Living Data Center, Skanska's Tool

A great book to read to think about Green Data Center principles is The Living Company. It has 5 stars from 21 customer reviews on

Here is an excerpt from a BusinessWeek post.

After all of our detective work, we found four key factors in common:

1. Long-lived companies were sensitive to their environment. Whether they had built their fortunes on knowledge (such as DuPont's technological innovations) or on natural resources (such as the Hudson Bay Company's access to the furs of Canadian forests), they remained in harmony with the world around them. As wars, depressions, technologies, and political changes surged and ebbed around them, they always seemed to excel at keeping their feelers out, tuned to what-ever was going on around them. They did this, it seemed, de-spite the fact that in the past there were little data available, let alone the communications facilities to give them a global view of the business environment. They sometimes had to rely for information on packets carried over vast distances by portage and ship. Moreover, societal considerations were rarely given prominence in the deliberations of company boards. Yet they managed to react in timely fashion to the conditions of society around them.

2. Long-lived companies were cohesive, with a strong sense of identity. No matter how widely diversified they were, their employees (and even their suppliers, at times) felt they were all part of one entity. One company, Unilever, saw itself as a fleet of ships, each ship independent, yet the whole fleet stronger than the sum of its parts. This sense of belonging to an organization and being able to identify with its achievements can easily be dismissed as a "soft" or abstract feature of change. But case histories repeatedly showed that strong employee links were essential for survival amid change. This cohesion around the idea of "community" meant that managers were typically chosen for advancement from within; they succeeded through the generational flow of members and considered themselves stewards of the longstanding enterprise. Each management generation was only a link in a long chain. Except during conditions of crisis, the management's top priority and concern was the health of the institution as a whole.

3. Long-lived companies were tolerant. At first, when we wrote our Shell report, we called this point "decentralization." Long-lived companies, as we pointed out, generally avoided exercising any centralized control over attempts to diversify the company. Later, when I considered our research again, I realized that seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century managers would never have used the word decentralized; it was a twentieth-century invention. In what terms, then, would they have thought about their own company policies? As I studied the histories, I kept returning to the idea of "tolerance." These companies were particularly tolerant of activities on the margin: outliers, experiments, and eccentricities within the boundaries of the cohesive firm, which kept stretching their understanding of possibilities.

4. Long-lived companies were conservative in financing. They were frugal and did not risk their capital gratuitously. They understood the meaning of money in an old-fashioned way; they knew the usefulness of having spare cash in the kitty. Having money in hand gave them flexibility and independence of action. They could pursue options that their competitors could not. They could grasp opportunities without first having to convince third-party financiers of their attractiveness.

I've been meaning to write about some of these ideas and yesterday at Data Center Dynamics Seattle, I met Jakob Carnemark from Skanska who embraces these ideas with tools they are developing for the Green Data Center by enabling the Living Data Center in the same principles used in "The Living Company".

Skanska's approach of continuous process improvement fits what I have written in the past on being Green is not a binary decision, but a commitment.

I am going to follow up with Jakob to get more details on how they create metrics, monitoring and modeling. His 3M's vs my M3 (monitoring, metering, managing).