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 healthcare.gov.  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 Weather.com, your local TV station’s glitzy weather forecast) is all based around a single open data set provided by weather.gov.  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:

 

 

 

A look back at 2012 and forward to 2013

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We’d like to start you off with a very brief review of 2012 by Bill McKibben in an interview on NPR:

Click here to go to the NPR page with the interview…

Or, click here to download and listen to the interview itself.

Then come back here when you’re done.

Welcome back.

Interesting, huh?  In case you missed it, here are some highlights.  (See, we know our audience – project managers.  You’re busy.  You’re bottom line people.  You’re Type A, information-seeking folks.  And we know that you may not actually have gone and listened to the interview).

On how President Obama can demonstrate his seriousness

“I think the first tell that we’re going to get of whether the second term will be different will be the president’s decision on this Keystone Pipeline — the huge pipeline to the tar sands of Canada. It’s the one thing that’s really united the environmental movement and brought people out into the streets. The president will make a decision on it [at] some point in the first half of the year
and if he stands up to the fossil fuel industry for once, it will be, I think, a sign that he may be ready to take climate change with at least a little bit of the seriousness it deserves.”

On the biggest environmental issues in 2013

“In this country one of the big questions will be whether we luck out and are able to see some break in this drought or whether it stretches on for another year. Already the Mississippi, which just 18 months ago was in record flood, is now flirting with the lowest water ever measured there.

“Food prices were up 40 and 45 percent around the world because the harvest failed in North America. The world is at a point [where] last year it grew less food than it consumed. We can’t keep on with this kind of erratic weather and not pay huge consequence.”

On how Germany is leading the way in climate change initiatives

“The clear alternative and the best news from 2012 came from Germany, the one big country that’s taken climate change seriously. Their energy minister announced in November that they were going to blow past their targets for renewable power. This is in Germany, mind you. I mean, Munich is north of Montreal, but there were days last summer when they generated more than half the power they used from solar panels within their borders. What they’re proving is it’s not natural bounty nor technological know-how that holds us back; it’s simply political will, one resource we’re capable of ginning up if we set our minds to it.”

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From an EarthPM standpoint we’d like to take this time to thank our readers/followers for your attention.  2012 was a great year for us.  We’ve gone well over 1000 Twitter followers now and continue to see a huge volume of hits on our site.  We hope that you’ll also take this subject seriously enough to purchase the Kindle version of our book, Green Project Management.

In 2013 you’ll continue to see more from us.  We’ll continue our partnership with the Sustainability Learning Centre of Canada, with the US Department of Energy and GM and its ECOCAR2 project, and there are some pretty big surprises as well which we cannot yet reveal (hey, we have to keep some sense of suspense and drama).

Happy New Year from EarthPM!

 

State of the Project Management Union

obamaspeech4We’re not yet sophisticated enough to know our readers’ demographics, such as your age.  We do know that EarthPM is enjoying immense popularity, and that the visits are coming from all over the world and from diverse sources.  But we don’t know our visitors that well, other than you’re interested in project management, sustainability, and most likely, your careers.  We do remember Sputnik, because we are (now how do we put this?) well-seasoned PMs who have been in industry since the 1970s.  Old, in other words.

So, since we don’t know your age, we don’t know whether you remember Sputnik.  Ah yes, dear old Sputnik.  President Obama invoked its memory last night in his State of the Union address.  Here is the key extract:

“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — (applause) — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

Now, when the President says “especially clean energy technology”,  your ears should perk up – whether you work in America or not.  This is significant.  President Obama is issuing a challenge not unlike President Kennedy did when he promised to land a man on the moon.

How many NASA project managers did that employ?  How many government contracts were issued that, in turn, generated projects for project managers to manage for years to come?   We calculated the answer: it was 349,331 jobs.  Okay, so we made that up.  But it was a lot.

The President, as he is prone to do, gave a specific example:

“Already, we’re seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard. Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert’s words, “We reinvented ourselves.””

These “reinventions” will be happening to businesses large and small.  Even if you don’t reinvent yourself, you will likely be called on – as a project manager – to lend your talent to a reinvention.

Will you be ready?

You can find the entire transcript of President Obama’s State of the Union address here.

…and for you youngsters who know not of Sputnik, you can quench your curiosity here.

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Will “Bloom Boxes” Bloom next to Michelle Obama’s Organic Garden?

UPDATED 25-Feb-2010 – NEW links added below, including Bloom Energy’s press release

If you haven’t seen the US-based 60-Minutes show (CBS), you really should have a look at this clip.  More later, and in fact, you probably won’t be able to avoid the news this week as Bloom Energy goes public with a big splash on Wednesday.  But for now, have a look at this, and keep tuned to EarthPM for more on the project management aspects of this technology.

Here is the Bloom Energy press release of 24-February.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Here are a few follow-up links for our EarthPM readers:

24-FEB New Links: