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Richard Maltzman
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Implement Risk Responses: Boston Style

Becoming a Climate Change Leader (Part 3 of 3)

Becoming a Climate Change Leader - Part 2 (of 3)

Becoming a Climate Change Project Leader - Part 1

Hot Boston: Part 3

Hot Boston: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the Boston Heat Plan, and marveled a bit at its thorough planning section.  In Part 2, I take you on a quick tour of the Stakeholder Engagement section.  Notable even in name, this section doesn’t discuss stakeholder management because (as PMI has recognized) we don’t manage stakeholders, we need to do a great job of identifying them and engaging (communicating, listening, partnering, understanding) them.

Clearly one of the most obvious stakeholders are the people of Boston.  Which type of people and communities are impacted by heat?  From the City of Boston website:

Who heat impacts:

Extreme heat affects us all but does not affect us all equally. More impacted groups include:

  • low-income communities
  • communities of color
  • indigenous and tribal communities
  • infants, children, and older adults 
  • those who do not have access to cool spaces in the summer
  • individuals with chronic illnesses and conditions that worsen with heat exposure, and
  • residents in areas with less green space.

The planners did an outstanding and creative job (in my opinion) in coming up with ways to elicit input from the residents of various communities of Boston.  Note: some of the text below comes directly from the report.

Participants in the process shared perspectives from their lived experience in Boston with heat and access to cooling. Community feedback directly shaped the heat resilience strategies included in this plan.

The City’s approach to community engagement included a range of ways for residents to engage including the following methods:

Considering that this was done during the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, virtual meetings were used to engage discussion and collaborative strategy development.  The planners used innovative techniques for the meetings themselves, including live sketching sessions where people could draw their ideas collaboratively onto a cityscape and build off others’ ideas – in real time.

Below are some images from the report showing the creativity they used – a “comic builder” to make avatars, virtual self-reflection, the sketching tool mentioned above, and a “gathering screen” (the blog post header image above) taking advantage of those avatars.

Meetings (virtual, due to the Pandemic) included two open houses, five neighborhood ideas sessions, and a forum specifically designed for youth. These sessions were recorded and made available on the project website to provide more opportunities for ongoing feedback in response to the same questions discussed in the live event.

In addition to the meetings, the planners also used citywide surveys, neighborhood idea sessions, and a special youth-led survey.

Although not many details were provided, the planners also identified other stakeholders with whom they would engage.  They include:

  • Civic organizations
  • Data privacy experts
  • Workforce safety organizations
  • Unions
  • Worker centers
  • City and state regulators
  • Expert focus groups
  • Industry groups

…and more.  As I preach to my project management students, “broad and deep” is the way to identify stakeholders.  Broad – meaning all categories of stakeholders, and deep – meaning all of the possible stakeholders in that category.

In Parts 3 and 4, I’ll shift to discussing the roadmap they established and their plan for benefits realization of the heat plan project.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: May 28, 2022 12:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hot Boston: Part 1

Categories: b, boston

Think about hot cities. Not 'hot' as in 'popular' or 'desirable' , or 'interesting.  We're talking physically hot cities. What comes to mind?  For me, I close my eyes and picture wavy heat lines coming up from the ground in places like Timbuktu, Mali, Kuwait City, Yuma, Arizona, Quito, Ecuador, Xi’an, China, or Cochin, India.

Then I open my eyes, and see that Boston, Massachusetts is making news for developing a (say, what!?) Heat Plan.  A heat plan?  For Boston, Massachusetts?  The one with the swan boats, snowstorms, and Fenway Paaahk?

Climate change, believe it or not, real or not (it is), has real project consequences.  Project managers will be taking the heat.  Literally.  Boston, Massachusetts is, in fact, already facing increasing temperatures not seen before, and is preparing to deal with it.

