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Accelerate Net Zero
21 minutes | 2 days ago
“For the Greatest Benefit of All Humankind”
In this episode, I share more about why I chose to launch this project at this time, and how it fits in with my own personal story. You’ll hear about my time at HP, how Rapid Learning Cycles developed, and a visit to the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm that proved to be transformative, showing me what work was mine to do, and why I am convinced we can accelerate net zero. Together, we can eliminate the economic, usability and scalability issues that lie between us and a Net Zero world. We can create the paths of least resistance that will make it easy for businesses and consumers to do the right thing to accelerate net zero. If my story resonates with you, whether you’re working in this area or not, I encourage you to reach out to me on LinkedIn, or Twitter, or via the links on this site. A few people and places I mentioned who had important roles in this story: Kathy Iberle Liselotte Engstrom Leo Babauta of Zen Habits Nobel Prize Museum Read Full Transcript INTRO Welcome to Accelerate Net Zero, the podcast dedicated to the acceleration of the technologies we need to address climate change. My name is Katherine Radeka, and I've been accelerating innovation for a long time in a number of different industries. And nowhere is that acceleration more important today than in the renewable energy, materials, food production, transportation, and other programs to limit carbon emissions so that we can stabilize our climate. So if you are working on these programs as a technologist, as a manager and investor, a public policymaker, an activist, or just a concerned citizen, then you have come to the right place to learn how we can eliminate obstacles and put more momentum into these programs so that we can begin delivering impact on carbon emissions sooner. And we can reach Net Zero faster, REFLECTION This is Episode Seven of Accelerate Net Zero. So I thought I'd do something a little different. I want to share a little bit more of my personal story of how I came here and why I'm doing this project. I've been around innovation and product development organizations of one kind or another for my entire career, starting with my first job out of high school. I worked for Baylor College of Medicine in Houston in one of their labs, where I worked on a research database to help them consolidate studies that they had done with their patients into data systems that could be more easily analyzed to generate the statistical results that they needed for their research papers. I went on to study Chemistry at Reed College and ultimately ended up working for Hewlett Packard in a variety of roles. And Hewlett Packard was a great place to be from, because they had a lot of good systems and processes and a pretty good innovative culture when I was there. And I learned a lot about how software and firmware (the software that's inside the device) and the hardware systems, the mechanical systems, the chemistry of the ink, how all of those things play together to produce a system that can make a photograph that you can send to your grandkids to share your experiences with them. And I learned about everything from the fact that we needed to understand those grandparents who were the ones printing the photos and what they needed. And we needed to understand the technology at a deep level in order to continue to make the picture quality better and better and better until one day it was better than the best technology out there at the time, which was printed film. And I learned an awful lot about how to do that effectively. In fact, by the end of my time at Hewlett Packard, that's what I was doing. I was helping other product development teams run their work more efficiently and effectively using things from Agile and using things from the work of a man named Dr. Allen Ward of the University of Michigan. Allen Ward had done research into Toyota's product development system. And he had identified the core thing that distinguished them from their peers, which is that they had a better way to manage the flow of knowledge through their program and a better approach to making decisions. And as a result, they were able to get their new car models from the drawing board out onto the showroom floor about twice as fast as their peers. And they did that primarily by eliminating a lot of the churn at the very end of the process. He looked at the number of engineering change requests or engineering change orders, and they had many fewer of these. These are design changes made late in development, usually to respond to a problem that has emerged that must be fixed, cannot just be allowed to pass through to the customer. They had many fewer of these. And as a result of that, they were able to go a lot faster because those change requests and change orders are very expensive in late development to implement. If you can eliminate those, it not only costs you a lot less money. It also takes you a lot less time. And by eliminating those, and then eliminating the extra time they put in place to deal with it, they were able to get their cars to market a lot faster and with a lot fewer resources without compromising quality or customer experience. I started out using these ideas in the Inkjet Printer division at Hewlett Packard. And then in 2005, I went out on my own so that I could spread these ideas much more broadly. And I quickly learned some things. One of the things I learned is that he called his work "lean product development" but people don't want their innovation teams to be lean. In fact, it's not even a good idea to talk about innovation from a lean perspective. And the reason why is because innovation has inherently, a lot of waste, you're trying to bring something new to life. There are going to be a lot of failures. There's going to be a lot of things that don't work. We want to fail fast. We want to fail quickly, but if it's going to fail, we want to know that it's going to fail right away. You know, that that's how we become effective, but that's not what putting the word lean in front of innovation drives people to do. And so it's better just to use other words, first rule of marketing, right? You got to use language that responds to your audience. So I dropped that along the way. And then in 2010, we had a breakthrough and like a lot of other breakthroughs that started with something small that seemed almost insignificant at the time. It just seemed part of my regular work. I was asked to implement Scrum for a research and development group. Now I had not actually done Scrum myself in a while. So I brought in a friend, her name was Kathy Iberle, and she and I together worked with this team at Novo Nordisk in Denmark. They're an advanced research team. They answer questions related to the biochemistry of diabetes. And we were asked to work with them to improve their ability, to collaborate with each other, to share their knowledge with each other, to improve their team spirit and ultimately to improve the effectiveness of their research. We learned very quickly that we could not use task-based Scrum to do that. Task-based Scrum would work. It did help manage the flow of things through their organization. But it didn't really help them with their fundamental question. The fundamental question was, "How do we get more effective at research?" And the way to get more effective at research is to manage the flow of knowledge through that organization. So we developed some things to help them do that. We basically developed an, almost like a Scrum for knowledge work kind of way of thinking about it. And I took those ideas and I started feeding them into product development teams at Whirlpool in the United States and Steelcase. And in Novozymes also in Denmark. And I would run an experiment and I would say, "Oh, that was interesting. I think we can do better." We'd run another experiment with another product development team at another organization, watch that for a while, see how that works, figure out how to improve it, and then feed the results back into the original companies. And by swirling around among those companies, what emerged was the Rapid Learning Cycles framework. And that framework has been the focus of my work since 2012. I wrote two books on it, The Shortest Distance Between You and Your New Product and High Velocity Innovation. And I started teaching it all over the world. In 2019, I flew over 250,000 miles. I taught the Rapid Learning Cycles framework to hundreds of product developers and researchers around the world. I visited at least a dozen countries and I loved it. I absolutely love my work. I love working with the scientists and technologists on the latest, coolest technology that's out there. I love being out on the bleeding edge and that's where these people live, but I didn't have a lot of time to think. Then 2020 happened. COVID of course. My 2020 was full. I knew where I was going to be. And I was very excited about the companies that I'd be working with. The teams I'd be meeting the people I would be teaching. I went to Sweden in February of 2020, and then I came home for two weeks. And in those two weeks everything changed. Everything I had canceled and we had some scrambling to do, but then once that scrambling was over, I had a lot of extra time on my hands to think I remembered my last trip. I thought about that last trip a lot, because at the time COVID was just starting to be mentioned in the headlines as something that was happening in China. There was a case in Washington state, which is where I'm from. And I remembered that in Stockholm, my host had been a woman named Liselotte Engstrom who works with corporate boards. She'd become interested in my work to see if it would help these boards that she worked with and their drive to make their companies more efficient and effective at innovation, to be more innovative. And she took me to the Nobel Prize Museum because she thought I would like it. And she was right. I absolutely loved it. I loved seeing the technology. They had a lot of information about the different projects that had won the Nobel prize. You know, the work that people had been recognized for. And I could have spent days in that place, looking at all the different things about all the different winners of the Nobel prize and all the different areas of science. They had an exhibit called "For the Greatest Benefit to Humankind" which was a look at all the ways that Nobel laureates' technologies, the fundamental science that they had worked on had been transformed into products that had made a difference. And they had worked on things like food and energy and public health. I could see that I had worked on those technologies, not, not the exact science itself. Obviously, obviously I'd never met these people, but I had worked on the products and the technologies that had emerged from their basic research. That I had in fact accelerated the development of some of those technologies. And I found that to be exciting because I had never made that connection before. So when I had all this time on my hands to reflect, I signed up for a coaching program called "Fearless Mastery." It's through a person named Leo Babauta. He has a blog called Zen Habits and I've always loved his blog because it's very pragmatic. And he practices what he preaches. As part of this program, he asked a question of all of us. He said, where would you be in 10 years if there were no constraints, if there were no restrictions, if you could do anything? Don't worry about money. Don't worry about time. Don't worry about how old you are or how young you are. Don't worry about the laws of physics. If you could do anything, what would you do? And I went back to that Nobel Museum visit and it came to me. What I want to do in the next 10 years is I want to work on the technologies we need to address climate change because that is an urgent problem. And I know how to solve the kinds of problems that need to be solved if we're going to solve this larger one, because I do know how to accelerate technology. And while it's true that the technologies we need to address climate change by and large already exist, the reality is they're not nearly ubiquitous enough. They have not been implemented nearly enough. And what I know about the transition from basic research to technology to products is that products don't become ubiquitous until all of the challenges of adoption have been resolved. And so if we have solar power, but it's still a very small part of the market, that's partly because we still have problems to overcome. We still have challenges. We still have obstacles to adoption we need to eliminate. And if we have a need for consumers to change their behavior, then we have to provide the right economic incentives. We have to provide the right public policy decisions in order to make it easier for them to do the right thing. We have to make it so that the path of least resistance is the path towards Net Zero. That means that some technologies need to be a lot less expensive. That means that some technologies need to be a lot easier to use. That means that some technologies have to be easier to engage with, easier to put out into the world at the scale that they need to be to make a difference. You know, one wind turbine is great generates power, but what we need massive amounts of offshore wind massive amounts of wind in places that have the potential to generate a lot of energy from wind power. And then we need distribution networks to get that power to the people who need it. We need solar energy to be ubiquitous, basically every flat surface that is today just absorbing heat and causing our air conditioning bills to go up. It needs to have a solar panel on it so that that energy can be redirected and put to use in many other ways that are more beneficial to us than increasing our air conditioning bill. So we have some massive problems to solve. I came to believe through all of those things that I have already made a difference here that I could make an even bigger difference than I already had. I've worked in renewable energy, biofuels, solar, and even done some work in nuclear and wind power. I've worked on greener materials that lead to more sustainable products. I've worked on food, better food products to help adapt to the changing climate. I could do it. Because there were many, many more people out there who had no idea that the work existed to them overcome the challenges that they were facing. There were a lot of people out there doing things in the way that would lead them to get the results that they've always gotten. And I know that projects like this, especially the massive infrastructure projects we need are fraught with delays. Cost overruns, disappointing results. And that is exactly what my work attacks. And I knew that I needed to do it. I knew that I personally would not be able to live with myself if I was 10 years older in 2030, and I had not focused my work on this fight. So does that mean that these are the only clients that I'm going to take going forward? No. And the reason for that is because for one thing, sustainability and achieving carbon neutrality is something that every company is going to have to address in one way or another. Eventually this is going to touch everything. And I literally mean everything that we encounter on a daily basis from the cars we drive to the furniture in our houses, to the clothes that we buy to the food that we eat. It is all going to be affected by the need to achieve carbon neutrality. Every company that makes any kind of product is going to have to be thinking about their own contribution to climate change and their own need to drive toward Net Zero for us to accomplish the goals that we need to hit as a society. So every company that I work with has this challenge, no matter what they make, what industry they're in and no matter what they produce. I also, however, believe that there are a lot of people that have done some great work in this area already, and that there are some unique challenges around public policy, around the role of governments, the role of community organizations in encouraging people to do the right things around creating that path of least resistance. So that achieving Net Zero becomes not just the thing that we're all striving to do. But the thing that is in fact, the easiest thing to do, because we've got the economics right, and we've got the incentives right. And we've got the the other mechanisms right. So that when I go into a grocery store, buying sustainable food is in fact the easy thing for me to do and the thing I want to do. And I believe that if I do focus on this, I believe that we can make a difference. I believe that because I know how these programs work. I believe there are opportunities. In fact, probably low-hanging fruit opportunities to accelerate some of these technologies and the idea that I would know that and not share it is just insane given the urgency of the problem and the need for it. So here we are. And where have we been? We listened to Wiill Harrison talk about sustainable design. And again, like I said, every product is going to need this. Every product is going to need to know how to design their product so that it has a lower carbon footprint and ultimately no carbon footprint at and how it's more sustainable in other ways. We listened to Lauren Rosenblatt talk about how to put solar energy on homes in Puerto Rico. The model that she's developing is a model that we can leverage, not just in Puerto Rico, but in any area around the world where there are communities of people that need to band together to produce resilient, distributed power, because for whatever reason, they are not well-served by the overall power grid. We listened to Deborah Stine talk about the role of public policy and especially the stakeholders, the community stakeholders, and the public policy stakeholders who are looking at the non-economic impact of an innovation when deciding whether or not to do things that can accelerate it or do things that will block it. We talked with Louise Cronenberg-Jones who's working on the kind of project I love the most. Actually it's like one of those kinds of little tiny projects, this like solving a very important problem in a unique way. And when she's doing data collection about the level of water in lakes and rivers in remote areas, critically important, if we're going to manage water to address the changing climate, but you know, quieter, smaller, not the kind of thing that's going to attract the headlines, but one of the essential pieces of infrastructure we need. There are literally thousands of pieces like this that will need to be built. How are we going to build those when it's the big sexy projects that gain all the media attention, getting all the investments, gain all the grants when those things won't work, if her pieces are not there? Finally, I have a small request. Please connect with me. You can use LinkedIn. That's my primary social media platform or Twitter. My name is easy to find. It's unique in the world. So if you've found Katherine Radeka, you've found me. The reason why I ask is because if you believe with me that this is urgent and you're working on an area where your work could be accelerated, then you are someone that I want to talk to. And I think we could work together to Accelerate Net Zero. SPONSORSHIP Thank you for listening to Accelerate Net Zero. If you want to help Accelerate Net Zero, please leave a rating or review with your podcast provider so that other listeners can find us, And subscribe so that you don't miss an episode yourself. For links, resources, transcripts, and additional information about this project, visit our website, acceleratenetzero.com. The Accelerate Net Zero project is sponsored by the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute. We help innovators change the world faster. To learn more about the Rapid Learning Cycles framework, and how it can help you accelerate innovation, visit rapidlearningcycles.com.
