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Blogs | Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility | Set an Agenda for Your Organizational Survival | Page 2
  • Who’s Really Responsible?

    Feb 4 • Featured, Greg Balestrero, Nathalie Udo • 3176 Views

    As part of IPM Day this past November, IIL hosted a keynote webcast with Greg Balestrero and Nathalie Udo titled “Organizational Survival: Double Meaning of Sustainability.” 

    Dozens of questions were submitted during the post-keynote Q&A session. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to answer them all so we will be responding to your remaining questions via a series of blog posts.

    In our last Q&A post we talked about contributing to environmental sustainability on a smaller scale, whether it be as individual consumers or as a 30-person company. Which brings us to our next topic: Who is really responsible for large-scale sustainable change?

    Is it government or business? Entrepreneurs or corporate executives? Nathalie Udo and Greg Balestrero weigh in.

    Part I: “Embracing Sustainability: 5 Critical Changes for 2014”
    Part II: “Sustainability and Project Management”
    Part III: “Environmental Sustainability (It’s Not Just About ‘Being Green’)”


    1.  What is best way to persuade communities to be sustainable? In my point of view, sustainability rules should come from government as strategy, issue laws, etc. – Cesar V., Colombia

    I don’t disagree, but we wrote this book because we felt that government was not acting fast enough, due to their inability to grasp the magnitude of the situation and the polarity of beliefs in the constituents they represent. That is why we see companies as an enabler for solutions. Yes, government should enact regulations and policies to address long-term issues, which may have a negative impact on their constituents. However, governments are notoriously short-sighted and regulations and policies are often enacted when the problem has already had a negative impact.

    Knowledge of the potential and growing threat is critical. Take action by helping your community and your company, and understand the implications of ignoring action now. Most democratic governments worldwide have ways to get involved as a volunteer. Don’t wait for regulations, it will be too late. Act now to help the governments establish the right kind of motivation to get people and companies to change.

    2.  From your studies is sustainability more often driven top-down, bottom-up or by other drivers? As a practitioner of Business Process Management/Transformation tools, I’ve seen how it can be used to evolve and drive corporate greening and sustainability where it might not otherwise happen. I was wondering what you found.Carolyn B., Canada

    We found that it evolves from three basic directions.

    –  The organization is founded on social, economic, environmental and ethical values which, from the beginning, naturally lead to a fully integrated strategy.

    –  There is an “awakening” of a key leader that will drive and transform the organization. The leader may have had a realization based on a key global event, a competitor’s transformation, or some other public impact on their business. They may have a step-wise approach to transformation, perhaps beginning with zero waste.

    –  The organization changes reluctantly as they are forced to due to loss of market share, regulatory demands or customer decisions to shop elsewhere.

    Regardless of whether the organization is aggressively pursuing sustainability or kicking and screaming through the transition, the critical enabler is to build a strategy that works.

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  • ProjectsAtWork Interviews Greg Balestrero

    Jan 31 • Featured, Uncategorized • 2360 Views

    Greg Balestrero was recently interviewed by Editorial Director Aaron Smith for ProjectsAtWork.com.

    The two chatted about “why organizations must develop a strategy of sustainability today in order to compete in the future, how they can embrace the change necessary to make it happen, and what role project leaders have to play in all of this.”

    Take a look at some of the interview highlights.

    On Organizational Survival

    “We don’t consider this a book on sustainability in the classic sense. We’re not talking so much about how to make the planet sustainable as we are about how organizations are going to have to have a positive effect on society, the environment and the global economy if they are to remain in business.”

    On making a difference at the project level: 

    “You need to know that the key stakeholders go beyond the customer, whether they are regulators or social communities. You need to be rigorously accountable to the results for these stakeholders without being defensive. And that’s tough. To do it, you have to understand the risks beyond getting the project out the door and care about risks throughout the entire value chain.”

