This is the third in a series of four blogs on Responsible Project Management by Karen Thompson and Nigel Williams. In blogs one and two, they discussed why projects need to be managed responsibly and introduced the emerging concept of Responsible Project Management. This week they look at the Manifesto for Responsible Project Management that was signed at Bournemouth University on 3rd July 2019 .
At its heart, the Manifesto for Responsible Project Management is a call for project professionals to expand their roles beyond delivery of output and outcomes in order to advocate for beneficial change.
Advocacy is central to the notion of responsible professional project behaviour that emerged from our collaboration with practitioners and researchers from a range of disciplines, including sustainability, environmental law, ethics and organisational development as well as project management. As expressed by one participant in our second social learning workshop, acting responsibly in a project setting can mean “speaking truth to power”.
Sustainability has been framed as being about the future and future generations, but this is mis-leading. The effects of climate heating, pollution and conflict are here today. Sustainability is also not about saving the planet, as explained by another participant: “the planet will be fine, with or without humanity”. Responsible Project Management proposes that project professionals need to consider humanity’s needs over the short, medium and long term, and should seek to balance competing demands.
Managing responsibly requires us to “think through to the long term” the far-reaching impacts and consequences of project activities. In related domains, such as engineering, employees have become activists in protest against the potential negative consequences of military applications of technology that they helped develop1. In addition to sustainability, there are societal issues in which Project Managers may wish to reflect on their current roles. For example, in the UK there is a current issue around flammable cladding used on buildings2. Project Managers who have worked on the construction, refurbishment and repurposing of these buildings may wish to consider the nature and extent of their responsibilities to society beyond the demands of their job role.
To help project professionals consider their wider role, the Manifesto aims to facilitate conversations that:
– raise awareness of project impacts
– promote regenerative and circular approaches to procurement
– value engagement and collaboration.
The first draft of the Manifesto for Responsible Project Management included 8 guiding principles. During the process of reviewing, inviting feedback and refining the work, a team of researchers evaluated a case study3 using the 8 principles and added 2 further principles that are a great fit with the aims of the work: Engagement and Transparency. So, version 1.0 of the Manifesto has 10 driving principles:
For more about the original 8 principles, please refer to version 1 of the Guide to Responsible Project Management4. A new version of the Guide, incorporating all 10 principles, will be published in November 2019. Other resources and case studies are in development to support both the practical implementation of Responsible Project Management and further research. Please check our web site5 and Facebook Group6 for the latest information.
At Bournemouth University on 3rd July 2019, 20 individuals became the initial signatories to the Manifesto. Across Europe we are delighted that at least 16 Universities, 5 professional bodies and more than 6 large companies are already engaging with Responsible Project Management. We are all committed to developing and applying ways of managing projects the deliver social, environmental value without preference.
In our final blog next week, we will look at what you can do to engage with Responsible Project Management and perhaps take the first steps towards implementation in your own organisation.
Please join our Facebook Group called Responsible Project Management, visit the website
and share your own case studies and stories.
3 Otegi-Olaso, J.R., López-Robles, N.K., Thompson, K.M., Williams, N.L. and Gamboa-Rosales, N.K. 2019. Responsible Project Management to face urgent world crisis and regional conflicts.
Join Karen and Nigel for a 60 minute ZOOM Live session to explore the Responsible Project Management Manifesto between 12.30 and 13.30 BST on Tuesday 23rd July.
More in the Blog Series
Dr. Karen Thomson is a Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations and Dr. Nigel L. Williams is a Senior Lecturer in Project Management, both at Bournemouth University. Together they are two of the leading forces behind the University’s Responsible Project Management concept.