PRiSM is much more than an “eco-friendly” method.

As our Project Management Methodology PRiSM or PRojects integrating Sustainable Methods is turning 10 years old this year, we are proud that it enjoys success in a multitude of industries; and project types.

There is one area though that is commonly misunderstood as evidenced by the blog-o-sphere. We often get emails and requests to mention PRiSM in a blog and sometimes our members and certified PMs will send us snippets of mentions [We love that by the way]. One trend that we see though is that it is often seen as a construction methodology and not useful for IT and Change projects. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Google Search Result on PRiSM
Do a Google Search on Projects+Integrating+Sustainable+Methods

In reading through many of these blogs, it seems though that the root of the issue is that project managers (or maybe just these bloggers) have yet to dive into what the sustainability competencies for project management are and what all PRiSM can do.

The International Project Management Association (IPMA) states in their Individual Competence Baseline (a free resource) under “Compliance, standards, and regulations” that it is important for project managers to understand this critical aspect when they say:

“The individual is able to assess the impact of the project on the environment and society. Realizing his or her responsibility, the individual researches recommends and applies measures to limit or compensate for negative consequences. The individual follows (or even exceeds) guidelines and rules on sustainable development coming from within the organization and from the wider society and is able to realize a workable balance between the demands of society, impacts to the eco-environment and the economy. ” The individual understands that sustainability aspects, measures and attitudes often vary in different countries and cultures. 

— Identifies the social and environmental consequences of the project
— Defines and communicates the sustainability targets for the project and its outcomes
— Aligns objectives with the organizational strategy for sustainability
— Balances the demands of society, the environment and the economy (people, planet, profit) with project processes and products
— Encourages the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

PRiSM as a methodology looks at the entire asset lifecycle. [From the time the project is born as an idea to the time it is decommissioned from useful life and (hopefully) repurposed.]

In the graphic below, we illustrate one benefit (a big one) of PRiSM. It extends far beyond any other method out there.

Project Lifecycle with approaches/methods overlay

Another great aspect of PRiSM is that it isn’t just “green/eco-friendly”. It is sustainable. Shown below is our ontology “P5”. Notice that the Social indicators that PRiSM uses is expansive. Considerations on how the project and resulting product both impact and are impacted by each of these are taken into account. Some and I would say many are never considered by project management, and many create additional benefits to the organization.

The P5 Standard for Sustainabiltiy in Project Management
The GPM P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management

A couple of years back, I was giving a talk in the South of France to a PMI Chapter on the Sustainable Development Goals and what they mean to project management. When it came to Q&A time, one of the participants raised his hand. This is what went down.

PM: “None of this applies to me, I work in I.T. as a web developer.”
Me: “Do your projects ever include outsourced components/add-ons/modules?”
PM: “Of course”
Me: “Any from developing nations where labor is cheap?”
PM: “Sure”
Me: “Do you ensure or at least ask the question of the supplier “do your employees earn a livable wage?” or “Do you remunerate men and women equally for the same work”?
PM: “I never thought of it that way.”

Projects have the ability to create change in two ways. The first is by bringing something new, a change, a product, a something. The second is what happens during the project. We have opportunities to change entire industries for the better by setting up requirements for suppliers and vendors that improve peoples lives, and positively impact nature.

This is what PRiSM does. We don’t hug trees, the trees hug us.

BTW Our Standard is free. at and we encourage all PMs to take a peek!

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

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