31 minutes | 9 days ago
Water In Sight: Better Data to Make Better Decisions About Water
When people think about innovations around climate change, they naturally go to the big projects: solar energy farms, offshore wind, and the electrification of everything that uses fossil fuels today. But a lot of the technology we need doesn’t generate the same kinds of headlines, or attract the same level of funding and government support. In this episode, we’re going to go into one of these small-but-important pieces: data collection on water. Droughts and floods are both effects of global warming that are already increasing in both frequency and severity. And the impact hits low-income populations hardest and soonest. These countries also have the most challenges collecting the data that they need to make good decisions in dry and wet periods. They lack the resources and infrastructure for the automated solutions used to monitor places like the Columbia River watershed in the United States. Today most of that work is done by volunteers using pencil and paper, if it is done at all. In Africa, only 30% of this data is collected. Yet without this basic information about this critical resource in real-time, it’s hard to make good decisions that could reduce the impact of droughts and floods. Louise Croneborg-Jones, founder of Water In Sight, is building a data pipeline that is resilient and robust enough to work in the remote corners of the world. Louise and her team are using the simplest of tools to build a system for data collection and visualization that will make it easier for low-income countries to gather the data they need to make decisions, and for researchers to understand how climate change is affecting lakes, rivers and reservoirs. She’ll share the work she’s doing in Malawi to demonstrate that this system can work, and that it can scale. She’ll describe the challenges she’s had in finding funding and support, the unexpected ways that she’s found the help she needed, and the process she’s using to ensure that she’s making the most of the resources she has to help countries like Malawi get more visibility into the state of their water systems. Louise Croneborg-Jones Founder, Water In Sight Since she started working on water challenges in southern Africa in 2009, Louise Croneborg-Jones sees opportunity in using simple mobile phone technologies to resolve hidden, yet massive digitization-problems in the collection of data on water. Louise runs the startup Water In Sight to help close a 70% gap in the collection of water data in low-income countries – a huge gap of missing data that hinders adequate understanding, investment and response to climate change and the sustainable use of water. When churning the prototypes of Water In Sight, Louise connects local and global experts, operational staff and decision-makers in government, and financiers (e.g. the Swedish Innovation Agency). Her career spans positions at the World Bank where she worked on long-term financing in water in Africa, through to work for Oxfam in Pakistan and recently, the global environmental consultancy Sweco. Louise holds an Executive MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics, a MSc in Development Studies and BSc in Geography. Read Full Transcript WELCOME Katherine Radeka: Welcome to Accelerate Net Zero, the podcast dedicated to the acceleration of the technologies we need to address climate change. My name is Katherine Radeka, and I've been accelerating innovation for a long time in a number of different industries. And nowhere is that acceleration more important today than in the renewable energy, materials, food production, transportation, and other programs to limit carbon emissions so that we can stabilize our climate. So if you are working on these programs as a technologist, as a manager, an investor, a public policymaker, an activist, or just a concerned citizen, then you have come to the right place to learn how we can eliminate obstacles and put more momentum into these programs so that we can begin delivering impact on carbon emissions sooner. And we can reach Net Zero faster. INTRODUCTION Katherine Radeka: My guest this week is Louise Croneborg-Jones. She's the founder of Water Insights, a project that uses simple mobile phone technologies to resolve hidden yet massive digitization problems in the collection of data on water in low-income countries. In the United States and much of the developed world, all of this is automated. We have sensors in a variety of places, measuring things like the level of water in a reservoir or the amount of water flowing through a river. And we use that data to make decisions about water usage, about hydropower and to predict downstream flooding. This is a significant problem because of the fact that climate change will cause some places to become a lot wetter and many other places to become a lot drier. Understanding the patterns in the water data helps provide useful insights into the effects of climate change. And that's especially important in the low-income countries that are going to bear the brunt of much of the effects. But for many reasons today, the collection of this data is manual. Louise is going to explain why the technology we use here in the United States is not a very good fit for the places that she seeks to serve. Louise has been working on these problems since 2009. Her career spans positions at the World Bank where she worked on long-term financing for water in Africa, working for Oxfam in Pakistan, and recently the global environmental consulting firm Sweco. She holds an Executive MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics, a Master's in Science in Development Studies and a Bachelor's in Science, in Geography. Louise is going to share the challenges she faces in trying to build a demonstration project in Malawi during the time of COVID when most of her team is based in Europe. And she's going to talk a little bit about the Rapid Learning Cycles framework and how it is helping her team do that. INTERVIEW Katherine Radeka: So tell me a little bit about your project. Louise Croneborg-Jones: The project is called Water Insight and it's trying to address the hidden challenge within water management, especially in low-income countries and poor countries in the world. And that is that there is a huged earth of data on water. And when I say water I'm actually covering the whole spectrum of anything from how much rainfall there is to how much water there is in the humidity of the air to how much water there is in lakes and rivers. And so what we're trying to do with this project is we're trying to see how we could improve the collection of data on water by strengthening the human interface that exists, meaning that there's people out there collecting data, especially for governments and using their access to mobile phones as a way to help that transmission of data. So it's like a traditional digitization project going from an archaic paper-based system to more of a mobile phone-based and digital system. Katherine Radeka: So what kinds of data are you collecting? Louise Croneborg-Jones: We built our first prototype two years ago. And we've started with the most simple parameters, just simply to make the testing and the mobile solution adapted to not such a complex parameter. So the data is the level of rivers. What is the depth of rivers and lakes? And the second one is rainfall, how much rainfall there is that's coming down. So those are traditionally measured in millimeters or centimeters in the metric system. And so again, just quite simple, basic parameters that are also essential in any type of modeling that's done to try and understand the water system. Katherine Radeka: And why is collecting that data important? What do people get out of that? Louise Croneborg-Jones: As traditional people talk about it in the water data world? They talk about crap in / crap out. So if the data itself is not correct, then iyou won't be able to make use of it. And if all these different uses of the data require very different types of records, like they talk about time series, like having long time series, like historical data sets is really important for understanding the water balance, like how much water is there in a, in a particular river system, for example. But if we speak about the urgency of water data and why it is very, very important right now, many low-income countries situated in areas where you already have quite big differences in the hydrological events, meaning cyclones, hurricanes, that type of events or droughts, we're going to see an increased frequency of these events, and we're going to see greater magnitudes of these events. Louise Croneborg-Jones: And so one thing for example, is just understanding the pattern of these events with climate change is a massive challenge. This type of challenge inhibits things like where do you best build your bridge? Where do you best build your dams? How do you best invest in water supply? And of course, the detrimental, hugely costly events of floods or droughts, how do you warn people of floods in time or help people make wise decisions on where to grow their crops in areas that are flood prone? There is a multitude of areas where data can help people make better decisions and be able to understand the impact of climate change better. And just to give you a sense of what we're talking about, in many parts of Subsaharan Africa, the,gap of data, this dearth is rapidly grown, and it's now up to 70% of data is missing. Just to have the basic type of data that's actually needed. Katherine Radeka: So how does your solution solve this problem? Louise Croneborg-Jones: Water monitoring in our parts of the world, in Sweden or in the U S all of this is automated and has been for a long time. And that means we have equipment that's out there and it communicates automatically. And, you know, nobody goes out and steals the little pieces of battery or parts of it, but that type of equipment is often sold in low-income countries, too. However, the equipment has as a long record of not being able to fulfill the data needs that are out there. And it could be something as simple in like in Malawi where we work. It could be so simple as saying, well, the government access is a big funding grant from a donor, for example, purchases 25, highly automated pieces of equipment, but because of customs and regulations, it'll take very long time before that equipment enters the country. Louise Croneborg-Jones: Once it's installed, then things like maintaining batteries where staff have to drive four days maybe to go out to the location to replace those batteries. A thing like they don't have a budget for the fuel to travel. That will actually mean they might not be able to go. And then you see equipment failure, maybe you'll see solar panels being stolen, et cetera. So equipment that has been adapted to I'll say, a Western environment often gets purchased and installed in low-income countries, but without the support system. So what do we then do to, as an alternative is basically in many countries, governments have maintained a system of soliciting people from the public, and this is normally, I'm going to generalize here, but it's a subsistence farmer who has his or her daily work, but goes out to the measuring station twice a day and takes a recording on paper. Louise Croneborg-Jones: And that paper then gets picked up ideally maybe once a month by somebody from the government. And then that paper gets transported to the headquarters in the capital city. And then somebody sits and puts it into the software. Now, what we want to do is that our mobile phone solution enables these type of people from the public often called observers or volunteers to use their mobile phones and with a no-cost option, they can make a phone call to a number all going through the internet and they can submit their recording. So let's say the river is 2.35 meters deep. Then they just put in two, three, five for the 235 centimeters. And because we know that that phone number is tagged to a station, we then have an immediate record that we then store online and make available online. Katherine Radeka: And that seems like that would be a lot more robust to all kinds of things like the papers getting lost or data entry errors, or problems like that. Louise Croneborg-Jones: So what we're doing is basically, we're just, shortcutting all of those different steps, but you're absolutely right. Each of those steps that are open to errors. Katherine Radeka: Okay. So tell me a little bit about where the program is right now. Louise Croneborg-Jones: We secured a grant from the Swedish Innovation Agency in July of this year. And it's not massive, but it's one of those early startup grants that lets us take lots of risk and test different aspects. So we've gone from the first prototype to basically being able to mature that prototype. And we are now at the stage of preparing for a lengthy period of testing in Malawi. And so we have the partnership with the government in Malawi. We have staff in Malawi and we have the prototype almost ready to be launched. I feel like we're just about to set off on this big exploration path now and see what works and what doesn't work. Katherine Radeka: So in this, in this exploration path, what are some of the questions that you're looking to answer? Louise Croneborg-Jones: I'm going to pivot back to your Rapid Learning Cycles because of the way that that methodology helps you articulate what we're trying to explore and make a decision on, then the Key Decisions. I mean, overall, it's going to be the primarily the government as a client and whether or not this is simple and cheap enough for them to easily say, yeah, this is what we want to transition to. Louise Croneborg-Jones: And then on the other aspect is what I consider to be the user, which is the citizens that are solicited to collect data. And we're talking with people with no access to smartphones, limited access to electricity and markets and perhaps in some many ways limited access to literacy. How do we make the solution as again, simple and easy and preferable for them to want to be, Oh yeah, this I can use, and I can be incentivized by this. Key Decisions around that. Louise Croneborg-Jones: For example, one of the things we're looking at is we're going to pay the citizen for the data submission, which they normally are meant to be paid like 10 US dollars a month, but this money is actually rarely paid out in cash and there are problems, like, it costs more to travel to the place where you're meant to get paid than the payment. So we're going to see how can we use mobile payment to incentivize them and use behavioral psychology almost to say ping them with a little bit of funding for every data submission. And how does that make them feel? Like not only financially remunerated, but also, Oh, I'm actually doing something that has a value. So we're looking at those like user aspects as well. Katherine Radeka: So since you brought up Rapid Learning Cycles, one of the key things there is the idea of a Core Hypothesis. Can you talk a little bit about some of the hypotheses you're testing? Louise Croneborg-Jones: Mm, well, the overarching hypothesis that we're testing is the, I want to say assumption, but that the use of a simple mobile phone, no apps or anything complicated, but the use of a simple mobile phone to replace a paper-based system, how is that going to really improve the gap on data significantly? And my hypothesis here is like, you will given this, how scalable is it? Because we see very similar patterns of challenges in, in many low-income income. Katherine Radeka: Yes. And not probably not just with water, but also with other kinds of data collection around environmental conditions. Louise Croneborg-Jones: Exactly. Yes. We've begun with water data. We're focusing mostly on the whole climate parameters spectrum, just because this is the sort of field that we're in, but you're absolutely right. I mean, this is something that can be maybe potentially applied for a lot of data challenges. Katherine Radeka: All right. So I would characterize that maybe as something like your program uses a simple, mobile phone based data collection system to deliver better water data for governments and policymakers and researchers, and the society will then get better data about these key parameters that can help us figure out, what we need to do to address the impacts of climate change. So what does Water Insights get from it? What is the value for you? Is this a nonprofit model? Is it a for-profit like, what are you thinking? Louise Croneborg-Jones: I set it up as a for-profit model with a simple sort of corporation based here in Sweden. One of the reasons why we were using this model and exploring this is simply because there's going to be a lot of evolution to this technical solution. And there's going to be a need to try to test it in lots of different countries. From my perspective, the idea of having a profit based model is that that profit actually can be channeled back into funding, more of the development of the innovation and expansion. Obviously we're going to be looking at next year. We'd look at reaching out to investors to see if we can find investors that are interested in this type of sustainability solution, not for the profitability of the business solely, but I'm seeing like a combined investor and grant and profit model being what we would ideally have. Louise Croneborg-Jones: Also, interestingly, I've looked at some of our competitors and some of them, they choose a nonprofit model and that works quite well when there's a lot of established soft money out there. And what I'm experiencing is here is because we're quite specific, the soft money that's out there, there's not an abundance of it in the field of water data. One of the things I would say is that because data is like a core of an operation but people want to see results. People want to see, okay, let's say an example of people protected from floods or from cholera. They want numbers, they want results, but we're narrowing in on a part of the machinery. That's like the cogs and wheels, and that might not be so exciting. So another option for not going nonprofit is, is again the amount of funding that's out there. Katherine Radeka: Right? And I actually interviewed a person who's working on putting solar energy into Puerto Rico. And she ran into a similar issue, which is that this is one of those things that falls in between. It's not really, because you're providing raw data and that raw data is going to be used to drive a lot of different decisions. Right? You can talk about the fact that the second, third, fourth order effects are more protection from flooding, better ability to react to dry conditions and et cetera. But those are the longer term effects and they need your data in order to do those things. So maybe it's like the non-profits who are doing those things, become your customers or something. Louise Croneborg-Jones: And there's also an interesting area where when we look at other service provider in this field, people who do like use satellite information for producing maps. They can sometimes create a model, for example, they'll supply services to UN agencies who work in humanitarian crises for them, they have a very subsidized rate, but then they will also do services for the insurance business and say, helping out with understanding flood risks in floodplains, et cetera, but there they will charge the premium. So they find a way to cover their costs and be successful. But you're absolutely right. This is not the traditional NGO activity. Katherine Radeka: Yeah. Okay. So, one of the key issues with something like this is of course, having a good enough demonstration to prove that your idea actually works. So talk about what you're doing to provide that proof. Louise Croneborg-Jones: We quickly realized that we could not explore all the ideas that we had. Our team started off with thinking of a thousand features we wanted to test, but it came back to that idea of like, what is the actual challenge that we're trying to solve here and do we understand that challenge correctly? And so in that process, I think what we're trying to do is, again, we're focusing in, on very basic parameters and we're focusing in on showcasing the benefits and the fast, like the so cool, you can have this data that's visualized online immediately and then show to the client and the governments that they can just, they can access this on their phone they can download a file and share it via WhatsApp. And then, they easily can adopt that into their own forecasting or their own modeling work. So that's what we're trying to show now. Louise Croneborg-Jones: What also becomes very important for us to show in the next six months of this project now that in the demonstration is potential for scale. That's one of my goals is to be able to say, this is robust enough to be able to be scalable. That doesn't mean that we're arrived or anything like that. It just means we've got some of the building blocks in place and the government, the users, are positive, you know? Katherine Radeka: All right. So you've talked about one obstacle being the fact that you're in this, like you said, you're a gear in a much larger system and the larger system is sexy and attracts a lot of philanthropy, a lot of energy, but not necessarily for your data collection piece, even though it's essential, right. So what are some of the other obstacles that you think you'll be encountering in this next six months phase? Louise Croneborg-Jones: I'm seeing three areas of challenges. And I'll start with the one on the innovation process where we're at at the moment, which is basically that we're a team working primarily pro bono. And we have a couple of people hired, financed by the grants. But that set-up of people working pro bono means we have some level of unpredictability in terms of what people can actually allocate in time and effort. And I have to, in the innovation process, it means basically being very clear within the team of what we're trying to do and not sort of let the reins loose. And again, going back to Rapid Learning Cycles is actually that structure provides a tool for us to structure the work and narrow the focus of what we're trying to show. So I think that's an interesting part. Louise Croneborg-Jones: It's not like we're a startup that has a bunch of funding at the moment, so we can actually just run a very smooth operation. It's a flexible operation and all that has to sync up in the next six months. The second area of challenge is that we are far away from the market. And this is something that's really interesting about emerging is that you have a lot of tech development happening in developed countries. And you have an emerging area of startups in poor countries emerging, of course, but there is a tendency to think, we are far away let's, Oh, this solution works perfectly. It should work perfectly in Malawi or in Mozambique, whatever, but we are so far away from the markets and with COVID restricting our