You may have often heard said that the Project Manager is like the CEO of their project.
You may also have heard that a President is like the CEO of the country.
So, it doesn’t take too much linking logic to combine those assertions to come up with the ‘conclusion’ that President Bill Clinton is at least ‘like’ a Project Manager.
And in fact, Clinton recently addressed the North American PMI Congress in Washington, DC. One nice part was that he kept his prepared remarks to a minimum. Attendees were given a little card in their conference materials to facilitate asking him a question. So, President Clinton had those questions somewhat before he got up on stage. Acknowledging the quality of the questions posed by PMI Congress attendees, Clinton said (to applause) that he would not talk too long, and would instead devote more time to a question and answer session – an “Oprah-esque” interview by Greg Balestrero, CEO of PMI. We were in attendance and listened carefully, taking some copious notes.
You don’t have to agree with Bill Clinton to know that he’s a good speaker. And here he proved that he’s also a pretty darn good interviewee, ready with a quick wit and a great handle on a whole range of facts and knowledge. Clinton answered a set of far-ranging questions from the audience. Here we will focus on Clinton’s comments from his prepared talk as well as his response to the questions, which deal with climate change and project management. And yes, that topic – and our foundation – the intersection of green and project management – was a major thread (perhaps even a rope!) of the conversation. There were times when we couldn’t help saying to ourselves: “he really gets it!”.
During his prepared speech, Clinton identified three areas in which Project Management needs to play an increased role.
Those three areas are:
- Global instability
- Growing economic inequality between rich and poor countries
- The need for change in the way energy is produced and consumed in the world
We will focus, of course, on the third item. However, you can get a perspective on all three and the entire event by reading this recent PMI.org blog entry.
On this topic, President Clinton said, “I happen to believe changing the way we produce and consume energy is the greatest single economic opportunity that the developed nations have had, at least since there was mass mobilization for World War II, and this time, we don’t have to kill anybody….I have a climate change project, and I work in at least 25 countries, 40 cities, on six continents, proving that it is good business to change the way you produce and consume energy.”
Speaking of the Kyoto agreement and the effect it had had on four major economies – those of Sweden, Denmark, Germany,and the UK, Clinton said that after they took the agreement seriously, “those countries had lower unemployment rates, less income inequality, more small business formation, and more job formation, given the size of their economy than we did, and the only conceivable explanation, if you look at all the economic variables, is because they made a very serious attempt to either change the way they consume energy or change the way they produce it or a combination of the two.”
Our favorite quote – perhaps because of the way he introduces it, is this one:
“Deutsche Bank, not Greenpeace, but Deutsche Bank recently did a study on the German subsidies of this last decade, during which Germany leapâ€‘frogged the U.S. and Japan to become the number one producer and user of solar power in a country where the average sunlight is what it is in London, England.
So they had to heavily subsidize it. Deutsche Bank said, even accounting for the drag of the subsidy, Germany netted 500,000 jobs, which, if we had the German program, we would net 1.2 million, since, if we had the same sunlight, since we have twice the capacity, just implementing that would give us 2 1/2 million jobs, at a time when we desperately need them. So I think we need to make an economic case, a national security case, and a climate change case together. People are smart enough to figure this out.”
We like the quote, because:
- Like us, Clinton is stating that the evidence pointing to the ‘good logic’ (of initiating green projects and putting more green into projects) is not a radical ‘tree-hugger’ idea, but a sound business principle
- He realizes that people have different ‘channels’ for being convinced of the need to work on sustainability issues. He combines three biggies here: money, security, and survival. Pretty basic on the Maslow pyramid, right? Not too shabby.
- He uses a reference country – Germany – which has implemented solar power despite its not being a model for sunniness. Project managers and other intelligent people can do the extrapolation that in areas like the southern USA, Australian outback and the Sahara, the justification should be that much easier
So what do you think? Were you there? Did you react positively?
If you weren’t there, based on our reflections and recollections above, what do you think of these connections to our profession that President Clinton made? And, in particular, what do you think of the very specific connection Mr. Clinton made to the intersection of green and project management?