Sustainability in projects

I was writing some project applications for educational projects in the last weeks. Its hard work and I could not have manage that without exchanging my ideas with Isabell and Hagen, without their feedback and support. There are always some tricky points in such applications and you have to answer, among others, how you will sustain the envisaged impact of the project beyond its lifetime. This is tight connected to the methodology you will use to achieve the aims of a certain project. The following generalized summary mirrors the main points of what I have written for different projects. These points might be not really spectacular, in project reality often difficult to follow , but essential to sustain the impact and for further development. The key points for our sustainability strategy are:

Establish a transparent system of managing contributions and ideas

Transparent planning, team-based structures, an organizational culture that values and promotes change, and open communication channels are some major conditions for sustainable exploitation and further development. It’s necessary to achieve a common understanding of the project process and its methodology from the beginning between all participants. This includes a clear definition of responsibilities and scheduled actions which surpass the project period.

Connect people and get connected

The impact of a project will sustain if involved participants will have an advantage. Thus, its crucial to consider from the start the perspectives of the different participant groups. It’s necessary to balance the interests, needs and barriers of all participants and prioritize actions accordingly.

Sustainable development is a process which enables all people to realise their potential and to improve their quality of life. The most important step is to build strong teams with a good mix of competencies to ensure knowledge sharing and to initiate autonomous thinking. Give responsibility for decisions to them and moderate the process. The, project participants will be encouraged by having an open, flexible environment where contributions are welcomed and valued, which allows adaptation of new ideas, tools and methods and react to changing conditions, supports and values contributions from all participants. This will influence their way of communication and interaction across generations and hierarchies.

Get dedicated administrative support from own institutions and decision makers

Key people (decision makers and opinion leader) who have real influence can support the project development even after the project lifetime. This includes senior managers at an institutional level as they play a crucial role for the development of the institutions, have control over resources (time, money) and decision-making power to ensure support for continuation of the process.

Learn and understand, that the process is flexible and thus, our environments are changing constantly

A clear dissemination strategy from the beginning of the project by taking into account the potential of everyone’s’ networks are helpful to raise awareness of the project to potential users and future network partners. The viral effect of social media and web applications as well as conventional media to spread information about the started process serve to engender a social pressure to continue with the transparent local collaboration and opens new opportunities for further collaborations.

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