Do green/sustainability project managers have the critical “know-how” to leverage a more sustainable world?

Donella Meadows once noted that there are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.  She called them “leverage points”, they are places where you can intervene in a system.  (Leverage Points: Places to intervene in a system)

Over the last few months our discussions about Zero Net Impact, Biomimicry and Sustainability Strategy Development have clarified for me that we are undergoing a pretty major system overhaul.  We need all the leverage points we can get.

Donella identified the top leverage point: changing the mindset or paradigm out of which the system – its goals, power structure, rules, its culture – arise.  Essentially each and every one of us needs to rethink how we go about our work every day.

In business there may be no  group more important to this system change than the people whom develop, manage and implement every project in our organization.  The Project Management profession is a key leverage point.  If every project embedded “green (sustainable) project principles” we might be able to shift our current systems along the sustainability continuum.

Dave Shirley and Rich Maltzman couldn’t agree more.  These two veterans of the project management profession wrote the book Green Project Management last year and are providing training to the Project Management Profession.

“In our research for the book, as well as in our many decades of project experience, we realized that “greening a project” is much more than saving the environment ,” says Maltzman. “We know from running hundreds of projects that a project with a high score in greenality is going to be an effective and efficient project—saving resources, which translates to saving money.  A project with a high greenality score is good for the bottom line.”

The authors decided they needed a word that would communicate a project’s green-ness, or eco-friendliness, or enviro-efficiency, or earth-awareness, without using those clumsy-sounding hyphenated words. With their background in project management training and quality, they decided to coin the word – greenality.

Greenality, like quality or granularity, is something that can be measured along a scale.  “We have chosen to define greenality as  “the degree to which an organization has considered environmental (green) factors that affect its projects during the entire project life cycle and beyond”, notes Shirley.

 Maltzman and Shirley contend that:

  1. A project run with green intent is the right thing to do, but it will also help the project team do the right thing.
  2. Project managers must first understand the green aspects of their projects, knowing that this will better equip them to identify, manage, and respond to project risks.
  3.  An environmental strategy for a project provides added opportunity for success of both the project and the product of the project.
  4. Project managers must view their projects through an environmental lens. This increases the project manager’s (and the project team’s) long-term thinking and avails the project of the rising “green wave” of environmentalism.
  5. Project managers must think of the environment in the same way they think of quality. It must be planned in, and the cost of “greenality,” like the cost of quality, is more than offset by the savings and opportunities it provides.

Are you a Project Management Professional or someone managing sustainability projects wondering if you are fully integrating sustainability/environmental aspects throughly into your programs?  Maltzman and Shirley are running the Sustainability Learning Centre’s “Green/Sustainability Project Management -Integrating Sustainability into your Projects, Programs, and Portfolios” training program on-line commencing October 17th, 2012.  This live program will include four – 1.5 hour lecture/discussion sessions and 4 assessment modules.  Participants have access to SLC’s Community of Practice and participants receive the “Green Project Management” book.

These two project management veterans have designed the program for both Sustainability Project Managers and Project Managers in a company implementing a sustainability strategy.  Content includes the drivers and indicators for “green project management”, green project fundamentals including “greenality”, potential “sustainability/green” changes to the PMBOK® Guide and Code of Ethics & Professional Responsibility, life cycle thinking, and environmental/sustainability project risk management.

Participants go through a 4 stage assessment process and can gain 7 Professional Development Units toward PMI Certification.

For more information or to register: ON-Line Green/Sustainability Project Management, Oct. 17 – Dec. 5, 2012

 

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About Kathryn Cooper

Kathryn Cooper is a committed sustainability practitioner and educator moving companies toward “green” profitability and sustainable competitive advantage by unlocking human creativity and technical innovation. Over the last two years she has had the privilege to work with companies like Dupont, Zerofootprint, WWF Canada, and Partners in Project Green on sustainability issues, best practices and renewable energy. Kathryn is a graduate of York University with a Master of Education specializing on Sustainability and the Environment. She holds an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph.
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One Response to Do green/sustainability project managers have the critical “know-how” to leverage a more sustainable world?

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