Unsustainable development is a development pace that is typified by stress, frustration, and a sense of not being in control. It is most evidenced by a continually increasing cost of change and defect rate and a corresponding decreasing ability to respond to changing conditions. Unfortunately, unsustainable development encompasses a large gray area of declining capability with a variable pace of decline. As a consequence, unsustainable development may not be immediately evident, even to the people on the project.
Unsustainable development results from a complex ecosystem of continual change and stresses that are largely out of the control of an organization. Therefore, in order to achieve sustainability, the organization must recognize its stresses and continually adjust its defenses and coping mechanisms.
The next chapter returns to the theme of sustainability. It starts by describing the difference between principles and practices and then outlines some of the key principles that lead to sustainability. These principles are used to frame the practices described in the rest of the book, because sustainable development begins with principles (mindset) and uses practices that reinforce them.