Tag: Change Management


Leadership Eco-Guide to Improve Organizational Performance

A widespread desire to improve organizational performance may be sated by focusing on a key set of necessary and high priority actions—imperatives. An essential focus on creating excellence in people, processes, and the working environment reaps tremendous benefits and enables executives and their organizations to achieve desired objectives. Leadership skills and environmental factors provide significant impetus towards sustainable success.


 An ecosystem is a community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. A “green ecosystem” creates an environment for consistent, predictable, and sustainable success. It eliminates “toxic” substances and provides projects with a physical and mental context that allows them to prosper. This allows management to focus on overall organizational success, not just on individual project performance. People then feel like they are constantly contributing to organizational and personal knowledge and creating growth.


Keywords:  Leadership, organizational maturity, green ecosystem, organizational learning, sustainable success, biomimicry, project management, sponsorship.

To the questions:

  • What types of leadership skills and employee competency and training are necessary to affect successful organizational transformations?
  • How does biomimicry influence the design of an organizational architecture?


Without a “green” foundation, organizations experience failures, budget and schedule overruns, lack of trust, and dissatisfied stakeholders. People leave, often because leaders do not meet their needs, and witness the “great resignation.” New generations want different work conditions. These “toxic” work environments are usually permeated by political practices that create uneasiness and frustration among all except those who wield these negative practices with power. Trust in institutions and governments is weak.


Progressively improving practices, also called organizational maturity, requires that project leaders and management reduce organizational “toxins” and create “green” organizations. “Green” in this context extends the physical, tangible thinking about project work into the nonphysical, intangible personal working relationships that affect our working environments. In this sense, in an “ecosystem” that allows good project management and complete project manager mindsets to grow, “green” is good.


An ideal situation is proactive leaders who are committed, accountable, and serious about projects they select and sponsor; they are knowledgeable, trained, and able not only to talk the talk but also to walk the walk. Such people are trustworthy in all respects. Trust is seen as earned by being competent and acting for the common good. Their values are transparent and aligned with the organization and its strategy. Such sponsors protect the team from disruptive outside influences, do not operate through fear, and back the team up when times are tough.


A key need and imperative is to support organizational learning, even at the risk of tolerating some failures. Executives at all levels set the tone for how failure and learning are perceived. Take the time to share thinking, standards, and expectations. Provide appropriate rewards, not only for successes but also for failures that led to heightened understanding about risks, things to avoid, and innovative approaches. Conduct retrospectives on all projects: what went well, lessons learned, what do differently. Tap biomimicry as a tool to learn from nature and create organic solutions to challenges. The goal is to establish higher priority for continuous learning that gets recycled into new best practices.


Compost Bin Analogy

A compost bin is an apt analogy for a green ecosystem. The compost pile offers a robust model, a model adapted to changing times and to the new millennium. It is a model of growth, of sharing, of happiness. It is a way of understanding career success in organic terms—where the accumulation of life’s (decomposed) experiences provides a broad and fertile base on which to cultivate and accumulate new and ever more valuable experiences. The pile grows ever fuller, without losing stability. It is about career growth, death, decay and rebirth. Whatever comes along in life, just put it on the pile and let it ripen.

Metaphysically speaking, people are the sum total of what people learn, what people experience, what people create. People increase in knowledge and in wisdom, taking what is given to them by the sun and giving it back to the world that is illumined and warmed, also by the sun. In the end, people can do little more than pass on the wisdom that they have accumulated. Then people also become the soil, quite literally uniting the humus of themselves to a collective wisdom. With a model such as this, progress is judged to be in what people will have become, and not in how high people will have climbed. There is purpose and value in all of life’s experiences.


People need to interpret and evaluate careers and lives according to a model, and they need to be free to choose which model to use. This is a biomimicry model by which people might use the light of the sun to photosynthesize their happiness. Create an organic approach to the implementation of all endeavors, especially those driven by projects. Learn how nature operates and seek ways to incorporate organic approaches in all endeavors. An organic organization is one where people feel they operate naturally, comfortably, and happily.




