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  • View in gallery

    The R2O valley of death (Barr et al. 2009). Resources often exist for both research and operations, which lie to either side of the valley. Conversely, resources are often lacking to transform research into operational products and services, which the valley of death represents.

  • View in gallery

    A common framework for linking market needs to products to technologies is the technology-to-product-to-market (T-P-M) linkage (Markham and Kingon 2004).

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    An example of the T-P-M linkage for a real-world research technology, linking it with product ideas and market needs, some of which can be transformed into climate services.

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    Champions, resources, and processes each have increasing influence on the ability to cross the valley of death (Markham 2002).

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    A balanced scorecard for a hypothetical federal government climate service provider.

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    Basic logic model (W. K. Kellogg Foundation 2004).

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Accelerating Innovation in Climate Services: The 3 E's for Climate Service Providers

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  • 1 Member, AMS Committee on Climate Services; Member, American Association of State Climatologists; Member, Council for Entrepreneurial Development
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Climate services can help society manage climate-related risk and capitalize on favorable conditions by providing data analysis, data products, and scientific expertise. Meeting society's needs requires matching them with ongoing scientific research. Despite the best of intentions, some research never makes it into operational products or services. Likewise, some societal needs are never met and scientific capabilities never realized. The three E's of climate services—engagement, entrepreneurship, and evaluation—can help climate service providers bridge this research-to-operations “valley of death” and create valuable, innovative climate services for our nation. This essay aims to stimulate such progress in the climate services enterprise.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Mark S. Brooks, 2604 Beehnon Way, Raleigh, NC 27603, E-mail: mark@marksbrooks.com

Climate services can help society manage climate-related risk and capitalize on favorable conditions by providing data analysis, data products, and scientific expertise. Meeting society's needs requires matching them with ongoing scientific research. Despite the best of intentions, some research never makes it into operational products or services. Likewise, some societal needs are never met and scientific capabilities never realized. The three E's of climate services—engagement, entrepreneurship, and evaluation—can help climate service providers bridge this research-to-operations “valley of death” and create valuable, innovative climate services for our nation. This essay aims to stimulate such progress in the climate services enterprise.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Mark S. Brooks, 2604 Beehnon Way, Raleigh, NC 27603, E-mail: mark@marksbrooks.com

Engagement, entrepreneurship, and evaluation are the keys to innovative and transformative services that will help citizens, businesses, and governments manage climate risks.

Theodore Levitt, an American economist said, “Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress.” Virtually all economic growth since the 1700s is ultimately attributable to innovation (Baumol 2002). There are two common types of innovation. Incremental innovations build on existing products, services, or processes. Discontinuous innovations disrupt existing markets or create entirely new markets by solving problems in new ways (Schilling 2008; Oke 2007; Darroch and McNaughton 2002; Veryzer 1998). The displacement of horse-drawn carriages by the automobile (Schilling 2008) was discontinuous; so were the introduction of jet engines on airplanes and the advent of the personal computer.

Innovations are needed now to help citizens, businesses, and governments deal with the impacts of climate change and variability. Climate change is an ecological, social, and economic problem. It is a business dilemma threatening increased costs due to shifting weather patterns and changing regulations (Porter and Reinhardt 2007). Either can affect the availability of business inputs, supply, demand, and access to resources. The nonstationarity of climate conditions makes business decisions more complicated (DeGaetano et al. 2010). Companies must manage climate-related risks to remain competitive (Ernst and Young 2010; Sussman and Freed 2008; Porter and Reinhardt 2007; Packard and Reinhardt 2000).

Climate services provide decision support with, among other things, climate data, future projections, applied research, and integration with other environmental or socioeconomic datasets and models (NOAA 2010; National Research Council 2001). Climate services, whether in government, academia, or the private sector, help clients manage climate-related risks and capitalize on favorable conditions. Climate services focus on long-term decision support, early warning systems, and help clients understand the impact of climate on their decisions and actions. The transformation of climate (and climate-related) research into practical applications results in climate services.

