Case: Movements, sustainability and projects.

Imagine that you are to serve as an advisor for a grassroots movement related to a climate issue in your local area. It bears some parallels to Greta Thunberg’s activism, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals have been the triggering cause for young people in your community to get involved. The engagement primarily focuses on environmental concerns.

Your role is to try to analyze and see the “big picture” as the engagement is transitioning from being somewhat random to becoming a more organized and targeted effort. The action group has requested an assessment that is based on project management principles so that the engagement can be structured and directed more effectively. Specifically, you are to look into the following:

Objectives, Value Creation, and Project Success:
How can the action group work on goal formulation, purpose, and outcomes? This is a vast and open area for the team, and initially, the group needs some advice and tips on the approach. You are also asked to provide some non-binding suggestions for purposes and goal descriptions. Knowledge about project success and success criteria could be valuable, and you are requested to highlight relevant aspects related to this that would be useful for them.

When it comes to goal formulation, purpose, and outcomes for the action group, having a clear and distinct direction is essential for working in a more structured and targeted manner. Here are some advice and tips to assist the group in developing their objectives and purpose descriptions:

  • Start with a common vision: Define an inspiring and concrete vision that describes the desired future state the group aims to achieve. This overarching goal should engage and provide direction.
  • Formulate SMART goals: Use the SMART principle to develop goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, and Time-bound. This approach helps make the goals clear and more achievable. For example, a SMART goal could be: “Reduce local plastic pollution by 50% by the end of next year.”
  • Identify sub-goals: Sub-goals are significant milestones on the path to achieving the main goal. Define concrete sub-goals that can serve as a step-by-step framework for the action group’s work. These sub-goals should be measurable and contribute to achieving the main objective.
  • Assess effects and impacts: Identify the potential effects and impacts of the action group’s work. This can include both direct and indirect effects on the environment, local community, policy decisions, or public awareness. By evaluating these effects, the group can better understand their impact and areas of focus.
  • Define success criteria: Identify the criteria that will indicate success for the action group. This could be the number of participants in actions, changes in policies or laws, achieved results in environmental measurements, or increased media attention. Defined success criteria provide a reference for evaluating whether the goals and purpose are achieved.

When it comes to knowledge about project success and success criteria, there are several relevant factors to consider. Some examples include:

  • Project Management: Competent project management capable of organizing and coordinating the action group’s work effectively will contribute to project success.
  • Engagement and Participation: The more engagement and participation the action group can create among its members and the local community, the greater the chances of achieving success.
  • Collaboration and Partnerships: Building collaboration and partnerships with relevant stakeholders, such as other environmental organizations, local authorities, or businesses, can strengthen the action group’s influence and contribute to achieving common goals.
  • Communication and Advocacy: Effective communication and advocacy are crucial to raising awareness and achieving changes. The action group should consider which channels and strategies are most suitable for reaching target audiences and influencing them.

It may be useful to involve all members in discussions and workshops to develop objectives and purpose descriptions that everyone can support and work towards.

Stakeholders and Categorization:
The action group has realized that there are many actors involved. Similarly to above, they primarily seek tips and advice on stakeholder engagement and some suggestions or examples for your project.

Stakeholder engagement is crucial for the action group, as it involves identifying and involving relevant stakeholders who can support their goals and objectives. Here are some tips and approaches for stakeholder engagement:

  • Identify stakeholders: Create a list of potential stakeholders who may be affected by or can influence the work of the action group. This may include local authorities, businesses, media, NGOs, the community, youth organizations, and other relevant groups.
  • Categorize stakeholders: Divide stakeholders into different categories based on their power, influence, and interest in the issue. This can help the action group prioritize which stakeholders to focus on the most. Examples of categories may include high power/high interest, high power/low interest, low power/high interest, and low power/low interest.
  • Analyze stakeholders: Conduct a thorough analysis of each stakeholder regarding their interests, goals, concerns, strengths, and weaknesses. This will help the action group understand how they can collaborate with or influence each stakeholder effectively.
  • Develop a communication strategy: Create a communication strategy that takes into account the different stakeholders’ needs and preferences. Identify appropriate communication channels and messages for each stakeholder group. This may include social media, meetings, events, press releases, or direct dialogue.
  • Build partnerships and alliances: Identify stakeholders who could be potential partners or allies. Build strong partnerships and alliances with other organizations or groups that share similar goals and values. This can strengthen the action group’s influence and increase opportunities for success.
  • Involve stakeholders: Involve stakeholders early in the planning and decision-making process. This can be done through workshops, dialogues, or consultations. Be receptive to their viewpoints and input, and demonstrate that their contributions are valuable to the action group.

