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Tag: Change Management

How to Make Every Project a Sustainable Project

Every organization brings a variety of motivations to its sustainability initiatives. Some aim to satisfy regulations, some install them as part of company culture, and some derive brand value from them.

In most cases, it’s a mix. In many cases, there’s a direct tie between sustainability and the for-profit projects a company pursues. Building electric vehicles or developing renewable energy technologies are examples of this intersection of interests.

But now that sustainability and ESG performance are part of the management landscape, it has something in common with everything else: It feels the effects of the macro environment. With fears of a recession on the horizon, a recent KPMG survey found 59% of CEOs plan to put their ESG efforts on pause or under review in the coming six months.

That exposes a potential contradiction. If sustainability is part of the business now, it’s no longer an “extra” that companies should trim early in a recession-proofing effort. So how can they bridge the gap between intention and execution in today’s business climate?

Whatever an organization is in business to do, there is an untapped opportunity to approach all projects with greener ways of working by embedding sustainability into the heart of project delivery. Every project has the potential to be a sustainable project. Project managers, naturally focused on execution, are the ideal partners to make sustainability strategies a reality, while delivering tangible organizational benefits, such as reducing resource consumption and expanding stakeholder understanding and engagement of sustainability.

Here’s how to shift your mindset and approach any project sustainably:



Every skilled project manager understands the importance of stakeholder management: knowing who is impacted by a project and how it affects them. The most obvious, and longstanding, definition of stakeholders starts with the people a project is “for,” such as customers, investors, and your leadership team.

But a comprehensive view of sustainability execution requires you to broaden this definition. There are the employees who work alongside you and the contractors, partners and suppliers who do their part to move your work ahead. Your project likely has ripple effects throughout an entire community, or several—residents, small business owners, local governments, and others.

It’s clear that important environmental, social and governance goals and frameworks have birthed a new ecosystem of stakeholders. According to Green Project Management’s recent “Insights Into Sustainable Project Management” report, 97% of executives say that projects and project management are integral to sustainable development. As sustainability broadens our perception of responsibility, everyone who leads projects must be aware of all stakeholders and the impact each project has on them.


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One lens that can help us understand this new challenge comes from the United Nations, which created 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. The list includes concerns such as “no poverty,” “zero hunger,” “responsible consumption and production” and “peace, justice and strong institutions.” What’s more important is that these aren’t separate items. They affect and support one another.

Not every SDG will be relevant to every project. For example, your project may have nothing to do with clean water or quality education. But at least one SDG relates to every project, and the link isn’t always obvious.

Suppose you’re developing software. SDG No. 8 likely comes into play: decent work and economic growth. No. 10, reduced inequality, is probably relevant too. What are the labor conditions, including for outsourced workers? Do your vendors and suppliers pay fair wages and provide equal opportunity in hiring?

Through this lens, it’s easy to see how ESG factors and the stakeholders they touch can multiply quickly. A broader stakeholder view, informed by sustainability goals and guided by the United Nations’ SDGs, can help a project deliver more positive benefits to more people.



Sustainability expands the project management view along another dimension: time. Your work plan may have an end date, but the effects carry on. Especially if you work to create something tangible, such as a building or a vehicle, your project can impact the world over the years or decades until that work product is discarded or dismantled.

How long will the building last, for example? How will it serve and shape its community while it’s there? What economic effects will it have? And when its day is done, what will be the environmental impact of deconstructing it and accounting for its materials? According to Green Project Management’s report, 38% of project managers say that extreme weather events such as flash floods, wildfires and sea-level rise impact their project work, up from 4% in 2019.

Whether you operate on long timeframes like that or produce end products that come and go within days, the scale changes but the questions remain. Anyone who leads projects should probe to find and answer as many of them as possible.



There is a strong link between sustainability and innovation: to see change happen on the ground, and quickly. The world needs new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. Approaching projects through the lens of sustainability adds a new way of thinking and opens the way for innovative approaches to sustainability execution. And the payoffs are for society and the planet.

