Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Humanity screaming for a change"

So clearly stated - "humanity is screaming for change" says our IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. I sigh in huge relief and at this same time thinking "YES" - our leaders are getting this! Really! (Finally?....)

Here's an excerpt from the article:
"We've been given this on a silver platter," says Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM. "We might as well use it as an opportunity."

Believe it or not, the leader of Big Blue is talking about the financial crisis and the prospect of systemic overhaul. As companies around the globe try to get ahead of the economic maelstrom by laying off employees, shuttering factories, and cutting R&D, IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) is headed in another direction.

In the face of a meltdown, Palmisano continues, "you can retrench, pull in your horns, protect the balance sheet, and preserve cash. Or you can realize that this is about humanity screaming for change."

Sam Palmisano also spoke very persuasively to the Council on Foreign Relations on November 6th about the need to co-create a "smarter planet". This is definitely worth a listen, including the Q&A.... We are at a very unique moment in time where there is both a compelling need for significant change, and the technology and insights emerging that can enable or accelerate that change.

Think about what's happening in the world now... Complex systems are everywhere; in nature, in organizations. Whether we like it or not, these systems also interact with each other - often in a seemingly random cause and effect way - across organizations, industries, and geographies. Businesses and governments have primarily been focused on enterprise/intra-organizational effectiveness, and to a lesser and somewhat linear degree, up and down their value chain...

Yet the challenges we are facing today are bigger than enterprise scale! They are global - impacting multiple eco-systems, industries, and regions at the same time. Not enough water, increasingly intense weather events, the ripple effect of financial mismanagement resulting from perhaps a few myopic policies. What if we had the data, intelligence and insight to be able to model these complex "systems of systems" in order to predict and prevent or mitigate these challenges?

What if we had been able to monitor the fragility of the levees in New Orleans, and predict the various scenarios that could result in a breach? We are working on these smart levees and flood management solutions now - as part of Flood Control 2015 in the Netherlands. The parties participating in Flood Control 2015 are ARCADIS, Fugro, Royal Haskoning, HKV LIJN IN WATER, IBM, Deltares, ITC, TNO and the IJkdijk Foundation.

"The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them." (attributed to Albert Einstein, US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955))

It's time for a new wave of innovation and leadership - humanity is screaming for change - and this poses incredible challenge and opportunity for our current and the next generation of leaders. And aren't we all capable of greatness in times of great challenge? Let's rise to the challenge...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Measuring GHG Emissions Up and Down the Supply Chain

Measuring GHG Emissions Up and Down the Supply Chain World Resources Institute A "must read" and a "must follow" for all that are interested in the accurate calculation and communication of a product's "carbon footprint" or "carbon intensity" or "environmental impact". Many of us are trying to purchase more socially responsible products these days, but struggling a bit to understand which products are truly "better" from an environmental perspective.

The more complex the product, the more challenging the question, and the less likely (today) you are to be able to make a truly informed choice - based on verifiable facts, or at least trusted resources. From my perspective, this initiative is sorely needed in order to enable much better decision making, both for buyers who want to make informed purchases, but perhaps even more importantly, for companies committed to lowering their overall environmental impact - particularly in terms of the life cycle (cradle to grave, or cradle to cradle) impact of the products that they manufacture.

We are on a journey here, the very early stages of a long journey. This initiative will drive great learning and hopefully create tools and standards that will help us all to navigate with more precision, and hopefully, with a bit more speed!

Monday, November 17, 2008

New GreenBiz Report Explores the Tools and Travails of Greener Supply Chains

New GreenBiz Report Explores the Tools and Travails of Greener Supply Chains Greening the Supply Chain has been the topic of many conversations with IBM clients and peers in recent months... What keeps coming up for me is that greening the supply chain is hard, valuable work with no shortcuts or silver bullets. It's hard because it requires training, cultural change, new information, new parameters for optimization, and because, perhaps most importantly, because supply chains are complex systems of systems - more like webs than chains!

So where is the value? Why bother? Well, there's the whole "planet" thing, of course. This report from GreenBiz cites the following benefits - based on 8 projects over the last 4 years that were worked by World Environment Center (WEC). WEC is an independent non-profit, non-advocacy organization whose mission is to advance the implementation of sustainable development in the business strategies and operations of global companies in partnership with national governments, multi-lateral institutions, nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders.

Here are the types of benefits associated with "greening" the supply chain, according to WEC.
• Mitigating business risks
• Reducing costs
• Motivating better performing suppliers
• Preserving business continuity
• Enhancing market access and degrees of business strategy freedom
Critical success factors are also discussed in more detail in the report - which is worth browsing...

In general, I urge supply chain strategists and leaders that understand the sustainability imperative (and the long road ahead of us to address this imperative) to join together with other thought leaders, and get started! It is hardwork, but NOT rocket science! We have some "simple" suggestions to help these leaders get started. Join this webcast to learn more, or download this whitepaper.

Let's get started here folks!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Janine Benyus shares nature's designs | Video on

Janine Benyus shares nature's designs Video on

This video is worth watching as an introduction to biomimicry, a doorway to innovation which we can help all of us human engineers to leverage millions of years of evolutionary adaptations which allow natural organisms to survive and thrive on planet Earth.

While we talk about innovation ALL the time in business, and certainly within IBM, and with our IBM clients, I believe too often we human beings are still taking a fairly siloed, stilted approach. Not only do we need to look outside our own companies and industries for innovation, we need to look at different disciplines like art and music, and nature. This video is focused on leveraging and learning from nature. We need to look at natural systems, which tend to be self-replenishing, and organisms as part of those natural systems. A simple example that Janine Benyus shares in this video is the ability of 80 million locusts in a square kilometer to navigate without colliding - they have a very large "sense and respond" neuron, and now a researcher at Newcastle University is designing a collision avoidance circuitry based on this natural capability of locusts.

Three questions Janine asks us to consider as we design for the future:
1. How does life make things? (Without heat, beat and treat - and lots of waste?)
2. How does life make the most of things?
3. How does life make things disappear into systems?

Of course, the bottom line is that we need to be able to create in a way that is not destructive and wasteful, and toxic... In many ways, biomimicry complements the "Cradle to Cradle" concepts of William McDonough and Michael Braungart, and along with emerging disciplines like green chemistry, sustainable design and industrial ecology, help form the basis of a new era of industrial design that provides a path forward into a more sustainable world economy.