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People, Planet, Profits & Projects

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Richard Maltzman
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An Ironic Pipeline - Part 2

An Ironic Pipeline - Part 1

Pillar Four - Open the Door - Part II

Pillar Four - Open the Door

Green Hydrogen: Project leaders: have a gas!

An Ironic Pipeline - Part 2

In Part 1, I summarized one of the documents that resulted from COP27 (for all of the acronyms you haven’t heard before, they’re covered in Part 1).   The document of interest to me, and I humbly assert, to you as well, is called “Compendium of Climate-related Initiatives) and summarizes 128 projects worth a total of US$128B.

In researching the reports of NDCs, I came across a chart that led me to some new and even more exciting acronyms: INDCs and SSPs.

Here’s that chart:

The chart shows the effect of the NDCs (see, I told you, you need to read Part 1!) and INDCs are shown over time, through the year 2060.

NDCs are Nationally Determined Contributions.  To help meet the Paris Agreement goals, every country is expected to prepare and communicate a nationally determined contribution (NDC) every five years. These include targets, measures and policies and are the basis for national climate action plans. INDCs?  It’s a sort of ‘predictive’ form of an NDC – a plan for one.

The World Resources Institute makes it very clear:

In the lead up to the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted in 2015, more than 160 countries and the European Union submitted their own plans to address climate change, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). According to the global climate pact, a country’s INDC is converted to a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) when it formally joins the Paris Agreement by submitting an instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, unless a country decides otherwise.

This article from the World Resources Institute details which countries have been making changes to their INDCs and how they are converting them into NDCs, including making them more stringent.

The different paths you see in the chart above reflect which SSP will drive the impacts on climate.  OK, so what’s an SSP?

There's a nice explanation of SSPs on CarbonBrief.org. 

I've chosen to provide this from “The Shared Socioeconomic Pathways and their energy, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions implications: An overview”: by Riahi, et al:

The current set of SSP scenarios consists of a set of baselines, which provides a description of future developments in absence of new climate policies beyond those in place today, as well as mitigation scenarios which explore the implications of climate change mitigation policies. The baseline SSP scenarios should be considered as reference cases for mitigation, climate impacts and adaptation analyses. Therefore, and similar to the vast majority of other scenarios in the literature, the SSP scenarios presented here do not consider feedbacks from the climate system on its key drivers such as socioeconomic impacts of climate change.

Think of SSPs as a simulation resulting in the spaghetti map that forecasters use to show potential paths of hurricanes depending on a multitude of factors.

Below is a table created from various sources, including this one from Reuters.

So what about that pipeline?

Since this is a Project Management (or Project Leadership) blog, I want to leave you with some additional value besides the conversancy in climate related projects.  The Portfolio of Climate Related Projects (as I re-titled the subject document) has an outstanding format, one that I assert we can learn from as project leaders.  To wit, I attach below a few example “dashboard sheets”.

Below is an overview graphic that is an excellent way for any Portfolio Manager to show their executives how their projects “stack up”.

And, as promised, here are two examples of a project summary in an excellent dashboard format that shows funding, intent and other key elements in a very concise and clear manner.

I hope you found this very brief pipeline series informative and even a little inspiring.

 

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: November 26, 2022 12:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

An Ironic Pipeline - Part 1

The UN’s Conference of the Parties (COP) number 27 has just ended in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.  One of its outputs is a large document called “The Compendium of Climate-Related Initiatives”.  That does not sound like something belonging in a project management blog of any kind.

But substitute two synonyms (portfolio for compendium, and projects for initiatives), and the document becomes A Portfolio of Climate-Related Projects (see below).

 Indeed, this is a collection of projects and programs organized for a strategic purpose, to help achieve goals.  Strategy is always about HOW you achieve goals and objectives.  Here, the goals and objectives are to reduce climate change (and as much as possible, its causes) and counter its already-existing effects.  And, as always, the connection between strategy and reality is – well, quite humbly, it’s us – project leaders, executing portfolios of programs and projects.

The “Compendium” includes 128 projects, with a budget of $128B (that’s B as in Billions ... or Busy!) dollars.  That’s a lot of projects and a lot of dollars, all aimed at very noble goals and objectives, so it may interest potential project leaders in terms of their career.  The purpose of this post is to help familiarize you with the types of projects in this compendium, and some of the basic language used – to help make you conversant in this (excuse the pun) environment.