The key word here, in fact, is “change”.  It’s not that Boston is a particularly hot city.  It’s that the change to a warmer climate is going to cause hardships, and more so for some communities than others. Boston is one of the cities with the highest rate of change in temperatures already under its belt and with one of the highest forecast increases - in the world. Project Managers as change agents are going to be needed to facilitate – better said, to lead - the response to that change - by adding resilience and solutions to deal with it - and with efforts to help reduce the change in the first place.  This post is about the resilience-to-change part.

In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu (pictured below) has launched a program called Heat Resilience Solutions for Boston.  Just that name itself is a bit (excuse the irony here) chilling. 

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu

 

As a reminder, we are talking about climate change here.  Not temperature changes by the hour, or day, or week – that’s WEATHER.  Changes that accrue over time – years, or decades – that’s climate.

The heat plan consists of 26 strategies, which we’ll of course approach from a Portfolio, Program, and Project management perspective in this blog.

Here are the 26 strategies – categorized in to 5 … well, I will call them Program workstreams, which I’ll cover from an implementation perspective in future posts.

1. OPERATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS

1.1 Boston Extreme Temperatures Response Task Force

1.2 Pre-heat-wave Resources Mobilization

1.3 Heat Sensor Networks

2. COOLING OFF DURING HEAT WAVES

2.1 Pop-up Heat Relief

2.2 Enhanced and Expanded

2.3 Citywide Cooling Network

3. LOOKING OUT FOR NEIGHBORS

3.1 Expanded Community Climate Leadership

3.2 Extreme Temperature Plans for Outdoor Workers

4. AWARENESS, EDUCATION, AND TRAINING

4.1 Heat Resilience Public Education Campaign

4.2 Heat Survey

4.3 Expansion of Green Workforce Development for Heat Resilience

5. BUILDINGS

5.1 Home Cooling Resources Distribution

5.2 Cool Roofs Program

5.3 Home Energy Retrofits

5.4 Affordable Housing Resources and Retrofits

5.5 Cool Schools

6. PARKS, TREES, AND OUTDOOR SPACES

6.1 Enhanced Cooling in Pocket Green Spaces and Street-to-Green Conversions

6.2 Increased Shade on Municipal Sites

6.3 Expanded Drinking Fountain Network

6.4 Planning for Future Parks

7. TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

7.1 Cool Commutes

7.2 Energy Resilience Upgrades and Microgrids

7.3 Cool Main Streets

8. PLANNING, ZONING, AND PERMITTING

8.1 Updated Climate Resiliency Checklist

8.2 Heat Resilience Best Practice Guidelines

8.3 Zoning Revisions to Support Cooler Neighborhoods

 

Interestingly, the plan is focused on environmental justice communities that are hotspots in Boston and experience greater burdens as temperatures increase: Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury. 

The heat plan is actually part of a larger Portfolio of programs I talk about in my classes, and have blogged about here, called Climate Ready Boston.

The project management aspect of this initiative is gigantic.  For example, as I teach in my courses at Boston University, Programs are all about related projects (and perhaps other programs).  This heat plan (which I will call a Program) is intertwined with, and has dependencies on (amongst others), Boston’s Urban Forest Plan, which has as objectives to improve tree protection, stewardship, and new plantings for nature-based cooling solutions.  Worthy of a blog post or two of its own (which it may soon get), the Urban Forest Plan is described well by this graphic:

But let’s get back to the Heat Plan.

The motivation – the rationale - for this is simple.  Temperatures in Boston are rising.  Again, not by the hour or the day, but over time.  The Plan reference this NOAA data:

And the forecasts for 2070 are striking, making Boston's weather more like Atlanta or Miami by then.  What is important here is not just “rising temperatures” but the effect on people, and indeed, the effect on people who are less able to deal with the heat due to their economic situation and living conditions.  The image below is one of many in the report which provides scientific data that has been intelligently advanced into knowledge – this one showing population density and temperature levels, which shows the true concentration of problem areas and therefore the places that need the most attention from the program.

