Monthly Archives: July 2011

Carbon Action 2050

The negative approach to carbon reduction emanating from sections of Australian industry and political structure is to say the least short sighted and disappointing, particularly given the devastating floods and cyclones of the last year or two. These local changes have been repeated by tornados, hurricanes and floods around the world.

For anyone to suggest the climate is not changing is simply ignoring the facts. Defining the cause of change may be more debatable. Correlation is not causation! From a pragmatic viewpoint man made carbon pollution may be causing the change in the climate, contributing to the change or simply polluting the atmosphere without any effect.

Depending on which of the three options is correct, cleaning up our carbon footprint to levels the natural systems can absorb will either, solve the climate change problem, reduce the climate change problem or merely reduce our contamination of the environment we live in.

However, not taking appropriate and immediate action on carbon pollution will either, push the climate change problem to greater extremes, increase the effect of climate change or simply continue to contaminate the environment we live in.

From a risk management perspective, doing nothing or minimal change is not really a sensible option until there is conclusive proof that carbon has no effect on the weather and sea levels. That proof has not been demonstrated by anyone, and whilst proof that carbon is adding to the climate change problem is far from conclusive, the strong weight of evidence is trending to support the view carbon is either the cause of the change or a major contributor to the change.

The very short term arguments raised by miners, industry and some politicians that doing anything is too expensive ignores the long term costs to every industry in favour of the next quarterly profit statement –ignoring the impact of floods, cyclones and rising sea levels on profits and value generation.

Outside of Australia, practical action is being taken by a wide range of organisations. The Chartered Institute of Building – CIOB – has launched Carbon Action 2050, a free interactive online tool that provides key guidance on every facet of a building’s lifecycle from design through construction to end use and beyond.

There is advice on education, skills and leadership and how to move those agendas towards a low carbon built environment. The portal has been developed over the last twelve months by CIOB members who work in design, building control, education, project management, facilities management, conservation and sustainability. Its overall aim is to focus on innovation and best practice that will make an immediate difference on the ground. To find out more visit: http://www.carbonaction2050.com/

Locally, we need to start taking similar actions, as a minimum we will start cleaning up our mess, more likely we will contribute to saving the planet (or at least reducing the impact of climate change)!

Scope of Improvement

I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Blake Dawson’s Scope for Improvement 2011 report this week. The third in a series, this report looks at the consequences of risk allocation in the Australian construction industry (download the reports). The total value of projects surveyed for this report was approximately $55 billion with an average value for each project of $470 million.

The two key findings from the study were firstly the skills shortage identified in the 2008 report also has a significant effect on risk allocation and management.

The second more significant finding was the misallocation of risk by the client, typically by dumping all of the project risk onto the contractor, produces significantly worse outcomes for the client than taking a pragmatic risk management approach that allows risk to be properly priced and allocated to the party best able to manage it.

The failure to properly mange risk resulted in delayed completion, cost overruns, reduced quality and disputes. This data solidly supports the conclusions in a number of our papers (based in part on UK Government reports) including:

The good news is most of the organizations surveyed considered risk management was improving, although the improvement was patchy.

One initiative that was highly recommended by the panel of experts at the launch was the ECI form of contract. ‘Early Contractor Involvement’ (ECI) is in effect a two phase ‘design and construct’ contract; in the first phase the design is resolved and the risk management strategy devised, in the second phase the contractor delivers the design based on an agreed price. If the contractor and client cannot agree a satisfactory price for phase 2, the phase 1 design reverts to the client for use in another tendering process.

I’m still digesting the report – watch this space for additional comments in a few days.

The implication of bias

Every decision is influenced by a range of preferences and biases. I touched on this subject last month in my ‘Voices on Project Management’ post for PMI (see the post) but the effect extends to every cost and time estimate, the way every communication is received and understood and every decision.

As part of our work to upgrade Mosaic’s PMP materials (see more on the updated course) to align with the new PMP Role Delineation Study, we have developed a White Paper focused on the causes of bias including our innate cognitive biases, learned biases and emotional affective factors.

It is impossible to remove many of these biases; but being aware of them allows their effects to be mitigated, too read more: Download the White Paper.

