Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BGI Intensive...Wow!

It's been nearly two weeks since I started this post on my first Intensive experience with BGI. I have been thinking about a number of things, from my course work to the new relationships with my classmates to the lingering doubts about the value of the education to the leadership and personal development teachings that have already nearly blown my mind. Am I ready for this? Photo at right here.

The weekend was a blur, with familiar faces from the Channel Rock orientation to see and reconnect with and new faces from other sections of the same sixth cohort. The energy coursing through Island Wood over the weekend was quite intense, and I wager that despite the fact that we are all over 20, some of us double that age or more, we emanated something akin to the energy from the children that normally inhabit Island Wood's halls and grounds.

and Classes were good (though there are still come bumps with this small and growing institution). Despite the frustrations I experienced with the early phases of accounting, I found that I enjoyed reviewing the cases with my new classmates. I especially enjoyed sharing some of my new understanding with my team. There are many different perspectives brought to this community, and I believe that this diversity of opinion and points of view will provide something that I do not have. Intro to Sustainable Business (SusBiz) got off to a good start, and my first grade since 1994 was a good one...something like an "A" (or at least that's what I tell myself). I might as well congratulate myself while I can. Management I: People & Teams is shaping up to be a good class too, as there is much crossover between SusBiz and Mgmnt. I have a great team for my SusBiz "ALP" year-long project

If the amount of notes taken is an indication of the impact of a class or event, then the morning and afternoon we spent with in the presence of Bill Grace of the Deep Hope Institute was clearly the leader. The topic of the discussion was Ethics; how Ethics can be used as a tool for leaders to make good decisions in tough times and become the leaders the world needs. There were many insightful comments and thoughts Bill brought to the conversation, things that made me ponder my role in this global community and what I am here for.

Bill's message consisted of many kernels of wisdom, delivered in alternating doses of emotionally charged narration, producing sniffles and tears throughout the crowd to light-hearted jokes to bring us back from our introspection. His communication style was spellbinding, and whether it comes to him naturally or not, it was amazingly effective.

We discussed Ethics and what Ethics really is, a tool for good people to make tough decisions, for us to recognize the gap between where we would like to go and where we are. Leadership is then the ability to close that gap. Leader's jobs are to "tell the truth and point toward hope". He challenged us to reduce our values to a core of three; three words that symbolize what is most important to us, and then remind ourselves daily about those values and remember (put back together) what they mean to us. What are the values trying to teach us on a daily basis? What can we learn from them? If we pursue that which engages our passions, that which makes us weep, we will move into our core values more fully. If we know who we are and are genuine about who we are and what we are passionate about, people will follow.

Here are a few paraphrased comments and quotes that I took from my notes:
  • Surround yourself with the people who you want to be like. They will help you make good decisions.
  • "Speak the Truth in love to power", Dr. Cornell West
  • What time is it in America, on the planet Earth, in our home?
  • Leadership is not a popularity contest.
  • Be skeptical; look for rhetoric.
  • Budgets are moral documents.
  • Don't spin yourself; it's lying.
  • Be gentle with yourself; you're human.
  • Ethics is a tool to help us recognize the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
  • It is not about guilt, it's about awareness.
  • "Ethics help people make the decisions they think are good in the world they think they live in."
  • What makes us weep is close to our passion.
  • We are not responsible for the "All".
  • Leadership ship is 50% showing up and 30% core values; the rest are the details.
  • Do not underestimate the influence of small bands of committed individuals.
It will be interesting to see where we end up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

American Electric Power...

...reaches "agreement" with various environmental groups regarding Clean Air Act provisions.

AEP reaches settlement agreement in NSR case

American Electric Power faces the acid rain music

This editorial from the CEO of NRG Energy is interesting. Clearly, he has a vested interest since NRG is filing permits for the construction of new nuclear reactors in Texas.

We're Carboholics. Make Us Stop from the Washington Post 10/15/07.
An excerpt:
A federal cap-and-trade system would push the power and coal industries toward deployment of CO2 capture and sequestration technology, which is essential to reducing our domestic emissions and, ultimately, to weaning China and the rest of the fast-growing (and emitting) developing world off traditional coal technology. Effective incentives for these new technologies could easily and readily be included in cap-and-trade regimen. Lawmakers need to provide both the carrot and the stick to get the CO2 out of coal.
I disagree, a policy toward CO2 reduction would be more effective as a tax. Corporations should pay for what they produce. A cap would provide a limit, yes, and the buying and selling of credits would create a market and help reduce emissions, but only to a point. The cap would need to be reduced over time. A tax would provide an ongoing incentive for companies to continue reducing emissions. Of course, the word tax carries a lot of baggage.

Monday, October 08, 2007

School of Choice?

I went to bed with thoughts of combining short term debt and long term debt for cash flow analysis dancing in my head, along with the Jolly Green Giant's FIFO Fum! I woke up with the same thoughts, and maybe a clue about what i should take on next. I did manage to get some reading done, though i am unsure how much stuck since I was preoccupied with accounting. The main points from "Leading Teams" Chapter 2:

Essential Features of real Teams:
  • well defined task
  • well defined boundaries (who is in the team and who is not)
  • delimited authority
  • stability over time
The most exciting thing I learned over the past few days is the inclusion of BGI in BusinessWeek's stories on integrated design schools globally. Seems that the folks at BGI may be on to something with their integration of business and sustainability. That's why i wanted to go there. Here are the stories as forwarded to me by a BGI faculty member:
Here's the main story link, Top Innovation & design Schools
1) Design-Schools Special Report – Global List Bainbridge Graduate Institute is internationally ranked as one of the top 60 best design schools

2) Designing Sustainable Leadership
An unconventional B-school in Washington, with sustainability at the core of its curriculum, encourages students to search for creative solutions

3) The Talent Hunt
Design programs are shaping a new generation of creative managers: The Second Annual BusinessWeek survey ...what is it about?

