• As Project Managers, You’re Shaping the Future

    Oct 19 • Uncategorized • 2556 Views

    By Shar Olivier, MEM, LEED-AP

    IIL’s Global Business Development Manager/Director of Sustainability and CSR

    The future is full of uncertainty.  As project managers, you are placed in the position of predicting the future on a daily basis, something that scientists and world leaders are attempting to do as our global climate changes at an alarming rate. How do project managers fit into this mix?  PMs are not necessarily scientists or leaders of countries, you are not the CEO, at the end of the day what power do you possess?  My thinking is that you are the real shapers of the world. You make the choices and the decisions that have lasting effects across the Enterprise and across the Globe.

    Every day you make choices, about human capital, about resources and materials, about risk management and change management.  By looking at these choices through the lens of Sustainability, and across the Enterprise, NOT just for the duration of your project, you can be the change agents crucial to ensuring a sustainable future.  You can develop your Sustainability Consciousness.  Can you look at the outcomes of your project for the life of the product or program?  Can you forecast first costs vs. last costs?  Can you look at the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) of the project?  How do your choices tie into the Supply Chain?  And into the Value Chain of the entire Enterprise?  These questions can guide your decision making and allow you to reduce risk, and increase profitability and ensure the success of your project (not to mention making your project sponsors and senior stakeholders very happy)!

    How can you shape the future with your successful project? Here are three ways:

    1.   See your project through the lens of the SEEE ModelIIL has developed a model for the four pillars of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility: Social, Economic, Environmental and Ethical impacts.SEEE concept v052.   Practice Relentless Risk Analysis– Every time you have a meeting, use the top ten risks as your agenda. Always be asking your team and stakeholders questions about the future. For example: What risks do you see in the near term and long term? What would we do if the top engineer left for another position? What’s the Plan B if we don’t receive the materials on time? Additionally, consider the broader context of Enterprise Risk: How does my project effect the Value Chain of the entire organization?  Does my project contribute to Climate Change, or does it help to solve this crucial global risk we all face?

    3.   Identify your project’s Sustainability Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and track them. You cannot manage what you do not measure.  I am sure most of you are familiar with the old adage, but if has never been more relevant.  What resources/materials are involved in my project?  Were they sourced responsibly? What are the effects of your project on Air Quality, Water Quality or Ecosystem Services?  What is my project’s carbon footprint?  How much Greenhouse Gases (GHG) has my project produced or sequestered?  How does your project effect the Human Capital involved and community in which it takes place?  Have all stakeholders been taken into consideration?  By embedding these questions and Metrics into your project from the onset, you will impact the outcomes and the total Value Chain across the Enterprise.

    In order to reliably assess what the future holds for your project, you need to gather relevant data on a regular basis at frequent intervals. This not only instills a discipline in reporting, but it enables you, the project manager, and others, to detect trends and predict outcomes. If you are keeping track of trends, then you’ll be in a better position to see where those trends lead.

    Another crucial aspect of success is to cross over business units and communicate.  Do not allow your team to be put into a silo.  Involve HR, Finance, and other business units in your project planning and outcomes.  Understand the Enterprise functionality and how integrated thinking and communication is vital to the success of your project.

    Predicting the future isn’t easy, but with the right global vision and the right team focus on enterprise risk and impacts, we can each be leaders to our stakeholders, and our projects will have the lasting impacts for a sustainable future.

    Please visit www.iil.com and take part in IPM Day 2015: Ensuring a Sustainable Future

    About Shar Olivier
    Shar is a recognized thought leader in Sustainability and the Director of IIL’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice Area.  With more than 18 years of experience in the field, Shar has presented to more than 100,000 professionals across dozens of business sectors.  She presented most recently at the PMI Southern Caribbean Chapter in Trinidad on Organizational Survival, and graduated at the top of her class in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment.