Google+ uses Circles to manage communication

The idea of stakeholder circles is spreading! Google has begun beta testing a new social networking system that uses the concept of circles to manage friends.

Not in same way as our Stakeholder Circle®, but the Google + Project now lets you put your social contacts into different circles. The Google circles makes it easy to put your friends in one circle, your family in another, and your work colleagues in another; then manage what you share with each group.

Not to be outdone, Facebook engineers have already ported the circle concept to Facebook! The engineers wanted to be able to organize their Facebook friends in the same way you can organise them using Google+. Since it took a bit of hacking to develop, the team of four has called their tool Circle Hack and described it as “A one-night experiment with JavaScript (not affiliated with Facebook).”

Just for the record, we invented the Stakeholder Circle® in 2003, and the name is a Registered Trademark. Neither of the two developments above conflict with our mark, and naturally, we thoroughly support the idea of using circles to manage your communication with groups of significant people, friends or stakeholders.

PMP Exam Updates

The new PMP exam starts on the 31st August. PMI are strongly encouraging PMP candidates who have prepared for the current exam to schedule their exam on or before 30 August.

Following the change to the new exam, there will be a 4–6 week period between taking the examination and the candidate receiving their results via email. This delay is necessary for PMI to validate the new examination structure.

All candidates can expect to receive their examination results by mid-October and once the new examination has been validated, the results will be available at the Prometric examination centres on completion of an exam, as now.

As part of the exam change, the PMP experience reporting requirements are being simplified. Currently, PMI requires candidates to track and report their hours of experience leading and directing projects for each task within the Role Delineation Study (RDS). From 31st August, candidates will only need to track and report their hours for each domain (Process Group) within the RDS. Any candidates who have an application in progress at the time the change is made will have their experience hours migrated to the new application, so that no data will be lost.

For more on the changes visit our News Page.

PMP Exam Update

We are busily updating our PMP materials ready for the new exam scheduled to launch on the 1st September (and helping the last of our current candidates to finish their Mentored Email™  courses).

One of the facets in the new PMP Exam Specification is the concept of ‘Cross-cutting knowledge and skills’ – these capabilities apply to all of the other ‘domains’ of project management from initiation through to closing. A number of these core capabilities are already covered by Mosaic’s White Papers including:
Negotiation
Active listening  and
Leadership.

Two new White Papers uploaded this weekend to round out the information requirements for the PMP exam are:
Data Gathering and Brainstorming  and
Facilitation.

All of Mosaic’s new PMP courses are designed for the new exam including our Mentored Email™  one-on-one training and all futures classroom courses starting with the 5 day intensive course schedule for Melbourne starting 29th August.

Now all we have to do is update our PgMP course before that exam changes on 1st January 2012……

4 Weeks to PMOZ

PMOZ is the premier project management conference in the Asia Pacific region – this year’s line-up of speakers includes David Hilson (The Risk Doctor); Christophe N. Bredillet Director General and Chief Scientist of the Centre for Advanced Studies & Research in Project, Programme Portfolio Management (CASR 3PM), International think tank located in Dakar, Senegal and Dr. Paul D. Nielsen is Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI).

The three day conference program includes 2 half-day workshops followed by two full days of papers supported by an exciting social program. We are looking forward to being there; if you are in our part of the world can you afford to miss out?

To see the full program, go to www.pmoz.com.au

Effective Communication

One factor that makes communicating with stakeholders difficult is assessing the impact the message has on the receiver. This can vary from individual to individual and the same person can react quite differently to similar messages at different times.

The challenge of communicating is dealing with the fact you have no idea of the perceptions many stakeholders currently hold of you and your project and you have no control over the other news the person is receiving.

Effective communication requires a shift in focus from the technical content of the message, the data you wish to communicate, to the effectiveness of the communication process. We have published and updated a series of White Papers focused on communication with a particular emphasis on documentation as a communication medium.