4) Talent Hunt: The Methodology Story: The international panel of 22 experts and 6 executives that chose BGI as one of the top 60 best design schools ---Who are they?
How our panel of experts arrived at the list of institutions that made our list of the most forward-thinking design schools.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Knee Deep in Accounting

I'm knee deep in Accounting 101 as my BGI experience begins to ramp up. The image from bvallc.com seems appropriate. I've always known that understanding finance is an important part of any business career, and it's something that I've always been meaning to study independently, but now that I'm paying for a new graduate experience and being held accountable, I seem to be more motivated to learn it. Though I sometimes struggle with the terminology and the recording of transactions in the correct way (was that a debit to A/R and a credit to Allowances along with a debit to bad debt expense?), I am starting to see how understanding the basic accounting statements helps one analyze and understand a business. Not to mention the fact that finance is one of the basic elements of an MBA, meaning I gotta "get it".

On a completely different note, as I watched the news this morning to catch up on the Red Sox's playoff performance, I saw a story on The Today Show about the KillaCycle, the World's Quickest Electric DragCycle. Interesting. Imagine getting all the fossil fuel guzzling racing sports into alternative fuels. Would that effect the nation's attitude? Given the billions poured into sports marketing globally, and the popularity of motorized sports, why not get them to help lead a shift in mindset?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Foggy Morning

There's a muggy mist hanging over the land today. For October 3rd, it's a bit odd. The tendrils of the low clouds mingle with the tops of the trees in a way that enhances the constant small crashes of acorns falling to the ground. It's practically raining acorns, the seeds of future oaks, some grabbed greedily by the squirrels that seem more active than ever, preparing for the winter ahead.
The sprawling spiderweb covering about 15% of the shrub near my front door caught my eye for a number of reasons. The entangled fibers, looking haphazard, but probably placed carefully by the designer and builder, reminded me of the interconnectedness of people and societies, especially some of the connections that are indirect and may not be readily apparent. We're all in one big system, isn't that cool?

Oh, and a blurb on New Source Review CO2 regulation from the Power Engineering e-newsletter:
New source review for carbonThe EPA may begin regulating CO2 emissions from power plants and other stationary air pollution sources under new source review requirements of the Clean Air Act, according to an sources in Washington DC. Michael Ling, associate director of the office's Air Quality Policy Division, says the EPA will propose a rule setting a threshold for greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking at a meeting of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee last week, Ling said the agency will propose the threshold in conjunction with another proposal, due by the end of the year, to set limits for emissions of greenhouse gases from mobile sources.
What will this really mean? More nukes? CO2 scrubber technology? Algae everywhere? The web thickens...

A quick scan through the latest ISA magazine InTech illustrated new ways to use old technology, The Simple Power of Ice.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Virtually Teaming and Green Redevelopment

I managed to stop by the Davis Square Lofts (see logo at right) yesterday afternoon to check out one of the latest green redevelopment efforts in the greater Boston area. Though I did not delve into the technical aspects of what makes the redevelopment "green", I did notice a few things that certainly make it better than a 3,000 sq-ft colonial in the 'burbs; 5-minute walk to the Davis Square T stop (I'm not exaggerating this, as is sometimes done in real estate ads, where "steps to public transportation" could be 10,000 steps or one mile, whichever comes first) ans easy access to a small fleet of Zipcars parked in the building's lot. I don't know if living in the development includes a Zipcar membership, but that would certainly be enticing for urbanites.

The scale of the development, somewhat smaller than the 800 unit development under construction in Lawrence called Monarch on the Merrimack, seemed more "home-like", not quite so starkly former industrial and isolated. Though lofts may appeal to younger and older couples without children, what do the schools' status mean to the people potentially buying the units?

The first online session for my business school experience came and went last night. It was a bit of a trial since the teachers discovered that there was a fair amount of confusion about assignments due to technological challenges. Apparently there was some errors uploading information to the site for student access that caused assignments to be switched around. I found it to be interesting just to listen to the questions from my other classmates and type inane references (just like in third grade...hmm..is there a pattern here?) on the classroom bulletin board. Given some of the comments that I heard, perhaps I am more proactive and prepared than I give myself credit for. There was also a bottleneck to access the session through a portal; I am no techie, but I imagine that the site did not have the bandwidth to handle the influx of people accessing it. Overall, since the session was an introduction, having hiccups now was a good time to have them.

There was something very cool about having people from all over the US and Canada collected together in this small virtual group. I thought it would be somewhat stale and technologically distant, but I have to say that when I logged in I found it exhilarating to be somehow connected to these folks. Given the development of the web of information connecting all corners of the globe (something that can certainly help reduce the need for business travel and the related CO2 emissions) my ability to learn to navigate virtual teams and effectively participate in them will be extremely useful in my career.

Heck, Microsoft is stepping up to offer something to compete with Google's online document sharing services. I have not used either of these services, but their usefulness may be something I investigate in the next few weeks.

News flash re: climate change invsting indices, HSBC Launches Climate Change Investment Indices