Doing work that generates more value can’t help but be a long-term benefit to you and your organization. The good news is that the tools you need to drive sustainability are ones you already have in your project management toolkit.

So, take a step back—and take a look around. You got into this line of work to make things happen. Your opportunity to do that just got bigger.

Goals are NOT Expectations: Change Mindsets to Avoid the Suffering of Disappointed Stakeholders

Goals are something to work toward or aspire to. Expectations are beliefs that something will occur in a certain way. Goals are not expectations. And knowing the difference can help to avoid unnecessary disappointment and conflict.


Last month I wrote about embracing imperfection to achieve ongoing performance improvement. The implication is that we must expect imperfection, though it is certainly not a goal. Over time imperfection (for example schedule overruns, defects, and unnecessary conflicts) is very highly probable. So, expecting it to occur is realistic. It is what risk management is all about.

We also expect to achieve our goals. That expectation may be more or less realistic, depending on the goal and the capacity of the people involved to achieve it.


The Problem and Symptoms

While it may be wise to have no expectations, they are a natural part of life. The expectation is not the problem. The problem is failing to remember that the expectation is a belief or desire subject to uncertainty and change.

Failing to remember is a problem because it leads to unnecessary stress in the form of anxiety, anger, blaming, and more. Symptoms are conflict, unmet objectives, and the disappointment and unease of unfulfilled expectations.


Case Example

Imagine this scenario. Senior stakeholders have set a goal. To accomplish it means initiating work in late March, to meet the need to use an expensive, elite contractor team, only available for three months. At the end of June, the resources are firmly committed elsewhere.

According the contractor’s detailed schedule and a guarantee, the work these resources will perform can be done in three months, with some time set aside as a buffer to account for delays related to the work itself, for example sick time, slippage, testing, etc. The contractor agreement stipulates that if work does not begin in March there will be no guarantee of completion by June. If the team has to leave without completing the work the entire project will be significantly delayed.

Project management and the steering group expect that in the two months beginning January 30th the negotiation of a contract and the receipt of permission to perform the work from a corporate controller will be completed so our elite team can begin their work on the planned March start date.


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Contract negotiations with the involvement of a legal department has commonly taken an unknowable amount of time owing to the availability of attorneys, their priorities, and the issues that come up in the negotiation. The time the controller department takes to review and sign off begins only after the contract is signed and is subject to committee schedules and the number and type of issues found.

Senior sponsors expect the PM to take care of everything and get the job done. The PM believes that the predecessor tasks will be done quickly, trusting in the attorneys and accountants to do their jobs on time.

What is the likelihood of slippage? When it happens will there be anger and blaming or acceptance and understanding? Who will pay the costs associated with the delays.


The Cause

Over confidently expecting goals to be met with certainty is the problem. But what is the cause?

The cause is ignoring the fact that expectations are beliefs and that there is uncertainty about them being met. People tend to ignore this reality because they are so attached to the expected outcome that they can’t bear the thought that it won’t be accomplished. we tend to like certainty, especially when it comes to accomplishing or acquiring what we want.

The root cause of suffering is ignorance which appears as attachment and aversion, according to Buddhist psychology. It seems true. We tend to cling to an impossible idea or belief until we are convinced it is impossible. For example, being certain that we will meet our schedule (“I’m sure the legal department will get back to us with time to spare”).

Ignorance is an interesting word. Many people are insulted by being informed that they are ignorant, they don’t like to admit they are ignorant of something. Others do not realize or care that they are ignorant of something, for example the demanding boss/client/sponsor/project manager who is not aware of the complexity of the work that has to be done and the risks involved, and who isn’t motivated to find out.

The good news is that since ignorance is not having knowledge or information, it is curable.


The Solution: Risk Management

There is a solution to the problem of over confident expectations. It is to cure ignorance by making it clear to every stakeholder that uncertainty must be accepted because uncertainty in project work is an undeniable reality. That is why risk management is part of the project management process.

The core of the solution is to change mindsets. The desired mindset is one that expects uncertainty and change.

