Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Re: Land and Sea "Turning a Green Leaf"

Re: Land and Sea "Turning a Green Leaf"

One of my old classmates Erin Niedermayer McMillin and her family were highlighted in a special Land and Sea Local Food CO2 footprint reduction experiment in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Well I finally got to watch the Turning a Green Leaf Episode and here are my comments and suggestions.

Last year I was asked to participate in an APEC Food Security Research Proposal focusing on Korea. The proposal was rejected but I did a lot of research globally on the topic last winter holiday.

As you may not know many countries like Korea import as much as 70% of their foodstuffs from abroad primarily from the US and increasingly from China. These containerized shipments do not only consume CO2 through their cargo movement. Fertilizers, pesticides, packing materials, insurance costs added damages and delays are all probably unaccounted for in a simple miles/distance to market approach.While local or country of origin produce is clearly marked here in supermarkets the introduction and rapid expansion of supermarkets in developing nations like Brazil, Russia, India, China or regions of Asia and South America have incredibly expanded in the last decade from city centres to suburban areas through similar patterns and Walmartization tactics.

As in early market entry studies reveal large numbers of small farmers are contracted to supply produce at varying levels of quality control and then over time fewer and fewer farmers are selected for larger and larger contracts reducing competitive pricing and unit costs to supermarkets themselves. A good example of this has been the banana wars provisions for small organic banana growers on Caribbean islands representing a minute market share in Europe which large companies like Chiquita in the US have been trying to force out of business.

Here in Korea traditional markets remain but local farmers are an aging and under-developed industry with few organic producers and a large proportion of non-compliance measures on chemical concentrations and pesticide usage recommendations. There are few traceability measures other than country of origin. As supermarkets are introduced traditional food consumption patterns have changed rapidly around the world.

I was glad to see your efforts to purchase locally. If for example Doha Round WTO provisions reduce government subsidies and tarriffs on farm produce will any of us be able to afford what we eat?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Global Climate Change and "Tipping Points"

Major Tipping Points in the Earth’s Climate System and Consequences for the Insurance Sector is a report by the WWF and Allianz Insurance regarding the need for radical climate policies globally.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Master's Degree in Education and Globalisation: University of Oulu, Finland.

Master's Degree in Education and Globalisation: University of Oulu, Finland.

"The aim is to develop the appropriate competencies and knowledge needed in planning, evaluation, research and development tasks in education and related fields in the midst of societal changes, both on the local and global levels.

Students will be awarded an MA (Education) degree with the possibility to continue for doctoral studies. It does not provide students with a teacher's qualification. Education in Finland is internationally known for its high quality which is recognized in international assessments like PISA. There are no tuition fees for university studies in Finland. The programme is open for applications from students with a Bachelor's degree or an equivalent higher education degree."

Listed in the interest of a certain Kwandong's in the Gangwon's Brian. If you are ready to pull up stakes this would be a good destination -Oulu,(sounds like "ural") Finland. What's not to like? Ural-Altic language, warm fires in winter, saunas, quality education, good quality of life, etc.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

This movie HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand states clearly that our planet earth requires the next tens years of global development to focus nearly entirely on alternative resource strategies otherwise a viable environmental future cannot be assured or maintained for any capital growth systems. It's a short and shortening window of opportunity and I am afraid not enough decision makers realize that.

I have heard the same thing on CBC's Quirks and Quarks that if current CO2 growth rates are maintained the ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere will quickly reach lethal proportions as early as 2025? As far as I know they only interview real scientists there. At the same time one of America's only carbon storage research projects has still not attained a cost benefit profile and claims 25% of generated power will be required to store emissions courtesy of the same radio show with the weird nerdy music.

If any decision-makers need further encouragement there are the dreary and morbid 2008 Massey (Seabass) Lectures by Margaret Atwood (no longer free but they should be?)


As I had a strong emotional reaction to it I decided to suspend my normally scheduled speaking class the following day and conduct my first video and listening class. Ever.

I presented the students with the title and length of the movie (1:33 minutes) on the board. Then I gave them each a blank sheet of paper instructing them to divide it up into sections to answer the question (with examples given in the movie), "Why is this video (HOME) important to the future of international trade?" You might like to alter the question to match the major interests of your students in high school or university classes.

Then as the movie rolled (for some reason the English subtitles failed to appear) I moderated the students notes with written points on the board which I instructed them to write down. Then they were told to go home and write up a 150 word essay based on their own notes.

Its been fourteen years since I began this ESL journey. In that time I've never seen a group of students more attentive or silently focused in class. I highly recommend sharing this presentation and assignment with your own students.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cha Sa-soon passes driver’s test after 950 tries

Cha Sa-soo finally passed the written exam scoring 60 points out of 100. I just wonder if she's perhaps dyslexic?

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The results of poor communication are planning failures.