Like any good program, it starts with the vision of the Mayor’s office:

Our mission is to provide executive leadership, as well as set priorities and goals for the City and its neighborhoods.

And then gives a purpose to the Program itself (although it calls itself a project):

We are preparing Boston for extreme heat and its impacts, both today and in the coming decades.  The Heat Plan provides a citywide framework for heat resilience. Out work focuses on overburdened communities that will be most impacted by rising temperatures in Boston.

The project to develop the Heat Plan was divided into three phases (this is sourced at the Heat Plan):

PHASE 1: ANALYSIS AND EXISTING INFORMATION REVIEW

The first phase included data gathering, review of previous and ongoing planning efforts, and developing a citywide heat analysis. This phase included two stages of extreme heat analysis: citywide and neighborhood-level patterns. The neighborhood-level analysis focused on Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury.  The purpose of the neighborhood-level analysis was to evaluate how current day heat impacts vary across the city, identify temperature hot spots within environmental justice neighborhoods, and assess how racism, inequality, historic urban planning decisions, and other policies have influenced existing heat exposure and vulnerability. This phase also included the first community open house and the formation of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) to guide the planning process.

PHASE 2: HEAT RESILIENCE STRATEGIES

The second phase included drafting guiding principles for heat resilience based on community feedback from the first phase. The primary focus of the second phase was developing a series of draft strategies for heat resilience informed by findings from the citywide heat analysis and stakeholder and community perspectives. This phase explored considerations for heat resilience citywide and neighborhood specific applications of strategies within the five neighborhood focus areas.

PHASE 3: IMPLEMENTATION ROADMAP AND FINAL REPORT

The final phase of the project focused on refining the strategies, developing a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) for cooling homes, schools, and streets; creating a neighborhood-scale heat simulation to model the effectiveness of the physical heat reduction strategies; and developing an implementation roadmap.

Here is the roadmap for the creation of the plan:

Note that the report is 351 pages.  So far, all I’ve covered is the overarching program plan.  In future posts, I will discuss their plan for stakeholder engagement and, of course, the all-important implementation roadmap.

I admire the way that this team has structured the planning process and clarified the phases of planning with clear linkage to the purpose of the Program.  I’d even suggest that students of Project, Program, and Portfolio management look at the Heat Plan as a good example.  As mentioned, I’ll be continuing to review this initiative in future posts. 

The heat is on!

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: April 30, 2022 08:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Five Mental Hiccups

Evolution has changed our minds.  I don’t mean like, whether you prefer nachos or potato chips.  I mean… it has literally changed the way we think. As humans have evolved, we’ve developed heuristics – mental shortcuts, and biases based on those heuristics.  These all have to do with preserving our energy and survival, which is ironic, because we need to understand and work around some of these biases which could actually threaten our economic, social, and environmental survival.

This post is related to, but not part of, the series I’m currently running on this blog, Partnering for Sustainable Progress.  That series is featuring examples of partnerships between industry, academia, and government.  This short post supports the fact that those partnerships pay off – in particular, that focusing on ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) aspects actually helps for-profit organizations do better.

Mainly, I want to draw your attention to a new Harvard Business Review article posted this month by Andrew Winston and Paul Polman, called, “Yes, Investing in ESG Pays Off”, and highlight the five “mental hiccups” (rooted in heuristics and biases) that cause us as project managers and other key decision makers to ignore important facts that are staring us right in the face.

 The article summary is:

Why are leaders so reluctant to make ESG investments? Even those who know they’ll pay off are reluctant to do so, for five key reasons. The authors outline each — the numbers hide the truth about the real cost, our biases trick us, we focus on short-term benefits, we think about costs in silos, and we miss the bigger existential costs — and propose a solution for getting past these flawed mental models.

Just Capital, for example has created a list of companies prioritizing stakeholders (not just shareholders) that they call the Just 100. This group has outperformed the market.

See chart below.