travel. There are so many nuances that we don't see or understand. We can't just pop into the office of the government and say, Hey, what do you think today? Louise Croneborg-Jones: You know, that interaction is missing. So way that we're dealing with it, we have two brilliant people hired in Malawi now. So without them, this would not be possible at all, even if I were able to travel there for a month or so, it wouldn't just be possible. So that's an area of challenge when working on sustainability issues in emerging markets or low-income countries, the third challenge is being able to use the demonstration project as a springboard to the next level. I'm spending a lot of time looking for that second phase financing without having the results ready to be able to secure the funding catch-22. But I think that's probably part of the whole startup. Katherine Radeka: Yeah. And, and especially again, it seems like it's part of this journey in particular, where if you were building the water sensor itself and that was the thing, and it was a new technology, the venture capitalist universe seems to know what to do with those things, seems to know how to manage risk for those things. But you do have the software and everything behind it. So you definitely have something that looks like a product, but it's really a method — it's really like a data collection system that's underneath this that's a little bit, very, very much buried in the infrastructure usually. Right? Yeah. So I can see why that would mean that the demonstration aspect is going to be so important to prove that collecting the data in this manner is going to actually lead to better decision making at the level in the governments and also help scientists make, gather better data for their research. Katherine Radeka: Yeah. It's not enough to just, put together a tablet demonstration showing how cool the data visualization is. They need to see that it's going to actually drive better decisions, I would think. Louise Croneborg-Jones: Yes, yes. Yeah, exactly. No, you're absolutely right. Yeah. Katherine Radeka: Okay. So given all of that would you be willing to share some of the some of the learning activities you are specifically doing to help you address some of these obstacles? Louise Croneborg-Jones: So with the first one, and going back to the learning Rapid Learning Cycles, one of the learnings there has been that we're adopting a methodology like this is, is really useful and crucial, but doing so you have to spend almost some time learning what it is to get the team to a little, almost the same level of awareness. How does the tool work? Just the basics of it, but once they've done that, they see the logic of it, and then you can dive into the process of finding Knowledge Gaps, and allocating Knowledge Gaps to be closed and so on. So I'm finding that that's been a good learning experience and that it takes a little bit of time. And again, navigating the fact that some people in the team are, they're very narrowed in, on their technical area of responsibility, but that this type of experience actually gets them to understand what are the other multitude of Knowledge Gaps that need to be closed in order for all the pieces to sync up a little bit. Katherine Radeka: So to get a sense of not just what they're doing, but how it fits into a bigger picture. Yes, Louise Croneborg-Jones: Absolutely. And part of that and how it fits into the process of, of making a decision towards your Core Hypothesis. I think the second part from working on a project or a sustainability solution, when you're very far away from the actual market to such, you can't just rely on your own experiences, although you think, okay, I've been working on this for 10 years. I feel like I know it, but just my learnings here is like how willing people in my network have been to help out. It's been fantastic. I must say that reaching out and not thinking, Oh, I have all the knowledge already. You don't, so you need people to help you find out things. And so it's, yeah. Like anything from people I know. I used to work in Malawi quite a lot and have old colleagues mobilized, and I have people who are helping out with renting cars and for testing operations and so on. Louise Croneborg-Jones: So that's not being afraid of that. Mobilizing your network of people that you have. And then thirdly, on that funding thing, I think again too, not isolating yourself too much and putting all your hopes on one or two horses alone. I'm now applying for these labs here in Stockholm, these business labs, or they're not really accelerators, but they help people in very early stages and through them, I'm again, reaching out to get help and finding the right funding for next stage and despite not having the results already. Katherine Radeka: Yeah. And looking at, kinda like what your next stage looks like and what funding you need, and then, working on multiple alternatives to try to find a person that's willing to invest in that next step. Louise Croneborg-Jones: Another thing I would say, we just had a grant application fail and it was really interesting because it was, it looked like the perfect grant mechanism. And we spent a lot of time trying to get the application in place. And we got interviewed, we got shortlisted and everything, but from that, there's a lot of learnings from that too. And both in terms of how do you allocate your time and trying to find funding and understand what stage you're at and how that matches up to the funding that's out there. Where do you hope to be at the end of this next phase of work? What's the end stage for the next six months, if you're successful, what does it look like? It looks like we have a prototype that's technically sound to the level that we can actually start offering to as a service and take that leap of faith and say, this is very early. Louise Croneborg-Jones: We can offer it as a subsidized rate, but we really want it to be used because I think in that using phase, we can just continue to learn. So that would be my ideal and also to have enough data being collected, to showcase that potential of use downstream. So in our team, we have a guy who is a flood expert. And so one of the things that he's tasked to do is to look at the data that we're having coming in and basically showcasing two actors, such as Google and NASA and showcasing what this could mean for their type of modeling. Because going back to the aspects of climate change and the unpredictability of our water and our climate systems, the actors that are out there, whether it's NASA or the European space agency, they use a lot of satellite information for example, or they use some ground, but the biggest gap they have is they don't have any ground-based data being collected in situ. So that's another aspect that we're really trying to see. That will be really cool to see what these agencies think about the data that we're able to collect. REFLECTION Katherine Radeka: Full disclosure. The Rapid Learning Cycles Institute provided the training materials and a colleague of mine, Fernanda Torre of Next Agents, a Rapid Learning Cycles Certified® Affiliate based in Sweden facilitated the kickoff event so that Louise and her team could get off to a good start with the Rapid Learning Cycles framework. And we did that because her program is exactly the program that we are poised to accelerate by helping them make decisions at the right time with the right people and the best available knowledge. They're at a critical point. They need to build a demonstration program in Malawi, in the COVID era, in order to demonstrate the viability of their idea and to show that it generates value and that it can scale. And along the way, they're going to need to make some very important decisions that are going to get embedded into their solution that will be difficult to unmake later. And that's exactly what the Rapid Learning Cycles framework is intended to help a team like Louise's do. And so I'll take this opportunity to invite you, if you are working on a program that is like this to consider using the Rapid Learning Cycles framework to help you make those decisions. And if you're working in an NGO or nonprofit, or if your program is so early stage that it's still funded by research grants and philanthropists to consider reaching out to us, you can contact me through the website or through the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute or LinkedIn. And we'll set up some times to talk, to see whether or not the Rapid Learning Cycles framework can help you and whether or not we can support you the way that we supported Louise and her team. And we're doing this because we see this as part of our mission to accelerate the development of the technologies we need to address climate change so that we can do our part to Accelerate Net Zero. SPONSORSHIP: Thank you for listening to Accelerate Net Zero. If you want to help Accelerate Net Zero, please leave a rating or review with your podcast provider so that other listeners can find us and subscribe so that you don't miss an episode yourself. For links, resources, transcripts, and additional information about this project, visit our website, acceleratenetzero.com. The Accelerate Net Zero project is sponsored by the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute. We help innovators change the world faster. To learn more about the Rapid Learning Cycles framework, and how it can help you accelerate innovation, visit rapidlearningcycles.com.
34 minutes | 17 days ago
Who Are the Stakeholders for Innovations That Change the World?
Deborah Stine is a bridge between scientists, engineers and the policymakers, community leaders and other stakeholders whose choices can either accelerate an innovation team’s work or place obstacles in their way. In this interview, she shares how to identify and engage with these stakeholders so that you can integrate their needs and concerns into your solutions from the beginning. Deborah Stine Founder and Chief Instructor at the Science & Technology Policy Academy Deborah Stine is Founder and Chief Instructor at the Science & Technology Policy Academy and also President of Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy Analysis & Education, LLC. Her clients include the Energy Futures Initiative (headed by former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Catalyst Connection (a Manufacturing Extension Partnership), Energy Innovation Center Institute, the University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University, the University of Idaho, Rutgers University, the University of Missouri, and the University of Texas, Tyler. During her over 30-year career, she’s been fortunate to work for some of the top organizations in the country: the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the Congressional Research; the Obama Administration’s President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; and Carnegie Mellon University. At Carnegie Mellon, Dr. Stine was a Professor of the Practice for the Engineering and Public Policy Department and Associate Director for Policy Outreach for the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation from 2012-2018. Dr. Stine received the Carnegie Science Communication Award for her communication activities, particularly videos, for her work at Carnegie Mellon. She also received grants for her work from the National Science Foundation (for communication) and the Department of Energy, VentureWell, and the Wells Fargo Foundation (for her activities on energy innovation and entrepreneurship). She was Executive Director of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology at the White House from 2009-2012, during the first three years of the Obama Administration. From 2007-2009, she was a science and technology policy specialist with the Congressional Research Service. From 1989-2007, she was at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – where she was associate director of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; director of the National Academies Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellowship Program; and director of the Office of Special Projects. While there, she received the highest staff award from the National Academies. Prior to coming to the Academies, she was a mathematician for the Air Force, an air-pollution engineer for the state of Texas, and an air-issues manager for the Chemical Manufacturers Association. She holds a BS in mechanical and environmental engineering from the University of California, Irvine, an MBA from what is now Texas A&M at Corpus Christi, and a PhD in public administration with a focus on science and technology policy analysis from American University. She resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Read Full Transcript Welcome Katherine Radeka (00:03): Welcome to Accelerate Net Zero, the podcast dedicated to the acceleration of the technologies we need to address climate change. My name is Katherine Radeka, and I've been accelerating innovation for a long time in a number of different industries. And nowhere is that acceleration more important today than in the renewable energy materials, food production, transportation, and other programs to limit carbon emissions so that we can stabilize our climate. So if you are working on these programs as a technologist, as a manager, as an investor, a public policy maker, an activist, or just a concerned citizen, then you have come to the right place to learn how we can eliminate obstacles and put more momentum into these programs so that they can begin delivering the impact on carbon emissions sooner. And we can reach Net Zero faster. Introduction Katherine Radeka (01:00): When I'm working with a team to help them turn an idea into a fully realized innovation, we take the time to develop a Core Hypothesis for that idea. This is a summary of the innovation: the technology or whatever it is that's new about it; the customer need, or the problem that this solves for the customer; and the business model, how we make money from it. When a team is aligned around these three core things about an idea, then it's easier for them to understand what they need to validate in that idea in order to turn it into an innovation that a customer will actually pay for. And it's easier for them to recognize when something has fundamentally changed — when they've disproven part of the hypothesis and therefore they need to pivot. Frankly, it saves a lot of argument and it also saves a lot of pain of building the wrong product. It short circuits, the time that it takes to achieve product market fit, because it gives you a much clearer sense of direction about where you're going. Katherine Radeka (02:03): My guest, Deborah Stine proposes another dimension to this. She specializes in understanding the non-economic impacts of an innovation. These are the impacts that will be most important if say you're receiving government funding for your innovation because it is going to drive down carbon emissions ,or perhaps attract investors that have a social mission, as well as a financial mission. These non-economic impacts are the things that help you characterize the ways that your innovation is not just good for the customers. It's also good for society by spelling out exactly how, and then exactly how you're going to measure that and be able to be held accountable for those results. Katherine Radeka (02:52): Deborah Stine has a long history working in this area going back more than 30 years. Today, she's President of Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy Analysis & Education, LLC and Founder & Chief Instructor of the Science & Technology Policy Academy. In that role, she basically serves as a bridge between the sciences and technologists who are working to build an innovation and the policymakers, the public students, and the investor community who will be engaged in this innovation. Katherine Radeka (03:22): Her clients include the Energy Futures Initiative, the American Sssociation for the Advancement of Sciences, Catalyst Connections, and a wide variety of universities that are working in this area. She was a professor at Carnegie Mellon and the Associate Director for Policy Outreach for the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. From 2012 to 2018 she was the Executive Director of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2012. So with this long history of experience in understanding the role that these non-economic impacts play in driving adoption from the policymaker perspective and from the community and citizen perspective, I think she has a lot of valuable insights to bring to our conversation around how to Accelerate Net Zero. Tell me a little bit about the work you've been doing, especially around the non-market analysis. What is that? Interview with Deborah Stine Deborah Stine (04:14): I'm an engineer by training, but I also have a background in policy analysis. And so I'm always interested in new and emerging technologies and what I found particularly when I went from the national level of, in DC to Pittsburgh, where I am now is that oftentimes entrepreneurs who have interesting technology ideas don't think at all about policy. They think about policy as something that might be at the end of the process, but they don't really think about it at the beginning of the process. But what we find is that when these technologies go into the marketplace, they're, they're under a policy regime and those policy factors can influence how successful they are in the marketplace. Katherine Radeka (05:08): What is the relationship between this work and the theme of this podcast, which is Accelerate Net Zero? Deborah Stine (05:14): So it's about mitigating climate change. So when you have a technology, let's take something like energy storage. For example, energy storage is obviously very important to renewable energy sourses, as well as other, other sources of energy. But in order for energy storage to advance in the marketplace, you need to have some sort of technology pull for it to occur in terms of how, like, for example FERC, which is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission handles it and how say state agencies manage it wtih the state energy policies that are there. So in this case, for example, California has set a goal of having a certain amount of energy storage by a certain year. And that then becomes a focus so that when you're thinking about where you should focus your energy storage efforts, obviously California is a good place because that's going to create demand for your technologies. Deborah Stine (06:11): It can also be the opposite. So say you have wind energy while you're trying to install say a wind turbine. But it's on the Gulf Coast and people are worried about the impact it might have on birds and bats. Well, you need to think about that when you consider your design, like where the wind turbine is going to go, how it's designed, can you put radar other kinds of technologies on it to avoid that public opposition? Because even though we like to think that all renewable energy has no barriers, the reality is is every renewable energy has barriers. One kind or another, for example, solar roof tiles, you can put on your house while some people don't like the look of those. So people don't want have to look at solar panels on their house. They have neighborhood associations that oppose them. So these are all things you have to consider because they affect your ability to sell your product. Katherine Radeka (07:09): So one of the models that you shared with me is a model where you talk about the emerging technology market potential. And you're looking at things from the engineering perspective and the business perspective and the policy maker perspective and from the society perspective. People that are familiar with my work will understand that I talk about this thing called the Core Hypothesis and the Core Hypothesis, the reason why a company is investing in a given product development program or given technology development program. And that Core Hypothesis has three dimensions. It has customer dimension, which is what is the customer need we're filling. It has the technology, which is your, your engineering perspective, which is what is the technology we're going to use to fulfill that customer need. And then it has the business value, which is what do we get from doing all of this? Katherine Radeka (07:56): And we try to frame that as more than just money, we try to frame that as it's going to help us increase market share, or it's going to help us grow a particular category, to be more specific about how it's going to drive growth for the business. What I found very interesting about yours is that it almost seems like for some of the programs that are operating in the renewable energy space or a sustainability space, it almost seems like these other two perspectives are missing. Katherine Radeka (08:22): And I'm kind of wondering whether or not that should even be something that say, if I'm developing a Core Hypothesis with a company like we have another guest on this podcast that will be coming up. She is doing solar energy and Puerto Rico. And so there's a Core Hypothesis there, which is that if we deliver this distributed technology for solar energy generation to the communities in Puerto Rico, they will have more reliable, more robust, more resilient power. And we will be to get revenue from the leasing of that equipment, to those communities. But it also seems like they should be including these two other additional perspectives. Can you talk a little bit more about the policy perspective and the society perspective. Deborah Stine (09:11): So a number of years ago, I was in Arizona and I was visiting Hopi lands and things like that with a Hopi guide, right. So we just were driving around and we went to the village to this Mesa where his his family lived in, it was a whole village. And what was interesting to me is that almost every house had a solar panel on it, which is okay, great. But then I asked him, I said ",how come there's no wind turbines,"right? Because it seems to me that obviously this is an area where there's a lot of wind blowing in those mountaintops. It seems, but there's no wind turbines. Well, it turns out that tthere are cultural aspects of it, and this is where the societal perspective comes in. Deborah Stine (09:57): So the first thing is, is that on this Mesa right directly across from them was another Mesa. And about a hundred years ago, they had built like a Christian traditional steepled church. So that everybody who was in the Hopi village had to look at this church that did not represent their beliefs. So that was one aspect of it that this land was sacred to them. And they did not like that in their vista, which is not that different sometimes when you see the people who oppose offshore wind on the East coast, right. And that's the other aspect of it. They love to see these beautiful, great vistas of our West. And they did not want to see a bunch of wind turbines on those mountaintops. Deborah Stine (10:49): And so something would seem like so logical to me — you could have all this great power, you could create jobs, you could do all these different things. And a lot of the people who were up to the Navajo, which is the, the area next door actually worked in coal plants, they preferred that over having wind turbines, which really surprised me. And so that gives an example of a society perspective where you want to go in early to understand those kinds of issues and ask people "what would you think if we put wind turbines here" and then you'll find things that you might have no idea occur or, or were a barrier from a policy perspective. There's also those same kinds of issues where you have policymakers that you need to think about. Deborah Stine (11:37): Right now I am working as a consultant to West Virginia university, looking at water in West Virginia, which is very important obviously. And they have all sorts of challenges with water, but they also have opportunities. Like they have a lot of crumbling dams that a company could come in and retrofit them to make them power dams. But you know what the people think, right? You just can't go in there and start retrofitting a dam. Even though obviously this is a good way for for a state that doesn't have a lot of income to maybe fix a dam that might collapse, but what are the people thinking? And so part of what we're doing is working with the extension service in West Virginia to talk to the local leaders and the people and say "what do you think about this? Is this a good idea? Is this a bad idea?" Deborah Stine (12:27): And you want to do all that early before you invest a lot in design, because maybe you need to incorporate something into the design from an engineering perspective that you might not have thought of otherwise. And then what about the policy, the public policy perspective? How did that play in? Yeah. So the policy aspect of it is that if the West Virginia legislature is going to approve repairing these dams, then they want public support. And if the public, if the local public opposes it, there's no way the policymakers are going to say, "Oh yes, we're willing to save some money and retrofit these dams with hydro-power." So public support can really be a major factor in policymakers and their opinion. I know sometimes people I think have a bias sometimes against policymakers something, Oh, it's, you know, the big money and so forth comes in. Deborah Stine (13:23): But the reality is they really do want to know what their people think. And that's the first consideration you should have is what does their constituency think? Are they going to think this is a good idea? Is this going to be a bad idea? And I was actually just looking at some data this morning and for climate change the national number of support that just came out from the Yale center is about 50, 60% in terms of actual climate change. So West Virginia, wasn't too far below that that is still 10% below that. So they're not necessarily going to agree that just for climate change, that they're going to take action. Deborah Stine (14:10): There's going to be a certain portion of the population who are going to want to consider other factors, might be cultural factors, might be economic factors. You know, the kind of the jobs that are created, things that are of that nature and a policy maker will consider all those factors. So when I teach about public policy, I teach what I call the four E's, which are not just from me that are based on literature and policy analysis, which is first, is it going to be effective? In this case, is this retrofit, you know, where it's a public private partnership, a company comes in, fixes up the dam is it going to be effective in reaching that goal? Is it going to be efficient, which is that the best bang for the buck in terms of getting electricity and fixing that dam? Is it equitable, which is basically who are the winners and losers? And then the last one, which is where this comes in primarily is ease of political acceptability. The public has to be for it. If you've done your homework and really spend some time with the community, that you're going to have a much easier time when it comes to political acceptability. Katherine Radeka (15:07): And what's interesting to me about that is that that's a lot about generating pull for the idea from society. And then also having that feed into the pull that's coming through the policymakers, because policymakers, that's one thing that I've observed in the work that I've done around this so far is that policymakers have the ability to pull through regulation that requires particular advances or through funding,so they have the ability to generate pull for the right technologies. Right. so it's about figuring out what's going to help them create those levers that are going to make this attractive for them so that they start pulling it. Deborah Stine (15:41): Right. So, so in this case, I think, I think most policy wonks like myself, we believe that sometime in 2021, regardless of who is President, there is going to be some sort of stimulus bill or infrastructure bill. And so when the West Virginia legislators are deciding, okay, what should we ask for as part of our pitch, they're going to want to do actions that the public supports. I mean, they don't want to get anybody mad at them because this is supposed to be a good thing. Right? So the last big stimulus plan was at the beginning of their bond administration. And there are all sorts of energy projects, renewable energy projects that were supported, energy storage projects, all sorts of different things, but it was very localized, like each community and each state. So how can we use a stimulus money to generate jobs, generate income, to do all those things that we need to have, have done? Deborah Stine (16:38): And you just don't want to start from above top-down and say, Oh, okay, well, we're going to put wind turbines on every mountaintop in West Virginia without knowing what the people who live on those mountaintops and in those communities actually think? Because that's the first thing that policymakers going to ask you is, okay, well, have you talked to people in that community? Are they willing to have those turbines there? Are they willing to have that dam fixed? Are they willing to introduce this new water technology that will save them money? Deborah Stine (17:13): One other example is in in West Virginia, it turns out there's these straight pipes that basically go directly from homes with sewage, into some of the waters in West Virginia. And they had a grant to try to fix those for free so it would not cost the homeowner anything. And they got turned away and this is some faculty that were at West Virginia University ended up giving the money back because they couldn't convince enough homeowners to take this free deal, which was to develop a septic system for their house to try to help clean things up. And obviously all that goes to our emissions, our climate change emissions and everything else. Katherine Radeka (17:59): So I know that you've done a fair amount of work in this area, you know, looking at self-driving cars. Can you talk a little bit about how you've applied that framework in that area? Deborah Stine (18:08): Self-driving cars are really in an interesting topic when it comes to this issue. So I often use it as an explanation of what the topic is. So the first thing is, is that we have, we have different companies following different strategies. And, and so some people call it the wild West. So we have some companies like say Tesla who are going out there immediately with early versions of like a self-driving car. And then we have other companies like here in Pittsburgh, Uber, you can just like drive around the city and you'll see them, the self-driving cars with two people inside, but the car is doing all the driving, driving around the city, they're doing testing for it. And that's because Pittsburgh is a city, which is very accepting of new technologies. And then you have Google and Google seems to be focusing more on a policy strategy and talking to various state legislators. Deborah Stine (19:05): So at Stanford, for example, they've done a very interesting analysis looking at what different states have done, because most of these driving laws are not national laws, but they're state laws. So right now, if you wanted to have a self-driving car and drive it, say between California and Pittsburgh you really couldn't do it. And that is because some states along the way had decided, no, they did not want self-driving cars in their state. So, you know, when you're thinking about self-driving cars as a big market you really have to think about what is the policies that govern the ability to use these devices? Am I as a consumer, no matter how much I think a self-driving car is cool going to be willing to drive it. If I can't go outside of my own state where it's legal? Deborah Stine (19:57): And so you get to have to lay the ground like Uber, ytraditionally there's a like sort of Uber Wars, right? Which I'm sure you maybe heard about it on the news where they got into trouble for their new service model where there's opposition from taxi drivers. I remember people getting blocked on the way to the airport in Paris. So it wasn't just a US thing. It was a global thing. So that will make a policymaker reluctant to approve those new technologies. Unless you lay the groundwork, lay the framework, will people be safe? What happens when the car is driving down the street and it can either hit a baby in a stroller or can hit, an old man with a cane coming the other way, what does the car decide? Deborah Stine (20:48): We have a lot of work behind those kinds of decisions that affect the algorithm before these self-driving cars can really take over the population. Going back to the emissions thing, if we have such driving cars, they are supposed to save emissions, particularly when it comes to like long distance things like trucks, for example. When you have a caravan of trucks that can really follow much more closely together, there's been a lot of analysis that shows that that will save energy and obviously greenhouse gas emissions. Katherine Radeka (21:20): Yeah. So I find that really interesting because of the different approaches that the different companies have taken. Also because of the fact that these companies have different reputations, right. So it's like, would you, as a public policymaker, thinking about how Uber has just been willing to trample the existing laws and ask for forgiveness, not permission to an extreme degree — they don't seem to come across as very trustworthy, whereas a company like Google may be able to create some openings just because they have paid more attention to that. Deborah Stine (21:52): Right. Right. And the challenge of course, is that just like with anything it's just like, when there's an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it's not only that company - BP - that has a problem, that's all the oil companies. Right. And the same thing is, is going to be true for the self-driving car companies — just because the strategy one is better than the strategy of another does not mean that it will, if there's one bad actor, it won't affect everybody else. Katherine Radeka (22:22): That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. So when you're thinking about incorporating this kind of analysis, at what point in the development of a new technology when would you recommend that people start seriously considering these issues? Deborah Stine (22:37): I really think it's important to think about them at the design phase. You know, there's a sort of standard kind of thing now where you're supposed to talk to a hundred people who might buy your product right. And that's supposed to influence the design and goals of the product. Well, I think part of that initial process should also include people from the actual community where these technologies would reside and also policymakers to see what they think, because that too can affect your design. And it's much better to do that early in the process than wait all the way to the end. And you should really also understand the issues. That's the main thing there's like these four "I"s which is the issues, the interests that people have, the institutions and what information they need to help make a decision. Deborah Stine (23:32): So obviously with self-driving cars, it's safety, right? And with things that are, maybe say renewable energy, like things that are solar or wind, then it's more to be things that are, that are more say localized interests, things that people care about. And you should at least also like, know the institutions like who actually makes these decisions. I think a lot of people in energy world probably don't know very much about who FERC is. For example, they think maybe the Department of Energy, but they don't think about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but yet that has a really important influence on many different energy fields. Katherine Radeka (24:11): So one of the things that I coach teams to do when I'm working with them in very early development is to understand who their stakeholders are. And this seems like that would be the point in time to start having a conversation around, okay, what are the policy making bodies that you're going to need to interface with in order to help drive adoption in order to clear regulatory barriers? And if there is pull coming from government to reduce emissions or to increase energy storage or whatever it is that you are on the radar screen. Deborah Stine (24:41): Right. Exactly. So like again, going to self-driving cars, because that's something that a lot of people know about the Department of Transportation, for example, has done a lot of work, at least during the Obama administration to try to set up what are different levels and zones and things like that in terms of now, we have cars that do parallel parking, right? That is basically an autonomous vehicle skill. So that's relatively low level obviously than say driving down the road. Then they've also worked with societies that set standards so that we begin to develop these standards and all of this work takes time. And so you, you want to start it early in the process. So when you're really ready to enter the market, everything will be in place. Katherine Radeka (25:30): Yeah. So that seems very interesting. How that's interesting is that the way that we accelerate the innovation of an idea is to help ensure that we've cleared away all the obstacles and regulatory — obviously there's going to be regulatory barriers and making sure that you understand if there are what those, what those hurdles are? Making sure that you understand what agencies you need to be engaging with or what government bodies you need to be connected to. And sometimes if you're developing something really new, you may actually be able to be one of the people helping to write the policy, come in as the recognized expert. But that's only possible if you're thinking about these issues far enough in advance. Deborah Stine (26:08): So exactly. You want to make sure you're at the table because people will probably remember things like the Beta versus VHS Wars. You might remember those and those standards policies, those battles have occurred over time. Speaker 4 (26:21): So if I'm a technologist and, say I am working in a field, but I've developed something, an idea say for a renewable energy, but I'm not familiar myself with the regulatory structures in the industry that I'm proposing to enter. What's the best way for me to begin closing the knowledge gaps that I have around these policymakers I need to be engaged with? Deborah Stine (26:44): There are lots of different ways to do it. Like in my case, when I was a professor at Carnegie Mellon we took on new technologies and we did that analysis basically pro bono for some of these new companies in Pittsburgh. For example, we did one for biofuels,. And that is one way to do it in is to try to reach out to experts in your area, see what it is, what might be out there to help you. The second is to hire like a consultant or somebody like myself, who helps you do that kind of analysis or you can just do it yourself and then bring on a policy intern or somebody like that from a college who studies public policy and give that person the task and see what it is that they come up with. Deborah Stine (27:34): So those are the inexpensive ways. You can of course spend lots of dollars for lawyers and people who cost a lot of money to do this. But I think for most small emerging companies that might be too much for them to do at this initial stage. And so I've certainly had students in the past at Carnegie Mellon who got hired as a summer intern, just to get some lay of the land and the other aspects of it, which is also important when you're pitching to venture capitalists and investors. They do know that there are all these policy barriers and you should be able to answer that question. It's not good to to propose something like an edible battery and not have any notion of how hard it will be to get approved for people to actually use it. You might start slow and build up over time, but you should be able to least answer the question about those four I's that we talked about earlier. Katherine Radeka (28:38): Okay. And those four "I"s are Information, Interest, Issues. And what was the fourth one? Deborah Stine (28:45): Institutions. Katherine Radeka (28:46): Institutions. Yes. Yes. Wonderful. All right. So I'm going to ask you my last question, which I'm going to be asking every guest on this podcast, which is what is the one thing that we need to do to Accelerate Net Zero from where you sit? Deborah Stine (28:59): One of the projects that I do consulting for is the energy futures initiative. This is an organization run by a former Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz and includes a lot of people who were working in the Obama DOE. And they have a really interesting report on carbon dioxide reduction technologies. And so these are new technologies that are some of them are already out there. Some of them in that stage where they do direct air capture, they take the CO2 out of the air and they turn it into something else. Deborah Stine (29:36): And what that report recommends, and which I agree with is to have a very strong research development and demonstration strategy for that. Because I think one thing I've been working on, on climate change since I was in PhD school. So very long time ago now, and over time, it, you just become more realistic about mitigation options and the degree to which mitigation is going to be able to help us achieve our goals. Just like with energy, we see a lot of advances in renewable energy, but we still have a long way to go. So we really need to have a mixed strategy going for this mitigation options. And we need to really try to look at these carbon dioxide reduction technologies in a serious way and think about how they can get to the marketplace. Reflection Katherine Radeka (30:29): I think the most important lesson from today's interview was the fact that if you have an innovation, any type of innovation, but especially an innovation that is supposed to deliver some kind of public good, like accelerate progress toward Net Zero, then you need to understand the universe that your innovation is entering into. And there's a public policy universe where regulators can make it easier or harder for your product to get to market where taxation can either create incentives or disincentives for people to use your technology for other dimensions of public policy that either create a pull signal for you, or put obstacles in your way, and to understand what that looks like. Katherine Radeka (31:11): And there's probably a mix of both. There's probably things that are in your way, and there's probably things that are creating good demand signals, and then to understand the community aspects, not just your paying customers, not just the people who are going to be using your product in the way that you intended to get whatever they, you intend to help them get from it, but also the people around them. How will it impact them? You know, how will it impact the broader environment? Katherine Radeka (31:32): The time when I would recommend that you start to do that is when you're in the process of developing your Core Hypothesis, you have, if you're working to Accelerate Net Zero, you have a hypothesis about how your innovation is going to do that. And that I think will make it easier for you to talk to these other people who may not necessarily have the problem that you're trying to solve for your customers and who may not have a financial stake in what it is that you're doing, but may have a bigger stake in the innovation that you're attempting to bring to market. And I think that if you can articulate that as part of your Core Hypothesis, we are intending to help reduce carbon emissions in these specific ways, by these specific amounts, or, you know, we have a carbon capture technology erall emissions, you know, by giving them out, that's going to reduce CO2. Katherine Radeka (32:27): .And you can be very clear about that. Then I think it makes it easier to engage with these other communities. And I think that when we include that in the Core Hypothesis, it's also a signal that this is important for us to validate through these conversations with public policy makers, by engaging with them in conversations about how to create demand signals for the things that society wants. And as well as having conversations with the community, are there any unintended impacts? Are there any side effects that people are worried about? They may or may not be real? I mean, you may look at it and say, well, that's actually not going to happen, but they may still be worried about it, but you won't even find out if those worries are in place. Katherine Radeka (33:13): If you don't know that this is a dimension of your product, that you need to validate. If you're working on a program to Accelerate Net Zero, I first of all, encourage you to build a Core Hypothesis. If you don't have one. And then in the Core Hypothesis to add a little bit onto the end of that, to say, "what is the societal benefit that I project that my innovation will contribute" so that you can open the door to have conversations with these public policy makers and community members in a way that helps them see what you are trying to do with this innovation and how and why it's important for them to support you. Sponsorship Katherine Radeka (33:51): Thank you for listening to Accelerate Net Zero. For resources, transcripts, and additional information about this project, please visit our website, acceleratenetzero.com. The Accelerate Net Zero project is sponsored by the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute. We help innovators change the world faster. To learn more about the Rapid Learning Cycles framework, and how it can help you accelerate innovation, visit rapidlearningcycles.com.
