Project Management

People, Planet, Profits & Projects

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Richard Maltzman
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Gyres and Legos and Zeros, Oh My!

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

Celebrity Interview

Categories: Alaska

...well, not that sort of celebrity - I'm referring to the cruise line, Celebrity.

This is a special post which is made up of an interview with Ioannis Tsagkas, Environmental Officer of the Celebrity ship, Millennium.  He's shown above.  He's the one with the stripes.  I am the one (ironically) with the boat on his shirt. 

What are the duties and roles of an Environmental Officer?

The basic duties are to:

  • Increase environmental awareness amongst crew and passengers
  • Assure that the crew is trained in all environmental aspects of cruising at any stage during preparation, actual cruising, and while docked or under maintenance
  • Assuring that all aspects of waste are properly handled: air, liquids, and solids

Can you give some examples of how these duties are executed?

Let’s take dealing with waste as an example.  What do you think happens with the water you use, say, after you have showered in your stateroom? (your humble interviewer indicates he has no real clue).

Well, here’s what happens to it.  It goes through a system called AWP (Advanced Wastewater Processing), and is processed through a bioreactor and disinfectant system.  See this document for reference:

Another example: the emissions of the ships are cleaned using AEP Advanced Emission Purification systems.  See this video (click on the image or here) for details:


You mentioned training.  How are the staff made aware of the importance of sustainability on a day to day basis?

Actually, it’s right on their name tags.  Celebrity uses the “Save the Waves” program, established by the parent company of Celebrity (Royal Caribbean) as a comprehensive program based on 4 principles:

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Reduce the generation of waste material, reuse and recycle wherever possible, and properly dispose of remaining wastes.
  2. Practice Pollution Prevention - Nothing may be thrown overboard. Nothing.
  3. Go Above and Beyond Compliance (ABC) - Means doing more than is required by regulations.
  4. Continuous Improvement - Change is the only constant; innovation is encouraged and rewarded.

And indeed everyone – and I mean everyone - (points to his own badge) has the “Save The Waves” icon on their name tag – a daily reminder of the importance of sustainability on our ships and in our minds.  Training is of course what stands behind this – a name tag and principles are not enough.  Environmental training is mandatory for all staff.  Training and programs are aligned with ???the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.  Read about this standard here:

If you are interested in the level of detail with regards to training, check out this Annex of MARPOL:


Our readers are project managers.  What are some interesting example projects you can share with us?

The most recent I can give you is this drydock ‘refit’ project.  Just to give you an idea of scope, we removed 125,000 square feet of paint from the ship as one of the many tasks. (Watch this video – it explains the project in detail – fascinating-


What is it about Alaska, and cruising in this part of the world that inspires you as an Environmental Officer?

Alaska is the last frontier.  It features eagles and whales, salmon, bears, the list goes on and on.   When I am here I feel like I am a citizen of the planet – not any particular country.  And I know that I’m not the only one.

Do customers inquire and/or seem interested in environmental issues, and has that level of interest changed in the past decade?

Yes, we get a lot of questions and concerns about sustainability and I have noted an increase in this especially in the past few years.


What are your feelings about eco-tourism?  Is it a plus or a minus for the environment?

I think it is a positive if it is done responsibly as we strive to do.  It increases sensitivity to the environment.  I think people come off of a cruise to Alaska as a little bit more of an environmentalist of sorts.


Posted by Richard Maltzman on: July 25, 2016 10:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Get the (Icy Strait) Point: Part 2 of 2

In part 1 of this post I discussed in general the background of the indigenous people of western Canada and southeast Alaska. With that background in mind, consider the Huna Totem Corporation.   And consider the concept of a Social Sustainable Environmental Enterprise (SSEE).  We’re going to look at one in particular.  You guessed it: Icy Strait Point of Hoonah, Alaska.  See photo below.

Icy Strait Point - Hoonah, Alaska

An SSEE is defined as an innovative enterprise that has dynamic operational strategies while still maintaining its corporate core values and integrating social, environmental, cultural, economic and political.

The concept of an SSEE is explained quite well in this paper,  “Aboriginal Tourism as Sustainable Social-Environmental Enterprise (SSEE): A Tlingit Case Study from Southeast Alaska”,  from the International Indigenous Policy Journal which uses the Huna Totem Corporation  of Hoonah, Alaska, as an example.  We’ve put a reference to the paper at the bottom and have attained direct permission from the authors to use sections of it in this post.