Most professionals need to take responsibility, self-manage, and continuously develop their careers. The compost pile analogy fits with reference to molecular structure as an organic depiction of a more complete project manager. Through natural, ongoing processes, scraps turn into beautiful humus… but not without some stinky in-between steps. By adding waste products such as manure (which can be thought of as a metaphor for learning from bad experiences) to the compost, the process of creating rich soil is accelerated. The output, when the soil is added back into nature’s garden, is a bountiful harvest. Similarly, people become better persons, managers, and leaders by continually expanding and growing their skills and using lessons learned.


To address the most crucial executive actions, look at the ingredients needed for success—form an organizational architecture. Outline the need for actions and focus. This resembles an ecosystem—a community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Just as in nature, trees, flowers, and animals need a suitable ecosystem in order to develop, grow and bloom. So do projects. Dispersion of power, transparency, and mutual accountability enhance thriving organizations. High correlation of these factors leads to environmental sanity.


The natural sciences state that all objects start with their particular genetic combination which allows them to grow and prosper. It is the environment in form of light, water, air, and sustenance that hinders or supports genetically given development. So, plants that are genetically equal when they are seeded will develop differently  when exposed to different environmental circumstances. Projects are not different. Projects grow and prosper when their environment allows for it. Be cognizant that the working environment takes care of a particular set of genes (such as project type, size, geography, and number of projects as well as stakeholders’ power, interests, and relevant skills) to allow them to develop into successful endeavors. Executive management puts this “ecosystem” in place. Establish the equivalent of the right soil, water, fertilizer, and light in place so that the organization can prosper and bloom through more successful projects.


Replace thought traps—e.g., how we do things here, won’t work here—with leading practices, culled from experience. Learn how to integrate key people, team, business, technical, and organizational skills, tapping multiple disciplines. Apply reframing tools that are often as simple to apply as thinking differently. Feed imaginations by beauty, not by fear. Open doors and walk into new spaces. Align efforts with laws of life. Shift from controls to co-creating with nature. Encourage curiosity, ask and share “why”, and look for causal patterns. Be aware of vested interests and biases. Know that life is continuous change; the same is also true for organizational dynamics.


Just as our physical planet is facing existential threats, so do organizations. Much is written that socially responsible firms perform better financially than less responsible competitors. Prioritizing sustainability leads to better results. Know that concentration of power, whether politically or social, undercuts democracy. Help people gain control over their lives and work with autonomy. Leaders can set new precedents and change the norms and rules of societies so that negative human tendencies are kept in check. Elicit powerful, positive qualities that are most needed. Be a positive role model. Communicate a sense of possibility, more so than probability. Dissolve the presumption of lack; actively nurture positive proclivities. Focus on business outcomes, more so than project outputs.

It is possible to escape the constraints of evolution…by learning about our environments, imagining differences, and turning those imaginations into reality. Much as in nature where configurations of atoms are essentially infinite and lead to marvelous assemblies and products, people skills operating through individual and expanding personalities can contribute in infinite ways. While our planet may experience limits to growth, innovation does not have the same limits. Creativity needs always to be welcomed.


The imperative facing leaders in all organizations is not only to embark on a quest to manage processes such as business analysis, project, program, and portfolio management, but also to create “green ecosystems.” Continually improve environments that encourage project-based work. A meaningful goal is to eliminate people interaction pollutants and “toxic” actions that demotivate project managers and their teams. This means searching with unrelenting curiosity for leading practices. It also means, when these practices are revealed, that leaders are prepared to take action. Integrating executive leadership with new thinking, guided by an eco-guide, make the difference that leads to competitive advantages for organizations These are places where people do their best work. Wise leaders adopt, adapt, and apply these leadership imperatives.