As Project Managers we know that shareholders are not the only stakeholders.  In fact, as project managers, we have a chance to be true change agents by pointing this out to senior management, who often have what I will call “shareholder myopia”.  Good project leaders scan the landscape for anyone who cares about or is affected by the project (or has the project affect them) in any way.

Much of the reason comes down to heuristics and biases – mental hiccups.  Below (I will challenge you to read the article to get the full context) is the list of 5 hiccups.

1. The Numbers Hide the Truth About Real Costs

Solution: Price the unpriced.

2. Our Own Biases Trick Us

Solution: Diversify the group making decisions.

3. We Focus on Short-Term Costs and Benefits

Solution: Redefine your tools for investment decisions.

4. We Think About Costs in Silos (Instead of Systems)

Solution: Broaden thinking on value and think in systems.  Comment from  your blogger: this is where we as project managers shine!  We are silo-busters!!

5. We Miss the Bigger, Existential Costs

Solution: Understand the world’s thresholds and learn to think in net positive terms.

Again, from the article:

These five mental hiccups are not the only missteps that affect outcomes, but they are the primary ones that drag down sustainability investment. The mental models expose a win-lose, narrow, and negative mindset. In our book Net Positive, we explore ways to build businesses that solve societal problems and improve the well-being of everyone they impact. It takes courage and humility, but also a mindset that we can, in collaboration, solve many problems and improve the economics on sustainability for all. It’s not as simplistic as “win-win” but working together, we can get more done (what we call 1+1=11).

It’s easier (and frankly lazier) to think in old ways. We can fight these issues and make sustainability fit into a normal model of seeking a good return on investment. But let’s step back a moment. Why exactly do we have to stick with traditional terms? It’s increasingly absurd and surreal to have to justify investing in our very survival — or have to prove that we should stop funding what’s killing us. At the macro level we’ve long passed the point where the cost of action is far lower than the cost of inaction — i.e., huge swaths of the planet becoming uninhabitable, which, again, is kind of bad for business. It definitely pays to invest in our shared future.

 

The government, industry, and academic partnerships I’m referring to – they seem to get the idea of the long-term (and even short-term) payoff of ESG investment.  They even seem to understand the workarounds listed above for the five hiccups.

How about you?  Are you using old thinking and (hic) finding yourself getting that (hic) short-term windfall only to find that (hic) you should have considered the longer-term impacts and (hic) advantages and short-term benefits of thinking long-term?

Boo! (That was supposed to stop the hiccups, but instead: read the article…get the book).

 

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: April 17, 2022 04:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Partnering for Sustainable Progress, Part 2

In this series of short posts, I’m reviewing examples of projects which have two attributes: (1) they are geared to have a positive effect on social and environmental aspects in terms of their outcomes, benefits, and values, and (2) they involve key partnerships of major stakeholders.


In today’s post I am covering EcoCar, a partnership between industry, government, and academia.  In particular, it’s the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Labs, over a dozen US and Canadian Universities, and automobile manufacturer General Motors (GM). 

Teams of engineers (mechanical, electrical, chemical, industrial, and others) as well as (of course!) a project leader work under the guidance of their university’s faculty and practitioners from GM, work together to produce a hybrid/electrical version of a particular vehicle (examples: the Chevrolet Malibu, Camaro, and Blazer).  GM donates the car to the university, the teams disassemble it and in a 3 or 4 year period re-assemble it with design changes so that the vehicle is hybrid/electric and must meet or beat the specifications of the production version of the car.  The universities compete against each other, with prizes and awards – but the biggest prize is the hands-on experience and job opportunities that the program opens up for them.  That’s a benefit for the students.  The government wins in helping to increase fuel efficiency and support American innovation.  And GM wins because they get to keep and use the patents and ideas from the competitions.

It's an amazing program, and I am proud to have been part of it – helping to train those project managers.

For more about the history, click here.

It all starts with a vision, and here it is (in some detail).