Despite scientists' and practitioners' best of intentions, too often promising discoveries in climate science never make it to operational products and useful data or science languish without practical application. This is a major challenge for the meteorological and climatological communities (National Research Council 2000).

The research-to-operations (R2O) “valley of death” (Fig. 1) between a new or emerging technology, idea, or dataset and the derived products in the marketplace is usually attributed to a lack of structure or institutional, financial, or skilled resources (Barr et al. 2009). Resources often exist for both research and operations separately but not for the transformation of research into operational products and services. Equally challenging is the lack of champions and formal processes by which to cross the valley. Because of this gap, many opportunities to create new climate services may be lost or underdeveloped.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

The R2O valley of death (Barr et al. 2009). Resources often exist for both research and operations, which lie to either side of the valley. Conversely, resources are often lacking to transform research into operational products and services, which the valley of death represents.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94, 6; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00087.1

Henry Ford is credited with the statement, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said: a faster horse.” This does not mean ignore the customer, but rather think very differently about how to address opportunity. Climate services are not going to hurdle the gap between research and applications by grooming “a faster horse.” Changing R2O practices in climate services to create discontinuous innovations requires 1) engagement, 2) entrepreneurship, and 3) evaluation metrics. I call these the three E's of climate services, which are summarized in Table 1. This essay complements the many existing publications on R2O in our field (National Research Council 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2011; NOAA 2010) with a timely, actionable business management perspective and structure on creating discontinuous climate services for our nation. A climate services enterprise that enables discontinuous, disruptive, and transformative innovations will help climate sensitive clients solve problems in new ways with new data products and services, helping us enter a new era in which climate services generate new industries, new businesses, and economic growth with the same impact that weather services have had on spurring economic development (National Research Council 2003; NOAA 2010; Lubchenco 2011).

Table 1.

Summary of the three E's for climate service providers.

Table 1.

THE FIRST E: ENGAGEMENT IN CLIMATE SERVICES.

In the context of climate services, engagement is mainly a partnership between a service provider and a user. For engagement to be successful, each party must have a stake in the activities that it undertakes. The user has to trust the professional advice of the provider while the provider must trust the decisions of the user (Bovaird 2007). On the opening stage of the Blue Man Group's 2011 national tour was the following text: “When you create something with others, you create a connection that lasts a lifetime.” This is the type of engagement that is needed by climate service providers.

Engagement (National Research Council 2001; NOAA 2010) is a core competency of climate services, meaning that it is central to the way in which climate services provide value to clients. Engagement contributes to the diffusion of useful information by matching the supply side of science with the demand for information (Dilling 2007; McNie 2007; Sarewitz and Pielke 2007). There is a gradient of engagement levels. Each level should attract users to the next level of engagement, thereby increasing the value of climate services. Level 1 climate services engagement is a “pull” relationship whereby users access climate information through online or print publications but do not need the expertise of a scientist. Examples of this level of engagement include a construction firm inquiring about the number of rain days during a given month or a student seeking data for a school project. Most users will have their needs met with level 1. Level 2 climate services engagement requires an interactive exchange between user and climate service provider. The provider will glean knowledge about the user's climate sensitivities and provide relevant data and analysis specific to the user's context. Examples of this second level of engagement include a farmer evaluating the risk of crop disease based on climate or an issue-based workshop for an industry or community group. Such workshops help address society's understanding of climate change impacts and adaptive capacity (Karl et al. 2009; Jacobs et al. 2005) and give climate service providers ideas on how to serve users better. Level 3 climate services engagement requires resource contributions from both provider and user. These may be financial, time, or other in-kind contributions. In this highest level of engagement, the provider creates a customized product that provides the user with real-time decision support based on climate analysis. Problems are solved through collaboration and discovery. For example, the State Climate Office of North Carolina created a rainfall monitoring tool for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Users can log in to a website, view a map of historical rainfall based on multisensor precipitation estimates data, query a point, and configure e-mail alerts. This service was created in close collaboration with the client and resulted in significant money savings. Each level of climate services engagement provides a gradient of value and impact. Each level is intended to attract users to the next level while increasing collaboration and trust, which increases the value of climate services.