Other Resources:

Englund, R. L., and Bucero, A. Project Sponsorship: Achieving Management Commitment for Project Success. (2nd ed.) Newtown Square, PA.: Project Management Institute, 2015.
Englund, R. L., and Bucero, A. The Complete Project Manager: Integrating People, Organizational, and Technical Skills. (2nd ed.) Oakland, Calif.: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2019.
Englund, R. L., and Bucero, A. The Complete Project Manager’s Toolkit, updated. https://englundpmc.com/product/toolkit/, 2019.
Englund, R. L., and Graham, R. J. Creating an Environment for Successful Projects. (3rd ed) Oakland, Calif.: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2019.
Lappe, F.M. EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create The World We Want. New York: Nation Books, 2011.


Do I Hear an Amen?

Subconscious biases and habits of mind dominate or influence 85% to 95% of our emotions, judgments, reactions, decisions, behaviors, actions, and results.

What’s your reaction to what you just read?

When I heard that during WBECS’s coaching education platform led by Peter Demarest, a thought leader in the integration of axiology and neuroscience, I was surprised. I knew that the subconscious had a lot of influence on us. I was not ready to hear that our sub-conscience has this much influence!

Knowing this now, I was challenged with the following: how can I use my mind to keep my head from undermining the wisdom of my heart so that I can be my best self and live my best life and help others do the same?

In other words, how can we change, expand, and influence our thinking so we play in the A Game of our abilities?

The answer is unequivocally this: by tuning into our hearts, which encompasses all the values that we deem important.

Our values are the driving factors of our success.

We all have values we believe in. Yet how often do we not live up to the values that we hold in high esteem? How often do we react based on our perceptions, beliefs, and judgments and our values fly out the door?


One client recently shared with me that courage and bravery were one of her top values. Yet, she was paralyzed in making decisions and moving forward. Another client shared that their relationship with family was top value, yet they were describing a 16-hour professional workday and the need to cancel a family vacation. And it is not only these two clients. We all at times “trip over our own values.”

Perhaps an important question is how we access more of our brain capacity and awareness of self. In Demarest’s book, The Central Question of Life, Love and Leadership, he focuses on the one question that I often use in my own life, especially when working with individuals and teams:


What choice can I make and what action can I take at this moment to create the greatest net value?


We all make daily choices. How do we know, however, that the choice we make today will lead us to our desired outcome?

In my practice, I have coined the acronym AMEN to CORE, a 4-step principle that when practiced consistently over time creates a value base success for individuals and organizations.




A stand for Awareness of life and awareness of your purpose, whether individual or organizational. What are you here to achieve? What is the reason that leads you to think that? What are you becoming aware of if you allow this quiet contemplation to brew in your mind? What do you hear as the whispering of your soul?


Men stand for Mental Fitness. The idea of being mentally trained follows not only being aware of what sabotages you but the ways you can lean into your sage perspective, which advocates that every outcome can be turned into a gift and opportunity if we let it! The choices that we make have an immeasurable impact on our future. Mental Fitness provides us with a quicker recovery from the choices that led us to an undesirable path and opens our minds with curiosity to discover other available choices.


CO stands for Communication. Measure how you speak and how you listen. How coherent are you in your approach? How do you communicate your contribution to maximize your impact?


RE stands for Resilience. How committed are you to the path that you create or agree to pursue? What are the ways you are not only accountable but also responsible for achieving your goals and purpose? How consistent and persistent are you?


Let’s go back and ask Peter’s central question. What choice can I make and what action can I take at this moment to create the greatest net value? The stronger your mental muscle the more effective your results will be.


And here is the big one-million-dollar question- how do you get there?


When working on your awareness, consider the following:

  • What do I believe in? What are the values I regard as my north star? (I suggest taking a value-based assessment).
  • What attributes do I need to develop so that I can live my values proudly?
  • What tendencies do I have that may undermine my effectiveness? What triggers them?
  • Knowing that you are triggered by _____. What can you do to bring a more value-based perspective to ______? What would stop you?
  • What value are you committing to living out today?


When conversing with others, use the following three short techniques to begin a conversation without judgment:

  • Turn “should” to “could.” How would you feel if someone told you “John, you should do ______ and you should do ______?” Replacing “should” with “could” has the potential to minimize the judgmental tone of your request.


