How companies can turn commitments into results with effective project management principles

“Promises are amazing, if someone actually keeps them.” This comment by Greenpeace campaign manager Charlie Kronick after COP26 last year reflected the sentiment of many towards corporate climate commitments: skepticism.

Most climate plans remain heavy on statements of desirability rather than action. With the planet racing against the clock to reverse decades of environmental damage, talking no longer represents progress. It’s time to focus instead on stakeholder engagement, coordinated planning across business pillars, and ultimately organizational and personal transformation to chart a realistic path to net zero.

Complex changes – such as the climate allocations we face – can only be achieved through projects, with modern vehicles making it possible to bring complex changes in measurable ways. It’s the driving force behind the “project economy,” the era in which organizations deliver value to stakeholders through project success, product delivery, and alignment with workflows. value. How leaders navigate this paradigm shift will determine their success in the years to come, and their project management principles must be appropriately adapted to ensure they don’t fall behind.

Adopt a gymnastic state of mind to progress

The climate crisis is an unprecedented challenge for UK businesses. Professionals now need to look beyond proven processes and consider revolutionary approaches to achieving their goals. It’s a mindset we call ‘gymnastics’ – focusing on results rather than process – and which is currently only adopted by a third of UK companies. It cultivates agility within an organization, essential in the face of a complex and evolving challenge such as environmental sustainability.

The electric vehicle (EV) market is an example of an industry being forced to embrace agility to drive progress. The constant emergence of new technologies, new collaborative partners and exploding consumer demand mean that manufacturers can no longer rely exclusively on traditional processes to drive growth. Only by adopting a hyper-agile gym approach can they take advantage of new opportunities to advance their business and achieve EV adoption goals.

Developing actors of change with the climate at the heart

To successfully incorporate the principles of gymnastics into their organization, leaders must build teams of professionals equipped to turn ideas into reality. We call these people agents of change.

Changemakers proactively take ownership of their development and continuously improve by deploying a holistic skill set of powerful skills, business acumen and expertise around new ways of working. ‘Power skills’ is our term for ‘soft skills’ – of which adaptability, collaborative leadership and possessing an innovative mindset are examples. Power skills form the foundation of a changemaker skill set and distract from the more technical “hard” skills, which have traditionally dominated recruitment priorities.

For companies to progress in their climate agenda, it is important that sustainable principles are integrated into the heart of their project management. From setting goals to measuring success, sustainability must be considered at all stages. Such monumental change can be daunting, but by placing climate at the heart of the development of changemakers, companies can embed sustainability at the heart of their internal culture. Since project teams do not work in isolation, sustainable operating practices must be integrated into the entire way an organization works. As we have seen with digital, sustainability will soon become a non-negotiable.

Ultimately, companies need to give their employees the skills, opportunities and work environment to fulfill their responsibilities and contribute to a more sustainable future. By building teams of climate-sensitive changemakers – deployed in a gym setting – leaders can structure projects to turn ambition into action and shape a greener future for their organization.

Ashwini Bakshi is Managing Director for Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa at the Project Management Institute.

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This article is sponsored by the Project Management Institute.