Category / Fusion

Re-thinking the Profession of Project Management for Sustainability

Project management contributes trillions to the global economy; driving business innovation and converting politicians’ promises into new systems and constructions that are intended to improve everyday life.

Sustainable development is a global priority and yet sustainability and project management do not sit comfortably together.  There is tension between the long-term focus of sustainable development and the inherent pressure on projects to deliver against short-term measures of success.  Furthermore, projects regularly fail.  For example, Meier (2017) suggest 71% of projects in 2015 failed or were challenged.  The financial, social and environmental costs of wasted resources and lost opportunities each year are also measured in trillions across the globe.

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Dr Karen Thompson and Dr Nigel Williams, both from the Department of Leadership, Strategy and Organisations, recognise that principles of responsible management and sustainability must be effectively incorporated into project management research and practice.  Without responsible project management, projects are likely to hasten degradation of the environment and increase tensions in society.  As a growing population competes for scarce resources, human conflict across the globe is likely to worsen.  Responsible management of projects is therefore globally significant.

An international, cross-disciplinary workshop to think about Responsible Project Management was recently hosted by Nigel and Karen at BU.  One focus was the project manager competencies because Wheatley (2018), among others, argues that enhanced project management capabilities would increase the beneficial impact of projects.  A central premise to emerge was that managing projects responsibly will require project managers to go beyond delivering defined results for specific customers to managing the impact of their activities on society and the environment.

The workshop brought together leading academics and practitioners to begin exploring the concept of Responsible Project Management, with a particular focus on what competencies project managers require to think and act responsibly.  An amazing 43 people engaged with us over two and a half days.  Feedback collected formally and informally was incredibly positive.  One outcome is recognition that the role of a project manager need to shift from a functional role, to leading and facilitating sustainable change.

Steve Knightley

The event began with a relaxed and informal afternoon with Steve Knightley, multi-award-winning musician/song writer, who shared his journey of creating a sustainable business.  The following day, BU’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Tim McIntyre-Bhatty, welcomed participants and shared his vision of the future, including BU2025.  Other participants from BU included the Head of BU’s Programme Management Office, Jackie Pryce; BU project managers; and Sustainability Manager, Neil Smith.  Colleagues Dr Mehdi Chowdhury, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Tilak Ginige and Dr Sulaf Assi, both from the Faculty of Science and Technology, and several BU students contributed presentations and stimulated discussion.

External participants included Professor Darren Dalcher, Director of the National Centre for Project Management; Professor Andrew Edkins, Director of the Bartlett Real Estate Institute and Professor of the Management of Complex Projects; Professor Gilbert Silvius, thought leader and author on sustainable PM from the Netherlands, and other UK academics.  Representatives from two professional bodies – the Association for Project Management (UK) and the Project Management Institute (USA) – reflected a range of practitioner perspectives; Arup Director Rob Leslie-Carter joined us via Skype, and Rowan Maltby, Project Consultant at Pcubed participated.  Sustainability thinking was used to provoke discussion and challenge norms, led by a Director of the Association of Sustainability Practitioners, Gwyn Jones.  We discussed B-corps, a new type of business organisation where the aim is to deliver value to stakeholders without preference.  Unlike not-for-profit organisations, B-corps recognise the importance of profit, because without profit a business is not sustainable.  Organisation and governance of B-corps reflect a need for stewardship of resources and impacts across a wide range of stakeholders, including the environment, users of outputs, staff, suppliers, and the wider community.

The workshop generated ideas about making project management a profession that goes beyond a technical function delivering outcomes defined by others.  We suggested a range of competences and understandings project managers will require if projects are to be managed responsibly in the future, such as dealing with uncertainty, ethical complexity, and better anticipation and mitigation of damaging unintended consequences.  Workshop outputs included ideas for research bidding, writing papers, learning, teaching and module content.  Already we are collaborating on a guide for project practitioners to begin sharing the ideas with national and international audiences.

References

Meier, S.R. 2017. Technology Portfolio Management for Project Managers. Available online: https://www.pmiwdc.org/sites/default/files/presentations/201703/PMIW_LocalCommunity_Tysons_presentation_2017-02.pdf [Accessed 7 July 2018]

Silvius, A.J.G. 2017. Sustainability as a new school of thought in project management.  Journal of Cleaner Production. Vol. 166. Pages 1479-1493

Wheatley, M. 2018.  The Importance of Project Management.  ProjectSmart. Available online: https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/the-importance-of-project-management.php [Accessed 8 July 2018]

New Security textbook published by BU academic

Shamal Faily has just published the textbook Designing Usable and Secure Software with IRIS and CAIRIS with Springer.

The book was written to help practitioners, be these UX designers, security architects, or software developers, ‘build in’ security and usability. The ACM Code of Ethics states that True security requires usability – security features are of no practical use if users cannot or will not use them. This book explains how usable and secure software can be designed using the IRIS framework and the CAIRIS software platform, and provides real case studies where security and usability is incorporated into software designs at an early stage. This is something most people agree should be done, but few people give advice on how to do it. This book helps fill this gap.

The book also helps educators and students by providing a resource for a course on Security by Design. As explained in the preface, this book was written to support our undergraduate and postgraduate Security by Design unit at BU, and pointers are included on how different parts of this book can support this or similar courses.

More information about this book can be found here. As the book will be used to support teaching at BU, soft and hard copies should be available from the library soon.

New publication by NCCA: 4D Cubism as a novel artistic technology

“IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications”, an influential magazine with a wide readership in both academia and industry, has just published the paper “4D Cubism: Modeling, Animation and Fabrication of Artistic Shapes”.