Let’s start with how this was announced.  A press release from the UN High-Level Climate Champions said:

In 2022, the COP 27 Presidency, the High-Level Champions and the United Nations
Regional Commissions have released a compendium of 50 projects. At COP 27 the
High-Level Champions released an extended compendium comprising 128
projects in need of USD$128 billion. This provides the basis for a project pipeline,
with projects across mitigation and adaptation, rooted in NDC and regional
priorities.

I understand the projects and billions of dollars, and I’m loving the idea of a ‘project pipeline’.  In fact, the word pipeline is a bit ironic, given that pipelines are often associated with carbon-based fuels - thus the title of this blog post series. But… what is an NDC?  Inquiring minds want to know.

For the answer, we go to the source, the UN Climate Change website:

"Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of its long-term goals. NDCs embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change."

This short video describes NDCs in layperson’s terms:

If you’re curious about your own country, you can explore the country-by-country goals by referring to the NDC registry.  Here’s a snippet of some of the African countries.

 

TableDescription automatically generated

 

Why are NDCs important?  The answer, from the non-profit World Resources Institute:

The initial commitments that countries put forward in Paris are not enough to avoid crossing over dangerous temperature thresholds — currently putting us on track to 3 degrees C of warming or more. The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C found that even a half-degree of difference in global temperature rise will have profound impacts on sea level rise, biodiversity and extreme weather events. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb to all-time highs. The scientific evidence further suggests that the window of opportunity to achieve the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals is closing rapidly. That is why it is imperative that the current NDC enhancement process delivers faster, deeper greenhouse gas emission reductions and prepare for global warming's impacts.

The thermometer below, from the same WRI site, indicates the imperative:

Each degree of temperature rise raises the threat that climate change brings with it.  "Business as Usual" will hinder business as usual.  And life as usual.  And life.

The deeper I dove into the details on this ‘pipeline of projects’ the more intriguing it became – and the more I felt I could help project leaders get conversant in the language of these projects.  In the next post (Part 2), I will show several examples of the 128 projects.  The "dashboard" technique the authors use is worth considering for your projects.  I'll also discuss more important terms  to know in this area, such as INDCs and SSPs.  It’s my belief that developing conversancy in this area will help your job opportunities in this clearly important field.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: November 23, 2022 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Pillar Four - Open the Door - Part II

In the prior post I discussed the 3 Pillars of PPM (From scholar and all-around gentleman Jamal Moustafaev's book, Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice).

The Three Pillars of PPM
1. Projects selected must maximize the value for the company.
2. Projects selected must constitute a balanced portfolio.
3. The final portfolio of projects must be strategically aligned with the company’s overall business strategy.

Then I covered the fact that in an article by Javed Mohammad, Yu-Chun Pan, published just in 2022, and forwarded to me by graduated student Daria Risso as we work on her thesis for Politecnico di Torino, these authors imagine a fourth pillar: a pillar dedicated to sustainability and a holistic view.  I like that pillar.  A lot.  I would like to give a shout out to my former Boston University student Daria Risso for pointing this article out to me.

In this post, I want to summarize the remainder of the article and, with the kind permission of the authors, to share some of the key points and figures.  But  please, don’t read only this blog post – please read their very-well assembled and meaningful article (you can find it available on ResearchGate at no charge – just click here).

The authors start by re-imagining the PPM Framework in the following phases, each of which is tinged, or perhaps better-stated, infused with long-term, holistic, responsible thinking:

  • Strategic
  • Criteria Selection
  • Project Screening
  • Portfolio Balancing
  • Organizational Alignment or Portfolio
  • Project Implementation
  • Project Accountability

See the figure below (highlighting mine) to show how they have done a great job to avoid tacking-on sustainability, but rather building it in.

They have also put effort into criteria for project selection.  It’s ironic that this comes up at a time when I happen to be teaching graduate PM students about exactly this – the selection of projects based on a multiplicity of criteria, including mathematical techniques like AHP:

In this step, the participants may use any multi-criteria decision-making method (MCDM), e.g., the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), that allows for pairwise comparison of variables thus establishing the relative importance of one variable against another. The process is repeated for the three categories of sustainability i.e., economic, environmental and social.

See the figure below – it assures that these criteria categories are included.

Figures above used with permission of the authors (thanks!).

