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Social Responsibility in Program Management

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Program managers are looking to the future and how best to serve business -- and society -- in a more responsible way.

Global trends in corporate responsibility now include sustainable energy, combining improvements in efficient use of energy and renewable energy sources.

Enterprises that join this trend will likely prosper. Program managers are responsible for aligning an enterprise's business with its long-term strategy, and for sensing emerging trends that need to be embraced.

"Green" technologies, for example, are one such trend program managers should recognize and plan projects and programs around.

Organizations like Nike, Taiwan Telecom, Delta and Corning have recently built "green" factories, for example, using such technologies. If program managers don't follow worldwide trends like this, it will affect the organization's long-term ability to compete and prosper.

In this way, program managers echo the role of the program management office (PMO).

The PMO and the program manager are the main force for business strategy alignment. They adjust the resource allocation and business priorities within projects and programs by launching projects they believe fit the organization's business strategy, and stopping those that don't.

The best that we have to offer in our profession is to be forward-looking and socially responsible. What are you doing to be socially responsible?

The McGreen Mindset

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Let's face it, McDonald's doesn't exactly scream sustainability. Yet the fast food chain has shown a fierce determination to demonstrate its green cred that goes back to way before it became so cool. In the late '80s and early '90s, McDonald's focused on reducing its packaging--eliminating 300 million pounds of the stuff. Granted, there was plenty of packaging to get rid of, but still ...
    Since then, the company has tackled sustainability projects on multiple levels, everything from collaborating with Greenpeace on a soy moratorium aimed at protecting the Amazon to rolling out an environmental scorecard for its suppliers. The company also recently opened a green version of the Golden Arches on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, USA. And now others are under construction in France, Brazil, Canada and Costa Rica.
    Of course with the global economic crisis, the big question for McDonald's and every other company out there is whether the commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects will last. Bob Langert, McDonald's vice president, says CSR can't be a standalone. On his blog, he writes: "CSR must be part of the way we think and act every single day. It is this type of mindset and way of doing business that does not waiver in the face of economic instability."
    The struggle to balance sustainability and the bottom line isn't likely to end anytime soon. Check out the February issue of PM Network for an in-depth look at how the crunch may turn out to have a "cleansing effect" on sustainability.

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