  • Replace “why” with “what.” “Why did you do that?” “Why are you___?” may make others feel defensive. Instead, consider asking “what about this situation made you feel ____? What were you hoping to achieve when you did ____?


When we change and broaden our thinking, our perspectives, beliefs, and habits change. When we make choices based on our values, we end up living our purpose. When we consider what happened and ask ourselves, “What now?” we bring our A Game wherever we go!


Know Your Project’s Setting for Realistic Planning

In any project, your mindset and setting influence your experience. To plan realistically you must know the mindset of the players and the setting, the project’s environment. This article focuses on the setting, and what you can do you identify and consider environmental factors in planning.

Previous articles have addressed environmental factors from different perspectives[1]. Here we use PESTLE Analysis to identify environmental factors to better enable risk management and performance.


Identify the Factors

To be realistic, a plan must consider the project’s environment. For example without knowing the technology to be used and the nature of the relationships among major stakeholders, planners may be overly optimistic or pessimistic because they make unfounded assumptions; overlooking a legal requirement can have far reaching effects.

Performance can be improved in two ways, 1) by changing environmental conditions (if possible and practical) and 2) by accepting what cannot be changed and baking the impact into the plan. Both ways require that the conditions are identified. That is where environmental analysis comes in.

PESTLE Analysis is one of many models that help you to understand your project environment. Other models, for example SWOT Analysis, can be used instead of or with PESTLE analysis.

PESTLE Analysis assesses the Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors that affect project performance. The model is usually applied on the organizational level for strategic planning. Here the focus is closer to the project itself.


Tacit vs. Explicit

Often, there is a tacit understanding about environmental factors. With tacit understanding, there is the risk that stakeholders do not share a common perspective of the situation. Some may be unaware of some factors; others may have different views and values. Changes may have been made or are planned that make experience less useful as an anchor for predicting the future.

Explicitly identifying and analyzing the factors helps to make sure they are meaningfully addressed. This means spending time and effort on the analysis, deciding which factors are actionable, and planning accordingly.



As sensible as explicitly assessing environmental factors seems, there is resistance to it. Possible causes are, the team and its leadership may not recognize the benefits, they may believe that everyone knows how things are,  and  they may take the attitude that “we can’t do anything about the environment, so why bother talking about it.” Leadership must be willing to confront the realities of their environment, including its flaws.


If powerful stakeholders are eager to have realistic plans, then resistance is overcome by recognizing that one of the primary reasons for chronic late and over budget projects is not taking the project environment into account. For example, a plan will be unrealistic if it is based on the assumption that a decision will be made in a month when it always takes three because there are multiple levels of decision makers, many of whom are very busy with other priorities.




The Factors

The environmental factors in a PASTLE analysis are described below. The purpose of the model is to raise questions that enable project managers, and planners to identify any hidden obstacles and to consider as many factors as possible. How will these issues effect the project? Do they effect multiple projects? What can be done about them to make plans more realistic and to streamline the process?

  • P – Political:

Politics is the process of making group decisions. On a macro level, there are governmental influences in the form of regulations, taxation, international and other issues. Internal politics also have an impact on the project. Is project governance effective? Is there a political issue about the way the PMO, project managers, and functional managers perceive roles and authority? Do differences in political beliefs and allegiances cause conflict among stakeholders? Is the project goal a political issue among organizational leadership? What “old grudges” and beliefs get in the way of effective collaboration?

Political issues along with the social factors are among the most difficult to address. There is a tendency to make believe they don’t exist. There may be “hot” buttons and fear of poking a hornet’s nest.

  • E – Economic

Economic factors are both internal and external. The internal ones include the perceived cost and value of the project outcome, volatility in resource costs, budget adequacy, the project budget as a proportion of the organization’s budget. How flexible is the budget? Is there a clear expectation of financial gain? External economic factors include interest rates, volatility in the cost of resources. credit availability, and market behavior.

