy but as a partner; and we hope that the project management community recognizes this partnership and the focus on sustainability not as a threat or a set of new constraints but rather a whole new set of opportunities.
So we would argue that business and sustainability are not friends, nor enemies, nor frenemies, but rather partners. And although climate change presents a very real threat, the solutions that will be brought to bear will require project managers in vast quantities. That being the case, we should be thinking about the partnerships we can build as PMs to make these solutions reality.
As a kid, I used to listen to Tom Glazer’s Space Songs, and particularly a song called “Why Does the Sun Shine?”. This song (click on the video below to ‘see’ the song and its lyrics) talks about the sun’s power. So I’ve long been fascinated by solar energy.
Mostly, we’ve been using the sun’s power in the form of long-stored solar energy in the form of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas). And there have been solar panels for decades, collecting that power in electrical or thermal forms on a local basis.
In our book, Green Project Management, we discussed DESERTEC, a huge effort to harness solar energy from the deserts in northern Africa and distribute it there and to Europe. DESERTEC will use CSP (Concentrating Solar Power). This is not theory – it’s real. And in the US (yes, the United States!), a project called the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System is making this real. Now.
First, we suggest that you view this really short, nice video from the US Department of Energy showing how CSP works.
So that’s more about the theory. How about reality?
Have a look at the inspirational video below. If you are a project manager, note the expressions on the peoples’ faces. The team members “get it”. This is a project with purpose. It’s not always easy to do, but this is what really makes a project tick – a diverse team of differently-talented people working towards a common goal in which they all believe.
So, as we always say, there are lessons for sustainability professionals to learn from project managers and there are lessons for project managers to learn from sustainability professionals. Stay tuned to EarthPM for these lessons and also to keep tabs on projects like Ivanpah.
We’re very pleased with the way in which African organizations have accepted the ideas of Sustainability and Project Management. Very pleased.
We wonder why Africa “gets it” so well and the other continents lag so much further behind. Any ideas or thoughts?
We’ve been invited to, and accepted, the opportunity to address the Project Management South Africa “Good in Green” conference as well as their National Conference in Johannesburg. We’ve been featured in several issues of the very classy magazine PM Foresight, endorsed by PMI Lagos, Nigeria and produced for all of Africa by visionary publisher Lambert Ofoegbu.
Sites like AllAfrica-Environment show how many projects are already launched and about to be launched which focus on sustainability. But what impresses us most is that for some reason, African enterprises have done a better job of listening to our message and have better understood the connection between PM and sustainability.
Europe, Asia, North America, South America…where are you?
One of the things that we assert is that as a Project Manager, you are the “business end” of business ends.
Let that soak for a minute. Roll it around up there in your head.
If this will help you, here is the definition of the first use of the term business end, as an expression: “The part of a tool or other similar item, that is physically used for its operation, rather than the part which is held”.The second reference to a business end is that of a business objective.
So back to that first definition – the business end, like the hammerhead in this photo. It’s the point of impact. It’s where the rubber hits the road (or the hammerhead hits the nail). It’s where sparks fly. It’s where things get done.
And that’s you, Mr. Project Manager. It’s you, Ms. Project Manager.
So if we are the business end of business ends – we had better know what those business ends are, hadn’t we?
It’s for that reason we direct your attention to the State of the Green Business Report (link below), which was released today.
It helps for us to increase our greenality – our vocabulary in all things green, about sustainability, and whether we like it or not, how our enterprises are showing their “earthy” face to the world.
Hasbro promised that 75 percent of its paperboard packaging will come from recycled materials in 2011
Of course – on top of the fact that knowing these tidbits helps you improve your knowledge of sustainable business, you also must, by now, recognize that any one of those bullets is the trigger for at least ONE program or project!
Various cultures celebrate this season differently, but in just about all of them, gold is considered valuable.
The book Green to Gold was one of our original inspirations when we started Earth PM, and wrote our book. So we, of course, follow Andrew Winston’s excellent blog. And he just put up a real nice posting. We’ll be very lazy (getting in the holiday spirit) and simply send you there (a link is provided at the end of the list). However, we ask that you take the time to follow the links he provides, and not just to read the list.