14 minutes | a month ago
The Last Responsible Moment – Decisions for Climate Change Tech That Stick
The Last Responsible Moment is a powerful practice for improving decision-making in the fog of uncertainty. We are clearly past the Last Responsible Moment to address climate change. We needed these solutions yesterday. For everyone working in any number of areas that will contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the urgency and pressure to deliver quickly is enormous. But this introduces increased risk of rushing into our most important decisions without the knowledge needed to make good decisions. The concept of the Last Responsible Moment can help teams make decisions at the right time, giving themselves more time to learn, and allowing time for a dynamic situation to evolve. They’ll make decisions closer in time to when those decisions need to be executed, which makes them much more likely to make the right decision. This is one secret to accelerating innovation: reducing risk by giving yourself just a little — but not infinitely — more time. In this reflection, I’ll share my thoughts on how to apply the Last Responsible Moment when the world needed your solutions yesterday. Read Full Transcript Welcome Katherine Radeka (00:03): Welcome to Accelerate Net Zero, the podcast dedicated to the acceleration of the technologies we need to address climate change. My name is Katherine Radeka, and I've been accelerating innovation for a long time in a number of different industries. And nowhere is that acceleration more important today than in the renewable energy, materials, food production, transportation, and other programs to limit carbon emissions so that we can stabilize our climate. So if you are working on these programs as a technologist, as a manager, as an investor, a public policymaker, an activist, or just a concerned citizen, then you have come to the right place to learn how we can eliminate obstacles and put more momentum into these programs so that they can begin delivering impact on carbon emissions sooner. And we can reach Net Zero faster. Reflection In this episode, I want to introduce a concept that I'm going to be talking about a lot, because it's proven to be very powerful for accelerating innovation, even though it's counter-intuitive. And that is the concept of the Last Responsible Moment. As you may imagine, we are past the Last Responsible Moment to address climate change. We passed that moment sometime in the 1990s, probably if not earlier. And we certainly had passed it by the year 2010. Today in 2020, we are experiencing the effects of global warming and our hope is not to prevent it altogether. Our hope is to mitigate the damage and then establish a limit., so that global warming does not exceed an amount that is unsustainable for human society or for the Earth's ecosystems, to limit the damage. Because of that, we have a lot of people trying to do a lot of things. There's tremendous pull. You see that in clean tech investor communities, you see that in all the actions that countries around the world are taking to hit the targets they've set for themselves as part of the Paris agreement. We all have heard that we have to cut our emissions in half as a planet by the year 2030, and that we have to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Companies like Amazon and Apple and Ikea have set even more aggressive goals for themselves. So with all of that, there's a tremendous amount of energy and pull to create solutions, to electrify transportation, to replace coal-fired power plants with renewable energy. And it goes on and on. And with all of that, there's danger. And the danger is that all of this pull also creates a lot of urgency. And the thing that we think we have to do when we feel like there's a lot of urgency, is that we have to make decisions and run. So I know that investors in this space are investing in a lot of different solutions in the hopes that some things turn out to be sustainable and scalable and make a big enough difference at a low enough cost that they can be widely accepted. And I know that governments are doing the same: they're funding a lot of different things, a lot of different initiatives in order to figure out which ones will actually make a difference. And pursuing multiple alternatives like this is definitely a good idea. I would not want to discourage that, but if I'm one of the people working inside one of those programs, and I want my program to be the one that is scalable, to be the one that does become fully adopted, then I might want to think about how I handle the decisions that I'm making in the fog of all this uncertainty. Because here's what I know, and it is counter intuitive. And that is that there are decisions that innovation teams take in very early development, that they are highly likely to regret later because they don't have a lot of information. They may not have very good knowledge to use to make their decision. They may be guessing, and they may be working in a very dynamic environment where the conditions are changing so fast. It's hard to know what the right decision will be by the time the product is ready to reach the market or by the time the solution is ready to be implemented. And for that reason, these decisions that they make early on can make them feel like they're making a lot of progress. But the reality is they're sending time bombs for themselves that are likely to go off when they're trying to demonstrate that they can scale or when they're trying to achieve consumer acceptance so that they can drive costs down. And these are the kinds of questions that the teams that I work with learn how to handle a little differently. The Last Responsible Moment is the last point in time, when you can make a decision without impacting anything that happens downstream of that decision. So if you're ordering parts, for example, to make a full system prototype so that you can demonstrate that the technology works, your Last Responsible Moment for ordering those parts is determined by how long it's going to take you to get them up to that point. You don't really need to know what your components will be. There may be a Last Responsible Moment for figuring out where you're going to do a market test: when you need to figure out and actually start shipping the units, or do the prep work, right? Do whatever you have to do on the ground. But prior to that, you don't really need to know. You certainly don't need to know a year out where you're going to do a market test, if you're not even going to start working on the market test for nine more months. In the meantime, you know, a better market may have, it may emerge as the obvious place to do the market test. So I coach the teams that I work with to identify a particular kind of decision that benefits greatly from being made at the Last Responsible Moment. And those are decisions with a lot of fog of uncertainty around them — decisions where if the team was forced to guess they'd probably be wrong just because they don't have the knowledge they need, or maybe the knowledge they need doesn't exist yet. Especially decisions in that fog of uncertainty that have a high cost of change, that will be very difficult to change later when they start moving into the execution phase, when they start having to prove that it not just can make one of them, but that they can actually scale it so that it can achieve broader adoption. Those high impact, high unknowns decisions are the ones that really benefit from being made at the Last Responsible Moment. Now I admit this is challenging. It's challenging because it feels good to close loops. And some of us, especially those of us who are very smart, have a really hard time, sometimes leaving things open and it feels like procrastinating. It feels like not making progress, but the reality is if you make a decision and you are guessing, then you are taking on a lot of risks, that decision is wrong. And while there are times when it's appropriate to take on that risk, why would you take it on if you didn't have to? And the appropriate time to take on the risk for high-impact high-unknown decision is when you are at the Last Responsible Moment and you cannot delay making it any longer. To place this in the context of climate change: We have a lot of things that people are trying to bring to market, that people are trying to scale, that people are trying to implement and adopt as rapidly as possible to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and green transportation and on and on. Within those initiatives, though, there are specific programs that have specific objectives and specific timescales. And within those programs, the concept of theLast Responsible Moment can help ensure that those programs actually deliver what they intend to deliver on the time that they expect to deliver it. Because here's what I know after many years of observing innovation teams that are trying to operate in this fog of uncertainty. If I have a major decision, a decision with high cost of change, and I am forced to guess too early, I am almost certainly going to be wrong. And when I do get to the end and I uncover that I'm wrong by then it may be too late, or it may be very expensive, or it may cost me months of time to fix. So by calling it out and saying, okay, yeah, this is one of those high impact, high unknown decisions. We're going to make that decision at the Last Responsible Moment. What I have done is I have given myself a much better visibility into what's actually happening with my program, because I know that this is an open question. I know that the information that I need to make that decision with confidence does not exist yet, or I don't have it yet. I have given myself time to learn and I have given myself time for a dynamic situation to evolve so that when I do make that decision, I'll be able to make it with greater confidence and less risk. So what does this mean for me as say the CEO of a startup that is trying to introduce a new kind of battery technology to the market? I probably have a lot of high-impact high-unknown decisions, maybe around things like, where am I going to manufacture it or who will be my primary marketing partners? And what we want to do is we want to say, okay, when do I need to know this decision? When do I REALLY need to make this decision and keep it open? Now, if I'm an investor or I'm a public policymaker, I sometimes do things to encourage teams, to make decisions earlier than they really need to without realizing it. And so I'm going to want to be more mindful of that. Then when a person comes to me from one of the programs I'm investing in and says, well, we don't know that yet because we don't think we need to know that until this time. This is the Last Responsible Moment and we want to preserve flexibility by deferring that decision until we really need to make it. That should be the sign that you are dealing with a team that is very smart and very wise about how they are developing their innovation, because they are recognizing that this is an area that they either don't know, or an area that is evolving very rapidly. And that therefore they're going to be better off allowing more time for that decision instead of rushing through it, just because they're trying to meet some artificial deadline that you may have set for them. So no matter where you are in the ecosystem of people working to address climate change, think about high impact, high unknown decisions you're facing, and then ask yourself, what do I really need to make that decision? For myself personally, we are in the process of figuring out how we are going to add solar energy to our roof, but we also know it won't be until next summer before we do it. So that means that we just need to figure out how much lead time we need to have. And in the meantime, we're going to spend time learning, talking to people that have solar systems, figuring out what the best options might be for our area, learning what we'll need to know as homeowners about the systems. So that when we are at the last responsible moment to make that choice, we will be able to make a much more informed choice that represents not just the fact that we are a lot more knowledgeable, but also the fact that even in that short period of time, the solar energy market will have evolved to some degree. This is how the concept of the Last Responsible Moment can help Accelerate Net Zero by encouraging teams that are working on these critical technologies and business models and other innovations to make their high impact high unknown decisions when they really need to make them so that they can make them with the best available knowledge. My experience shows that when teams do this, they are able to get their ideas to market faster because they are not having to rework earlier decisions that are difficult to change. Every innovation program faces tremendous pressure to deliver results quickly, to demonstrate the value of their idea. A nd if anything, the technologies we need to address climate change face these pressures worse than the typical innovation team because of the urgency, which is why it's even more important for those of us in a position to help these teams as leaders and managers, as investors, as policymakers, that we ensure that we do everything we can to encourage these teams, to make their high impact high unknown decisions at the Last Responsible Moment so that they are more likely to be successful. And we are more likely to get what we need. These programs are set up to Accelerate Net Zero. Sponsorship Thank you for listening to Accelerate Net Zero. For resources, transcripts, and additional information about this project. Please visit our website, https://acceleratenetzero.com. The Accelerate Net Zero project is sponsored by the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute. We help innovators change the world — faster. To learn more about the rapid learning cycles framework, and how it can help you accelerate innovation, visit https://rapidlearningcycles.com.
35 minutes | a month ago
Barrio Electrico: Community Powered Distributed Solar
This project brings distributed solar power to Puerto Rico through community-based networks. It’s based on a unique partnership between community organizations that bring consumers together, with trained local support teams and a for-profit partnership to provide funding for the capital equipment via lease agreements. The combination allows underserved communities in Puerto Rico to build their own “microgrids” of robust and resilient power systems that will be better able to withstand tropical storms and other natural disasters, while enabling the communities to manage their own power consumption, maintenance and support without relying on distant large utility companies. While Puerto Rico is the first location for this model, Lauren Rosenblatt believes that it will be applicable to other locations that are far from well-served urban areas, especially those subject to storms, fires and other threats to long-distance power lines. This model will bring solar power to communities to give them a reliable source of electricity, some for the first time. Lauren RosenblattCo-Founder and Executive Director, Barrio Eléctrico Lauren Rosenblatt is Executive Director of Barrio Eléctrico, and also a chief executive of Uplift Solar Corp. A lawyer with a history in regulated market issues and oversight, including securities and commodities markets, she has specialized for more than a decade in the electricity industry. She has worked on behalf of nearly all perspectives in the electric sector: government oversight of the markets; vertically-integrated utilities; energy marketer; law and public policy; high-demand energy consumer; various emerging energy generation and storage technologies; and now renewables investment developer and market entry of a new energy technology. Dedicated to equitable access for all to power and water, Ms. Rosenblatt directs her efforts to manifesting business models and technologies that promote outcomes of affordable power for homes and for economic development. Through her work at Uplift Solar Corp., she seeks to open new markets to Uplift’s unique combination of energy tech and fintech, thereby broadening access to financeable solar. As a co-founder and Executive Director of Barrio Eléctrico, she is leading development of a transformational electricity market model with a process that starts with the users and consumers of distributed energy resources. She has a B.S.C.E. from Rice University in Houston Texas, and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas. Watch Lauren Rosenblatt’s TEDx Talk (available soon) Read Full Transcript Welcome Katherine Radeka (00:03): Welcome to Accelerate Net Zero, the podcast dedicated to the acceleration of the technologies we need to address climate change. My name is Katherine Radeka, and I've been accelerating innovation for a long time in a number of different industries. And nowhere is that acceleration more important today than in the renewable energy, materials, food production, transportation, and other programs to limit carbon emissions so that we can stabilize our climate. So if you are working on these programs as a technologist, as a manager, as an investor, a public policy maker, an activist, or just a concerned citizen, then you have come to the right place to learn how we can eliminate obstacles and put more momentum into these programs so that they can begin delivering the impact on carbon emissions sooner. And we can reach a Net Zero faster. Introduction Katherine Radeka (01:01): In our last episode, Will Harrison talked about the challenges of bringing sustainability to a product, , pretty much any product, because eventually everything is going to have to at least consider sustainable goals as part of the requirements for a product. And I talked about the fact that as consumers, investors, and policymakers, we have the ability to send signals to people like Wiill and his team to let them know that sustainability was important to us. My guest this week, Lauren Rosenblatt has a different challenge. She has a business model innovation that she needs to demonstrate in order to attract investors to show that, yes, it will indeed generate the level of return that these investors need in order to fund the programs. Lauren Rosenblatt is executive director of Barrio electric co, and also Chief Executive of Uplift Solar Corporation. Her background is as an attorney who has specialized for more than a decade in the electricity industry. And she's worked in that industry from a variety of perspectives from governments to vertically integrated utilities, to emerging technology. Today she's directing her efforts to bring forth new business models, to promote affordable power for homes and for areas in economic development. Through her work at Uplift Solar, she is seeking to open up new markets via a unique combination of energy tech and financial tech that will broaden access to financial solar. And then as a Co-Founder and Executive Director of Barrio Eléctrico, she's leading the development of a transformational electricity market that will bring community-based distributed solar to the people of Puerto Rico. She has a BSC from Rice University and a law degree from the University of Texas in Austin. In this interview, Lauren is going to share some of the challenges she's faced in demonstrating that this is a viable business model for investors who will receive adequate returns to make it worthwhile for them to invest and that it will deliver robust, resilient power that is adequately serviced, maintained, and supported to generate the renewable energy to power these communities. Tell me a little bit about the importance of resiliency and why that idea is so central to what you're doing with Barrio electrical. Interview with Lauren Rosenblatt Lauren Rosenblatt (03:30): Well, there's a couple of reasons why we're focused on this particular aspect of distributed energy. One is that it's become increasingly apparent just through recent events that natural disasters are going to be more frequent and more severe. And most of this in some way, ties back to the climate issues that we're experiencing and how it's driving changes and the weather patterns and drought and the underlying factors that cause these catastrophic events that wipe out our grid. The other issue with resiliency is it's a little bit more embedded in the way that we buy and sell electricity because we all have one central provider. And when we have a central provider, then we're subject to the rules that that central provider makes. And the central provider of electricity has a lot of clout when it comes to the rules of how we buy and sell. And it's apparent in places where the grid does not reach all of the population that needs electricity. It's very difficult for the forces that drive those central providers, which is really making money. Even for government owned utilities, they work at the grid as a way to make revenue. And that business model is not providing services to people. And so the way that it attaches to resilience is that the power services, the electric services that are provided to people are not reliable and mostly they're just not there. And so when we think about distributed energy, what we really think about is being able to serve yourself in a way that is resilient against Mother Nature and also resilient against the economic and the business drivers that'right now inform the way we receive things like electric service. Katherine Radeka (05:33): So a community adopts the model that you're proposing for solar energy. What does that look like for them? Tell us a little bit more about the model. Lauren Rosenblatt (05:41): Yeah, this is the exciting part because there is a humanizing element of Barrio Eléctrico that I think you don't really get in your utility service or for that matter in the distributed solar market that exists today. Today, what we see is financiers provide sources of money and they will front the cost of equipment. Then somebody like an equipment supplier and installer, or maybe it's just an installe who's procuring the equipment will come to your house and put the solar on and be paid for it and pay back the investor. The model seems to be emphasizing the sale of equipment over the customer. So what we do is we bring in community partnerships, we build a community organization around an existing community organization around the mission of clean energy, resilient, energy, equitable energy, energy, independence. We might even start a community organization in communities that are smaller or don't have an existing organization to talk to. And we educate the community organization on the benefits of solar, get them excited about it. They will sign an agreement with us to host some events and do some customer outreach. We look for leaders in that community organization who we train as what we call community coordinators. And they help us spread the word about the equipment that we're offering and why it's sized right, and affordable and financed for people who, who need that kind of financial support in order to procure the system. And we train them and the community coordinator. In particular we'll walk the potential customer through the lease, which is a 20 year lease to keep costs down and also walk the potential customer through the services that come after the lease, which includes the community coordinator or some community coordinators being on call for service calls. One of the biggest issues that comes from the current business model for distributed solar is that people want to install or have the system installed on their house and something will go wrong. And they don't understand that they haven't been using the battery correctly, or they don't understand they have to clean their panels. And they're just not getting enough energy out of it, whatever the case. And many times they'll find that they can't find the service they need, or if they do it's expensive, they've got to pay somebody a few hundred dollars to come out and help them troubleshoot. So not only do we give them individualized attention and assistance in buying the unit or leasing the unit, but we make sure that they have somebody they can call ,somebody in their neighborhood is close at hand on the phone to stop by and help them troubleshoot. If the equipment really does need some serious repair, there's a warranty service. And that's when we come back in and provide the warranty service, we also use local services like credit unions for billing and payment. It's a very localized economy around solar. And what we hope is that the community organizations who continue to do events to recruit more customers and keep those who have adopted solar educated on technology and where policies are going with distributed energy is that they will also become the locus for these new owners of distributed energy to connect together and create microgrids, which we believe is the future of energy services, but will require some new rules around how we buy and sell energy in those microgrids. And the community organizations will essentially become the institutions that create those rules. Katherine Radeka (09:38): So tell me a little bit more about these microgrids. Lauren Rosenblatt (09:40): Microgrids have multiple definitions, but at bottom, when people refer to a microgrid, what they mean is a generating source and a load like a house or a business. And the wires in between. A Microgrid can be a Pico grid, which is just a portable battery attached to a light and a solar panel, or it can be what we call minigrids, which is a whole neighborhood or distribution system of homes and businesses with maybe a few megawatts of generation and all the wires and the technology that keeps the system balanced between load and supply. So microgrids are interesting because they are isolatable, which means that if you have a set of microgrids that are attached to each other and maybe several neighborhoods that are next door to each other, and each has their own microgrid, if something happens to the grid at large, that they make up, then one neighborhood might go down, but the next neighborhood might not. So it's good for resiliency, but it also allows for people to share excess power or buy power from their neighbor when they need it. Katherine Radeka (11:02): Yeah. I'm imagining an environment where you've got some homes that have really good rooftops for solar and homes that don't, and having the ability for them to have a neighborhood power generation system, instead of having to rely on the big scale generating power system, which could be hundreds of miles away. Lauren Rosenblatt (11:17): That's right. And there are some progressive utilities out there, distribution utilities, so utilities that operate the wires that are closer to home and what they've done in areas that are somewhat remote and don't have as many lines is they try to put an anchoring generation station somewhere in the vicinity of those wires where the people are spread out. And that way if a storm happens, or if for some reason they have a problem getting power to that line, the line itself has a source of power that can provide for a certain number of hours, or maybe just at a certain level, some basic service. Katherine Radeka (11:59): So it sounds like then that the hypothesis that you're testing with Barrio Eléctrico, is the technology, it sounds like you're using is pretty well-proven, you're, you're not really using anything innovative from a technology perspective. The innovation is really in the business model. Is that right? Am I hearing that correctly? So the hypothesis then is that if we can have these community organizations that are helping people, kind of bound together and supporting each other in generating demand for the panels, in maintaining the systems that that will enable these consumers to have resilient power, at an economical cost, that that is more robust to things like natural disasters. And if they do that, the lease holders will get a stream of cash flows from that over 20 years. Is that, is that a nice summary of what you're trying to do? Lauren Rosenblatt (12:53): Let me just clarify. So the Barrio Eléctrico itself aggregates the equipment and also supports the community organizations in the form of training and making sure that they have what they need in terms of soft resources, non-monetary resources to do the outreach and really rally around the mission of clean energy. The customers of Barrio Eléctrico become members of the community organization, the lease payments that they make or if they make an outright purchase, which we don't expect to be common, but it's possible that money goes back to Barrio Eléctrico go to pay the financiers for the equipment. But Barrio also receives a portion of that money for continued training, continued outreach, overseeing the operational services that are provided local providers, and then gives a portion of that money back to the community organization. The organization earns from the lease payments in order to continue to serve the mission, but also for larger communities that are earning more revenue. They, they may have money left over for other community projects, which, which we encourage. Katherine Radeka (14:04): So then then the community organizations also benefit from some of the stream of revenue, as well as Barrio Eléctrico itself, receiving some of that funds and then being able to reinvest that in other projects. That's right. Okay. All right. And then, , you're talking and the reason why I bring this up is because you mentioned that getting investors has been a barrier for you. So how do the investors fit into that equation? , Where are they in this ecosystem? Lauren Rosenblatt (14:29): Well, the investors are investing in a, an affiliated company that is able to take the dollars for the equipment, buy the equipment and receive a portion of the lease payments back and pass it back to the investors under your traditional tax corporate model. It includes a special purpose vehicle for tax equity investment. As you may know, the US and a few other countries for that matter, have what we call the investment tax credit, which means that instead of paying taxes to Uncle Sam, you can take that money and invest it in renewable energy and get a dollar for dollar reduction in what you owe to the U S government. So we take advantage of that by finding investors with tax equity appetite, who are willing to put their money towards us, and then receive the credit back, which is part of the reason why we have the commercial vehicles, the non-profit is the community organizing piece of it. And so to get us off the ground the nonprofit is looking for philanthropy to support its community minded mission. But over time as the sale of equipment, the purchase and sale of equipment becomes profitable for the investors. It will also cover the costs of the community. Katherine Radeka (15:49): So you need some seed money, some philanthropic seed money to get started with the community organizing piece, and you need investors to get started on the equipment purchasing piece when you're ready. Lauren Rosenblatt (16:00): Exactly. Katherine Radeka (16:01): Okay. Okay. So so it sounds like there's some interesting assumptions in there to validate. So one is the idea that you can do this through community organizing that you can have a community organization that basically helps form this microgrid in a community. Is that a model that's been demonstrated anywhere? Do you have any success that you can point to? Lauren Rosenblatt (16:23): The model to organize communities around a community microgrid has not been demonstrated. What has demonstrated is that it's very hard to organize around a community microgrid. Most microgrids that have happened have happened with large campuses like universities or hospitals and or businesses, businesses that have large operations like a resort or an industrial facility in partnership with the utility who has a grid that can take excess power or supply backup power when needed for the microgrid. So the idea of a community microgrid is something that's discussed at great length and has been for some years now in the electricity industry, but it hasn't been realized yet. We're still working out how that's going to work and balancing the loads and also using the utilities distribution wires to make it happen. What has been proven though, is the community organizing model in general, to achieve a social purpose. And we believe that electricity has become a social purpose. And again, I refer back to Puerto Rico because when the grid was flattened by the hurricanes, there was an enormous outpouring of sympathy and money because the idea of all of those households going out without power for as long as they did in our minds was a social inequity. It became a social purpose. And so what I think the situation in Puerto Rico did is highlight for those of us who have forgotten that electricity service is not a consumer transaction. It has a public and a social purpose, and it's why in the past it's received public funding. We also have that same problem. And it's been seen a little bit in California that the grid can be vulnerable to natural disasters sometimes in other places in Florida, after hurricanes and New Orleans, after hurricane, sometimes after floods and other parts of the country, we haven't seen it at the scale that Puerto Rico has seen it, but it doesn't mean that what happened in Puerto Rico can't happen anywhere. And electricity is too important to do without. If you do without it for an hour, it's an inconvenience — if you do without it for three to 10 months, that's a societal problem. Katherine Radeka (18:46): So what do you think you need in order to demonstrate that this model is, is a good one, is one that will work? What are you looking to do to test? Lauren Rosenblatt (18:57): Well, we've already started with a website that explains what we're doing, and some outreach with our director of community organizing for the organization. And he has reached out to several different nonprofits and individuals as well in communities around Puerto Rico to discuss what we're trying to accomplish and ask them if they're interested and uniformly, they have come back to him immediately with a handful of houses, 10 houses, 25 houses of people who are interested. We haven't been able to serve them quite yet because we haven't aggregated the financing for our first project tranche. But the fact that they're already identifying pent-up demand and willing to come to the table and work out exactly how we're going to deliver those systems shows that there's an interest there. And they all understand because we make that clear up front that it's not a matter of these 25 households, just buying a system — that they have to create the community organization and go through the process of committing to the mission of solar energy. So that's very encouraging. I think what will prove out the model is when we have financed the systems and are able to offer them, that we create the agreements with the community partners and we get people to sign up and we're also able to serve them with leases. One element I didn't mention about this program is that when we come to terms with the community partners, the contract is fairly simple. And then it asks them to aggregate members as customers. And the more members they aggregate, that's the basis for how much revenue returns to them. And they make a commitment to host events and be trained and do some outreach. They also make a commitment to what we call the community reserves. And so everybody who leases or purchases a system and the community organization must contribute to a reserve fund that they manage. And a piece of the commitment to us is to show us that they've come up with a policy for how they're going to manage that money and administer it. And the money is there for them to determine based on their own criteria, if a household is in need of help qualifying and being credit worthy for the lease, they might guarantee the financing, or they might subsidize for a time monthly payments, or if later on, after installation a household in the community is in distress. And that meets certain criteria, then the administrators of the community reserves might help with some payments for a time or come up with a scheme where they can fund and be paid back. The theory there is that when you're dependent on friends, family, neighbors, in that way, that you are more likely to be attuned to the rights and obligations you have around your energy resource and that it will just make it more manageable for everybody to make the payments and maintain their end. Katherine Radeka (22:15): Okay. So as you've talked to investors about this, this model to get the funding to get started, what's some of the feedback that you've heard from them? Lauren Rosenblatt (22:23): Just about everybody we've spoken to thinks it's a great idea. We've spoken to mayors who have some municipal funds. We've spoken to development banks. We've spoken to credit unions. We've spoken to private investors. We've spoken to foundations who are interested in giving birth grants and also low interest loans. A lot, a lot of excitement. What's interesting though, is that they are conservative and that they want to see it work first. And as I mentioned before, these models of selling solar equipment, like you pointed out, there's no tech, no new technology and procuring the equipment, investing in it, and then leasing and selling it that in itself is not new either, but the model does not actually generate returns until you get a little bigger. And even if we're starting with a hundred homes or a few hundred homes up to a thousand homes, the returns don't look generous enough to give people confidence. So they just, they want to see it first, especially investors, but even foundations who are inclined to be a little bit more impact minded, they also want to see demonstratations first as well. Katherine Radeka (23:36): What kinds of things have you tried to do to overcome that problem? Which is a very common one with anything new, any innovation, right? They want to see it, right. So, you're not building a piece of hardware where you could go 3d print a prototype — something that looks really nice but may not actually do much, but it's pretty impressive. Right. Right. So, what are your thoughts on how you're going to overcome that challenge? That's a big one. Lauren Rosenblatt (24:01): The secret has been so far because we have managed to get about half the funding we need for our first project. tranche is to really look deeply at the people who are closest to the problem. And right now we have a development bank and an equity investor and they're in Puerto Rico. So they understand how important this problem is. They understand how significant it could be if we do this and we're successful. And they're willing to take the risk just to create the movement that they think needs to happen in this resilient power space. So I would sum that up by saying, get close to the people who might have resources to solve the problem, but really haven't thought hard about how to apply those resources and then give them an answer to that. Katherine Radeka (24:50): Yeah, what you're doing is you're going to the people that experienced the impact, and looking for resources, there among people that might have more empathy for, for the communities, , and can see that if we could demonstrate that this works, then, then this could be a really, really great thing for us. Lauren Rosenblatt (25:11): Right. Right. And so we're getting some momentum. The problem is, is that as we get bigger, there's not going to be enough resources on Island to powe what we hope to do. In the summer of 2020, the electric utility (they're the monopoly government owned electric utility PREPA) told its creditors that it needed13.1 billion to rebuild the grid. And so we went back and did our own math and with about the same amount of money, we could build enough distributed energy generation to meet Puerto Rico's energy needs today. We're not going to find 13 billion in Puerto Rico alone. And I do think that we won't even need that much to meet the needs of all Puerto Rican's, but it's going to take a little bit more than packaging. Katherine Radeka (26:02): Yeah, exactly. So what's your timeframe like? What's your next major milestone do you think for this project? Lauren Rosenblatt (26:07): We hope to do a thousand homes in 2021. We have been able to take advantage of some prior tax credits that we're sitting on. So that should help the investment tax credit that I mentioned earlier. And as I also mentioned, we're about halfway to our funding goal for that first project. So we hope to do the initial run quickly followed by scaling up to 1,000 in 2021. And then every year after that, we double the goal is about 50,000 installations and five years. And jumping up to a total of 350,000 in year 10. Katherine Radeka (26:52): Okay, cool. What's going to be the very first step? You're not going to start with a thousand homes. Right. Right. So what are you going to start with? Lauren Rosenblatt (26:59): Start with 75. We have a community already on board. We have been building up demand in that community. We have a demonstration installation in that community too. So it really helps for the customers to be able to see that one of their friends and neighbors has a system and it's working for them. And we will finish getting the second half of the funding, I hope by the end of the year. And then we're off to the races. We've already identified the equipment and integrated the system, which is chosen the components and figured out that they work together. So we just need to do the procurement and we have some installers on tap. And the hope is that we can smoothly get the funding in and procure the equipment and get the installers out there in ways that are seamless in terms of scheduling. Katherine Radeka (27:53): What have you learned already, just from starting up this small scale project, what's been some of your big takeaways? Lauren Rosenblatt (27:59): Oh, I've learned so much about community organizing, about investments, and investors as we've been talking about and also about solar systems. The primary takeaway is if you're meeting a need, then the will to do it will be there to help you. And I mentioned that we've spoken to a lot of people who are excited and they've been reluctant, but everybody we've spoken to has tried to help in small ways, has thought deeply about it, has given us advice, has maybe pointed us to somebody else that might help. And the members of the community are talking with their friends and neighbors. They're talking with us, they're introducing us to other communities that we might be talking to. And the takeaway from that is that if you put out a message that people want to hear, then you can make it go. Maybe not as fast as you want it. When we installed the equipment, of course, we it was good that we did the demonstration installation because we were able to work out a few kinks about how we put it together. And that's important. And we have had the time to develop the relationships we need that give us credibility with our investors. That's also important. So we've got credit unions doing underwriting and a local insurance provider. So I'd say that what I've learned is it really does take a community. You don't build businesses like this by yourself. You've got a lot of stakeholders and it's okay to rely on them. Reflection Katherine Radeka (29:35): I wanted to share Lauren Rosenblatt's story early in Accelerate Net Zero because of two reasons. First, I think that her program has a lot of potential to Accelerate Net Zero, because what she's done is she's got existing technology, well-proven technology. We know how to service and support it. We know how to maintain it. We even know what we're going to do with it at the end of its life. She's putting it into the hands of people that cannot on their own, afford the capital investment to make it happen by doing that. She makes it possible for people in a wider variety of communities to gain access to this. So right now in the United States, solar energy on the roof is primarily the province of well-funded companies and individuals. You see a lot of it in wealthy suburbs, in Silicon Valley and other areas of the West Coast. And you see almost none of it in the poor areas of the country. That's going to have to change. If we want to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and climate change effects are increasing the need for this in California, with the wildfires and what the wildfires do to the grid and in areas that are vulnerable to tropical storms. We are seeing this today. In fact, Puerto Rico has still not completely recovered from the hurricanes that it experienced. And yet those hurricanes are becoming more frequent and more intense as global warming increases. So all of that points to the fact that we need more resilient, more robust systems for power, and we need to accelerate the adoption of those technologies. And I think that Lauren's model is a big step in that direction. The second reason why I wanted to introduce her project is because the obstacles she's facing is one that I think we need to figure out how we're going to overcome. And that is, she has a business model innovation, it's not tech. She's using existing technology. She could build a demonstration solar system on a rooftop somewhere to demonstrate the tech works, but nobody would really be all that excited about it because we know it works. We've got lots of examples that the tech works. What she needs is the financing for enough of a pilot program that is large enough to demonstrate that her financing model will work. And that requires as she said about 75 homes, at least in order to see that she can actually put this rooftop, solar on homes, have a community-based support model to maintain the equipment and then generate the cash flows that investors are going to need to ensure that they get the returns that they're expecting so that they're interested in those investments. In the past, this was something where governments played a big role. In fact, the only reason why we have power to the extent that we do in the United States is because of a massive effort called the Rural Electrification project that took place in the 1930s. the government provided loans to create a strong demand signal to utilities and other interested groups to form utilities that would provide power in the sparsely populated areas of the United States. And as a result of that, we were able to bring electricity to areas of the country, where it was unprofitable to build out the grid, if the company had to bear the cost of the capital investment required to build out all the power lines. So we've known that this model works. We have many examples of similar things where critical infrastructure was provided through government funding. And that's not the only possible model here. A Philanthropic organization, like the Gates foundation or a social entrepreneurship, a venture capital firm could look at this as an opportunity to provide renewable energy to a community of 75 homes that provides renewable power for them, and also provides a testing ground for how you can make such power sustainable, robust, and resilient. Even if the financing model that Lauren is attempting to demonstrate cannot be proven by this pilot program. If you've done nothing else, at least you brought renewable energy to these homes, and at least you've begun to understand what it takes to maintain and support renewable energy in communities like this, which is a problem that we need to begin solving today. If we want to Accelerate Net Zero. Sponsorship Katherine Radeka (34:09): Thank you for listening to Accelerate Net Zero. For resources, transcripts, and additional information about this project, please visit our website, acceleratenetzero.com. The Accelerate Net Zero project is sponsored by the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute. We help innovators change the world faster. To learn more about the Rapid Learning Cycles framework, visit rapidlearningcycles.com.
