Sometimes, you just have to ask!



You may be surprised.  Sometimes when you want something – all you have to do is ask.  This article from today’s Boston Globe illustrates a key principle of project management.

Communications is key.

Whether it’s looking for additional resources, gaining access to what we thought may be privileged information, or getting a variance on a permitting process, sometimes it’s just a matter of asking.

And that’s what happened here.

BEIJING — Communist China is hardly known for its transparency. So when environmental groups appealed to the government last year to disclose official data on air pollution, they were not expecting much.

‘‘Way beyond our expectations, the government actually said yes,’’ said Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing. ‘‘I am quite amazed.’’

Since Jan. 1, the central government has required 15,000 factories — including influential state-run enterprises — to publicly report details on air emissions and water discharges in real time, an unprecedented degree of disclosure that is shedding light on the who, what, when, and where of China’s devastating environmental problems.

The reporting requirement is part of a striking turnaround by China’s government, which is also publishing data on the sootiest cities and trying to limit the use of coal.

The country’s appalling air is blamed for more than a million premature deaths a year, for producing acid rain that damages the nation’s agriculture, for driving away tourists, and even for encouraging the brightest students to study abroad. Perhaps just as important, Beijing’s bad air has been making its Communist leaders lose face.

Cleaning up China’s bad air will take years, even in the best of circumstances. The economy is dependent on coal, and many powerful interests are involved. But activists say the new steps could at least represent the beginning of change.

Linda Greer of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington says the reporting requirement for factories is the ‘‘biggest thing’’ China has done to address its pollution problems, and the most likely to produce results.

‘‘It brings them from the back of the pack globally, in terms of public information disclosure, to the front of the pack,’’ Greer added by phone. ‘‘Inevitably it will strengthen the hand of regulators when they have bad air-pollution days, to look at real-time data.’’

The full article is here  – and we suggest you have a look – and a bit of inspiration.



The sky is not falling. But…

We focus on projects, project management, the connection between sustainability and project management, projects, and most importantly, YOU – the project manager.

That focus includes ecological but also economic and social continuity and success – in other words, running projects that consider the long term effects of the project’s product on the enterprise financially, for its employees and customers, and for the long-term health of the planet.

We are not tree-huggers, even though the picture on the cover of our award-winning book is of a tree.

But some of our rationale for taking on our work is rooted (pun intended) in caring for our home – Earth.

And we know that there are many of you out there who are justifiably skeptics – even cynics, and deniers, when it comes to climate change.  That’s fine with us.  We are left-brained, engineer/scientist types and we like that type of questioning.  It’s what keeps innovation going.

Still, we think it’s important to keep the project managers out there up-t0-date with news and recent findings with respect to climate change.

The most recent news, unfortunately, isn’t good.  It’s downright scary.

In this article, based on findings from the UN (I can almost hear the groan from some of you, but that’s okay, too), indicates that “heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are building up so high, so fast, that some scientists now think the world can no longer limit global warming to the level world leaders have agreed upon as safe”.

And in this story, World Meteorological Deputy Secretary-General Jeremiah Lengoasa said,  “With this picture in mind, even if emissions were stopped overnight globally, the atmospheric concentrations would continue for decades because of the long lifetime of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”.

Part of our job as project managers is to “promote” data up the hierarchy of the DIKW Pyramid to knowledge.  In other words, we, as project managers are often the ones who integrate disparate and apparently random factoids and turn that into wisdom which can be used, if we do it right, for the current project and projects of the future as well.  Think “lessons learned” here, people.  And, oh by the way, it may be ourselves managing those future projects, so the collection and spreading of wisdom may turn out to benefit and sustain us, as well as project sponsors and stakeholders.  With that in mind, it’s to our advantage to understand what facts are being discovered about climate change.
And here are some findings from this most recent research:
  • total carbon dioxide levels in 2010 hit 389 parts per million, up from 280 parts per million in 1750, before the start of the Industrial Revolution. Levels increased 1.5 ppm per year in the 1990s and 2.0 per year in the first decade of this century, and are now rising at a rate of 2.3 per year. The top two other greenhouse gases — methane and nitrous oxide — are also soaring.
  • The findings from the U.N. World Meteorological Organization are consistent with other grim reports issued recently. Earlier this month, figures from the U.S. Department of Energy showed that global carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 jumped by the highest one-year amount ever.
  • Temperatures have already risen about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since pre-industrial times.
  • Since 1990 — a year that international climate negotiators have set as a benchmark for emissions — the total heat-trapping force from all the major greenhouse gases has increased by 29 percent, according to NOAA.

Here’s a tip for you.

Next week, in Durban, South Africa, COP17 will take place.  You don’t need to be an activist to be informed.  Stay informed.  Understand the language.  Be conversant.  Know what this may mean to your projects and to you, even if you are a skeptic, cynic, or denier.  That’s going to help your OWN sustainability.  If indeed you are interested and curious, then even more so, you may want to stay tuned to what comes from Durban next week.

Our book has tips on how you can bring these facts to bear on your projects.

No, the sky isn’t falling.  But “the sky” is over, under, around, and inside your project.  So you should know about how it affects your project and its project – and vice-verse.