    On long-term organizational change: 

    “A change in strategy is not something that will come lightly in a company. There is nothing wrong with recycling bottles within its headquarters facility — they should be applauded for it. But will it have a significant impact on the environment? Will it help them embrace challenges and risks in the future? Hardly.”

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  • It’s Not Just About “Being Green”

    Jan 24 • Featured, Greg Balestrero, Nathalie Udo • 5368 Views

    As part of IPM Day this past November, IIL hosted a keynote webcast with Greg Balestrero and Nathalie Udo titled “Organizational Survival: Double Meaning of Sustainability.” 

    Dozens of questions were submitted during the post-keynote Q&A session. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to answer them all so we will be responding to your remaining questions via a series of blog posts.

    When it comes to sustainability, issues about the environment tend to be polarizing. But no matter what industry you are in or where you stand on “global warming,” your organization will be impacted by changes that are already in motion, which include:

    —  Global climate change impacting supply chains by affecting (to name a few) agriculture, water supplies, ocean acid levels, and extreme weather events.

    —  Availability of freshwater because of the growing world population and a growing consumer demand for products.

    —  Scarcity of raw materials driven by growing demand and by limited supplies and reduction in supplies due to changing weather patterns or polluted soils or oceans.


    With all of these changes, we still believe that companies have the ability to change the path we are on and create a sustainable planet. In Part III of this series, Greg Balestrero and Nathalie Udo respond to your questions relating to environmental sustainability, its complexities and what we can do to support it.

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  • Sustainability and Project Management

    Jan 14 • Featured, Greg Balestrero • 3288 Views

    As part of IPM Day this past November, IIL hosted a keynote webcast with Greg Balestrero and Nathalie Udo titled “Organizational Survival: Double Meaning of Sustainability.” 

    Dozens of questions were submitted during the post-keynote Q&A session. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to answer them all so we will be responding to your remaining questions via a series of blog posts.

    Part II of this series features your questions on sustainability and project management — How are they related? Why should project managers care about sustainability? How can ethics be addressed in projects? Greg Balestrero responds.

    Part I: “Embracing Sustainability: 5 Critical Changes for 2014”  

    1.  (I am) Having trouble associating this (sustainability) lecture with Program/Project management. – Mike C., United States

    There are many reasons why sustainability applies to PPM, but they sort out into two categories: career path and PPM practice.

    With regard to career path, leading companies preparing for the challenges of the mid-21st century recognize that enterprise risk management is crucial to success, as well as an ability to build a risk radar through activities like scenario planning. To maintain the vitality of your own career, it is crucial that you build those very same competencies into your own skill portfolio or you will find yourself limited in your own career growth.

    With regard to PPM practice, you must expand risk management beyond the execution of a project and look outside the project domain to external factors that could impact the company and the program in which your project resides. Also, the success metrics for any project will begin to expand to include the four pillars of sustainability. In particular, ethics, social impact in global supply chains, policing supply chains, and greenhouse gas emissions will be new dimensions which will expand the number and value of success factors.

    2.  How should ethics be addressed in project work? – Shar O., United States

    Ethics should be addressed at the very beginning of a project, as part of the project team formulation. Team leaders should build in a discussion that embraces all processes of the project work, from reporting to personal conduct, to the impact the project will have on all stakeholders (including the customer, the company, and communities outside the organization). As difficult as this may seem, it should start with a review of corporate values and how they apply to your work.

    In some cases, it is helpful to have the executive sponsor of the project to address corporate values, ethics, and how this can be developed within the boundaries of the project. There should also be a process established to allow quick attention when any team member anticipates or witnesses a breach of ethics, so that it can be addressed. Even with virtual teams, tools such as Skype or GoToMeeting software can bring the team together to discuss ethics and review the concepts firsthand.

    It is also critical to have full knowledge of the supply chain and any code of ethical performance or behavior which the company embraces and has circulated to its suppliers. Early in the project, the team should be aware of what is expected of the suppliers and understand the policing process for ensuring that the suppliers are held accountable.

