People, Planet, Profits & Projects

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Richard Maltzman
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Can Science Solve Anti-Science?

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Backward Pass - Forward Fail?

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The Cripple Constraint

Categories: LCA

From a recent article in Scientific American:

"In July 2012 three of India's regional electric grids failed, triggering the largest blackout on earth. More than 620 million people — 9 percent of the world's population—were left powerless.


The cause: the strain of food production from a lack of water.

Because of major drought, farmers plugged in more and more electric pumps to draw water from deeper and deeper below ground for irrigation.  Those pumps, working furiously under the hot sun, increased the demand on power plants.  At the same time, low water levels meant hydroelectric dams were generating less electricity than normal ...


Energy, water and food are the world's three most critical resources.

Although this fact is widely acknowledged in policy circles, the interdependence of these resources on one another is significantly underappreciated.

Strains on any one can cripple the others."

Sound a little familiar?  Increase your project's scope, and you proably have a budget and schedule problem.  Fiddle with the schedule, bringing the date in by 3 weeks, and you probably have to spend money on overtime and may have to leave out some featres.  Got hit with a budget cut?  Get ready to just admit that the delivery date has moved out by a couple of weeks, and/or once again, you have to take a scissors to some features.

Sure enough, the Iron Triangle - or Triple Constraint - has lost its mojo recently, at least in terms of presence in the PMBOK(R) Guide.

But as Gene Wilder said so well in Young Frankenstein... "IT"S ALIVE!". 

Sure, the PMBOK(R) Guide 5th Edition talks about multiple contratints on page 6, and now leaves out the formal reference to the Triple Constraint, but you know - you feel - that it is still there.  And it often rules your proejct - doesn't it?

Now back to Scientific American.  The point of the article - definitely worth a read - is that the triad of Food, Water, and Energy is a similar set of constraints.  And as we work on our projects, it's worth thinking about the relationships that our project - and the project's outcomes - have on the social infrastructure around them.   We realize that not every project has the obvious connection to food, water, and energy, but any such connection is easier to imagine if you think about the product of your project in action -  cumulatively - say 5 or 10 years from now.  And it may not be the exact "Cripple Constraint" called out by Scientific American, it may be some other set of dependent variables.

We just urge you to think about your project - just as Gene Wilder did - not only in its assembly stages - but when... IT'S ALIVE!

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: January 29, 2015 02:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Paper or Plastic?

Categories: LCA

 

As project managers we are often faced with tough descisions.

So it's a relief, isn't it, when you stop off at the market on the way home from a long day of progressive elaboration and rolling-wave planning, Monte-Carloing, Paretoing, and determining the Estimate at Completion, that the only decision you have to make is.... Paper or Plastic for your bag.

What a relief.  An easy, no-brainer.  Paper!  Right?  It's brown, it's re-used materials... right?  Right?  RIGHT?

Not necessarily.

We think there is actually quite a lessons-learned in the area of Procurement Management for your projects in the video we provide below.

The speaker,  Leyla Acaroglu is outstanding as she provides a flowing, logical description of how purchasing decisions should really be made.  She's speaking in general, but if you have your "PM antennae" on, and you're willling to think a little more holistically about your project - including the time after the moment you leave the project because it's turned over to your client - you'll find that this talk can help you in your PM decision making.

You're going to find definitions in this talk which will be helpful as well.

  • extraction
  • biodegradability
  • Life Cycle Assessment (or Analyisis) - LCA

This is a highly-recommended talk.  You will be that much smarter after listening.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: October 03, 2014 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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