Project management and theosophy or how thought creates

More than a year ago, I came across an unknown, for me, discipline: theosophy. I started gathering information reading some fundamental books, especially the original texts in English language of the late nineteenth century by Madame Blavatsky. In those thousands and thousands of pages they talk about projects.

They are short, medium and long-term projects, organized according to a common strategy, on a local, regional and global scale. This portfolio of projects was born in the mists of time and is projected into the future. I immediately noticed many similarities with project management and, above all, with sustainable project management.

Theosophy is internationally represented by The Theosophical Society, which was founded in New York City, in the United States, in 1875 and which has its historical headquarters at Adyar in India. Among its main objectives there are: an active brotherhood among people, the comparative study of ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy, the knowledge of the laws of nature, and the investigation of the human innate powers. It deals with material and spiritual aspects.

Project management is represented at international level by various institutions, institutes and associations, which have been founded starting from the second half of the twentieth century. Its main objective is the organized and structured management of projects that are described as temporary initiatives, which serve to create unique products, results or services. In particular, sustainable projects are concerned with environmental, social and economic sustainability in the short, medium and long term, and on a local, regional and global scale.

All projects start from a need, which can be individual, collective, corporate or spiritual (“the breath needed a form”). And this is the initiating stage, the propulsive energy.

From this necessity, ideas, thoughts, requirements, technical specifications, and feasibility studies arise. The thought begins to take shape in the image and likeness of those who thought it. A working group and the designers create prototypes, choose measures, perform calculations, produce drawings, reports, and , at first preliminary and then executive, designs that describe in detail and unequivocally the idea on which to realize the creation. And here we are in the planning phase, and in the phase of the “divine fashioners”.

Then they look for resources, for example: materials, raw materials, workers, electricians, carpenters, local or imported building stones (“Pitris”). Tools, means and equipment are chosen. Human (or divine, or spiritual) resources are selected. And so the actual execution, the creation, begins.

For all the duration of the project there is always someone, who acts as a supervisor and a controller. They verify that what has been achieved corresponds exactly to the initial idea, and that the different parts are integrated with each other. They intervene if a corrective action is needed. We are in the monitoring and controlling phase.

Then the idea becomes concrete, takes shape, actually exists in the material plane and no longer only at the level of abstract, astral or spiritual thought. It is seen, touched, heard, smelled, and tasted. The project is concluded and can be left to its function, but only if it corresponds to the pre-established requirements.

If it shows any manufacturing defects, or if there have been any unexpected problems or difficulties, they can try to correct them with one or more experts and with an emergency or a rescue plan. If this does not work either, or if the project has disregarded expectations or has become detrimental to other projects connected to it, they can interrupt and destroy the badly created work. In the Indian Trimurti there are three characters: Brahma creates, Vishnu preserves, and Siva destroys. And this is the closure of the project.

Projects of sustainable project management really resemble those of theosophy.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering

Translation of the Italian blog post: Paola Morgese, Project management e teosofia ovvero come il pensiero crea




Volunteering for PMI® and PMIEF®

Here is a collection of a few photos of my many volunteer activities with PMI® and PMIEF® (Project Management Institute and its Educational Foundation). Even though it is above all a work in a virtual environment, it is always a pleasure to meet colleagues from all over the world in person.


Philadelphia, 2011, PMI Global Sustainability Community of Practice, Council meeting at the PMI Headquarters, USA


Dallas, 2011, PMI Global Sustainability Community of Practice, NALIM, USA


Dallas, 2011, PMI Global Sustainability Community of Practice and PMI Academic Resources, Speaker at ROWS North America Congress, USA


Naples, 2012, PM and speaker at a PMI SIC seminar, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy


Marseilles, 2012, PMI Global Sustainability Community of Practice and PMI Academic Resources, Speaker at ROWS EMEA, France


Vancouver, 2012, PMI Global Sustainability Community of Practice, NALIM, Canada



Naples, 2013, PM and speaker at a PMI SIC seminar, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy


Naples, 2014, PM and speaker at a PMI SIC seminar, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy


Rome, 2014, Speaker at PMI Rome Training Professional Meeting, University “Roma Tre”, Italy


Salerno, 2014, Speaker at a Meeting of Ordine degli Ingegneri and PMI SIC, Italy


Naples, 2015, PM and speaker at a PMI SIC seminar, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy


PMIEF, 2013, Italian translation of the “Project Management Methodology for Post Disaster Reconstruction

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering


Why consult a design engineer?

In my thirty years of experience as an engineer and as a consultant, I have dealt with large national and international projects, such as the disposal of industrial iron and steel waste, the remediation of contaminated sites, and the disposal of wastewater from ships.

For these major works it is normal, and often required by law, to contact a competent practitioner.

For small projects, however, the situation is very different.

Small customers are convinced that they do not need a project and can go directly to a supplier without consulting a design engineer.

I am going to give you some examples.

The plumber
In 1995, I designed and built the hydraulic system of a private house. In 2005, the customer called me because the plant had problems. The pressure was lower. The water flow decreased. The boiler worked badly. Sometimes it did not go into operation, sometimes it worked intermittently. During the survey, I found that he had made changes to the plant. The customer justified himself surprisedly, saying that he had called the same plumber. I had to explain to him that the plumber did the job following my designs, my drawings, and my calculations.

The smith
In 2000, a customer called me for a survey. He was rebuilding a cantilever roof and replacing a shed with the help of a smith, who had built a beautiful porch for him in a different place years before. I found an incomprehensible three-dimensional tangle, with no structural or aesthetic sense. They had improvised on the field, both the customer and the smith. The customer, by guess-work. The smith, satisfying him and taking advantage of the situation. The customer was surprised because he had called the same smith of the veranda. I explained to him that on that occasion the smith had followed my designs, my drawings and my calculations. And I left them to their three-dimensional tangle.

