Gauging environmental directions is always difficult due to many contributing factors including; public opinion, legislation and congressional leadership, the state of the economy, and federal/state environmental organization leadership. However, these factors typically give some warning of their eventual arrival. The catastrophic unforeseen barometric changes occur at the project level in the form of; change in regulatory agency personnel; changes in community interest level, or investigation results which increase the impacted quantity and/or media type requiring remediation.

Besides feeling derailed, what options can an individual or organization take to minimize the impacts of these barometric (or pressure) changes? In order to decide what to do, let us first address what we should not do:

  • Stay the course at any cost. The course has changed and the project must change with it. There is a new RPM or a new group of interested community members or a new remediation process to consider. Staying the course will cost money and the balance of the project control may shift to the agencies. This is not to say that all aspects of the project should change, but simply a need to adjust to the new issues is required. This will allow the project to realize the least impact, while continuing to drive the process to completion.
  • Do not ignore the issues. The issues are not going to solve themselves and they do not go away. In fact, they probably will come back with a vengeance. Additionally, project issues when not addressed can come back at any time within the project. Environmental projects, which have had one or a combination of barometric changes have result in completed designs being shelved and the process taking on a whole new direction.
  • Do not get angry, remember the goal. Although becoming angry can be particularly easy to do given some circumstances which project members are faced with, in most cases this is counterproductive. Control the anger to achieve the objective.

With these three examples of what not to do, an answer to these barometric changes may then be to: 1) stop temporarily and assess the impact(s); 2) quantify the issues including assessing risks and then; 3) proceed with these new factors in mind, paying particular attention to the barometric change(s).

Now for the obvious no strategy works all the time. Therefore, what may work in these types of situations are presented as a guide. The barometric conditions are not always in the parties control, and therefore, we must be aware of the project needs and apply appropriate efforts to satisfy them.

Copyright 2001 C2 REM. All rights reserved.