 From the paper:
In 2011, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO, 2011) set three broad goals toward achieving (sustainable tourism): environmental protection, social justice, and economic prosperity. These goals are commensurate with the triple bottom line (TBL) approach to sustainable enterprise introduced more than a decade ago (Elkington, 1998). However, when applying the concept of sustainability, it is important not to do so within a static framework that assumes conditions are stable, predictable, and controllable. The concept of sustainability in business practice needs to be applicable to changing environmental and market conditions. Furthermore, they noted that people have different ways of interpreting sustainability; thus, a viable sustainability framework should allow for interpretation and adaptation to various sociocultural and environmental contexts.

So now, let’s look at Icy Strait Point, the SSEE example, and some background behind it.  Using the “Begin with the End in Mind” philosophy of Stephen Covey, you may choose to watch this video first:

In addition to the video, there is this brief description from the paper:

In attempt to create a new cruise tourism destination, HTC (Huna Totem Corporation) co-developed Icy Strait Point (ISP) with a private investor, opening the tourist facility in the 2004 on the northeast shore of Chichagof Island, just north of Hoonah village. In addition to being among the largest Native villages in the region, Hoonah is the closest village to Juneau by ferry and air transport (39 miles), and is also positioned at the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (22 miles northwest), a major cruise ship destination. HTC owns substantial lands adjacent to the village and the old fish-canning site that was chosen to redevelop as ISP. Aboriginal tourism held the potential to buffer declines in commercial fishing, seafood processing, and timber production, which had anchored employment in the village in the late twentieth century. By its ninth season in 2012, ISP had 63 cruise ship calls from 6 different cruise lines—Celebrity, Royal, Holland America, Regent Seven Seas, The World, and American Cruise Lines—carrying more than 120,000 guests (Icy Strait Point, 2012).  

Here is the vision statement from Huna Totem, because in and of itself, here are lessons for managers and project managers in particular.  This is a good example of a vision statement structure.  From the Huna Totem Corporation’s home page:
Our new Vision has three parts:

  • The Vision Statement expresses an inspiring future direction for Huna Totem. It is deliberately aspirational and far-reaching in order to motivate the highest levels of performance and achievement by the organization and its people.
  • The Mission Statement expresses how we will achieve this Vision. The actions (business excellence, sustainable economic growth, leadership, and education) outlined in the Mission Statement drive the business objectives and strategic plan that will guide the organization over the next 5-10 years.
  • The Guiding Principles summarize the non-negotiable, inviolate values 

And here is the vision statement itself:

We envision a future where the economic and cultural achievements of the Xúna Kaawu are recognized as the standard of excellence in the advancement of Native People.

To advance the economic aspirations and culture of the Xúna Kaawu through business excellence, sustainable economic growth, leadership, and education.

Guiding Principles

  • Maintain our land in perpetuity.
  • Take pride in our past and value the wisdom of our elders.
  • Foster woosh jee een  (working together) and diversity of thought.
  • Perpetuate our culture and land through prudent stewardship.
  • Grow a healthy, diversified business that is transparent, innovative, and self-sustaining.
  • Continually think ahead and act on behalf of future generations.
  • Improve opportunity for all our people.
  • Show respect, integrity, and be self-accountable. 

In addition to the vision, the Huna Totem Corporation works within a framework shown below.  We highly recommend reading the paper to gain insight on this framework, which, while developed for sustainable tourism, can be applied to many practice areas.

The SSEE framework - featuring the five dimensions of sustainability.
Here are the factors in the framework that are critical to the niche and overall well-being of an Indigenous enterprise. Sustainability emanates from the core values and is subject to disruption from various forces both within and beyond the sector.    

What are the takeaways for project managers?

1.    The principles for a Social Sustainable Environmental Enterprise do not only have to be for enterprises which have – as their main mission – sustainability in mind.  These green-by-definition projects, as we described in our book Green Project Management, provide lessons for any kind of project, even a new accounting system software upgrade.
2.    The care and intensity that the Huna Totem Corporation put into their vision statement paid off with an organization that we found firsthand runs smoothly and stays true to its intent
3.    Take advantage of the wisdom of the SSEE framework, which apply in practice areas beyond sustainable tourism
4.    The concept of woosh jee een is a valuable one for any project

NOTE: Some of our readers may have noted the Tlingit words in our post.  For the linguists among you, if you want more information about this fascinating language, see this reference which provides definitions of key Tlingit words.

