This is a two-part story. In Part I, the crustacean is the villain. In Part II, the crustacean is the hero. Or… maybe it’s not so cut-and-dry. In any case, it is a two part story, and, as Yoda might say: “Read it, you can - learn from it you must”.
Just like in project management, stakeholders can be on either side of a project issue. Or, more interestingly, they can be on BOTH sides of a project issue.
Crustacean Frustration - Part I: The Crayfish Crime of Crater Lake (including a lesson in Stakeholder Management!)
Our story unfolds at Crater Lake. Crater Lake is a unique environment in south-central Oregon. It’s known for its natural beauty and crystal clear, deep blue water.
You may ask: why was the Signal Crayfish introduced? Interestingly, the crayfish were introduced to serve as food for fish that were introduced in order to make Crater Lake a destination for fishermen. So, in effect the crayfish were introduced to be prey – to be fish food! Read about it in this extract from High Country News:
With all this talk of triggers and early warning signs, this could be a story about monitoring and controlling risks and issues. And it is, but it’s not the main spin of the story from our perspective.
Here’s a project management connection: Stakeholder Management
The larger issue is the climate change indicated by the temperature rise in Crater Lake. Let’s move on to another story in which the crustacean is no longer a villain, but a victim – even a hero.
It's all about that baseline
As project managers, we are all about baselining. That is – determining a reference point from which we make rational judgments. We baseline scope. We baseline schedule. We baseline the budget. We do this so that we can make informed decisions about the actuals – comparing actual to planned and looking for variance. It's from this information that we make decisions - important project decisions.
In projects, this is done in the relatively short term. Even though projects can be decades long, we must remember that in the scheme of things, a 50-year project is – geologically speaking – a flash in the pan, if that. And that’s where the forams come in.
Forams? That's not a typo - we didn't mean forum. Although, there may be a forum for forams.
So - what’s a foram? They are simple marsh-dwelling creatures – technically called foraminifera, which are choosy about how much time they spend underwater, and so they turn out to be surprisingly precise indicators of ancient sea levels. Here's a picture of some...
In this article from today’s Boston Globe, you’d find the story of Professor Andrew Kemp of Tufts University, who is studying the ancient climate, “using lessons written in the sediment to discern historical patterns that could help refine models of climate change and sea levels. Generally, local sea level rise is calculated by taking the overall changes predicted by climate models and then factoring in the local conditions. But those are complex and aren’t all understood — a knowledge gap that research like Kemp’s could help fill.”
In other words, they are baselining.
The studies being conducted by Kemp have taken him from North Carolina to Long Island Sound, and now he would like to extend that work to Massachusetts, to build a fine-grained portrait of how sea levels have changed over the last several thousand years in order to make more informed predictions.
We found this story to be interesting in the dual connection to project management: first, the baseline element and second, the fact that it is indeed a project – one that our book Green Project Management would call a “Green By Definition” project.
And there was another, perhaps even stronger connection.
We’ve always treasured one particular aspect of project management – the fact that we are silo-busters. Read this quote from the article:
‘The work shows the importance in science of borrowing tools and insights from other fields. While biologists might be interested in forams and the ecosystems in which they live for their own right, geologists can use the different species of forams they find and their distribution in the sediment to extrapolate the conditions of the ancient marsh.”
Even within the field of science – there are clearly silos. And it’s this project team that is breaking down the walls between those silos to gain a positive outcome. That’s what projects are all about.
And you can use that line… as a baseline.