Innovation, Government, Sustainability, and Project Management

book-ISWe recently had a unique opportunity to see the United States’ former CTO (Chief Technical Officer), Aneesh Chopra, discuss his book, “Innovative State” (see image – click on it to go to Chopra’s dedicated site).

We also got to briefly discuss our book, Green Project Management with him.

Turns out, Mr. Chopra’s dad is a PMP(R)-Credentialed project manager.  So there is a strong connection there.  Also, in interviews with the author we’ve heard, he frequently refers to the importance of project management – good PM practices, that is – to government projects, such as  In that case, he says, the project was lacking good PM practices.  Evidently.  But there are a couple of major points that are made in this book as well as in TED talks and other interviews with Chopra.

In this blog post, we’ll focus on one: Open Data.  This is Chapter 5 in the book, by the way.

Not from Chapter 5, but appropriate to the subject, is a great quote from UC Berkeley professor Henry Cheesborough, “before you can effectively innovate in any open way beyond the boundary of your own firm, you have to become more open internally within your own firm”.  We like that quote because we have been huge proponents of “LinkedIn”/”Facebook”-like communities inside companies for their communities of project managers and have see the benefits they reap in terms of sharing project wisdom.

What is fascinating about the chapter on Open Data, is that it begins with Thomas Jefferson.  But not Thomas Jefferson the President, Thomas Jefferson the weather nut.  He was a meticulous record-keeper when it came to meteorology.  Read the chapter for more detail but the funny thing is, when Chopra is talking about open data, climate (and by extension sustainability) was the driver even in this example from the 1770s.

The book goes on to describe the collaboration with French ministries, the application of the telegraph and eventually the internet to weather data, and the formation of the National Weather Bureau and National Weather Service.  But the most important point is that the multibillion dollar industry around weather (think, your local TV station’s glitzy weather forecast) is all based around a single open data set provided by  The point?  The connection?

Project managers trying to make sustainability a central theme to their project offices, to their project management communities, have the same need for information, education, wisdom, knowledge, whatever you want to call it.  And we think that Open Data is appropriate at this stage for the collaboration of organizations working in this area.  Just as there is a multibillion dollar industry around weather, there is enough monetization to go around in terms of making project management a more triple-bottom-line oriented discipline.   And this is without considering the altruistic nature of making project managers a more long-term-thinking bunch.  The message, to our colleagues in the area of project management and sustainability is simply this: consider buying in to Aneesh Chopra’s idea of Open Data for the benefit it brings us collectively and to our discipline holistically.

If any of this intrigues you at all, please watch this free video where Aneesh Chopra talks about Open Data and Open Innovation, and consider how this could help promote what needs to be a stronger intersection of sustainability and project management:




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

Lighting up solar projects in the USA


Our US Department of the Interior announced yesterday (16-December-2010) that it has drafted a new environmental policy to expedite large-scale solar power projects in six western states.

The policy, known as the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), designates 24 sites on public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah for renewable energy projects.

We’re not talking about small potatoes here.  This is about over 100 active solar applications covering 1 million acres that developers estimate could generate 60,000 megawatts of electricity.

Why should you care?

Well, if for no other reason: job security. Does this effort trigger projects (and therefore the need for project managers)?  Well, perhaps this will help answer that question.  The 32 page Introduction section of the PEIS document contains the word project of program over 150 times.

Presentation on the document structure:

Click here for a short video on how to use the document.

Link to full PEIS document:

Click here for the full document.

Click here for a set of Questions and Answers on the program.

As we have continued to assert – climate change cynic, or earthy enthusiastic environmentalist, as a project manager, you are best off – and importantly, best suited – to ride the green wave.  Start riding.