Basic communication theory is canvasses in WP1066, already discussed in our June post: Communication 101: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1066_Communcation_Theory.pdf

Effective writing is covered in WP1010: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1010_Writing_Skills.pdf

And our latest white paper, WP1065 focuses on the importance of page layout on the degree of comprehension your reader will achieve. Well-designed pages will achieve comprehension levels of up to 90% or better, this can crash to as low as 10% for a poorly designed page containing exactly the same information. Given you spend many hours compiling the data contained in a typical report, it is worth spending a few minutes thinking about effective document design to make sure most of the information is received and understood by your readers. For more on document design see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1065_Page_Layout.pdf

Project Management Ethics

The ethical standards required of project managers are increasingly being backed by the force of law. For a number of years the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has imposed legal obligations on organisations working, or with a presence in the USA and Australia has had similar provisions in its Criminal Code since 1999 based on the 1997 OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. Now the UK Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011also places obligations on organisations world-wide. The UK law is intended to be the toughest legislation in the world!

The Act has wide application. It applies to those conducting business in the UK, including international companies. It also applies to those conducting business elsewhere in the world where they have a close connection with the UK, which includes bodies incorporated in the UK, Scottish partnerships, British citizens, British nationals and UK residents. Employees, agents and associated persons of a commercial organisation affected by the UK Act are themselves covered by the UK law and the organisation itself has strict liability if a person associated with it offers, promises or gives a bribe to another or offers, promises or gives a bribe to a foreign public official (with the intention to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business for that organisation).

There are three main offences under the UK Act:

  • offering, promising or giving a bribe – i.e. a financial or other advantage;
  • requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe; and
  • bribing a foreign public official.

These offences can be committed by organisations, as well as individuals. An individual found guilty of any of these offences faces a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine; a convicted organisation will be liable to an unlimited fine. If any of these offences is committed by an organisation with the consent or connivance (i.e. knowledge and positive or tacit agreement) of a senior officer (or a person purporting to act as such) who has a close connection with the UK, the senior officer can also be prosecuted for the offence and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Corporations can reduce exposure to their liability by incorporating six core principles into their governance procedures:

  • Proportionate procedures: maintaining bribery prevention policies that are proportionate to the nature, scale and complexity of the organisation’s activities, as well as to the risks that it faces.
  • Top level commitment: ensuring that senior management establishes a culture across the organisation in which bribery is unacceptable, which may include top-level communication of the organisation’s anti-bribery stance and being involved in the development of bribery prevention policies.
  • Risk assessment: conducting periodic, informed and documented assessments of the internal and external risks of bribery in the relevant business sector and market.
  • Due diligence: applying due diligence procedures that are proportionate to the risks faced by the organisation; since an organisation’s employees are “associated” persons, appropriate due diligence may become part of recruitment and HR procedures.
  • Communication and training: ensuring that bribery prevention policies are understood and embedded throughout the organisation through education and awareness.
  • Monitoring and review: putting in place auditing and financial controls that are sensitive to bribery, including consideration of obtaining external verification of the effectiveness of an organisation’s anti-bribery procedures.

Defining the line between legitimate corporate hospitality which is allowed under the Act (provided it is proportionate and reasonable) and bribery will require the development of policies for both the provision of the hospitality and the receiving of gifts. For more on Governance see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Resources_Papers.html#Governance

With this law now in force, maintaining appropriately high ethical standards is becoming increasingly important. To download a copy of the PMI Code of ethics and professional conduct see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF/PMICodeofEthics.pdf

The Global Innovation Index

The INSEAD Business School has issued The Global Innovation Index 2. The Global Innovation Index ranks 125 economies and is computed as an average of the scores across inputs pillars (describing the enabling environment for innovation) and output pillars (measuring actual achievements in innovation). Five pillars constitute the Innovation Input Sub-Index: Institutions, Human capital and research, Infrastructure, Market sophistication and Business sophistication. The Innovation Output Sub-Index is composed of two pillars: Scientific outputs and Creative outputs.

In the East Asia and Pacific region, 7 countries were in the top 30, Singapore (3rd), Hong Kong (SAR, China, 4th), New Zealand (15th), the Republic of Korea (16th), Japan (20th), Australia (21st), and China (29th). Of the major economies the USA was ranked 7th, the UK 10th Germany 12th and Brazil, 47th.

Give the delivery of innovation is usually a project, the Australian project industry has a long way to go to support the development of a modern economy.

For more information see: http://knowledge.insead.edu/contents/documents/GII2011_30June.pdf