  • S – Social

Social factors relate to stakeholder cultural norms, values, and demographics. For example, if the team includes members from different generations or cultural groups, is there potential conflict? What is the expectation and tolerance for the “Storming” stage of team development? What is the organization’s culture? Are there multiple organizations involved? Are their cultures compatible? Explicitly the way to facilitate communication, manage conflict, and make decisions can avoid unnecessary stress and conflict.

  • Technology

On the project level technology has two dimensions: the technology used to manage the project and the technology that is part of the project deliverable. Is the technology stable? Is the technology new to users and providers? What learning curves are involved? Is there adequate support? For project management is there a platform of PM software and related productivity tools? Is the platform adding value, is it well managed and supported? How is the data managed and used? What options do you have and how will each impact performance, cost, and risk? How aligned with other projects is the technology?

  • Legal

What are the contracts, rules and regulations that effect the project? How are contracts managed? Are project staff and management subject to legal liabilities? Are there audit requirements? Are there ethical issues? Common legal issues are, copyright, patents, and intellectual property, fraud, non-disclosure, consumer protection, environmental protection, data security, health and safety, discrimination and abuse.

  • Environmental

From a project manager’s perspective project performance is effected by the project environment, the environment into which the product will go, and the broader environment with its weather, climate, geographical, factors. Project and product environmental factors overlap with the other PESTLE categories.


Moving Forward

Using an analytical model to assess environmental factors enhances risk management and leads to better plans and improved performance. Is your approach to identifying the factors that influence your project as good as it could be? How can it be even better?

[1] Consider the Project Environment, https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/consider-the-project-environment/  by George Pitagorsky and Understanding Enterprise Environmental Factors, https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/understanding-enterprise-environmental-factors/ by Mark Romanelli



Software Tools or not Software Tools? That is the question. The way to achieve Enterprise Agility

The way to achieve Enterprise Agility

How many times we have heard about agile, Jira, Kanban, etc., and everything related to agile philosophy? Today we can find a lot of software tools to manage projects or processes using agile methods. However, can enterprises implement agile through implementing a software tool?

What is Agile?

Agile is a philosophy, a way to act, to collaborate in an organization to achieve a goal, to complete activities and tasks, in a process to ensure and encourage participation, leadership, and collaboration among every team.

Enterprise Agile Transformation

Business Agility is an ability for enterprises to react to changes using an evolved system in the way they work. From this system, we can extract its essence and adapt it to any professional field.

The Process

Figure 1. Enterprise Agile Transformation Framework

Before implementing software to manage agile projects or processes, we need to make a change in our processes, our organizational and leadership and people mindset, and our belief, to create an agile environment in processes and people. We must begin to change our minds and our organization. This is the way to implement agile in any organization. How?

  1. Change the mindset. Today, project team members, and employees, are one of the main parts of the business. Without them, an enterprise can’t work and achieve strategic goals. As leaders, we should recognize their value and encourage their collaboration and participation in every process. In this context, leaders, from executives to supervision levels, should impulse a leadership model based on:
    1. Motivation
    2. Empowerment
    3. Share responsibilities with the team




Focus attention on the main wealth generators of your organization.  It is important to transform their mindset and their way of facing changes with agility. If moving the boat (an entire company) is complex, then in parallel a BOAT is built that moves faster.  A flexible and small structure. A self-sufficient team, empowered and specialized in facing market changes.