This multidisciplinary paper proposing a novel technology on the edge of art and science has been written by a team from the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) of the Faculty of Media and Communication. The authors are Quentin Corker-Marin, Prof Alexander Pasko, and Dr Valery Adzhiev.

The paper has a non-trivial history. Initially, there was an UG student project (“Innovations” unit, “Computer Visualisation and Animation” course, Level 6) that was submitted as a Poster to the ACM SIGGRAPH 2017 conference in Los Angeles. As it was reported in the Research Blog in September 2017, Quentin was awarded there the second prize in the prestigious ACM Student Research Competition sponsored by Microsoft. Then a full-scale paper was submitted to the top magazine, and after successful peer-reviewing it was accepted and published. As to Quentin, in the end of 2017 he graduated from NCCA with a first class honours degree in computer visualisation and animation and works now in London as a 3D Artist for an award-winning production company Glassworks.

References

Let’s Talk Tax!

Ever puzzled over tax? Wondered about the politics or personal impact of international tax news? This session with BU researchers, students and the Chartered Institute of Taxation will give you a greater understanding and appreciation for tax and help you become more tax-savvy.

During this session, we have five star students presenting 5-minute ‘tax’ talks:

  • Martinas Prazauskas on the tax avoidance of Apple, Google and Amazon
  • Timothy Buck on tax arbitrage
  • Sesil Bou on thin capitalisation
  • Clémentine Saulnier on non-discrimination in the EU
  • Lucy Butler on the Robin Hood tax

Taking second billing in this session are BU’s tax academics: Dr Phyllis AlexanderDr Alan Kirkpatrick and Richard Teather.  We will be joined by Mr Andy Brodrick of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), the organisation funding Dr Alexander’s research on tax morale.

There will be at least 15 minutes reserved for Q&A and an open discussion with this diverse panel on anything and everything to do with tax.   This will be a fast paced, interesting hour in which BU’s Fusion philosophy comes to light!

Please do join us and book your free tickets here. 

Medical Research showcase at CoPMRE’s Spring Visiting Faculty Day

The Centre of Postgraduate Medical Research & Education (CoPMRE) held its Spring Visiting Faculty Day at the Executive Business Centre.  Fourteen posters (VF Programme Spring 2018) were presented showcasing the breadth of collaborative projects being undertaken by BU and local clinicians.  The Best Poster prize was awarded to Dr Paul Whittington, Department of Computing & Informatics, Faculty of Science and Technology, for his presentation entitled Automatic Detection of User Abilities through the SmartAbility Framework.  Professor Tamas Hickish, judge, felt that all the posters were excellent and address important health care issues.  Paul’s poster was chosen as the research was generated by a deep understanding of disability, the use a mobile phone technology and generalisability to significant areas of health care need such as stroke and frailty. As such his work is scalable and feasible.

Visiting Faculty Days are a great opportunity to share innovative ideas and research.  The event was very well received and links for possible further collaboration have already been formed as a result of networking.  Our next Visiting Faculty Day will be held in December.

BU Undergrads showcase their research in Sheffield at BCUR 2018

A year on from BU hosting the prestigious British Conference of Undergraduate Research, the annual BCUR 2018 gathering this year was hosted by the University of Sheffield last week.  On the heels of a successful SURE 2018 at BU in March, 7 undergraduate students from across all faculties were supported to showcase their research at BCUR 2018 among close to 600 delegates.  Atanas Nikolaev, a SURE sponsored student and recent graduate of Sports Management did a presentation on his ethnographic study of Embodied Experiences of Women at Leisure Centres, “The most interesting aspect of the conference to me was the opportunity to engage with like-minded people across various scientific fields. It was a great way to get exposure for my research project and be challenged with ideas that could potentially lead to future developments. BCUR was great to learn about research that was of interest to me and to potentially build lasting relationships with young researchers from across the country”.

Bethan Stephenson, an FMC student studying English presented a piece of research entitled ‘The Changing Space of Warwick County Museum’ which challenges notions of memory and how historic accounts are valued.  Bethan said “I really enjoyed the experience of attending the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) at Sheffield University, and found it very illuminating. I got there not really knowing what the conference fully entailed, and so was very pleasantly surprised. As a final year student, I’ve been recently contemplating post-graduation options, and the introduction to BCUR was incredibly informative. They discussed the importance of research-based careers, and the opportunities this can lead to. I’ve always loved research, and have multiple fields that I’m passionate about, and so I really feel like this introductory talk helped confirm my desire to undertake a masters, and possibly a PhD, in the future”.

Other BU students taking part included Charlie Simmons, a business studies marketing student presenting on Digital Immersion and the Streaming of E-Sports.  Tereza Paskova, a final year Tourism student presented on Emotional Intelligence as a tool in customer satisfaction in tourism/hospitality settings.  Isobel Hunt, a Faculty of Science and Technology student studying Psychology presenting on Consumer Decision Making and Trust for Online Restaurant Reviews and Scott Wilkes who is studying Sport Development and Coaching Sciences and also presented his research on the effects of stammer has on social participation in sport amongst Young People.

The involvement of BU undergraduate research at the national BCUR event along with a presence at their annual precursor event, Posters in Parliament, has been possible with key support and involvement from CEL and key contributors across all faculties.  It is an opportune channel for students to engage with the research process and make real world connections to the impact of their work.  For future opportunities in these initiatives, contact Mary Beth Gouthro mgouthro@bournemouth.ac.uk.