Mindset change can occur as part of a formal training program. Or it can be in the form of content in conversations, proposals and plans that highlight where there is uncertainty, what the probability of negative and positive outcomes, and what impact they may have. Mindset change can be as simple as presenting ranges of cost and schedule expectations.

With a change in mindset, practice estimating and scheduling skills to integrate risks and buffers to assess multiple scenarios and get a practical sense of how likely it is under various conditions to achieve the goal. Then throughout project life report, reassess and adjust as needed to manage expectations.


Going Forward

Eliminating the pain triggered by mistaking goals for expectations is simple. Get rid of ignorance and the light goes on making everything better. Simple but not easy. changing mindsets takes intention, time, and skillful effort. It is a change management or transformation program.

The effort is easiest if there is an existing process improvement process and mindset is addressed as part of it. If that is not the case, then the effort is more difficult. If the most senior leadership is open-minded and aware of the situation, change is more likely to be successful.

If the cause is not recognized on the highest levels, then rely on subtle bottom up change in which there is firm push back and skillful communication to set rational expectations.


Managing Expectations: A Mindful Approach to Achieving Success by George Pitagorsky
The Zen Approach to Project Management by George Pitagorsky

Best of PMTimes: Change Management in Projects – The Overlooked Methodology

The Scenario

The decision to implement a new technology solution is a significant one and, in many cases, a project that typically an organization is unlikely to undertake often. It is a project that requires a significant investment of money, time, and effort and so, return on investment (ROI) represents an important set of metrics that an organization should keep at the forefront of their minds. In almost all cases, the primary ROI metric is in fact a question – “How many people are now using the new software?”. This basic question should never be overlooked and I recommend asking it at the earliest stage of the project and phrasing that question differently- “How do we ensure everyone embraces our new software?”.

This subtle nuance is so frequently missed or undervalued, which is understandable as so much focus is applied to the traditional method of running technology projects; the priority is delivery and subsequently, user adoption does not get the attention it requires. Like a motor car, you can build the finest, most performant engine but if you only include one seat, only a select few people will choose to drive it.


The Culture

First and foremost, it is important to understand that having a perfectly designed and configured technology solution will not alone deliver a truly successful project. In the modern professional world, each of us has a significant level of autonomy in how we work and when using technology; we do not share email addresses or mobile phones and we typically undertake our day-to-day jobs differently from the next person. These examples are obvious when we think about them, so we should look at change through a similar lens; change affects people at an individual level.

The human mind is a complex thing; 1.4kgs of intelligence, hope, love, fear, and everything in between. We celebrate and promote our individuality in life, so we must consider everyone’s uniqueness when delivering a project. When we think back to previous changes we have experienced in our professional lives, almost always the same combination of positive and negative questions and remarks are made. Such examples include:

  • “Great! It’s about time we improved that.”
  • “Not for me. The current solution works just fine.”
  • “The last project was a nightmare.”
  • “Wow! This might actually make my life a lot easier.”

It is natural to respond negatively to change. Even as a Project Manager, in the past I have instinctively reacted with pessimism when I have felt a change was forced upon me! It is this realization that has driven me to adjust and develop project delivery methods to encourage people to embrace change.


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Delivering Change

We need to view delivering successful change as both a lineal and perpetual process. Embracing change starts at the onset of a project and continues throughout the weeks and months ahead until we reach ‘go-live’ and beyond. The sections below include suggested methods for embracing change and delivering a successful project.

1. Ignite Interest – 0-1 month of the project

It is important to start communicating with the user community as soon as possible. This is a vital step- addressing the common complaints raised by users that they were unaware of and/or not consulted about the new software.

Below are some ways to get you started on communicating and igniting interest:

  • Announce during any regular “Town Hall” style company-wide meetings
  • Send an email to announce and sell the benefits
  • If appropriate, force-out screensaver/ desktop wallpaper announcements
  • Print free-standing banners and place in communal areas of the office
  • If screens exist in communal areas, display messages of the new project
  • Utilize the Intranet

The key to these activities is to build interest, not provide copious amounts of information. View this as a method of igniting some excitement so focus on the key selling points of the product.