I’ve been thinking (and writing) for a while about how some organizations have apparently misguided, or perhaps disconnected projects – projects like VW’s special sensors and software which led to Dieselgate while their C-Suite was indicating their desire to be a automotive leader in  environmental sustainability.   Somewhere there is a break in the connection between vision and execution – a break that I insist is at the PPM level.  Perhaps Mohammad and Pan have found the fix for that breakage – a renewed focus on sustainability by those at the PPM level, those in powerful PMO positions who could filter out, with the right criteria, those projects which are misaligned from a sustainability perspective.  If the organization is telling the world that sustainability is strategically important, that has to prevent projects which are producing sustainability disbenefits from ever being chartered.  

Here is a piece of the authors’ conclusion:

It is recommended that other reporting tools should be applied to the proposed framework for a much wider understanding of these processes. Another area that requires research is whether sustainability is built into the framework bottom-up or top-down in the process and which method would be more effective. Finally, the proposal is open to contributions from the research, academic and practitioner community and should be viewed as an initial step towards developing a tried and tested framework that addresses some of the difficulties that organisations face when implementing sustainability into their project-related processes.

 

These authors, in my opinion, are one of a group on the leading edge of building sustainability thinking into projects with the intelligence and wisdom that comes from a PPM perspective.  This is important.  I urge you to read the article (that’s one reason I kept this blog post short – they say it all in their article!) and consider case studies or other suggestions that may help us as project leaders and citizens of the third rock from the sun to ‘get stuff done’ in efficient but also long-term effective ways.

 

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: October 23, 2022 07:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Pillar Four - Open the Door

In the past few posts, I have been focused on breakthroughs in science that will yield new projects.  I’ll continue to do that, of course, because they speak to the amazing new opportunities it will bring project leaders.  Whole careers are going to be made for those who want to take on a project leadership role in, for example, the deployment of green hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and use, or, the creation of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Today, I’m shifting back to project (program, and portfolio) management itself and how it is maturing and blossoming, with our without wholly new scientific breakthroughs.  In fact, the breakthrough here is more of a construction project inside Project Portfolio Management.  It’s the idea of a shiny new, fourth pillar.  We have the only known photo of this pillar, shown above.

Naah, it’s not a literal pillar – it’s a metaphorical pillar.  The original 3 pillars come from author and consultant Jamal Moustafaev, author, speaker, and CEO of Thinktank Consulting, Inc.  Jamal is actually the author of a great book I’ve been using in my Program and Portfolio Management courses at Boston University for years.  In his writing, Jamal has referred to the Three Pillars of PM as:

 

The Three Pillars of PPM
One can say that PPM rests on the following three pillars:
1. Projects selected must maximize the value for the company.
2. Projects selected must constitute a balanced portfolio.
3. The final portfolio of projects must be strategically aligned with the company’s overall business strategy.

But in a recent article by Javed Mohammad, Yu-Chun Pan, published just in 2022, these authors imagine a fourth pillar: adding sustainability and a holistic view.  I like that pillar.  A lot.  I would like to give a shout out to my former Boston University student Daria Risso for pointing this article out to me.

In the Abstract of this article, the authors say:

This paper pursues the premise that sustainability is strategic and distinct from functional and tactical project management processes. Integrating the principles of sustainability into project management should, therefore, deliver limited outcomes or lack a comprehensive solution that is flexible and adaptable to different business models, functions and situations.

 

And they’re correct.

 

This has been a point we’ve made on this blog and that project managers have been un-shy about bringing up to me when I ask them to consider the responsibility a PM has to take sustainability into account.  So how about ‘kicking this up a notch’ to PPM? 

That’s what I’ve called for, and I was pleased to see that this is the view of this article:

 Project portfolio management (PPM), on the other hand, has a much wider application and perspective. It bridges project management with the overall organisational strategy, goals and objectives. Not only is PPM strategic, but it is a continuous process, unfettered by the limitations of individual projects or programmes.

The article mentions that adding a framework for sustainability thinking can help determine long-term benefits and project outcomes (this is the good side), but it also “adds some complexity” into PPM practices and will cause PPM managers and stakeholders to “prepare for additional responsibilities”.

Is this trade-off worth it?  Are we ready for this additional complexity?  Do we think the “additional responsibilities” will pay off?

This is what I plan to discuss in the next post, including a deeper dive into the article.  Want to dive in with me?  The article is publicly available on Research Gate, click here to access it.