Reference for article, 
Wanasuk, P. , Thornton, T. F. (2015). Aboriginal Tourism as Sustainable Social-Environmental Enterprise (SSEE): A Tlingit Case Study from Southeast Alaska. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 6(4) . Retrieved from: 10.18584/iipj.2015.6.4.8


Posted by Richard Maltzman on: July 17, 2016 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Get the (Icy Strait) Point - Part 1 of 2

Categories: Alaska

Recall that in the last post (Heading: Northwest) I promised that I'd blog about Alaska (and, as it turns out, British Columbia and Yukon).

One of the things I studied on our trip to Alaska and Yukon (since I was a tourist) was the idea of sustainable tourism itself.  I also knew that the indigenous culture would teach me a thing or two about sustainability.  In this post, I’ll cover a little of both and provide a link to several great resources on the topic.

Let’s start with some basic examples of how the indigenous peoples of Alaska and Canada treated their resources which will illustrate some key sustainability principles.

First: a really quick summary of the First Nation (Canada) or Alaska Native (USA) peoples:

Iñupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Heilsuk


We mainly encountered influence of Haida and Tlingit.

Although sustainability itself is not a project (by definition!), the theme of sustainability can still use a charter.  And here it is, from the Haida Constitution.

"The living generation accepts the responsibility to ensure that our heritage is passed on to following generations."

–Haida Constitution

The charter is brought to reality with the Haida's "Land Use Vision"

There is too much to cover about this in a short blog post, but it really is worthwhile having a look at this document.


Haida Land Use Vision


The Heiltsuk supertanker eater

In a project, we must be aware of all stakeholders.  In this case the project is Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipline – and importantly the ongoing product of that project: oil tanker traffic.  So I was not too surprised to see that the First Nation people would be opponents.  I was, however, surprised and impressed with the way they expressed their disapproval of the project, and where I found it.  Turns out, there is a small exhibit in the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology.  Have a look at the link below and the photo of Yágis – ancestral guardian of the undersea world - eating a supertanker along with the following placard:

Yáu! As Heiltsuk people, we are of one mind, and one heart in opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposed pipeline and oil tanker traffic in our territories. If built, the pipeline will bring crude oil from Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia, across 1,170 kilometers of rugged mountainous terrain, streams and rivers. It would cross through the territories of more than 50 First Nations communities, many of whom do not support the pipeline route.

More than 200 supertankers a year would carry this oil to Asia through the pristine waters within our territories on the central coast of British Columbia. An oil spill would have widespread and devastating impacts on the environment, culture and economy of our community as well as many other communities on the coast.

We are looking at new, sustainable economic opportunities and feel strongly that the risks of Enbridge’s proposed pipeline project far outweigh any benefits it has to offer.

Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor
Heiltsuk Nation, 2012


A "telling" tree

This picture of a tree on our hike on a remote island in Tongass National Park yielded an interesting find: a tree whose bark was stripped by Haida people hundreds of years ago.  But the interesting thing is that the Haida only stripped the bark from the southernmost side, leaving the protection against the weather from the north intact.  This let the tree survive.  This was their mode of operation – take what you need from the environment, use all of it, and nature will return the favor by sustaining you.

We also saw excellent examples of full use of the trees, in particular, the use of the red cedar tree for:

  • Canoes
  • Paddles
  • Ropes
  • Lashings
  • Clothing
  • Baskets
  • Cooking utensils

And this is aside from the expected use for heat, smoking foods, living structures.

Read more about this fascinating aspect of efficient operations here:

In part 2 of this post, I will dive a bit deeper into aboriginal ecotourism, using a site we visited on our tour – Icy Strait Point, a Tlingit port that serves cruise ships in southeast Alaska, and how they have created a Sustainable Social-Environmental Enterprise (SSEE).

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: July 08, 2016 11:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I hate asking for change. They always make a face. It's like asking them to donate a kidney.

- George Costanza