Poor communication is often a major cause of project difficulties or failure.

We are meant to plan our communications to facilitate the effective deployment of the stakeholders in many cases these might constitute subject or content matter experts and additionally perhaps planning specialists. Under ideal circumstances each provides competent, motivated and improvement-oriented feedback to the communications chain. In the right configurations of dissimilar expertise a group of project oriented experts can assemble a noteworthy endeavour of leadership and change management building value out of bridging value differences and approaches.

I am reminded of up-stream and down-stream external and internal customer interconnectivity and delivery cycles as Gillian recalled cycle time results in an orientation our outbound and inbound messages must provide reasonable and relevant information to avoid the pitfalls listed in our notes. The concept of cellular manufacturing, cross-functional management team training and innovation or quality circles all appear to share some elements of the benefits of effective communication planning in that the goals exceed and refine the skills of participants to balance time/information schedule and hopefully gain communicative experience and expertise.

So in any practice there could be and probably is nothing worse than poor communications time planning. Some businesses appear to fault middle managers as the time and information "sinks" of companies due to conflicting interests between labour and upper management help perpetuate saboteurs of group communications. Even the ever-present and nearly ubiquitous technologies we share at the tips of our tongues and fingernails seems to suggest as a global populace many may be sacrificing planning for perpetual "on-callism" or at the other extreme (as our course somewhat displays) the integral practice of learning or knowledge "swarming" through asynchronous message postings indicating a willingness to sacrifice for real-time interactions in negation of distance and (other) time constraints in even just learning about planning.

However I am bound to recall the Swiss Air 111 crash which foundered near my hometown in Canada and in the inquiry revealed quite the opposite conclusion perhaps to which our course planning for communciations section might seek in reference to prescriptiveness and its practicality to forestalling difficulties or project failure.

Human decision-making can often provide ample root causes for failure even with a seemingly "fool-proof" plan. The inability to functionalize the plan in terms of its application and scope will be found in the flaws of human nature inescapable. In the case of Flight 911 the emphasis of "going by the book" and taking the time to pass over the runway and make an emergency fuel dump at sea as regulations stipulated exceeded the functional electrical capacity of the airplane striken by a fire.

As a result all lives were lost.

A provision of checklists to be followed rather than an impulse concern over the absolute deliverables of getting passengers safely on the ground or a more direct approach which fell outside the WBS checklists was overlooked. Would this be an example of managing by directive?

How will planning communication help?

Composing teams as stakeholders might also be considered collaborative and may often require substantial or little overlap in tasks and information dependent upon the complexity of the WBS. As to consider some of the stages of my thesis proposal there would be little sense in communicating the same information to all stakeholders as their requisite needs do not always coincide and the stages of the project phases themselves may prove not only sequential but also susceptible to sudden required adjustments of the WBS to meet consistently variable human conflicts in time and communication challenges. Time-based communication challenges should provide new, novel, cumulative peripheral learning opportunities.

Fo example, thesis acceptance by department and advisors might simply require their rubber stamping for possible funding approvals. At the other extreme the advisor carries great progressive approval responsibility throughout the entire WBS.



I learned it’s not a crime to ask for more time, even if it’s the first time you asked for that; that a selection of interests and skills can be framed as a legitimate proposal with the proper management of time, cost and quality factors; deliverables and project scope are intended to be flexible and match the needs of the stakeholders; the project lifecycle is meant to introduce component structural elements to the project; that the project justification defines the purpose; that managing time, cost and quality are interactive, interdependent and are the artful practice of “juggling”; that minimizing assumptions and constraints lends a greater chance of project acceptance; that stakeholders need to agree to work and cooperate together and that their familiarity is essential to consolidate credibility; that managing scope creep is a constant companion to reinforcing, defending and adjusting scope to ever changing circumstances requires prudence; that the WBS is not a sequenced chain of events but an ever evolving set of necessary actions; that the activity schedule can never match projected to actual results but is a useful method of monitoring progress and quality; that costs and resources are absolute measures of reward and benefit for whether or not benefits may outweigh costs or costs may outweigh resources which requires essential budgetary estimates to be useful; that quality planning in advance will minimize rework, and revision; that poor communications will sink a project perhaps before it is even started; that there are no miracles in terms of resources and that exceeding project cost estimates will over consume resources and require rework, reduction of scope or loss of quality; that project risks need to be anticipated so that a possible response may be found under surprising conditions although not all risks can be planned for; that monitoring and control allow for adjustments and tailoring of the plan to be consistently applied as its iterative nature requires iterative adjustments to time, cost and quality management; that project handover and evaluation provides an opportunity for feedback, review, and adjustments made for future planning projects. Finally, I learned to accept that the task at hand was possible and could be completed which is a real accomplishment and that beer tastes better after hard work like this and that I could not have done it without your help.