Critical to the successful application of climate information, and hence engagement, is an educated, climate-literate user (National Research Council 2001; Hallar et al. 2011; Pandya et al. 2009, 2011; Arndt and LaDue 2008; Dupigny-Giroux 2008; Shafer 2008). For example, Lowrey et al. (2009) found that an increase in climate literacy was followed by an increase in the interest and usefulness of climate information. Climate science education should be embedded in each of the aforementioned levels of engagement.

Engagement also encompasses increased collaboration with colleagues in the same field and other disciplines. Transdisciplinary engagement, which transfers knowledge across disciplinary boundaries, is important.

To create any new climate service, two variables must be known: 1) customer needs/climate sensitivities and 2) the capabilities of climate service providers. Engagement links these variables together.

Identifying needs and sensitivities.

Climate impact assessments are instrumental in the process of documenting and understanding the climate sensitivities and information needs of society (NOAA 2010). Many climate service providers keep records of client requests for climate information. These records are helpful in determining the sensitivities of clients. Such records, however, only exist because a client actively sought out service and the provider recorded this interaction. Furthermore, there is a difference between recorded sensitivities, perceived sensitivities, and actual sensitivities (Etkin and Ho 2007). Our understanding of society's climate information needs and sensitivities is incomplete.

Active engagement with working groups and professional societies from all economic sectors (NOAA 2010) can help. For example, Houston (2010) and Smith et al. (2009) discuss ways in which the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is engaging society through workshops, sectoral focused conferences, and research partnerships. NCDC's engagement sectors are agriculture, civil infrastructure, coastal hazards, energy, health, insurance, litigation, marine and coastal ecosystems, national security, tourism, transportation, and water resources. Such engagement activities provide an opportunity to engage, learn from, and build trust among stakeholders. For example, Long Wood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data and climate services to increase climate literacy among gardeners and the community to address short- and long-term climate variability (T. Houston, NCDC, 2011, personal communication).

Furthermore, a voice of the customer (VOC) analysis can help climate service providers identify customer needs, perceptions of performance, and desirable product features (Griffin and Hauser 1993). A VOC analysis is customer focused and should be conducted one-on-one, in person or on the phone. Well-designed interview questions should be subtly integrated into a typical conversation. Research published by Griffin and Hauser (1993) suggests that 20–30 customer interviews will identify 90 percent of customer needs in a relatively homogeneous customer segment.

Climate services capabilities.

To meet the identified needs of society, climate service providers must have knowledge of current research, available datasets, applied tools, and products. Providers may have limited knowledge about other providers' capabilities and products. A comprehensive, national inventory or catalog of all climate services, datasets, and research projects is needed (National Research Council 2001). An effort, sponsored by the American Association of State Climatologists, aims to create such a catalog that will be updated into perpetuity. It is available online at www.stateclimate.org/productsurvey/list.php.

Although this catalog is currently limited to State Climate Offices, an analogous catalog should be created for all climate service providers to help users find information more easily and providers minimize duplication.

Linking needs and capabilities.

Climate data and science are of limited value without the ability to transform them into a needed product or service. A link should be established between the needs of a client and the capabilities of science. A common model is the technology-to-product-to-market (T-P-M) linkage as shown in Fig. 2. The T-P-M model can help climate service providers identify promising research, express the technical and scientific specifications as capabilities, express those capabilities as product features, and, finally, identify client segments most receptive to the benefits of those features (Markham and Kingon 2004). An idea may start in any column and then be extended to the other columns (Markham 2002). Successful product managers use the T-P-M even if they do not have the vocabulary to talk about it. The T-P-M model should be used as an iterative tool. As product-market links are eliminated or strengthened, new product concepts will be generated from the links. Perhaps not all needs will be met. Perhaps not all services will meet a need. Nevertheless, a T-P-M linkage for climate services will reveal opportunities for research, further engagement and value creation, as shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

A common framework for linking market needs to products to technologies is the technology-to-product-to-market (T-P-M) linkage (Markham and Kingon 2004).