32 minutes | a month ago
Products To Accelerate Net Zero
In this episode, Will Harrison of Synapse Product Development shares his thoughts around how to build sustainability into all types of products from the beginning stages of development. To achieve Net Zero, eventually every one of the products we use on a daily basis will need to be carbon neutral. But how do we get there? High profile companies like Amazon, Microsoft and IKEA have pledged to achieve Net Zero well in advance of the goals set by the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change. To do that, they’ll need to put these goals into the center of their product development systems. Sustainability — which is lower carbon emissions but also lower resource consumption, lower toxicity and a better solution than a landfill when the product is at the end of its life — requires commitment from the earliest stages of innovation. Will shares some tools and resources that product developers and their leaders can use to assess sustainability and identify ares that can be improved. But the real solution is the demand signal — the pull — that demands sustainability from consumers, investors, public policymakers and activists. When that demand signal is strong enough, it’s easier for engineers like Will to make decisions around sustainability even when it costs more, or compromises performance in some way. Will HarrisonSustainable Product Engineering LeadSynapse Product Development Will Harrison is a Mechanical Engineer, working in multidisciplinary engineering teams to realize the ideas and concepts of our clients. He previously worked at Cambridge Consultants, Synapse’s parent company, and can draw on the experience gained there from early stage R&D to transferring designs to manufacture in China. Working on engineering projects from industrial robotics, to high performance sports equipment, to consumer electronics, Will has gained experience through a broad range of technical and commercial projects. Alongside developing novel engineering solutions, Will’s rewarding partnerships with clients have come from effective communication of project challenges, trade-offs, and successes. More recently, Will has focused his efforts on developing Synapse’s skills and capabilities in sustainable design, leading our clients in product development strategies to result in more sustainable products and systems. Will is a Chartered Engineer with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and holds a MEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cambridge. Session Resources: Do Better: Sustainable Product Development eBook from Synapse Product Development’s Blog. Will Harrison’s TEDxLacamasLake presentation on YouTube Read Full Transcript Introduction Katherine Radeka (00:03): Welcome to Accelerate Net Zero, the podcast dedicated to the acceleration of the technologies we need to address climate change. My name is Katherine Radeka, and I've been accelerating innovation for a long time in a number of different industries. And nowhere is that acceleration more important today than in the renewable energy materials, food production, transportation, and other programs to limit carbon emissions so that we can stabilize our climate. So if you are working on these programs as a technologist, as a manager, as an investor, a public policy maker, an activist, or just a concerned citizen, then you have come to the right place to learn how we can eliminate obstacles and put more momentum into these programs so that they can begin delivering the impact on carbon emissions sooner. And we can reach Net Zero faster. Katherine Radeka (01:01): The race to Accelerate Net Zero is going to eventually touch everything that we interact with on a daily basis. The obvious things like the cars that we drive, the food packaging that we bring into our home, but also some less obvious things like the shoes that we wear and the cellular telephones that we carry around. Everything is going to have to be redesigned from the perspective that it must achieve carbon neutral emissions throughout its life cycle. From the moment that it starts being built until the end of its life. Now, if you're not directly involved in product development, you might think that you can just skip this episode because you know, you're not a person that's directly involved with that, but I would encourage you to keep listening because our guest, Will Harrison does a nice job of explaining what it's like to be a product developer, trying to make these decisions. And these decisions are ultimately, what's going to determine the fate of our future. So if you're investing in these programs or you're a public policy maker, or you're even just a consumer, then you were doing something to create demand for sustainable products. And I think that when you understand how your demand signal gets translated into action at the development level, that helps you make more informed decisions so that you give a clearer signal to the people that you're working with. Will Harrison has been thinking deeply about this in his role as the sustainable product engineering lead for Synapse Product Development. Synapse is a design engineering firm. This means that they basically take ideas from clients and then turn them into products that can actually be manufactured at scale. So he's been thinking deeply about how you can incorporate sustainability into those decisions from the earliest stages of product development, all the way through to the end. Katherine Radeka (02:43): Will Harrison is a mechanical engineer. He's a chartered engineer with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and he holds a Master's in Engineering from the University of Cambridge in Mechanical Engineering. He has worked on a wide variety of projects, everything from industrial robots, high performance sports equipment, and consumer electronics and alongside developing novel engineering solutions. He's been working on partnering with clients around communicating project challenges, trade-offs and successes that makes him pretty well suited for understanding what it takes to incorporate sustainability into programs from start to finish. Tell me a little bit about the work that you've been doing around sustainable design. Interview with Will Harrison Will Harrison (03:24): Most of the work recently has been focused on updating our design process to really put sustainability at the core of that. So making sure that every stage of the design process, everything from concept generation through all our design decisions and development, all the way to manufacture we're including sustainability factors in our design decisions. We're all engineers working on this. So we all love to have quantifed data to work with. It's always the case of making decisions, using numbers. So I've been really putting at the core of this, how we quantify our sustainability impact, which for now has been focused mainly on environmental sustainability and to get those sorts of numbers to quantify the impact we've been using the life cycle assessment tools, which allow us to include the input and the outputs from manufacturing products and the energy they use through their life cycle. And what happens to them at the end of life to produce quantifiable data on the impacts they have on the environment. So whether that's the greenhouse gas emissions they produce, or the toxic chemicals that are used and emitted it allows us to focus on those things and quantify that data to compare whether it be concepts or just materials. When we get later on in the process, it also helps us focus on what's important for our clients, or is most important in that industry. So for everyone we're really pushing for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and being carbon neutral as soon as we can, but in some industries, it's chemicals and toxicity that are a big concern. We can make those visible to the key decision makers as priorities that we're considering. So it's been put into an update to our design process. Before our design process was so focused on reducing technology risk looking at product costs, really hitting what our clients are asking for, but some environmental costs were being missed or not included. So that's where we've been updating our design process to make sure that is included. Katherine Radeka (05:41): I was interviewing a guest for this podcast who's going to be in about two episodes and she's done a lot of work on looking at the societal impact of a product, so for example, some products like solar energy have a defined goal of reducing carbon emissions. Right? And so for them, it's important to actually have as a quantifiable goal. You know, this is how much emissions we're going to be reducing and to be able to measure that. And yet at the same time, they also have to be thinking about sustainability for themselves around entire lifecycle of the product from manufacturing, you know, all the way through end of life. So what are some of the major decisions that, that come into play early on in a product that can really govern how sustainable that product will be? Will Harrison (06:26): I mean, I think the biggest that we're trying to focus on as a product development consultancy is the full business model: For the client or the product owner, how they're looking to sell or market their product. Is it going to be a service? Can they basically provide the same quality of service to that customers with using less hardware or reduced energy because they're sharing that product or hardware between a greater number of users? Or can they make it so they continue to own the hardware over time and can take it back when the customer is done with it and then recycle and reuse, reprocess that. I think that's where we are seeing a lot of opportunities that can sometimes be missed, particularly with where we typically sit with it is in the product development, solving technical challenges. We're making sure that we're really questioning. Does it need to be a product that is sold to a consumer who are using it and then throws it away at the end of the line where it might end up in landfill? Making sure we're seeing all the different ways that you could fulfill the need and solve the problem a client is trying to solve whilst having a smaller environmental impact. So I've seen a few examples of this recently, and they're using circular economy principles, or just trying to produce less waste as that's been such a hot topic recently. So Loop, who does grocery deliveries has been producing products that have partnering with some of the big brands like Unilever and others to provide some household goods in reusable packaging. So they essentially have zero packaging because it's in nice reusable packs that get taken back at the next delivery to be reused, cleaned, and refilled. It's just a good example of a way that you can update your business model to still have a high quality product, give the customer really like premium experience and reduce your environmental impact as well. Katherine Radeka (08:38): Circularity is something that I'm hearing more and more about as a way to reduce impact. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Will Harrison (08:44): So we're also seeing that come up more and more. I'm seeing how it's really the principle of making sure that you're part of a cycle. Part of everything that into your product is sourced from something that you're gonna be able to renew. You want to be able to use these renewable resources and that particularly comes into account with plastics. So if you can have a plastic that is recyclable at the end of life or repurposable, and then you're using that recycled plastic as the source for your product. You've got a closed loop where you're not requiring extracting resources from the Earth and then depositing waste. You having something that is constantly reprocessed. I think there are all the better examples in chemical processing or food waste where some of the byproducts can be used for a feedstock for a different process. And that's where you can really see these three circular flows of material and nutrients and feedstocks, but it really relies on a renewable energy source because all of these processes require energy input. And if that energy input is not for a renewable source or a low carbon source, it sort of breaks that circularity — sort of circular flows and materials, but then above this, you've got this nonrenewable and sustainable energy source that's going to cause climate damage itself. Katherine Radeka (10:17): One of the key themes I've also been hearing about is that one of the things we have to do, if we're going to reduce greenhouse gases is to basically electrify everything and convert electricity generation to renewables as a way to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of just about everything. So I'm working right now on a project of converting, basically small gas powered engines to electrical engines. And that's very much the goal, but is there a way to account for the fact that the transition has not happened yet? So if I was looking at doing an sustainability assessment of that particular project, what would I have to be looking at, to really understand the true impact of doing that in a world where the electricity generation is still very mixed. Will Harrison (11:01): We've actually been doing that in a sort of recent assessment for a client where we're looking at ways we can reduce the impact of their product. And some of the components that go into the product are really energy intensive. And the initial baseline assessment was done assuming a sort of balanced energy mix. So in your assessment, you can consider the energy sources. So they took the sort of global averages of some fossil fuels, some renewable, some nuclear, and you could understand what the baseline greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacturer of that product are. And we sort of pushed it on looking at different ways we could reduce the impact. And one of those was to use renewable energy. Some of these manufacturers that they're using are large enough, they have solar panels on their own factories and could actually pay an additional amount to source purely renewable energy. And it really showed that if they switched from their current energy mix to a hundred percent renewable energy mix, they would reduce the associated greenhouse gas emissions by, I think it was 75%. Katherine Radeka (12:10): That's a big difference. Will Harrison (12:11): Yeah. It's really one of the big levers that could be pulled here to reduce the impact of the products. The challenge comes with making sure that it's not just an accounting mismatch, like someone's not just saying, Oh yeah, we're going to use the renewable energy from the grid. We pay a slight premium, but it just means the rest of the grid has slightly smaller percentage of renewables in it. It's really trying to incentivize the production of more renewable energy, and making sure that we're bringing down the overall greenhouse gas emissions, as well as global warming. Katherine Radeka (12:48): They're looking for facilities that have their own renewable energy source or in countries where a higher percentage of the mix is renewable. What are some of the most important things that technologists need to know if they're going to look at a program from a sustainability perspective for the very first time? Will Harrison (13:05): Wow. It's such a broad area that there's always going to be some research involved, but I think knowing there are a lot of resources out there is probably a good starting point. And then knowing that you need to consider it from the start and really set up what your goals and objectives and requirements for your product or system to include that, to include sustainability as a factor. And that's part of the process we've put together as saying, okay, identify what the objectives are at a high level. So does the company wants to be carbon neutral by 2030, or is it that you want zero waste to landfill? So you understand what these objectives are at a high level and then break them down into what the goals are and then use that to produce requirements for an individual product. So if you know that you want to be carbon neutral by 2030, you know, the product you're making now needs to be reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and maybe that you can only emit two kilograms of CO2 equivalent per product. So that's when you can really implement it early. And just putting into the requirements means is you're going to consider it all the way through, and it's going to be something you have to verify against. Will Harrison (14:15): One area that I really, I really want to push is to make sure that it's not an afterthought. It's really there from the start of the product design process. And then it's how you consider it throughout the product design process. You make making sure that when you're evaluating different concepts, you evaluate them with sustainability as one of the criteria you're measuring against. And knowing that you can look up different resources for how you measure the impact, what the associated greenhouse gas emissions or chemicals or other impacts are of a given material or a given component that you're going to use. Katherine Radeka (15:06): It sounds like it's like one of the most important things to do is to kind of establish what your goals are for sustainability for this program early on. So that those objectives get incorporated into the requirements, specifications into the design and then, and then into the product itself, as it's realized. Will Harrison (15:24): Yeah, that's exactly right. And then once you'have those,you can look things up and you can see, see where you can make, make impacts and make changes to reduce your impact, sort of how you can go about changing your design. So we talked about circularity before, and there's the Ellen MacArthur foundation that has a great website with a huge number of resources that make people rethink how they go about product design or particular areas of the design process. You have free tools online like Ecolizer which allows you to measure the environmental impact of your product, and basically do a life cycle assessment of your product or the concept online. So there's all these tools out there that you can use . At Synapse, I worked with some colleagues to produce a sustainable design process design guide, which sort of incorporates some of these principles, but stays at a high level of "here's, how you can go about incorporating all of this into a design process." And here are some strategies you can then implement to make your products more sustainable. And that's now freely available. We published it on our website and made it something that's out there. And that's something we're really trying to push hard is this collaboration. Everyone was wanting to make their products more sustainable, and it's not something where we want everyone to be keeping their secrets and their technology as proprietary. It's really something where open sourcing that and knowledge sharing is going to be really important. It's great to be on this podcast to be able to share this and hear more from others and really work to have the biggest impact. Katherine Radeka (17:10): We will definitely put a link to that guide in the podcast show notes. So you'll be able to go to our website and get that from you. Let's say that we have a product that we've decided to incorporate a sustainability goal — say, our company has the goal of reducing carbon emissions. And so we've recognized that we need to reduce carbon emissions for this given product. How do we understand the current state and how far the gap would be to close? What would be some of the, some of the kinds of things we'd have to look at? Will Harrison (17:44): So yeah, this is where sort of the measurement of the life cycle assessment is really important. So here you will be basically inputting the materials you're using the processes you're performing on those materials. Then what the lifecycle of the product looks like, how much energy is used through the product lifetime and what happens at the end of life. And there's also the transport. So where the product is manufactured and the shipping to its final destination. something that is used to transport, then that's part of it's use case, and that's where you're using fuel throughout. So using those in the life cycle assessment, it'll highlight hotspots, you'll be able to see, is it the materials you're using or manufacturing that are having the biggest impact over the full lifetime? Or is it that they're actually a really small impact and it's the energy you're using in the lifetime? That's the biggest impact. So could be a dishwasher or something, whereas actually the water and the electricity is uses over its full lifetime may have