    About International Institute for Learning, Inc. (IIL)
    IIL is a global leader in training, consulting, coaching and customized course development, and is proud to be the educational provider of choice for many top global companies. IIL’s core competencies include Project, Program and Portfolio Management, Business Analysis, Microsoft® Project and Project Server, Lean Six Sigma, PRINCE2®, ITIL®, Agile, Leadership and Interpersonal Skills, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability, like Sustainable Supply Chain Management, Organizational Sustainability, Sustainability Accounting (ESG), and Corporate Reporting.



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  • IPM Day 2015: Ensuring a Sustainable Future

    May 29 • Uncategorized • 3518 Views

    This year IIL will focus the content of our virtual conference around Sustainability.  There was overwhelming demand for Sustainability subject matter from our more than 65,000 registrants last year.  Experts and thought leaders from this space are coming together to create a tremendous program.

    Curtis Ravenel, Chief Sustainability Officer for Bloomberg, will speak in a roundtable forum about the business case for Sustainability.  He will discuss the millions at stake in adoption of Sustainable best practices and how corporations are transforming their cultures and business models to affect the bottom line.

    Another amazing presentation is expected from Dan Abbasi, the Executive Producer of the award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously.  It brilliantly illustrates the extreme environmental risks we are facing, in light of Climate Change and endangered ecosystems.  The film features Harrison Ford and Matt Damon among others.

    We are equally excited about the case study in sustainable design that will be presented by Catherine Sheehy, Program Manager of Sustainable Services for UL Environment and Gretchen Digby, Director of Global Sustainability programs for Ingersoll Rand.  These are just a few of the outstanding sessions featured in our virtual conference that takes place on November 5th, with an additional 90-day access to content.

    Other topics include Fundamentals of Sustainability, Resource Management, Corporate Social Responsibility, ESG Risk Assessment, Green PM, Supply Chain and Value Chain, Lean Six Sigma, Agile and Change Management. Participation entitles you to 20 PMP®/PgMP® PDUs.

    Learn more and register here >>

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  • Earth Day= Every Day in Sustainability Practice

    Apr 20 • Environmental, Featured • 2505 Views

    Every year, today, on April 22nd millions of people worldwide come together to celebrate the Earth.  This momentous event began in the United States in 1970, and is now celebrated in over 192 countries.  It is a day that eco-activists and environmentalists use to educate the world on vital and urgent issues affecting our Climate, Ecosystems and Oceans.  Companies and organizations often take this opportunity to highlight work they have done all year toward their environmental goals.  As the world moves toward Sustainability Practice, these strategies become integrated into the overall business models.  Every day millions of professionals achieve breakthroughs in Environmental Leadership, Responsible Design, and Change Management. Every day they better understand the impacts their companies have on the world and their responsibility to the global community.  Every day they create efficient, eco-friendly products, services and manufacturing practices.   So today, on Earth Day, we at IIL celebrate the Sustainability Professionals, CSR Directors, Product Designers, Project Managers, and Executives that, by their hard work, choose to make Earth Day every day.  They choose to Think Sustainably and Act Differently™.

    Take part in an Earth Day Celebration near you:




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  • Sylvia Earle, Glamour’s Woman of the Year

    Nov 13 • Uncategorized • 7774 Views

    Renowned marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer Sylvia Earle, Ph.D. was recently named Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine.

    “Even as her 80th birthday approaches, Earle, who is National Geographic‘s explorer-in-residence, continues to spend three months a year on ocean expeditions. ‘You can still go 500 feet deep almost anywhere in the world,’ she says, ‘and see things no one has ever seen before.'”

    book-graphic-balestreroWe were fortunate enough to have her pen the foreword for Organizational Survival  last yearread on for her inspiring words

    On Midway Island, halfway across the Pacific Ocean, I recently contemplated a nesting Laysan albatross sheltering her single egg. Observers who have documented her return to this place since the 1950s call her Wisdom. A serene gray and white bird, Wisdom began a lifetime of flying over the surface of the ocean at about the same time I launched myself into decades of exploring the depths below. Over the years, we have both witnessed the appearance of masses of drifting plastics, slicks of oil, and an increasing abundance of ships—as well as a steady decrease in the number of squid and fish necessary for Wisdom’s survival, and that of her future hatchlings. Both Wisdom and I have experienced an era of unprecedented changes, but she cannot understand the causes, nor could she know what to do to about them even if she did understand. But humans can.