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94, 6; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00087.1

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

An example of the T-P-M linkage for a real-world research technology, linking it with product ideas and market needs, some of which can be transformed into climate services.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94, 6; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00087.1

THE SECOND E: ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN CLIMATE SERVICES.

Entrepreneurship is about creating something new with value by demonstrating initiative and creative thinking and by organizing social and economic mechanisms to turn resources and situations into practical outcomes. Innovative accomplishments are strikingly entrepreneurial (Kanter 1982; Drucker 1985). As early as the 1930s, Schumpeter (1934) linked innovation with entrepreneurship and Antoncic and Hisrich (2003) argue that entrepreneurship and innovation are inseparable. Entrepreneurial behaviors, actions, and thinking are very effective in managing and implementing innovation.

To cross the R2O valley of death, climate service providers recognize opportunities, conceptualize a product, identify and commit resources to support its development, demonstrate a high probability of success, identify resources to sustain the product, and initiate a formal process of launching the product. Figure 4 illustrates these ingredients in a zoomed-in view of the valley of death (Markham 2002), which has been replicated by some climate service providers.

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Champions, resources, and processes each have increasing influence on the ability to cross the valley of death (Markham 2002).

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94, 6; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00087.1

Tushman and Nadler (1986) argue that no organizational task is more vital and demanding than the sustained management of innovation. Fortunately, decades of research on the topic of entrepreneurship in support of innovation management provide insightful guidance for climate service providers. Nine areas of strategic and structural significance for climate service providers are highlighted below.

Communication.

Darling et al. (2007) writes that communication is the primary way in which any group of individuals, small or large, can become aligned behind the overarching innovative goals of an organization. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place,” once quipped George Bernard Shaw, Nobel Laureate. Open and constant communication should be fostered between all levels of organizational hierarchy (Kanter 1982), which dissolves classic organizational barriers that can impede innovation (Maidique and Hayes 1984; McGinnis and Verney 1987). Constant dialogue between the research and operational communities helps to improve the R2O transition and guarantees that the latest knowledge and techniques are available (National Research Council 2000). Openness also assists in developing a strong coalition of supporters and champions (Hisrich 1990; Junarsin 2009) and enables problems to be resolved quickly. Furthermore, trust strengthens as communication increases, which generates greater opportunities to collaborate (Toledano et al. 2010).

Integrity.

It is difficult to launch a new climate service without solid trust between functions (i.e., programmers, physical scientists, social scientists, modelers, information technology managers, in situ observation network operators, etc.). Trust provides the foundation that maintains organizational integrity (Darling et al. 2007). Maidique and Hayes (1984) suggest that integrity also includes a commitment to long-term, stable associations with all stakeholders. All caveats, limitations, and uncertainties with climate services should be appropriately conveyed. Furthermore, Fry (1987) and Jacobs et al. (2005) suggest that organizations convey a sense of openness to criticism as this can help strengthen relationships. This is especially important when a level 3 engagement is achieved or when clients are engaged in the climate service development process.

Adaptiveness.

Maidique and Hayes (1984) suggest that organizations must be nimble, flexible, and willing to undertake major and rapid change when necessary. Being flexible and opportunistic is shown to positively affect innovation (Darroch and McNaughton 2002). Fry (1987) encourages managers to be adaptive by providing the necessary time and resources for new product development and idea exploration. Frequent realignments of people and responsibilities also helps encourage innovation and sustain organizational adaptability (Maidique and Hayes 1984; Tushman and Nadler 1986).

Focus.

