June 13 2023 at 02:00PM
Embracing Wellness & Sustainability in Project Management
As project managers, we constantly strive for efficiency at the project and organizational levels. But do we focus enough on the individual level? Last month, Dr. Harri Emari, PMP, offered an innovative project approach centered on wellness and sustainably just practices.
Harri possesses an impressive background with a wide and deep array of credentials, certifications, and expertise in many project management domains. Over the years, he has built his own system synthesizing all of his experience, as well as his soft skills, into the “Emari System Thinking” to build a “Quality Culture Mindset.”
Harri’s method focuses on the core of organizations: the people. While every organization sets goals, requirements, and priorities, the path to achieving these business objectives is walked by individuals. They interpret these goals through their unique mindset and emotional spectrum, and their behavior significantly impacts the organization’s trajectory. Thus, an individual’s intellectual and emotional intelligence, skill set, and interpersonal relations become critical for achieving goals. Regardless of the organization’s nature, prioritizing people will catalyze innovation and growth, both organizationally and personally.
Self-care is an important component of Harri’s system; he suggests tailoring activities such as physical movement, a balanced diet, and meditation — whatever works for the individual or team. These components can give individuals a sense of mindfulness that helps keep them safe while achieving more. As project managers, many of us understand that ensuring mental and physical wellness is a fundamental step toward fostering a healthy and innovative workspace. As an example, our VP of Sustainability, Ina Acuña, leads us in a wellness exercise before every virtual event — something the team really appreciates and that Harri called out as a best practice.
Harri utilizes an “Eight-Dimension Wellness Quality Management” model, harmonizing an individual’s career, well-being, happiness, and mindfulness with the organization’s strategy, operations, leadership, and sustainability.
The core principles here are holdings (career and strategy), health, happiness, and harmony. These principles are integral both internally (within individuals) and externally (within the organization or community).
After reviewing this system, the conversation shifted to sustainable thinking, drawing from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) strategies. Sustainability extends beyond immediate environmental considerations; it seeks an optimal balance on the “triple bottom line” of people, planet, and profit. This means truly sustainable practices must also promote justice and stewardship. Harri’s system asks us to look beyond the immediate deliverables and requires system-level thinking to account for the interaction between each part of the triple bottom line. In short, it challenges organizations to foster a Just Culture while meeting project requirements.
As an attendee, I was astonished by how strongly Harri’s system resonates with other themes the Green Team explored this year. Harri advocates for a Just Culture where individuals are safe and can thrive. This concept echoed our last event, a screening of the documentary “Offshore,” which examined how we can create Just Transitions to greener energies by helping workers and communities across every stratum touched by the fossil fuel supply chain.
In May, we hosted an event titled “All About the Green Project Manager,” introducing the GPM-b certification. Harri’s system parallels core components of that system as well. For example, the GPM focuses on aligning organization goals to build Just Systems where individuals are safe and treated equitably across levels of the project. Harri’s system utilizes the triple bottom line of “People, Planet, and Profit” whereas the GPM builds on those concepts by reframing “Profit” as “Prosperity.”
Harri’s talk was the perfect close to the first half of 2023, illuminating how integral the concept of justice is on the individual, organizational, and environmental levels. As project managers, we can do more than shape our organizations; we can nurture a Just Culture that advances true sustainability. By positioning ourselves as stewards of wellness we can foster healthier environments that empower innovation and build a better planet — all while delivering superior projects. As we stride forward in our journey let’s ensure we carry these lessons with us, taking good care of ourselves as well as our stakeholders for the well-being of the world we live in.
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