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  • Embracing Sustainability: 5 Critical Changes for 2014

    Jan 7 • Featured II, Greg Balestrero • 4543 Views

    As part of IPM Day this past November, IIL hosted a keynote webcast with Greg Balestrero and Nathalie Udo titled “Organizational Survival: Double Meaning of Sustainability.” 

    Dozens of questions were submitted during the post-keynote Q&A session. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to answer them all so we will be responding to your remaining questions via a series of blog posts.

    Here, Greg Balestrero highlights 5 critical changes that organizations and individuals need to consider for 2014 (in particular, those yet to embrace sustainability) and what you can do to support this change.

    1.  What I understand is (that) status quo is not enough. How can we make the executives aware of the shift they must make?  Jeanne T., Canada

    First, make yourself more knowledgeable of the issues facing your industry and company. Look into the industry associations conducting research in this area, and coalitions among competitors regarding specific issues. Be sure to investigate the activities that are being undertaken within the company to identify and embrace these critical issues. Together, this will make you smarter and more informed about the future.

    The next level up is the executive sponsor for any project to determine if there are teams working on this issue and how you personally can get involved. If you find that the company is not working the issues, then it is worthwhile to bring to the attention of executives their competitors in this arena that are embracing sustainability. If your company wants to remain competitive, it will have to stay ahead of your competition. If you see an opportunity for your company to participate in a coalition, or for you personally to be engaged in a fruitful manner, then make your move and ask to participate.

    2.  How can we convince investors that success must be about sustainability and social good, not just the bottom line?   Mike F., Canada

    The task is easier than you might think. Rebecca True (a contributing author for Organizational Survival) conducted research to determine whether companies that transform their strategies to embrace sustainability remain profitable and are still considered good “risks” for investment.

    The results of the research indicate that these companies are, in fact, a worthy risk and will generate an excellent return on investment. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), for example, contains companies from nearly every sector of the economy, and they clearly perform well. In fact, since 2003, the DJSI has outperformed the regular Dow Jones indices.

    In addition, there is a venture capital movement called Impact Investing which provides venture capital to companies that have as their product and service mission to provide a positive impact to the environment, social communities or global prosperity. And let’s not forget that public opinion research over the last 4 years has shown a dramatic increase in buying decisions made on the basis of social and environmental impact, and product cost and quality. The time is right to show organizational leaders that nearly every sector in the world has seen a shift to competitors distinguishing themselves as good corporate citizens, addressing social and environmental problems.

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  • 7 Key Elements for Building a Road Map to Sustainability

    Dec 13 • Featured II • 4759 Views

    Adapted from Organizational Survival: Profitable Strategies for a Sustainable Future 

    Your organization can become more adaptable and responsive in spite of the uncertainty of the future. Following are the 7 most important elements for you to remember during this journey:

    1.) Sustainability leaders share the characteristics of long-term vision and vigilance. They continuously scan the horizon to better navigate their organizations through the uncertainty of the future.

    2.) Scenario planning is one of the most successful methods of visualizing the future, managing through uncertainty, and developing organizational strategy. It is based on the creation of potential future states, which are created through a thorough strategic dialogue. It involves selecting two axes representing two significant implications for the future that are in tension with one another. The result is a matrix of four cells with different potential futures (scenarios).

    3.) Adaptive foresight is a strategic competency that involves observing trends and measures that might shape the future. Observing these trends helps an organization anticipate changes early and adapt its plans to survive. The trends and measures are driven by, and based on, scenario planning.

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  • Social Intrapreneurs vs. the World

    Nov 13 • News • 2520 Views

    “Up-and-coming leaders today are looking for more than a good salary – they’re searching for meaning in their day-to-day work and they tie their personal values more closely to their career than previous generations,” writes Filipe Santos in a recent Forbes article.

    Santos calls these leaders “social intrapreneurs” — people who “seek to create social impact through the firm’s resources but without primary concern for profit as the main outcome.” Instead, the focus of the social intrapreneur is to address social and environmental challenges, while also creating long-term value for their company. They strive to spark change and “disrupt the way business is conducted,” challenging the perception that an initiative is unjustified if it doesn’t focus on value capture.

    But getting organizational support can be tricky. In order to achieve buy-in from multiple stakeholders, Santos states that social intrapreneurs must “articulate why the ideas and initiatives they want to create are good for the company” and  “understand what motivates different people,” as individual reasons for supporting an initiative can be extremely varied.

    “Some may do so to benefit their reputation, some because it improves the loyalty of employees and some may genuinely want to have a direct impact on society,” writes Santos.

    “For companies, the benefits may not be obvious straight away… But as they engage more generally with those issues across the entire value chain, they will actually find opportunities for value creation and then it will become ‘not just a public relations exercise with a nice report but actual and genuine change… creating meaningful activities and changing areas of the business to incorporate issues that society cares about.’”







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  • Huffington Post Interview: “Get on the Path to Organizational Survival”

    Nov 6 • Featured, News • 2209 Views

    For this Huffington Post author interview, writer Kyle Dowling spoke with Gregory Balestrero and Nathalie Udo about their new book, Organizational Survival: Profitable Strategies for a Sustainable Future.


    “If all companies looked at the year 2050 and the conditions that will exist they will see a series of risks related to social, environmental and ethical responsibilities. If they don’t mitigate those risks and become a better corporate citizen, they will go out of business,” states Balestrero.

    “Companies…have an opportunity to have a very positive impact on the planet, and their image and brand,” Udo adds. “I think no matter the position you have within an organization, we always assume something is out of our control, but you can always suggest changes if you back them up with long-term numbers. It won’t be easy but it is in our global best interest to figure it out.”


    Read the full interview for the authors’ take on driving transformation, changing the minds of skeptic CEOs, the importance of transparency and accountability, and sustainability’s true ROI.






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  • The Desert Shines Brightly

    Oct 10 • Featured II • 2174 Views

    I just returned from Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate of the UAE, and as always, I am trying to digest all that I witnessed and took in. Growth and change is the rule rather than the exception there. This time was no different. (I joked with my wife that if you are gone more than a month from the UAE, it is difficult to recognize where you are.)

    The change and growth was not what I expected, though. I was there to be the keynote speaker at the inaugural congress of the Emirates Project Management Academy (EPMA). Though many associations, including Project Management Institute (PMI), have tried to create a strong base for a volunteer community, the results have not been as effective as this latest commitment to the profession from business and government in the UAE.

    According to Deputy CEO Mohammed Al Shehhi, EPMA is to be a “platform” dedicated to developing a national competency in Project, Program and Portfolio Management. Their desire is to collaborate with PMI and other professional associations to support the various qualifications, and to create relationships among organizations that represent the profession. If the excitement of the 750 congress attendees is any indication of response to the new organization, EPMA will gain momentum quickly.

    However, I was really rocked back when I talked with Mohammed Al Hammadi, CEO of the new Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC). Continue Reading

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  • The Greening of Project Management: Benefits and Dangers

    Sep 23 • Featured II • 3413 Views

    I have to say upfront that this article may at first sound like I am bashing a subject surrounding project management (PM). I want to state equivocally that I am not. My attempt here is to keep project managers from being thrown under the bus, so to speak. So, please, read through and hear me out. I would hate to be called a heretic this soon after retirement!

    The greening of project management has begun, and seems to be gaining speed as are most things related to sustainability.  In the past year, at least three books have been published on the subject of Green Project Management (all of which are well written and pack significant and important content…see, I am trying to prove I am not bashing!). There is also a new certification in green project management.  And there are virtual communities established on green project management. All seem to focus on the right things, such as climate change and its impact on resources, shortage of resources, etc., and provide guidance to manage projects in a more responsible manner.

    I guess you might ask, “What is wrong with this picture and why are you worried”? Well, before I answer the question, let me share a story about an interaction I had in 2002, shortly after I became CEO of Project Management Institute (PMI).

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