The emergent and adaptive nature of entrepreneurship in climate services must be balanced with focus. Effective innovations are simple and focused (Drucker 1985). Maxwell (1999) writes, “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” A clear direction or challenge should be established by the organization. Top management (McGinnis and Verney 1987) should continuously reinforce organizational priorities and patterns of behavior. Furthermore, focused, informal interaction with clients throughout the product development process is a principal factor behind successful new products (Maidique and Hayes 1984).

Cohesion.

The energy and creativity of the whole organization must be tapped. Innovative ideas can come from a range of functions (Kanter 2006). Anything that restricts the flow of ideas or undermines trust, respect, and sense of common purpose among individuals is a danger (Maidique and Hayes 1984; Hisrich 1990). Transdisciplinary project teams and matrix-like organizational structures can help build and create cohesion. Teams should be diverse, being composed of individuals of different areas of expertise, interests, and experiences (McGinnis and Verney 1987; Hisrich 1990). Heterogeneous teams, composed of 4–5 members, perform better than homogeneous teams on cognitive and creativity-demanding tasks (Robbins and Judge 2008). Furthermore, teams composed of people from different organizational functions inject some ambiguity such that each individual is invited to play a variety of organizational roles (Maidique and Hayes 1984). Entrepreneurial climate service providers should trust and empower teams and give freedom to people who identify problems to solve them while crossing organizational lines (Kuczmarski 2000; Weaver 1998; McGinnis and Verney 1987; Kanter 1982).

Tolerance of failure and ambiguity.

New products and services rarely appear instantaneously but rather often as the result of a series of trials and errors. Peter Drucker, prolific management consultant said, “People who do not take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year; people who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” Climate service providers should foster an environment that encourages people to experiment with product ideas, delivery mechanisms, and customer segments while being tolerant of failure and project ambiguity. Not all experiments will yield success. It is just as important to let some ventures fail as it is to let others succeed (Hisrich 1990). Entrepreneurial managers can increase the probability of success for climate services and, when approached systematically, can also reduce the costs of failure by enabling failure to occur earlier and at lower levels of investment (Markham and Kingon 2004). A contemporary example is Google's 70–20–10 rule. Google employees are asked to spend 70 percent of their time working on core projects, 20 percent working on adjacent projects, and 10 percent of their time working on whatever interests them. The result is sustained core development with innovative side projects, some of which turn into core products such as Gmail. Thomas Watson, founder of IBM, is attributed as saying, “The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” To get more successes, climate service providers must be willing to risk more failures (Kanter 2006). Climate service providers should also have a formalized new product development process (Kuczmarski 2000) that employs screening criteria and developmental stage gates that make hurdles specific. Then, only the new products with the highest potential get through.

Hands-on management and leadership.

A strong, competent management and leadership team can drive even the most immature technologies to a successful place in the market. For climate service providers, such teams must have a firm understanding of climate science, innovation management, product development, and market opportunity. Managers should have dogged patience to understand in-depth core issues such as how the technology or science works, including its limits, direction, and speed of change (Maidique and Hayes 1984). Climate service leaders also have the difficult task of balancing the polarizing forces of continuity of science and service with constant change in the needs of clients and political landscape. Managers should provide a rich context of information for all functional areas of an organization that develop and maintain climate service capabilities (Foster and Kaplan 2001; Oke 2007). Furthermore, entrepreneurial managers must allow functional employees to have a sense of ownership of the goals and objectives of climate services. The American industrialist Andrew Carnegie once said, “No [person] will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” Managers should seek out and champion entrepreneurial projects (Fry 1987). Building a coalition before the project gets under way can strengthen the availability of resources and ensure implementation (Kanter 1982, 2006; Markham 2002). Because innovation is often rife with conflict and lack of resources, champions can be effective in generating positive support for a project and may be found in all functional areas of a climate service provider (Markham 2000, 2002; Junarsin 2009). Managers should also recruit passionate new talent that can serve as conduits between innovation teams and upper management (Kuczmarski 2000) and nurture those found within their own organization (Sarasvathy 2005).

