The PM Journal, PM Success, and Sustainability


Project Management Institute’s PM Journal(R), Volume 45, Number 1 contains some very good papers, and we’d like to focus on one in particular.

“Project Success and Executive Sponsor Behaviors: Empirical Life Cycle Stage Investigations” is the name of the paper and it is written by three professors from Xavier University, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

We think it’s another example of a series of articles on project success which comes ever so close – ever so close – to getting the concept we’ve been pushing regarding sustainability in project management.

The paper begins with quite a bit of promise, with a section on “The Project Life Cycle”, which had us thinking that it would delve (as did our book) into Life Cycle Assessments and the investigation of how the product of the project has a sometimes significant environmental impact in its steady-state use.  However, the focus is limited to the passing of life cycle “gates” within the project and not beyond.

But the highlight of the article (for us) is that in its modeling of the project process groups, they point to three aspects of project success:

  • Customer Success
  • Meeting Agreements
  • The Firm’s Future

Now – that last one – that is very much in line with our book and in our talks.  We often refer to Auden Schendler’s book “Getting Green Done“, in which he says one way to define sustainability is acting as if we will “be in business forever”.  So, having “The Firm’s Future” as a distinct project outcome and measure of success is a huge step forward.  Most of our project management clients see success as only the middle of the three bullets above – Meeting Agreements.  We are glad to see both the customer success element, which implies a longer view, and especially the Firm’s Future which also talks to the long-term view.


For now, we just want to refer you to the article to at least get that perspective.  However, we will likely blog about this again, especially after making contact with the authors, because the research indicated in the paper talks about how, for example, the Firm’s Future can be significantly affected by certain key factors, for example, “Sponsors who build strong stakeholder relationships will improve the firm’s future”.

So we’ll be back with more on this, perhaps even directly from the authors.  But for now, we request that you have a look at this article and think about how our book and this paper interact.