2. Develop Interest – 1-3 months of the project

It is now time to build upon the initial interest that has been generated in the project. We should now be at a point that everyone in the organization is aware of the incoming software; this initial interest needs to be developed. We must remain mindful that one of the most common complaints following a project’s implementation, is that the end-users have not been consulted or felt involved. If someone feels negatively towards an incoming change, it is often because they feel that change has been forced upon them. Here are some recommended activities you can undertake at this stage of the process:

  • Run demonstration Workshops of the software
  • Establish user groups from each business area and run “interview” sessions to develop an understanding of how they work and how the software will need to be optimized for them
  • Set up a small number of workstations for users to “play” with the software
  • Provide regular project updates – most people don’t want huge amounts of detail; they just want to feel included and updated so share timelines and high-level updates


3. Empower Users – 3-4 months of the project

Training users on the new software is not a new concept but it is vital. The training delivery method is of particular importance and tailoring the training to specific departments is something that is highly recommended. When planning the training, ask questions such as “How will this department use the software?” With the knowledge built from the steps in stage 1, you will already have this knowledge so let’s use it to develop tailored training sessions. Training can of course be delivered in many forms:

  • Face to face, classroom sessions
  • Training videos/ eLearning
  • Quick Reference Guides (one-page graphical guides)
  • Remote, web-based training sessions

4. Support Users – Go live

To reach this point of the project, a significant level of investment and effort will have been expressed by all parties involved. Users have been trained, informed, and updated, but now they need to use the software. The risk here is that if there is one small gap in a user’s knowledge, then that can spark negativity that spreads throughout their user experience and transfer to their colleagues rapidly. To counter this, I always strongly recommend floorwalking. As outlined in this document, floorwalking ensures users are supported immediately during the first few days of using the software.


5. Into the Future

Change- specifically managing and embracing change, is a perpetual concept. Think of it as sliding down a curly-wurly slide and landing on a roundabout! Each twist in the slide represents the steps required for effective change during the project, followed by the roundabout which is the ongoing process of ensuring the change continues to be embraced and enjoyed. Whilst a new piece of software might not be as enjoyable (or nausea-inducing) as a roundabout, it is important to continue to communicate with your users after they have started using the software. Be sure to give that roundabout a “nudge” every now and then to keep it spinning. These nudges are often best delivered as metrics. The good thing about metrics is that they are typically easy to generate and simple to communicate. Consider options such as:

  • Usage stats – share how many people are using the software and when
  • Tangible benefits – where possible, calculate the direct or indirect cost benefits that have been realized vs the cost of the solution
  • Speak to your user community – remember, most software solutions are to benefit the users so be open to their feedback and share it


I honestly believe that there is no perfect solution to implementing a successful change. The wonders of humankind and technology mean there are just too many variables to have a concise set of rules to follow, in order to achieve a successful change. The points I have made in this document are simply my thoughts and broad suggestions, not a roadmap for success. If I can leave you with one concise suggestion, it is to always put yourself in the shoes of the end-user; base your approach on one that you would be comfortable being a part of.

Remove Causes to Solve Problems

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” ―  Albert Einstein


Performance problems are found wherever projects exist. There are two ways to resolve a performance problem: address its causes and address its symptoms. Effective problem-solving uses both approaches. Remove or remediate the symptoms while doing the work to address the causes.

Einstein’s advice is to think about a problem before jumping into to solve it. The solutions will be obvious as the problem is analyzed. This advice works well if you adapt the amount of time you spend thinking to the needs of the situation.


If the problem requires immediate attention, you still do better to think about it before deciding what to do and doing it. Then you can treat the symptoms with a temporary solution while you figure out what to do longer term to address the causes and conditions that gave rise to the problem.

Of course, there is the exception to every rule. If a lion is attacking you, don’t think for too long or you’ll get eaten. Fortunately, in projects we rarely encounter immediate threats. If we frequently react rather than respond thoughtfully, that’s a problem.


Everything is Caused by Something

Problem solving is on a firm foundation if you accept the systems and process thinking principle that everything is caused by something under existing conditions.

If everything results from causes and conditions, then resolve the causes and change the conditions, and the problem’s symptoms are resolved.


The symptoms are what tell us that a problem exists. For example, unhealthy conflict is a symptom, it can be addressed by separating the conflicting parties, so they don’t get into arguments. That solution removes the symptom without addressing its causes.

Symptoms are easier to remove, but the solution is temporary. On a personal level, treating the causes of anxiety or depression by taking drugs has side effects and fails to address the cause so that when the drugs wear off one either must take more or be anxious or depressed. The symptoms, or others that can be worse, return as the impact of the causes take effect.


Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. In our example, separating conflicting parties stops the conflicts. But if skillfully exploring differences would add value in planning, design, or making other decisions, removing the symptoms not only makes decision making less effective but it perpetuates the problem of unhealthy conflict management.

Causes are more difficult to remove than symptoms. They take much more time, sometimes years, and patient effort to change systemic factors and old habits.  But once the causes are addressed the problem can be permanently resolved. Of course, the solution might generate future problems. So be ready to refine any solution.


Example: Estimating

In projects, problems that effect performance include inaccurate estimating, unnecessary unhealthy conflict, perpetual performance shortfalls, high turnover of the most valuable staff, and poor decision making.

To address them all is beyond the scope of this article, so we will use the problem of inaccurate estimating as a prime example.


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The practice of padding (unjustifiably adding time or costs) to an estimate solves the problem of underestimating a single project’s costs and duration but undermines best practices and leads to distrust in the effectiveness of the estimators. It perpetuates padding.

With or without padding, continuous estimate adjustments throughout the life of a project gives stakeholders a continuously truer sense of cost and duration. Though, again, there may be distrust in the estimating process, particularly if the adjustments are too frequent and the result is far off from the original estimate. There is perpetual uncertainty.


The solution to the problem of chronic inaccurate estimating is found by exploring its causes and doing something about them. For example, causes may be the absence of historical project data that can be used in future estimating, unskilled estimators, fear of giving a realistic estimate that would displease clients or other powerful stakeholders, etc.

Note that, conceptually, the solution is the same for all performance problems – courageously and objectively look to the system (the organizational setting) and the mindset of the stakeholders in it. Be ready to eliminate the causes you find and at the same time apply temporary fixes to minimize the symptoms project by project.


Old Habits are Hard to break: Manage the Process

Solving chronic project management and performance problems through cause removal is a critical part of process and quality management.

Tactics like padding estimates to address inaccurate estimates become habits. Over time they get so ingrained in everyday activity that they become accepted normal behavior and after a while become part of the organization’s character..

You know that from personal experience that habits are hard to break. Changing or removing habits requires that first you recognize and acknowledge them. Then you can identify the ones that get in the way of improved performance, decide what (if anything) to do about them and do it.


Knowing that every outcome is caused by a process, a chain of causes and effects under conditions, processes like estimating, conflict, and quality management can be analyzed to enable assessment and the discovery of the causes of current or potential problem causes. Once causes are discovered you can decide what to do. You can live with things as they are, keep applying band-aid symptom removal solutions, or change the process to address the causes. If you choose to address the causes, you may find the need for anything from minor tweaks to cultural transformation. Bring cost, benefits, and risk assessment into play to decide what to do and when to do it.


The bottom line is to recognize that problems are natural parts of life. And the best way to work through them is to:

  • Step back, accept, describe, and think about the problem,
  • Weave a solution from options to let the problem persist, apply symptom removal, and cause removal solutions to address immediate symptoms and long-term effects,
  • Assess and refine, as needed.


Stepping back and accepting is often the most difficult part of solving performance problems. It takes objectivity and courage, remembering that ignoring problems will not make them go away and that limiting solutions to symptom removal will perpetuate the problem.

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.


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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., 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.