  1. Change your processes. It is important to review your processes to create lean ones that include support to manage changes. Reduce bureaucracy through employee empowerment, giving them enough authority to make decisions and eliminating unnecessary steps.
  2. Change your organization. We must break with the idea of working by departments – by silos. Unite the diversity of professionals in an area, a flatter structure, or a HUB. Common mental, digital, and physical spaces favor agility.
  3. Customer Centric and focused on clients’ needs. Nowadays, clients change their needs and preferences. It is imperative to know their expectations, and how you can address those to manage their preferences and make changes. Listen to customer needs. Orient the attention of your entire crew towards a customer-centric objective. The goal of agile teams is to meet customer demands. And to hear it, it is important to focus attention on a 360º view: sales data, navigation data, and direct customer data.
  4. Frameworks. To face changing environments, it is important to organize teams with new ways of working. For this, Agile business methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Design Thinking, OKRs, and Management 3.0 can be implemented. For example, you can work with SCRUM frameworks used within teams that handle high-uncertainty and complex projects. This will allow you to set new work rules, such as working in short periods called sprints, carrying out daily follow-up or daily meetings, working with the initial features that offer value to customers and the organization such as MPVs; and organizing teams in another way:  product owner, scrum master and development teams.
  5. MVP Culture. The minimum viable product must be above complete products. An MVP culture should be established to deliver constant value to the customer. Instead of developing an entire product for years and waiting until it is complete, the MVP allows us to launch the minimum value of this product to the market, check how it is received by the customer, and continue to evolve with new developments in the right direction.

Software tools

After you have begun changes in your mindset leadership and employees, your organization, and your processes, you can implement software tools that can help you to measure and improve your processes, fix issues, and achieve Enterprise Agility. By means of software tools, your enterprise can start a transformational agile way, face changes, adapt processes through automation, and respond fast and efficiently to customer changes by analyzing their behavior.

Enterprise Agile Transformation Benefits

  1. Focus on people. Collaborative and multidisciplinary work makes talent prevail over processes and organizational charts.
  2. Empowerment and motivation. Collaborative work, fluid communication, and the equal participation of all team members generate autonomy, transparency, and accountability in all its members, which empowers and motivates employees
  3. Risk Minimization. The continuous review model allows adaptation to change in a faster and more efficient way, finding solutions during the process that minimize the risks of failure
  4. Response Speed. Agile transformation provides a flexible structure that allows the delivery of projects/services versions within short deadlines.
  5. Improved results. The closeness with the client allows having a more excellent knowledge of it providing a differential added value and generating savings in costs.

Change Management: Walking in the Footsteps of the Project Lifecycle

Over the years, many theories of change have been proposed. For example, Kotter’s theory of change articulates 8 steps in a change management process, starting with the first step of needing to ‘create urgency’ through to the final step of ‘anchoring change in corporate culture’. 1

Lewin’s change management model proposes 3 phases for organizational change, starting from phase 1 which involves ‘unfreezing’ (preparing the organization to accept change that is necessary) to stage 3, which involves ‘refreezing’, which occurs when the organization is back in homeostasis.2

However, in my view, what has been poorly defined in the literature thus far is the difference between general cultural change within an organization and change management that is indigenous to the project lifecycle.

Take a typical project lifecycle as shown in Table 1.3 When we try to superimpose an aforementioned change model (let’s take Kotter’s), on the project lifecycle, it is easier to see why the change model isn’t entirely commensurate with the project stages.




Table 1. Kotter’s 8 stages of change superimposed on a typical project lifecycle

This reflects the fact that existing change models relate to general cultural change rather than project-specific change. However, in projects, both types of change are at play. We need a new model of change that adequately reflects both the cultural and project-specific change that occurs within projects. I have proposed a new model below in Table 2.

In this model, stages of cultural change and project-specific change are highlighted alongside each of the project lifecycle phases. The cultural change elements draw on Kotter’s model of change.


Table 2. New paradigm for change within projects.


By using such a model, project managers can know with greater clarity what activities they need to partake in at each stage of the project lifecycle when putting on their change management hat.


  1. (2022). Kotter’s 8-step change model. Available at: https://www.accipio.com/eleadership/mod/wiki/view.php?id=1874. (Accessed: 17th September, 2022)
  2. (2022). Lewin’s Change Management Model: understanding the three stages of change. Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_94.htm. (Accessed: 17th September, 2022).
  3. Adobe Communications Team. (2022). Project life cycle: a guide to what it is and the 5 life cycle stages. Available at: https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/life-cycle (Accessed: 17th September, 2022).