See you on the other side of the door…

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: October 09, 2022 08:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Green Hydrogen: Project leaders: have a gas!

(the expression "to have a gas", as the image implies, means to have a great time.  This post is about green hydrogen... and we think the opportunities abound for many interesting projects in which project managers can.... have a gas, literally and figuratively)

Now that we traipsed through the spectrum of colors of hydrogen (see previous post), I’d like to talk about projects and programs to make one particular “color” of hydrogen: green.

There’s some news here to start off with – as covered by PV magazine, the world’s first offshore green hydrogen pilot was just announced a couple of days ago.  That project, by Lhyfe, is an 18-month offshore green hydrogen pilot project in France.  According to the article:

The pilot has the capacity to produce up to 400 kg of renewable green hydrogen a day, equivalent to 1MW of power,” said the France-based hydrogen producer. The 18-month wind-powered pilot in Saint-Nazaire, France, will operate near the shore for the first six months, before it is moved to a site 20 kilometers off the coast of Le Croisic. The project will be installed less than 1 km from the floating wind turbine. It will use wind power to pump, desalinate and purify seawater.

In the video interview below with Creamer Media, Technical Director Thomas Créach reviews the where, when, how, and why of this pilot project.

I found the ideas and mission of the start-up company Lhyfe very inspiring.  Here’s a quick interview with their founder, Matthieu Guesne.

There is more in the news however, besides this project itself.  Another green-hydrogen-related story is about storing that hydrogen.  In a cave.  In Sweden.  That piece of news is summarized here:

SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall have commissioned the HYBRIT pilot facility, which will store fossil-free hydrogen gas in Luleå, Sweden. “The rock cavern storage facility is the first of its kind in the world for storing fossil-free hydrogen gas,” wrote Vattenfall. After initial pressure tests with water in June, the 100-cubic-meter storage facility was filled with hydrogen gas and reached a maximum operating pressure of 250 bar. The two-year test period will continue with test campaigns to collect data until 2024. “HYBRIT technology will be used for the production of fossil-free sponge iron on a large scale at a first demonstration facility in Gällivare,” said Lars Ydreskog, director of strategic projects at LKAB.”

This is an amazing project, probably worth a blog post on its own.  Read more about this really cool (pun intended) hydrogen storage cave here: https://www.ssab.com/en-us/news/2022/09/hybrit-milestone-reached--pilot-facility-for-hydrogen-storage-up-and-running.

Some highlights:

  • The HYBRIT initiative was launched in 2016 by the three owners; SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall.
  • Objective: create a completely fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel, with fossil-free pellets, fossil-free electricity and hydrogen.
  • In May 2021, construction began on a storage facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas on a pilot scale next to HYBRIT’s pilot facility for direct reduction in Luleå, the storage facility began operation in late summer 2022.
  • Hybrit Development AB is a research and technology development company that will deliver
  • The steel industry today accounts for 7 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions. Using HYBRIT technology, SSAB can help reduce Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10 per cent and Finland’s by 7 per cent.
  • This transition will reduce emissions in the global steel industry by 40–50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. This corresponds to all of Sweden’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Wow!  But that’s not the end.  In fact it’s just a beginning.

Further, the referenced article also closes with two eye-popping stories regarding a flurry of projects related to green hydrogen:

“The US Department of Energy (DoE) has opened applications for a $7 billion program to create regional clean hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs) across the United States. The project is part of the $8 billion hydrogen hub program funded through President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (covered in a People, Planet, Profits and Project blog post last month). The DoE aims to select six to 10 hubs. Concept papers are due by Nov. 7, 2022, and full applications are due by April 7, 2023. 

The European Commission has approved a second Important Project of Common European Interest to support research, industrial deployment, and construction of relevant infrastructure in the hydrogen value chain. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden are participating in the project, and will benefit from up to €5.2 billion in public support. “We will also increase our financial participation in Important Projects of Common European Interest,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.”

Looking at the numbers in these initiatives should raise the interest of project managers who would like to work on projects that are oriented directly towards sustainability.  Of course, the theme of this blog post has been that all projects need to consider the long-term, holistic outcomes, benefits, and value of their projects’ products, so really any project manager – or at least a project leader – has a say in sustainable PM.  But the initiatives around green hydrogen, well, they are directly sustainable projects.

Project Leaders – in the future, you may have a gas!

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: September 30, 2022 04:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
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