A Closer Look: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Washington D.C. USA

Aaron is the former editor of ProjectsAtWork.com

Not every black swan is a catastrophe. Some of these unexpected game-changing events represent decidedly auspicious opportunities. From the viral success of a toy to the surprise discovery of an oil field, unexpected windfalls can have enormous positive impact on an organization.

However, handling them requires just as much flexibility, leadership and project management skills as disastrous black swans. Otherwise, what could be a great opportunity can turn into a major debacle.

Just look at the American Red Cross. After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the humanitarian aid organization was faulted for diverting the majority of donations not to victims’ families but to other Red Cross programs.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which falls under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), faced this type of risk when it received an additional US $16.8 billion in funding for projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The agency, which typically manages US $2 billion in projects annually, didn’t anticipate a sudden influx of funding that ballooned its budget almost tenfold in a matter of days.

“There’s no such thing as having too much money, but this added a lot of complications and complexities to our office,” says Scott E. Hine, PMP, acting deputy assistant …

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I hope, when they die, cartoon characters have to answer for their sins.

- Jack Handey

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