Project Sustainability – Part 2: Communication Planning Continued

In my last blog I introduced the topic of sustainability and project management. I discussed how to incorporate sustainability processes into the life cycle of a project. My first area of discussion was communication planning.

To continue the discussion, I would like to add a few more layers to communication planning. Typically we’ll map out the stakeholders of a project and assess their involvement in the project. Based on this assessment, we’ll build a communication plan, incorporating who we need to communicate with, how we need to communicate, and what tools we intend to use to communicate.

In most cases, we have stakeholders that are located remotely to us. Communication with these stakeholders requires an ongoing mixture of e-mails, net-meetings, conference calls, direct phone calls, and person to person. The question is, how are we managing this communication and is it sustainable?

Lets look at waste within our processes and tools. Do we waste anything within our ongoing communication? Surveys suggest that managers within North America receive an average of about 250-300 e-mails a day. Most of the e-mails received are copies of copies, digital back-ups, legal checks, cc’s and bcc’s. All of this is done in the name of “due diligence.” Is it necessary? In many cases the answer is, “no!” However, general practice suggests that if you’re not sure whether or not you should send someone something, send it anyways.

The results are bandwidth problems, server capacity problems, hard-drive capacity problems, infrastructure problems and general product functionality demands. All of these technologies require power and basic chemical composition of hardware components composed of many petrochemical sub-components and materials from war-torn countries. All of which break “sustainability” rules. To be good stewards of “sustainability,” we need to reduce waste, use chemical products and bi-products that are ecologically friendly, have little to no petrochemical components, and are purchased from areas of the world that are politically stable, and the ecology and community are in no way exploited.

Ask yourself whether the tools that your project community uses to communicate meet these rules of “sustainability.” If you can’t honestly say that you adhere to these rules, are the true costs of your project reflected in your project plans and communicated openly to all stakeholders, including the community at large?

Larry T Barnard
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