Give and you shall receive




To me, social responsibility means being ready to give to our society without expecting anything in exchange. It requires eliminating irresponsible or unethical behavior that might bring harm to the community, its people or the environment.

It seems difficult but it is not impossible—and it feels good.

This is not to say that companies can't use social responsibility to strengthen their businesses. It can even be a competitive advantage. If a company makes its employees feel like valuable assets—by introducing better healthcare, for example—productivity increases. However, this is not behavior observed in all European organizations. Some of them only think about figures, numbers and results.

When taking the exam for their Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, project managers are required to answer questions about professional and social responsibility. But the true challenge comes when people actually manage projects in their organizations. How do you deal with the project environment, politics, executives and customers in the real world?

I try to convey a strong sense of ethics to my team and my customers all the time. Business is high priority but people come first. Why? Because people do the project work and if you take care of your people, people will take care of your project work.

A Mission

I strongly believe that we as project managers have a mission to expand the knowledge and best practices of project management in ways that benefit not just business, but our communities.

How many of you are practicing project management by obligation instead of devotion? We project managers are privileged people. Why not educate others on project management patterns and behaviors? Project managers can change the destiny of our society.

In Spain, the public sector is not very involved or interested in project management—which dramatically affects the results of its social projects. When PMI held its congress in Madrid, Spain in 2006, I served as member of the Congress Project Action Team. And when I asked public-sector executives about participating, they answered: “Project management is not for us. We use subcontractors for managing those projects.” But I am patient and continue making efforts to convince these executives to be trained in project management, mainly because of the large social impact it would have.

We have a responsibility to create better and better project professionals. We must lead by example.

When I coach project managers and executives, I point out that we must take into account all the different project stakeholders. Sometimes the people who we cannot see will be the ones most affected by our projects in the long term. Don't think only about you and your business—think also about how your behaviors and actions affect our society.

It is our responsibility. PM

Alfonso Bucero, PMP, is an independent consultant who manages projects throughout Europe and Asia. He is the author of Project Management—A New Vision and coauthor of Project Sponsorship: Achieving Management Commitment for Project Success.

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