a significantly bigger impact than the materials used to start with, and then you know where to focus your design efforts. So this is where we're advocating for you do. So the next part of design process, where you look at that, you find your hotspot and then you make a design change or produce a design concept that either increases efficiency or uses less material, or you use recycled materials, and then you can update your life cycle assessment to see the amount of impact and to see whether that's really able to help you hit your goal, or whether you need to do something more extreme and go back to really looking from a system level and seeing whether you could change something about the whole system to reduce your carbon emissions. Katherine Radeka (19:42): One of the ideas was really intriguing to me from the countdown event that happened last week, was IKEA talking about making furniture as a service, because one of the biggest impacts that they have of course is the amount of the furniture that ends up in landfill, at the end of its life. And so them taking responsibility for figuring out what to do with the product when it's finished, instead of placing that burden on the customer, as one of the areas that was the biggest impact for them. Will Harrison (20:07): Yeah. And I think that's, hopefully you're going to see this become more common with big household appliances where at the end of life, there's this huge thing that has a lot of valuable components in it. But as an individual consumer, there's no value to yourself and you're already paying someone to get rid of it. So these brands are going to take ownership. They might be able to extract value from things at the end of life and also massively reduce the impact they have on the environment. I'm really hoping to see more regulation on that as well. Basically, brands being responsible for what happens to their products at the end of life. - not producing something that is just landfill waste and having to be having to be able to do something with that. Katherine Radeka (20:54): So what are some of the obstacles that you see that get in the way of people doing this kind of work? Will Harrison (21:00): I think a lot of it is what the driving factors are for the product and the design process. A lot of the time, the focus is the triangle of costs, features, and time. And you're always being pushed to reduce cost. You're being pushed to get things to market quicker and to have more features. And in that you're then pushing out any other considerations. So you're pushing out the time for making design changes that could make the product more sustainable, or maybe right now, things might be slightly more expensive to use a more sustainable plastic or a bio-based plastic. So you get pushed on the cost. And that's really where I see some of the challenges. And also, I think some of it is perception. People perceive that if you have something that's environmentally friendly or green, it's going to have fewer features. It's going to cost more and it's going to take longer to develop, which isn't true a lot of the time, because one of the great ways of making something more sustainable is to use less material. So if you're making something with lighter weight, you're using less material. So it's going to cost less in the first place because you're using less of that material to start with , and less to dispose of at the end, shipping is going to be cheaper because the thing weighs less, and there's probably gonna be higher performance in many areas because it's lighter weight So some of it is perception. Some of it are cost and time factors and habit. So people are used to designing things in one way and they know what's worked in the past and they will continue to go back to the same materials or the same processes or the same design principles, because that's faster. It may not be the best solution cost or quality wise, but it's a known. And I think that's where some of these design tools and design processes can help is making these new processes, new materials, more accessible to people, and then letting them be able to make more informed choices by choosing those materials that are more sustainable and more, and having a greater understanding. Katherine Radeka (23:20): And it sounds to me like knowing what I know about innovation programs that the direction it needs to be part of the direction of the product from the beginning part of a strategic imperative from the company from the very beginning so that they can overweigh those considerations of costs. Usually, you know, it's usually cost really right and time to deliver new features. Like, do I take time to make this a more sustainable design? Do I take time to implement this additional feature? So that those decisions can be made from a more balanced perspective so that it doesn't all come down to cost and ROI and speed to market. And they are given the resources, the time energy that they need to go off and pursue these things. And then I think I just said something really important, which is that a lot of the work that's being done here is actually available and people have resources that they can draw upon that are being built so that it doesn't have to be something that you have to figure out all on your own. You are able to access resources to help you climb up the learning curve on this. Will Harrison (24:19): Yeah, definitely. I think there are more and more resources out there now that are becoming more available and you're seeing big companies lead the way. They're being able to put their efforts behind that and show that they can be leaders in this area setting really ambitious targets and working to actually meet them. I think you make a really good point on the, it has to be a focus from early on in the design process, because if it is, it often doesn't need to be additional time or cost or effort because it's just something you've included in your design decisions. It becomes a time add or a cost add if you only consider it towards the end of your product design and you've got your design as it is. And then someone goes, Oh, have you considered sustainability? Or how do you consider your greenhouse gas emissions? And then you consider it. And it's just too late in the process. Katherine Radeka (25:18): Exactly. You have very limited options about what to do, if you can do anything by that point in time, this consideration has to be in place before you reach those levels of convergence on the product design. Will Harrison (25:29): Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that was definitely a big focus of our, how we're trying to work now is making sure it is something that's considered all the way through. Like if you don't consider cost all the way through you get a design to the end and then go, Oh, this it cost twice as much as it should. We need to redesign it. You just wouldn't get that because you've thought about it all the way through. If you do the same with considering environmental costs, you won't get to the end of your design process with your design emitting twice as much carbon dioxide or needing twice as much energy as you budgeted for because you've included it all the way through. Katherine Radeka (26:06): The closing question that I'm going to be asking everyone on this show, we could do one thing to accelerate the progress towards Net Zero. What should we do? Will Harrison (26:16): Wow. I think voting is probably one of the biggest things and voting for the parties that are pushing for a greener economy that are pushing to invest in clean energy and are going to be building jobs in this area. I really think that's probably the biggest thing you can do right now because it needs to be at a global level as much as I think that is a role for every individual and every company to make, have that impact and do things in a more sustainable way. I think the biggest impact we can have is by having global leaders that put this as a priority. Katherine Radeka (27:03): Yeah, because there's a lot that that the government governments can do to either pull sustainable technology or push sustainable technology away that needs to be done if we're going to hit the climate goals that we need to hit. Will Harrison (27:17): Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Katherine Radeka (27:20): All right. Well thank you so much, Will for joining me today, I really appreciate it. Reflection Katherine Radeka (27:24): So the big takeaway from the interview with Will is that sustainability is a decision and a decision that a product development team needs to make very early in the life cycle of a product. If it's going to make a difference because it impacts so many of the other decisions that a product development team has to make on the road from idea to launch and out into the world. So what this means for us, if we're consumers or makers or investors, is that we can tell these companies that sustainable products are what we want. We do that through the purchasing decisions that we make. Every time we choose a product that is more sustainable instead of the product is absolutely the lowest cost, we send a signal that sustainable products are what we care about. Every time we choose to invest in a company that has set sustainability targets and is actively working to meet them then we set a signal that that is important to us. And when we, as policymakers make regulations that make it easier for consumers to make the sustainable choice and less easy for them to make the unsustainable choice. then we're also sending a signal that there will be increased market demand for sustainable products. And all of that makes it an easier decision in early product development to prioritize sustainability over other things. Now, if you're working as a product developer, you have all of these same opportunities, but you also have another one which is to help ensure that you understand, and that your teams understand what exactly these trade offs look like. How much more expensive is it today to choose a material that's sustainable versus one that is made with a high carbon footprint? How easy is it to offset carbon emissions for your distribution channels versus just do things normally without taking that into account and therefore not accounting for the true cost of your distribution? By understanding these trade-offs and then making that knowledge visible in your organization, you make it easier for them to make the right decision because you'll identify for example, places where it doesn't really matter where the sustainable option is the same price, or maybe even lower than the unsustainable option, you might make it visible to them. Then when they say a product is sustainable, they know this is exactly what they're signing up for in terms of the trade-offs between costs and sustainability or between sustainability and performance. So as a product developer, that's one of the more valuable things that you can do is to make that knowledge available and then make it more visible so that it can be used more effectively in making decisions. Sustainability is something that all of us have to think about from the beginning stages. When we have an idea all the way through to when we have a product that's out in the market to our choice about whether or not we use that product, whether or not we purchased that product versus another option that may be less sustainable, whether or not we invest in the development of that product, whether or not our regulatory environment makes it easy for that product to reach the market or makes it more difficult for that product to reach the market. If we want to Accelerate Net Zero, what are the most important things that we can each do on a daily basis is to ensure that our choices send the demand signal that people like Will, and their leaders need to hear in order to build the products we need for a more sustainable world. When we make choices that send demand signals that say that sustainability is a priority, that should be at least as important as other attributes of the product, then we make it easier for will. And people like him to make the right decisions that will lead to the products we need to Accelerate Net Zero. Sponsorship Katherine Radeka (31:21): Thank you for listening to Accelerate Net Zero. For resources, transcripts, and additional information about this project, please visit our website, acceleratenetzero.com. The Accelerate Net Zero project is sponsored by the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute. We help innovators change the world faster. To learn more about the Rapid Learning Cycles framework, and how it can help you accelerate innovation, visit rapidlearningcycles.com.
7 minutes | a month ago
Why We Can Accelerate Net Zero
In this episode, the host, Katherine Radeka shares why she decided to launch this podcast, and why you should listen if you are interested in accelerating the transition to a Net Zero world. In the race to mitigate climate change, we can’t afford to waste time, energy or money on solutions that don’t deliver. Katherine knows that innovations often take too long, cost too much or fail to deliver on promised results. Many never make it on the market at all. And the types of innovation we need to address climate change will drive massive, systemic changes in energy, transportation, food production, and every other product we touch in our daily lives. We can’t afford for the investments we make in our power grids, roads, garages and grocery stores to fail to make the difference they claim they will make. This new podcast explores how we can use best-in-class design principles, program management methods, public policy decisions and investment practices to accelerate development, remove obstacles so that programs can scale, and generate demand to accelerate adoption.Tweet This When we do that, the technology will begin to reap rewards sooner, we will hit our greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets faster and that will lead to a cooler, cleaner, more secure future. Read Full Transcript Intro Welcome to Accelerate Net Zero, the podcast dedicated to the acceleration of the technologies we need to address climate change. My name is Katherine Radeka, and I've been accelerating innovation for a long time in a number of different industries. And nowhere is that acceleration more important today than in the renewable energy, materials, food production, transportation, and other programs to limit carbon emissions so that we can stabilize our climate. So if you are working on these programs as a technologist, as a manager, as an investor, a public policy maker, an activist, or just a concerned citizen, then you have come to the right place to learn how we can eliminate obstacles and put more momentum into these programs so that they can begin delivering impact on carbon emissions sooner. And we can reach Net Zero faster. Why We Can Accelerate Net Zero I launched this podcast because I believe strongly that we can accelerate our progress towards net zero by changing how the work to get these programs to market is done. I know this because I've been involved in innovation for a long time. And back in 2010, we had a breakthrough. We began experiencing significant reductions in the time from idea to launch for the innovation programs that I was involved in. And we did that by uncovering and then addressing the root causes behind those project delays, cost, overruns, and disappointing results. In the year 2021, we cannot afford for the investments that we make in renewable energy and new transportation systems, new food, distribution systems, et cetera, to have disappointing results. We need for them to be successful. We need for them to deliver on the timeline that they promise, the results that they promise in terms of reducing carbon emissions so that we can hit the targets we need to hit to stabilize our climate in time. So this podcast is about sharing the methods that we use to accelerate innovation openly and freely to anyone who is involved in these kinds of programs. And to use interviews with industry leaders to provide opportunities, to share those ideas in a way that makes them relevant to you. So we're going to be interviewing people who are already working to improve how these programs get delivered through topics like incorporating sustainable design and incorporating circularity principles. And we're going to be talking to some of the technologists themselves about some of the challenges that they face. And then closing with a reflection on how some of those obstacles could be removed, or those programs could be accelerated that we'll be sharing with those technologists as well as with all of you. And so we hope that after running this podcast for awhile, we have a library of stories and examples that can encourage people working in this area to maybe approach their programs a little bit differently, especially around two key areas. First, the secret to accelerating innovation is to change how you think about the decisions you make an early development, because the decisions that you make are the ones that set you up to have either a smooth path towards execution, scalability, and full adoption, or a more challenging path now. Startup teams (or actually any innovation team) doesn't really need a heavyweight process. We're not talking about doing so much due diligence that you lose the momentum for the innovation. What we talk about is making some key shifts in how you make that decision, what knowledge you create in order to make that decision, when you make that decision and who you make those decisions with. So that those decisions stick because they were good decisions that will carry the program all the way through its first manufacturing run and beyond. The second major area of difference is in what it means to be agile. Agile Software Development was developed to solve the particular set of problems that software development teams have and hardware teams have some of those problems, but they also have very different problems. So for example, a group that's going to be installing a large scale wind turbine system for offshore wind to replace a coal-fired power plant is probably not going to be able to easily organize their work into short iterative cycles. They're going to still work iteratively: they're going to make the second wind turbine better because they've learned from the first one. They're going to make the next 50 wind turbines better because they've learned a lot from the first 10. But that learning's going to have to be a lot more intentional because they're going to have to think about what they need to learn from each iteration. They're going to need to ensure that they've built in the sensors and other data collection mechanisms that they need in order to learn what they need to learn. And then those iterations are going to take a lot longer. And so for that reason, the teams that I work with on hardware development, we think about what it means to be flexible and responsive, but we do it in the context of the fact that we're working with things that may inherently take a long time, certainly a lot longer than it takes for a software team to update an app in the app store. If you are working on these kinds of programs, then what I hope that we will have is a library of stories and examples from the interviews that we do and the reflections that we make on the projects that we talked about. So that you'll be able to take some of these ideas back to your own programs and perhaps adjust a little bit how you think about decision-making, how you think about what it means to be agile in this space. And by doing that deliver programs that are on time and cost, the budget that you have and deliver at least the level of performance that you need them to deliver. And when you do that, then you accelerate the development of your own program. And by doing that, we accelerate Net Zero and we stabilize our climate faster. So I hope that you join me to become a regular listener because we're going to be talking about projects and technologies that are interesting and exciting in their own right. But we'll also be using them as illustrations of how those technologies can be accelerated. And when we do that, then I think you'll find that we do have it within us to accelerate Net Zero and stabilize our climate in time. Sponsorship Thank you for listening to accelerate net zero for resources, transcripts, and additional information about this project. Please visit our website, https://acceleratenetzero.com. The Accelerate Net Zero project is sponsored by the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute. We help innovators change the world — faster. To learn more about the Rapid Learning Cycles framework, and how it can help you accelerate innovation, visit https://rapidlearningcycles.com.
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