Vision

  • Provide a hands-on, real-world experience in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
  •  that:
    • Fosters practical learning in a safe environment
    • Incorporates the use of math-based tools to improve engineering education
    • Enables participants to develop and refine complex vehicle control and safety systems by using industry testing/validation processes and methodologies
    • Prepares students to work in the automotive, mobility and energy industries
    • Fosters a clean energy workforce that reflects the diversity of North America
  • Develop highly-skilled engineering leaders and innovators with a strong understanding of:
    • Advanced propulsion systems
    • Propulsion system control
    • Connected and automated vehicle technologies
    • Automotive mechatronics
    • Model-based design (MBD) techniques
    • Structural design and analysis
    • Other critical engineering disciplines
  • Support university teams in the recruitment of students in the following disciplines:
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • Computer Science and Software Engineering
    • Industrial Engineering, Systems Engineering and other disciplines
    • Communications and Business

 

This is a great example of a public/private partnership – one that also includes academia.

Everyone wins.  We need more of these!!

Here are a couple of short videos to inspire you:

 

 

 

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: April 01, 2022 12:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Partnering for Sustainable Progress: Part 1

"COOLSCHOOLS aims to investigate the kind of opportunities provided by the projects being carried out in playgrounds and school environments in Barcelona, Brussels, Paris and Rotterdam," according to Isabel Ruiz Mallén, project leader, and a Ramón y Cajal researcher in the UOC's Urban Transformation and Global Change Laboratory (TURBA).

The European COOLSCHOOLS project will investigate social strategies to respond to the challenges of climate change and to improve the quality of life of citizens and of children, in particular. The project is actually a three-year study conducted by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).

It examines the transformative potential of nature-based solutions in school environments by creating initiatives such as climate shelters in schools. In line with the theme of this blog post, 16 partners are involved in this project, including European municipal councils, universities, research centers, social associations and cooperatives, and international organizations.

The project’s outcomes will be a better understanding of the factors and potential of these initiative for “driving socio-ecological changes towards urban sustainability, climate resilience, social justice and quality education, and to make the educational community a driving force in municipal districts”.

The projects will focus on increasing green and shaded areas, using more sustainable and environmentally friendly materials and/or will provide greater access to water.

 Barcelona as an example

In the specific case of Barcelona, the projects will investigate actions to deal with the effects of rising temperatures and increasingly frequent heatwaves will be studied with the expansion of green areas and shaded areas, and the installation of water fountains in school playgrounds and premises.

"The solutions that are being adopted aim to protect children against these and other risks arising from climate change, and to improve the schools' adaptation to this new situation," said Ruiz Mallén, who emphasized that the idea is to consolidate spaces in which students can "learn and feel comfortable" in a context of rising temperatures, and to minimize the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on these educational environments.

 

Combining disciplines and bringing partners together

The researchers are going to study the combination of all these interventions from a multidisciplinary approach. As a result, they will take into account the impact on biodiversity of changes in land use, and also consider health, safety, and governance. "Starting this research will enable us to evaluate aspects such as the relationship between greening spaces in playgrounds and the students' cognitive development, the increase in pollinating insects, and the access to and use of these climate shelters by the community, among many other issues," said Ruiz Mallén. "We are also going to investigate the potential of changes in education. With all the knowledge that is generated from the different perspectives, we will be able to produce guides and applications to make the most of its potential both in terms of inclusiveness and improved wellbeing, and take advantage of learning opportunities in terms of climate resilience."

COOLSCHOOLS has received funding of more than €1.5 million from the European JPI Urban Transformation Capacities (JPI Urban Europe) fund, in which the Spanish State Research Agency (AEI) is participating.

 As mentioned in the first post in this series, this is highly connected to the UN SDGs.

This UOC research supports Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3, Good Health and Well-being; 4, Quality Education; 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities; and 13, Climate Action.

Source for this post, and credit for this work:

https://www.uoc.edu/portal/en/news/actualitat/2022/072-climate-shelters-schools.html

 

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: March 27, 2022 11:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
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