Examples of stakeholder engagement in a similar project may include:

  • Engaging local businesses and the private sector to support environmentally friendly initiatives or initiate sustainable practices in their operations.
  • Collaborating with local authorities to influence policies and decisions related to environmental conservation and sustainability.
  • Involving youth organizations and schools to increase awareness and engagement among young people in the community.
  • Collaborating with NGOs that have expertise or resources related to environmental conservation and sustainability to exchange knowledge and coordinate efforts.

Continuously evaluating and updating the stakeholder analysis as the project evolves will ensure that the action group stays informed about stakeholders’ needs and priorities.

Similarities and Differences with a “Traditional” Project:
“Our action is not a technical construction project, after all,” one of the initiators says. “What does this have to do with projects, really?” You are, therefore, challenged to provide some points that demonstrate useful similarities with and significant differences from projects with a clear client.

Although your action is not a traditional technical construction project, it still shares certain similarities and differences concerning project structure and approach. Here are some points that can help illustrate these similarities and differences:

Similarities with a traditional project:

  • Goals and Purpose: Both the action group and a traditional project have defined goals and purposes they work towards achieving. Both require a clear direction and focus to attain desired outcomes.
  • Resources: Both the action group and a traditional project require access to resources, whether it’s financial means, time, expertise, or networks. Effective resource management is essential for both to carry out planned activities.
  • Organization and Leadership: Both require some degree of organization and leadership to coordinate activities, collaborate, and maintain progress. While the action group may have a more democratic or flat structure, there will still be a need for someone to take leadership and coordinate efforts.
  • Planning and Execution: Both the action group and a traditional project will benefit from a planning phase where they identify goals, activities, timelines, and resource needs. Both will also have to carry out planned actions to achieve desired results.

Differences from a traditional project:

  • Client: In a traditional project, there will be a clear client or sponsor who defines the project’s needs and goals. In the action group, there may be multiple initiators or a collective decision-making process shaping the goals and purpose.
  • Structure and Hierarchy: A traditional project typically has a hierarchical structure with a project owner, project manager, and various roles and responsibilities. The action group may have a flatter structure and democratic decision-making process where all members have an equal role.
  • Risk Management: While traditional projects have a dedicated process for risk identification and management, the action group may have a more flexible approach to handling risks and uncertainties that arise along the way.
  • Results and Evaluation: In a traditional project, results are often evaluated against pre-defined success criteria. The action group may have more diverse and shifting results, and evaluation may be based on societal impact, awareness, or changes in policy or attitudes.

Similarities and differences are general, and the action group can adapt the project approach based on their specific needs and goals. The most important thing is to use project management principles and best practices that are relevant and tailored to the context of the action group.

Proposal for organizational setup
Once again, the action group seeks advice and tips on how to structure the project organizationally, and what is important to emphasize in terms of responsibilities, tasks, and involvement.

When it comes to the organizational setup for the action group, it is important to create a structure that promotes efficiency, collaboration, and accountability among the members. Here are some suggestions for organizational aspects that may be useful to consider:

  • Roles and Responsibilities: Define clear roles and responsibilities for the members of the action group. This may include a project leader or coordinator with overall responsibility for driving the action forward, as well as other roles such as communications manager, volunteer coordinator, resource manager, etc. Clarity in the distribution of responsibilities contributes to efficiency and avoids misunderstandings.
  • Team Structure: Organize the action group into smaller working groups or teams with specific tasks or thematic areas. This can enhance efficiency and specialization while allowing members to focus on areas they are most passionate about or have expertise in. Ensure good communication and collaboration between the teams.
  • Decision-making Processes: Establish clear decision-making processes and mechanisms to ensure that decisions are made in an inclusive and democratic manner. This can be achieved through regular meetings, consensus-based decisions, or voting. Be open to different perspectives and ideas from all members and actively involve them in the decision-making process.
  • Communication and Information Flow: Emphasize good communication and information flow within the action group. Ensure that members are updated on important news, progress, and decisions through regular meetings, email lists, social media groups, or project management tools. Also, create channels for feedback and input from all members.
  • Involvement and Engagement: Foster an inclusive and engaging culture where all members feel involved and valued in the action group. Encourage active participation, voluntary work, and idea generation. Organize workshops, seminars, or thematic meetings to gather input and ideas from the members.
  • Development and Learning: Facilitate continuous learning and development among the members. This may include training or workshops on relevant topics, knowledge sharing, and creating a culture of openness and knowledge exchange.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Be open to adjustments and adaptations along the way based on experiences and changing circumstances. Consider establishing regular evaluations and reflection sessions to identify what works well and what can be improved.

Flexibility and continuous improvement are essential to adapt to changing situations and ensure an effective implementation of the action.

This case is taken from the book “Verdiskapende Prosjektledelse” – 2022, 2. Edition, by Torgeir Skyttermoen og Anne Live Vaagaasar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *