My journal of SCC busan – Days 18 – 21

DAYS 18-19

This is the final round. Everything must be ready for important milestones which kept us quite busy. In the morning of Day 19, our third checkpoint was scheduled with the global SCC team to follow up on our progress and to help on whatever last item asking for support. We reported how well went our last meeting with Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General of Public Safety Department, and received warm congratulations for that achievement.

In the morning of Day 20, the most important milestone was scheduled, as this was the final presentation of our work in front of the Mayor of Busan. So we worked hard the day before to prepare a presentation summarizing the most important aspects of our recommendations, keeping in mind that all this needed to be translated. So the effort was also about making sure that the messages delivered in Korean were perfectly reflecting was we wanted to say. Here the role of KeeSeon was instrumental as we understood that there are different Korean languages, the daily life one and the one used for communications with official bodies. To make sure that we our messages will be well received, we had a first rehearsal with our liaison person from the Busan city, and then were invited by Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General of Public Safety Department, to meet again with him for clarifying some technical aspects that he was not comfortable with after our second checkpoint with him. This was the opportunity for me to build a short powerpoint presentation (full of animations) illustrating through real use cases what is hidden behind the words “Descriptive”, “Predictive”, “Prescriptive”, “Internet of Things”, and “Blockchain”.

DAY 20

On the D-day (Day 20 if you follow me….), we all gathered in a large room of the City Hall and delivered our final presentation in front of the Mayor and around 30 other leaders of the Busan community, followed by almost a one hour Q&A sessions. Interestingly many comments and questions we get during this session were acknowledging the relevance of different aspects of our recommendations. As you can imagine, this was then followed by a photo shooting session, both indoors with officials, and also outdoors for the media.
To celebrate this important milestone, we gathered for lunch in a very nice Chineese restaurant with all the team, and for lunch in a wine bar where our skills to manipulate corks in some close-up tricks were benchmarked.

DAY 21

But the work was not completed as the most important remaining piece was to finish our full report that was started since more than 10 days. Thanks to all the preparatory work done so far, we avoid falling in a “panic mode” situation with an excessive remaining workload and were all happy to complete that task by Day 21 at 3PM.

So it is now time to get ready for leaving Busan, with a loooooong travel tomorrow to be back home, meeting with our family and friends.

This has been a fantastic experience, where I have been so happy to meet and work with people who were unknown to me three weeks ago and who are now part of my “best friends”. Some tears have dropped when Ji-Hyun left us, and others will fall later today….



Comments Off on My journal of SCC busan – Days 18 – 21

Filed under Busan - Korea, Uncategorized

My journal of SCC Busan – Days 15-17

DAYS 15-17

If I am grouping these three days together, it is simply because they were all devoted to our second checkpoint with Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General of Public Safety Department. This is an important meeting as we have for the first time disclosed our recommendations and received feedback from Bae Kwang-hyo to get fully prepared for the final presentation in front of the Mayor. So we capitalized on all the “recommendation shaping” work done during the previous week, that we summarized into a presentation four our one-hour meeting with Bae Kwang-hyo. Obviously we had to take into account that this presentation will be translated from English to Korean, leaving us half the time to present, so asking us to be very focused on the key messages we wanted to pass.
Saturday and Sunday were thus devoted to this preparation work, while the full morning of Monday was spent for the final editing (and translation) of our presentation, followed in the late afternoon by the meeting. A great team work where our diversity of skills, experiences and cultural roots helped us to eventually build a presentation which was very well received by Bae Kwang-hyo.

To make all this happen, we had to keep our brains in an healthy condition, thus allocating some time to rest. On the afternoon of Saturday, we visited the charming Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, which departs from the other areas of the city of Busan, as shown on the picture below, with small, colored houses.
And to celebrate a successful presentation, we had the pleasure to be invited for dinner by Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General of Public Safety Department, with his staff in a nice restaurant. This was a very rewarding dinner, where our host acknowledged the work done so far, and asked us to further help the city of Busan after completion of our SCC mission.
On our way back to the hotel, we went to the top of one of the mountains of Busan, where we enjoyed a vivid view of Busan by night.

Comments Off on My journal of SCC Busan – Days 15-17

Filed under Busan - Korea, Uncategorized

SCC Palermo – days 2 to 5

Tuesday, day 2 of our challenge, was truly a baptism of fire. A day full of meetings with stakeholders. Getting used to listening to translators through one ear and English through another and in between all of this trying to decode the noise between your ears into some sensible output. We talked to those responsible for IT, social services, innovation department as well as those responsible for unaccompanied minors through the migration process.


Hearing from Mr D’Anneo from the Statistics Unit in the Municipality

On one hand the picture started to get a bit clearer and yet on the other hand it doesn’t. I think we were all overcome with how wide this scope could be.

Wednesday was a public holiday here and so with the help of the rigour of some consulting techniques (thanks Mike!) and some gelato, we set about trying to order our thoughts and refine the scope based on what we had heard to date. Post it notes were definitely our best friend by the end of the day and I think we all had a real sense of progress. Understanding the area we are likely to focus on made our meetings for the rest of the week more productive as we could ask much more targeted questions.


The first of many gelato: the happy faces of Kate, Helene and Lisa


We ended Wednesday on a real high with a visit to MoltiVolti (‘many faces’), a social enterprise set up by 2 inspirational guys called Claudio and Johnny.  Their ethos is around supporting ‘dignity, citizenship and value from the diversity’. On one side it is a shared space for the 3rd sector, which is funded by the other side – a restaurant. The passion and enthusiasm these guys have, along with their team, is infectious.  And the food is fabulous!

Thursday’s Day of the Dead celebrations brought us back to uncertainty – who are we really trying to help? Are we clear? The team was a bit divided on this, more questioning was clearly needed.

Many of the meetings that followed for the rest of the week were with societies and organisations that help – all passionate about social inclusion and integration.  So far everyone we have spoken to from the municipality, to the deputy Prefectura (responsible for the reception of migrants from the port of entry) and through to the charitable organisations have all passionate about one thing….. which, to use Mayor Orlando’s words, is that ‘we are all Palermitano’.

Comments Off on SCC Palermo – days 2 to 5

Filed under Palermo - Italy

My journal of SCC in Busan – Days 10 – 14

DAYS 10-14

Here comes the second week of our SCC engagement, which started by an important checkpoint with the Director General of Public Safety Department. This checkpoint was aimed to validate the scope upon which we will continue to work for the two remaining weeks of our study. We obtained full consensus as Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General mentioned “I realized why IBM is the world best IT company through your insights. I was surprised on your focus area. If you need additional interview or support, please let me know. We will invite the interviewees who participated in our project to the final presentation”. So a warm feedback acknowledging the relevance of our scope and of the associated argumentation.
The second week is in theory associated to the consolidation of all the findings we collected during the first week. In fact our second week was rather a transition week as we continued to have some few interviews as some of them didn’t take place during the first week. All together we had the opportunity to meet with more than 50 representatives from more than 25 institutions of the Busan city, covering the city municipality, the academia, the private sector and the citizens. As you can imagine a thorough source of information that was articulated by the five of us as a collection of 329 “findings” that we recorded in a spreadsheet. The challenge then was to perform a deep analysis of all these findings to eventually derive a set of recommendations for the city of Busan. We did that with an iterative approach, starting to associate the finding with “themes”, then “sub-themes” and finally with “domains”. A painful exercise, but which paid off at the end as it greatly helped grouping and segregating all these findings to define four domains and seven recommendations. Once this was done, most of our time was spent to start drafting the final report, first working altogether to ensure consistency across the different domains and recommendations, and then splitting the workload between us for editing the report.
The days were lasting a lot, typically from 8 AM to 10 PM, but always with an excellent atmosphere where we all learned about the subtleties between the American, Canadian, Korean, Norwegian and French humors.
Hopefully we also had some time for escaping from this demanding activity, the most memorable moment being the dinner that we had November 1st with Andrew Chang, Country General Manager of IBM Korea, and his staff. Andrew is a very nice fellow, very accessible, who learned us a lot about the Korean culture and business habits.

Comments Off on My journal of SCC in Busan – Days 10 – 14

Filed under Busan - Korea, Uncategorized

SCC San Jose – Background (and Day 1 & 2)

Yesterday we launched our Project for Smarter Cities Challenge in San Jose, holding a kick-off presentation with Mayor Liccardo, the City of San Jose staff and stakeholders, as well as IBM’s State Executive for California, Laura Guio.

A quick background on Team San Jose and why we are here……

The team members from all over the world in IBM are: 
Princess M Ascalon
Government and Regulatory Affairs Executive
Manilla, Philippines

Kevin Aven
Partner, Co-Account Lead Army & USMC
Indianapolis, IN USA

Ronnie Chan
Melbourne, Australia
Senior IT Specialist

Dr. Ilyas Iyoob
Distinguished Engineer – IT Supply Chain, Cloud Broker Analytics
Austin, TX USA

Michael O’Leary        
Director, Procurement Solutions and Watson Supply Chain Insights, IBM Cognitive Engagement
Cary, NC USA

Amanda Young
Digital Strategy Consultant
Melbourne, Australia

and we are supported by our ‘un-stressable’ Program Manager – Anne McNeill.

So what issue is this team going to work on with the city? Affordable housing.  San Jose has one of the tightest and most expensive housing markets in the US and world, leaving many families struggling to afford rent and the most vulnerable residents at risk of becoming homeless. Addressing this affordable housing crisis has been one of Mayor Liccardo’s highest priorities. 

Over the past two years, the San José community has been engaged in a discussion regarding the Apartment Rent Ordinance and its role within our community. 
The IBM team will be participating in San Jose’s efforts to develop new web applications and data analytic tools that will support the Ordinances and allow the city better ways to monitor inventory, make informed decisions about housing and assist residents in finding available affordable housing units.

During the rest of week 1 we will meet individually with stakeholders from developers to landlords to citizens impacted by the issue.

Today we toured some of the affordable housing and we were lucky enough to be welcomed into a spacious one-bedroom apartment in Japantown by a resident who was most welcoming. He was also proud to show us his garden plot, in which he was seeing the last tomatoes of the season on a beautifully large cherry tomato tree. I have to admit I was a little envious as I have been only somewhat successful in growing tomatoes last season.

During week two we will conduct workshops around user interface for the web solutions and then will begin the task of developing recommendations and other deliverables.

The project is just 3 weeks, but I am confident we will be up for the challenge.

What makes an SCC project so successful is bringing together IBMers who have experience in many different areas to collaborate with each other and the city leaders to generate exciting and innovative ideas and solutions. 

Special thanks to the Mayor’s staff and the Housing Department of San Jose for all of their preparation to get ready for the team’s arrival. 

Comments Off on SCC San Jose – Background (and Day 1 & 2)

Filed under San Jose - USA

Smarter Cities Challenge Palermo – day 1

‘You’ve been accepted on Smarter Cities Challenge’ were the exciting words in an email just a few short weeks ago.  My mind raced to the exotic places I might end up (like a many of the team, our definition of exotic seems to be somewhere outside of Europe!), mostly based on my colleagues’ experiences in far flung places like the Philippines.  Reading further on I discovered that Sicily was to be my destination of choice so images of pasta, pizza, red wine, the mafia all came to mind. Trailing somewhat in that visualisation, I’m ashamed to say, is the recent plight of thousands of migrants who have and continue to land on Italy’s shores hoping for a better life.

And this is our challenge for the next three weeks. To work with the Mayor to transform this migration into an opportunity for the city of Palermo, its new residents and for all citizens. Our aim is to help the city become smarter, more open and more inclusive.

With a day of exploring behind me, I can see that in actual fact Palermo is an exotic city. As it’s leader, Mayor Orlando, says it is a ‘middle eastern city in Europe’. A fusion of history, cultures and people over many centuries.

We met the man himself today, day one of our Smarter Cities Challenge, as the work began in earnest.  Mayor Orlando is a real legend not only in Sicily but the whole of Italy and an amazing character. Passionate, enthusiastic and committed are just some of the words that spring to mind. He describes his city ‘not as a painting but a mosaic’ that needs a framework to create harmony from all the different pieces of stone. And talked about how to connect the virtual and the human.  Two hours of inspirational talk later, it’s clear that this is going to be a fascinating challenge trying to bring consensus to an emotive subject.

And then it was time to move onto the hard facts. A team from the University of Palermo Department of Industry and Digital Innovation shared with us some of the numbers but it became clear very quickly that the actual numbers are not easy to define.

So with pizzas in our bellies, we finish day one happy, watching the news bulletin featuring our meeting with the mayor (but thankfully not my interview!) but still with many questions that need answers.

Comments Off on Smarter Cities Challenge Palermo – day 1

Filed under Palermo - Italy

San Jose SCC Adventure!

Sunday, October 29:

  • Our adventure begins!  Today the SCC San Jose team gathered for team building.  We had a fantastic tour of the Winchester Mansion, and then a quite challenging scavenger hunt.  Kevin and Ilyas won, with Anne and Princess close behind.  Mike, Ronnie and Amanda finished with style in the end!  Overall, this was a great day and we quickly established our team rules and game plan for the upcoming week.
  • Many thanks to Anne for a super kick-off!
  • Tomorrow we are off to meet the client team and the Mayor of San Jose.
  • image1

Monday, October 30:

  • We have a great kick-off session with the Mayor!  Off we go into our discovery week.
  • team with mayor

Tuesday, October 31:

  • Interesting dinner in town with all the “Trick-or-Treating” with Halloween.  Amanda and Princess did great handing out candy!

Wednesday, Nov 1 – Thursday, Nov 2:

  • Our discovery sessions continue.  27+ interviews completed or scheduled.   Whew!
  • Team getting into sync on our mission and roles.  Long days, but fun dinners at night!
  • Here is a picture of City Hall and our view from outside our team room on the 12th floor.

Saturday, November 5th:

  • We concluded week #1 with a very candid and healthy discussion with our client stakeholder to provide clarity on our mission and proposed deliverables, after gaining much insight during our week of discovery from landlords, tenants and city housing department employees. The IBM team and Housing Dept. Director are now aligned on 5 key deliverables as part of this project on housing affordability.  We will start Monday with the research and machine learning team at the IBM Silicon Valley lab and then head into two days of Design Thinking workshops (Tues & Wed) with various user groups / stakeholders.
  • The team was able to enjoy some down time on Saturday with a beautiful hike in Big Basin Redwood park.  The enormous size of the Redwood trees was truly amazing.
  • Hiking

Comments Off on San Jose SCC Adventure!

Filed under San Jose - USA