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Book review: Green Project Management

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green project management book cover

Rich Maltzman, PMP, and Dave Shirley, PMP, wrote a very timely book: Green Project Management: Planet, Projects, Profits, and People. It’s tapping into the trend for greening projects.

In fact, Maltzman and Shirley coin a term to define how green a project is: they call it ‘greenality’, a mix of greenness and quality.

We’ve chosen to define greenality this way: “the degree to which an organization has considered environmental (green) factors that affect its projects during the entire project life cycle and beyond.”

Can you be green if you’re just doing a bog-standard, ordinary project?  Not everyone can save the rainforests. Maltzman and Shirley show that you don’t have to be implementing a conservation project to be green. They talk about the ‘spectrum of green’ onto which all projects fall. 

Yes, those rainforest projects are up there as green, but at the other end of the scale is the software development company that uses collaboration tools to save on flying executives around the country for meetings.

The book includes lots of examples, and there’s practical advice about how to manage your project through the lifecycle in a green way.  Chapters 5, 6 and 7 look at the lifecycle including how to introduce the greenality commitment and get your team to avoid seeing it as a climate change crusade.

While few would suggest that green projects are not good for the environment, in the harsh world of business there has to be a business case to bother changing the way we do things. And there is. 

Maltzman and Shirley show that there is a business connection between people, planet and profit:  be green and save money.  Working more efficiently is better utilization of human resources, and it also saves on other types of resources, making the project cheaper.  Everyone’s a winner.

Project managers have always been green – perhaps without knowing it.  By definition, we are constantly trying to reduce costs, increase value, and protect scarce resources, and that is being green… 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.

Chapter 13 is full of quick tips, and while the advice is good I think the structure of this chapter makes it less effective. The tips are grouped by who provided them, not thematically, and it could do with a strong editing hand. But that’s the only downside in this book.

The upsides include lots of interesting and innovative ideas – not many project management texts get to talk about something fresh and new. There are some great concepts here, including the wonderful idea of ‘hope creep’ for when project stakeholder’s expectations exceed what you can realistically deliver.

It was a very interesting read.  There will be people who dismiss green project management as a fad, but if the policies and standards (from Kyoto to ISO14000) discussed in the book continue to form part of the constraints of the business environment, project managers should be at the forefront of adopting these new ways of working.

Buy on Amazon

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