Frenemies?

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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.

Know Thy Stakeholders

When the new PMBOK(R) Guide comes out soon – the 5th Edition, that is – it will include a brand-new Knowledge Area.

For fans of Project Management (and who isn’t one?) there are currently 9 Knowledge Areas, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, no…wait.  Wrong list.  Let me check.  How about this one: Dancer, Blitzen, Rudolf… nope.  Still not quite right.

Ah.  We remember now.  The nine Knowledge Areas (in the 4th Edition) are (in no particular order): Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, HR, Communications, Risk, and Procurement.

And, introducing, for the first time ever, in the 5th Edition: Stakeholder Management.

So PMI (rightly) has decided to focus uniquely on Stakeholder Management rather than distribute it in the other knowledge areas, mainly Communications and Integration.

What does this have to do with sustainability?

Turns out: alot.

As a PM we need to know our stakeholders.  As we’ve asserted in over 300 posts here and of course in our book, as well as recent talks in Malaysia and South Florida (note: both have palm trees), projects produce outcomes.  Those outcomes outlive the project.  Sometimes by centuries.  Imagine, for example, a single-serve coffeemaker that produces a great cup of coffee, but in the steady-state also produces non-recyclable cups.  Say… about 12 billion of them.  That, dear PM friends, is an outcome that outlasts our project.

Should we care about it?

Well, that may depend on your own personal views.

But be careful.

It’s not only about YOU.

It’s about the coffee drinkers, the customers, the STAKEHOLDERS who may just care.   And in this article we picked up from the Associated Press, the statistics show that these stakeholders care deeply, and increasingly about ecological issues.

For example:

4 out of 5 Americans (yep, Americans) said that climate change will be a serious problem for the US if nothing is done about it.  This is an increase from 73% from just 3 years ago.

57% say that the US government should do “a great deal” about the problem.

One of the biggest changes is this:

Of those who trust scientists “only a little” or “not at all” (in other words, skeptics), 61% admit that temperatures have been rising during the past 100 years.  That is a jump from 47% just three years ago.

So these stakeholders, for example, your sponsors, team members, bosses, engineers, marketeers, internal customers, and end customers, are increasingly aware and concerned about ecological sustainability.

Take a lesson from PMI, and whatever your feelings about sustainability, know thy stakeholders.  It’s not even a lesson.  It’s a whole dang Knowledge Area!

 

 

Osama green Laden ?

osama-oz

Wow.  With friends like this

CBS, The Boston Globe, and other news services are reporting that Osama bin Laden’s latest message (known to be recent since he mentions COP15) blasts the US and other industrialized nations for causing climate change and hurting our planet.

”Speaking about climate change is not a matter of intellectual luxury — the phenomenon is an actual fact,” the tape says according to al-Jazeera. “All of the industrialized countries, especially the big ones, bear responsibility for the global warming crisis.”

Project managers know about having powerful stakeholders and sponsors.  They also know that projects sometimes make “strange bedfellows”.  We’ve seen that on projects like Cape Wind, in which the local tribes and certain environmental groups and Ted Kennedy and others have formed a patchwork alliance that has helped delay that project by 9 years, so far.  These disparate groups worked together despite some very clear disagreements between them to work for a common purpose – preventing the turbines from going up in Nantucket Sound.

The question for environmentalists is this: do we want Osama Bin Laden as a sponsor and stakeholder in the effort to prevent climate change?  We’re going to go way out on a limb here and say, “ummm, not so much“.

To us, it’s okay when a movie like Avatar picks up the baton and helps raise awareness.  But it’s a real horror movie when your sponsor is someone like this person.  We say: pay attention to the science, the facts, and – with apologies to yet another movie, we modify a quote from The Wizard of Oz:ignore that man behind the cave wall“.