           Owing to the advances of technology in the past century, humanity has learned more about the nature of the world and the universe beyond than during all the preceding time. By some accounts, at the same time, more has been lost. Since the middle of the twentieth century, half of the planet’s coral reefs have disappeared or are in a state of sharp decline. Populations of many fish and other ocean species have decreased by 90 percent. Only five percent of North America’s old growth forests remain from their former expanse across the continent. Globally, mangrove forests, coastal marshes, kelp forests, and sea-grass meadows have declined by as much 60 percent. Oxygen-generating, food-producing phytoplankton populations are changing, with hundreds of dead zones in some coastal regions and reduced levels of production in others. Measurements of ice decline in polar regions are coincident with increasing temperature, sea level rise, and ocean acidification—all closely coupled with the swiftly increasing emissions of carbon dioxide generated by burning vast reservoirs of fossil fuels—coal, oil and gas—that were millions of years in the making.

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  • PM-POV Podcast: “Corporate Sustainability: Beyond Profitability, Moving to Prosperity” featuring Greg Balestrero

    Oct 17 • Uncategorized • 3302 Views

    “Corporate Sustainability: Beyond Profitability, Moving to Prosperity”

    A discussion with Greg Balestrero about key themes of his book, Organizational Survival : Profitable Strategies for a Sustainable Future, and the implications for Project and Program Managers.

    Listen here 

    Project Management Point-of-View (PM-POV), a podcast series produced by the Washington DC Chapter of the Project Management Institute, allows PMI’s membership and the public at large to listen to brief and informative conversations with beltway area practitioners and executives as they discuss various perspectives on project management– its uses, its shortcomings, its changes, and its future. Listeners can send comments and suggestions for topics and guests to: pm-pov@pmiwdc.org.

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  • 7 Strategic Approaches of Sustainability Leaders

    Sep 24 • Uncategorized • 3808 Views

    By Greg Balestrero 

    Sustainability leaders are no longer hard to find. With the proliferation of global sustainability reporting and detailed web presences, it has become much easier to track the outstanding characteristics that separate the leaders from the rest of the pack.

    However, I am a realist, too…generalizations can sometimes rear their ugly heads. But by and large, sustainability leaders and their organizations distinguish themselves by embracing strategy in seven important ways:

    1. Building and utilizing Enterprise Risk “Radar.”

    These organizations possess the ability and corporate competence to identify critical risks that could either damage or enhance their success. This capability goes beyond traditional financial risks and includes risks from social, environmental, and ethical practices.

    2. Clearly defining sustainability strategies, which are integrated into the long-term company strategy

    Usually the long-term organizational strategy embraces sustainability in their values and in their goal setting.

    3. Deliberately deploying sustainability initiatives

    Most of these companies employ some form of balanced scorecard to ensure that initiatives are driven by the strategy and that progress can be assessed with clear measures and metrics.

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  • 7 Key Characteristics of Synergistic Partnerships

    Aug 28 • Featured • 9788 Views

    By Greg Balestrero 

    Most sustainability leaders recognize that one company cannot reach its goals alone. Synergetic partnerships are crucial to success. Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent calls it the Golden Triangle. Nike calls on the organization to “actively collaborate with others, including governments, NGOs, activists and…long-time competitors.” Unilever CEO Paul Polman states that change must happen at a systemic level, which will happen only if all major players in society commit to change and collaborate.

    Collaborations are happening in all kinds of industries. Coca-Cola partnered with the World Wildlife Federation and the Nature Conservancy to address climate change. At the same time, they collaborated with Pepsi Cola in BONSUCRO to address sustainable agriculture for organic sweeteners. Boeing and BMW are teaming up to address recycling of carbon fiber. SABMiller has partnered with the World Wildlife Federation. Greenpeace finds itself in more corporate boardrooms than it ever would have been able to imagine in its wildest dreams (or nightmares). Honest! No kidding! Really, all of these are facts.

