Shutdowns and Stories – Politicians and Puppets


This post is a bit eclectic.  But it all comes together, trust us.

Here are four seemingly unrelated, apparently ‘random’ subjects which we intend to tie up in a neat little package:

  • The United States Government’s shutdown
  • A new app for the iPhone
  • A fantastic experience at a Project Management Workshop
  • Hybrid cars and college students

Right.  Yeah, sure.  Nobody could pull that all together.  Well, WE can.  EarthPM can do that for you.  Just wait and see.  We’re that good.

First of all, let’s start with the US Government.  Part of the US Government is the Department of Energy and its Argonne National Labs.  We’re proud to be working with Argonne on ECOCAR2.  We sure hope that the Government shutdown does not end the efforts of Argonne.  ECOCAR is an amazing collaboration as you will see from our puppet below.

Wait.  Puppet?  Did he say puppet?  What’s that about?  Well, that brings us to the second bullet, a new app for the iPhone.  Check out this link (click here to learn about Shadow Puppet).  This clever application helps anyone quickly and easily narrate a photo-laden story to convey an idea or perhaps a project lesson with amazing ease and an without anyone else needing the app to play the story you just wrote.  Stories are very important to project managers.  Which brings us to the next piece of our eclectic package.

We just finished a tremendous workshop at ECOCAR2’s “Fall Workshop” in which we were asked to help the students and advisors in this 15-university program with transitions between project managers.  Project managers who are college students, competing to create a new hybrid vehicle from a General Motors-donated 2013 Chevy Malibu.  Stories featured heavily in our training – the concept that stories help promote data into information  into knowledge and finally into wisdom.  This concept (called the DIKW Pyramid) is even featured in the 5th Edition PMBOK(R) Guide.  So our training for ECOCAR2 seemed to take.  And during that training, we learned about this brand new app – Shadow Puppet.  So we’ll be sharing this with our ECOCAR2 students.

And what is ECOCAR? Well the best way to do that is to watch our newly-created puppet!

You can do that by clicking on the image below!

Clicking on this picture will take you to a “shadow puppet” describing EarthPM’s experience at ECOCAR2’s Fall Workshop, September 2013.






You can find out much more about ECOCAR here and here.

And you can find out how EarthPM can help you by contacting us at

Awesome Austin


We’re just back from the ECOCAR2 Winter Workshop in Austin, TX, USA.  Above, you see one of the many oversize guitars which are located throughout this vibrant city, helping promote the mantra, “Keep Austin Weird”.  In fact, if you look closely, you’ll see that this particular guitar is labeled “Vibrancy”.  Each of the guitar statues has a name which evokes a theme. And we’d dare to say that this was our theme this weekend as well.  Read on to find out why.

ECOCAR2 is a three-year collegiate engineering competition and the only program of its kind.  The competition’s mission is a vital one: offer an unparalleled hands-on, real-world experience to educate the next generation of automotive engineers. The competition challenges 15 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.  Established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), EcoCAR 2 builds upon a successful 23-year history of DOE Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) that exemplify the power of public/private partnerships in providing invaluable experience and training to promising, young minds entering the North American job market.

If that’s not a project, we’re not sure what is.  Defined start and finish.  Unique product, service or result.  Uses resources and has to work with limited time and budget to meet expectations and requirements of a sponsor… yeah, it’s a project, alright.

Each of these 15 University teams have project leaders and business managers – as well as faculty advisers.  These were the folks attending our workshop.

Some of the Mississippi State University students with their 2013 Malibu ECOCAR2 behind them.


The students – as well as the sponsors and faculty advisers – were active, engaged, and curious as we led our second workshop on project management for the 30 or so participants.  They worked in teams responding to challenges we gave them – and reported out with (you guessed it) vibrancy.  For example, one exercise was to apply the use of an Ishikawa diagram to solve a pizza shop’s delivery problems.  The teams really bought in (perhaps pizza and college students is indeed a marriage made in heaven) and found root causes and got those pizzas made properly and delivered on time.

We had fun.  They had fun.  And the Winter Workshop was successful.

We look forward to further collaboration with ECOCAR2, and wish all of these teams success in their efforts to create an innovative hybrid Malibu sedan!

Have a look at this summary video – and catch the vibrancy!

Stay tuned.  We’re likely to have a follow-up post with some more photos of the vibrancy!