The garage
In 2005, a customer asked me an opinion about the gate of his garage. During the survey, I explained him that his garage had some structural problems, which had to be solved before intervening on the gate. In particular, the access opening needed a new flat arch. After these works, he had to install a new gate of different structure and dimensions. I asked the smith to reinforce the old gate, and deferred the replacement after that the consolidation work had been done. Meanwhile, the customer turned to surveyors, who pretended to be engineers, and to handymen, asking for various opinions. My solution annoyed these improvised suppliers, who wanted to take advantage of the superficiality and of the ignorance of the customer.

Especially in small projects and with customers with less economic resources, the intervention of a practitioner is paramount. To comply with time and costs. To assess risks and opportunities. To coordinate the work without overlapping. To select the right suppliers and the most suitable materials. To assure easy maintenance and durability. It is the most appropriate opportunity to implement economic sustainability, ensuring efficient and prudent use of the few available resources, in addition to the environmental and social sustainability.

A project is needed and this project needs to be managed effectively. And projects need to be paid. This is to answer an acquaintance, who asked me with her big surprise: “Why? Do we have to pay for projects?”. Yes, and for professional consultancy too.

In conclusion, even for small projects and for small everyday needs, it is better to consult in advance engineers with experience in a particular sector. They can help you with the disposal of solid, liquid and gaseous waste. They can assist you with a technical inspection before purchasing a new house. They can help you with moisture, condensation, aeration, and lighting issues. They can suggest a technology, a material, or a supplier. They can provide you with energy-saving solutions.

Do not call them only after that the “do it yourself” has produced results different than expected, or a real disaster.

To choose an up to date and well trained, judicious, and reliable professional, read the curriculum, also on the Internet. Perform cross-checks, for example, by calling or sending e-mails to compare the data on the resume. If required, make sure that they are enrolled in a professional order. For example, you can refer to this article: “Difference between professional order and category association”. (Available only in Italian).

A woman engineer (in Italy) is called engineer, and not mistress, or miss, or doctor.
Design engineers are, without any discrimination, both men and women.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering

Paola Morgese’s photo: With the workers at a contaminated Site of National Interest

Translation of the Italian blog post: Paola Morgese, “Perché consultare un ingegnere progettista



Sustainability is not mere business sustainability

During the last months, I have read many articles, blog posts, and titles of webinars in English language with the word sustainability in their headlines.
The delusion has been great when I found nothing about real sustainability in their content.
They just deal with the ability to sustain the business.

This is a clear attempt to change the true meaning of the word, giving a reverse significance to it.

Business sustainability could exactly be the opposite of sustainability as it should be practiced by a company.

Global sustainability is economical, environmental, and social, and, moreover, it is for the common wellbeing in the long term.

The real meaning of the word can be read in this previous blog post of mine: “The economic sustainability of a company”.

What a strange manipulation of words.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering


One year ago we published the Sustainability Manifesto for Projects

Exactly one year ago, March 8, 2016, we published the “Sustainability Manifesto for Projects”!

Manifesto para a sustentabilidade em projectos – El Manifiesto de Sostenibilidad de los Proyectos – Manifesto della sostenibilità nei progetti – Manefiesto d’’a sustenibbeletà int’’e pruggiette

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering


Why most people fail to see a bright green future

While helping my teenager niece to do her English homework, we found a question about how she sees the bright green future, which was described in a leaflet printed in the book.

Just to be clear, a bright green future is a world with less pollution, less waste, with more renewable energy, more recycling, and a healthy place to live in.

Her answer was that she sees it positive. With my huge surprise, she added with a full conviction: “Positive, but unrealistic”.


“Because we cannot do it now. We have too many problems. Future generations will create a green future”.

My conclusion is that a general and common pessimism, that is generated spreading bad news, disable the ability of people to see a different world and to trust their own skills. Most people surrender. And, if also the new generations surrender, this is extremely serious.

Recently, I found many articles published by colleagues on official magazines about sustainability and project management. Just a few years ago, it was unbelievable to find so many publications on this subject. We really need them to go in the right direction and to thrive.

One article is about modern stakeholder management and sustainable development principles included in project management standards. Refer also to my article about modern stakeholder management. Yes, my article is in Italian. As a general consideration, this shows a big limit for all these publications: they refer only to articles written in English language. They exclude all articles, journals, books, conference papers and research about sustainability and project management developed in different languages. This huge gap demonstrates that, if we don’t know a language, it doesn’t mean that there are no significant research results in other languages on the same subject. I don’t think that this practice is “sustainable” and that the English literature must be dominant. Anyway, let us proceed with the review.

Another article is about the finding that sustainability is one of the two major themes in today project management research and practice (the other is governance). Experienced project management practitioners work and write about this subject.

Another article identifies key variables of sustainability in project management and describes new parameters to measure the project success including economic, environmental and social benefits.

Another article is about the pursuit of sustainability in the construction industry based on the results of interviewing expert project managers. They found, briefly and for instance, that sustainable constructions aims to cost savings, employee satisfaction, green procurement, innovations, and survival of a company in the long term. Among barriers and challenges to the integration of sustainability, they found, for example, lack of awareness, lack of responsibility, lack of training, lack of organizational support, and ambiguity in government policies.

A further article describes how and how much sustainability is taken into account in project management decision making. In a traditional assessment, quality, time and costs are considered. Risks can be added. But, what happens to the environmental, social and economic variables of sustainability?

Thanks to these colleagues. Our daily actions and thoughts create our world and our future.

If people can see it, then they can really create a bright green future.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering

References will be provided on request.