    I would love to have been a fly on the wall when some of these collaborations were first discussed, especially those that involved competitors. No doubt in my mind that collaboration is not easy. It takes work. Cultures at partnering organizations can be wildly different, creating potential conflicts that can undermine any and all efforts. However, after careful study, it appears that most successful relationships follow these guidelines to build successful, valuable partnerships:
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  • Breaking a Paradigm of Belief, Part 1

    Mar 26 • Featured • 4517 Views


    I just returned from two back-to-back trips that did nothing except convince me of two things: One, the tipping point for sustainable organizational transformation is near; two, there is still so much to do to convince organizations to change.

    My first stop was at Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, one of the top 10 business schools in North America. The Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute of Corporate Citizenship (ICC) sponsored the address, part of the Sustainability Experts Speaker Series @ Rotman. The room was filled with graduate students, industry professionals and government employees all seeking to learn more about the importance of sustainability in the world, and the role that business and government can play in a real and tangible solution.

    The eagerness in the audience to listen and engage was incredible. The questions afterward rewarded me with some challenging dialog. Many of the questions still swirled around the issue of the business case for change and getting their companies to act. Another issue was having enough corporate foresight or incentive to truly drive companies to change their strategies and respond to critical sustainability challenges.
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  • “When women succeed, America succeeds”

    Mar 14 • Featured • 3186 Views

    A guest post by Rebecca True, Founder and President of True Capital Advisors, LLC, and Organizational Survival contributing author. Rebecca has over 15 years of consultative and financial services industry experience. She is a Certified Financial Manager (CFM) and holds a degree in Economics from the University of South Florida. Actively involved in her community, she currently serves as President of the Central Florida Women’s League (CFWL) and resides in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughters.

    In President Obama’s recent State of the Union address he highlighted the importance of correcting our country’s income inequality problem. The Twitterverse exploded with discussion about prioritizing one aspect of making our companies, families, and country more sustainable. Paying women similarly to men for equal work is not only a respectable idea from a social standpoint, but perhaps more importantly, it’s also a way to reinforce the long-term success of our nation’s economy.  A strong economy fortifies America’s strength and endurance as a global leader.

    Although American women have made great professional strides in the past 3 decades, women are still reported to earn just 77% of what men earn for performing similar work.  Obviously there are a million reasons why women may happily accept an under-compensation arrangement and a million more reasons why under-compensation continues to be problematic.  However, with the big picture in mind, the benefits of corporate transparency are measurable and specific.  Income inequality doesn’t have to be a part of corporate cultures at this point. Just as with many other sustainability initiatives, the roadmap exists for those organizations that are open to embracing change. Organizations that want to improve their sustainability should consider beginning with initiatives to improve the management of their greatest assets– their employees.  Employees have the potential to provide very large positive impacts on an organization’s bottom line.  Employers need to better understand just how significant the impact can be.
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  • It’s Time to Change Our Perception

    Feb 17 • Featured, Nathalie Udo • 4327 Views

    Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

    There might be disagreements about the root causes, but the facts are clear:

    The world population is growing rapidly. While it took centuries to get to 1 billion people, it has only taken 80 years to grow from 2 billion to over 7 billion people. During my lifetime alone 3 billion people were added to Earth’s population.

    The world’s economic middle class will grow from 1 billion to 4 billion by 2050. Most of this growth will take place in Asia and South America.

    Our natural resources are becoming more scarce as more people consume fresh water, rare metals, fish, and other natural resources.

    Global climate changes are making certain places warmer, others colder, some places drier, others wetter, and in the future will have a major impact on our coastlines.

    In her foreword to the book I co-authored with Greg Balestrero, Organizational Survival: Profitable Strategies for a Sustainable Future, National Geographic Explorer Sylvia Earle wrote “Astronauts in training learn everything they can about the systems that keep them alive during journeys in the hostile environment beyond Earth’s atmosphere. While flying through space, they take care of their air, water, food, and temperature control as if their lives depend on it…”
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