Reward.

Different people are motivated by different things such as money, job title, public or private recognition, a sense of personal accomplishment, or a simple thanks. Appropriate and effective rewards for the energy and effort expended on new projects should be well designed and given accordingly (Hisrich 1990; Kuczmarski 2000). Hornsby et al. (2002) suggests that an effective reward system that spurs entrepreneurial activity must consider goals, feedback, emphasis on individual responsibility, and results-based incentives. The use of appropriate rewards can also enhance lower and middle managers' willingness to assume the risks associated with entrepreneurial activity (Hornsby et al. 2002; Kanter 1982).

Intellectual property.

During the innovation process, intellectual property (IP) may be generated. IP can provide several distinct advantages including a temporary technological lead, protection of brand names, and the formation of industry standards (Reitzig 2004). The values and strategic priorities of IP will inevitably vary between climate service providers. A balance must be struck between IP protection, scientific transparency, and the spirit of collaboration and information sharing. For academic and government providers, this means filing invention disclosures to their office of technology transfer, or equivalent, and continuing to publish in peer-review journals. For government, it also means inviting industry to fill a niche via calls for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) proposals. For private climate service providers, it means patent protection and prosecution as well as leveraging IP as a fundamental asset in a smart business model.

Climate service providers should strive to adopt the above nine areas of entrepreneurial behavior, which are strategically and structurally important. Each area of strength supports the others in bridging the R2O valley of death. An entrepreneurial orientation leads to better organizational performance (Lumpkin and Dess 1996) and is the best way to encourage innovation (Michael and Pearce 2009). Nevertheless, the ability and extent to which the above nine areas can be implemented will inevitably vary among government, academic, and private sector climate service providers.

The application of entrepreneurial concepts in government may seem peculiar. The public sector has traditionally been thought of as being incompatible with the characteristics of entrepreneurship (Bernier and Hafsi 2007), partly because government entities are often risk averse and, in extreme cases, risk avoidant (Kropp and Zolin 2008). The idea of government creating new products, services, or processes often provokes debates about the appropriate role of government (Goldston 2009). However, the concept of entrepreneurship that focuses on creating business ventures is not well suited to understanding the management challenges of a large-scale public agency (Marmor 1986). Whereas profit is the motivator in the private sector, the creation of social capital or value is the motivation of public entrepreneurship (Edwards et al. 2002). Managers can attend to the traditions of public service and be innovative in seeking to improve public services (Zegans 1992). Characteristics of an entrepreneurial government climate service provider include innovation in service delivery, leveraging of resources, the use of partnerships to create added value, empowerment of citizens, enablement of private sector growth, proactiveness, being driven by goals rather than rules, and finding and satisfying unmet needs of the public (Edwards et al. 2002; Kropp and Zolin 2008). The history of American government has many examples of public entrepreneurship (Marmor 1986; Zegans 1992; Edwards et al. 2002; Bernier and Hafsi 2007; Borins 2001a,b, 2008).

The manifestation of entrepreneurship in academic climate service providers will be similar to government in crossing the R2O valley of death with the addition of activities that create a revenue stream for the host institution. Most universities have a formalized technology transfer and licensing process. It adds value to the host institution's intellectual property portfolio, which creates opportunities for technology licensing, royalties, and spin-out companies (Graff et al. 2002; Wright et al. 2004; Heisey and Adelman 2011). As a result, the reported gross licensing income of U.S. universities increased from under $200 million in 1991 to over $2.3 billion in 2009 (Association of University Technology Managers 2010). Academic climate service providers may also have more flexibility than government in establishing partnerships and creating customized data products for specific clients.

Entrepreneurship in private sector climate service providers will be rooted in direct support of company survival and wealth creation for its shareholders. It will take the form of processes and products that attempt to gain a competitive advantage. Private sector climate service providers may rely on partnerships with government and academic climate service providers in crossing the R2O valley of death.

THE THIRD E: EVALUATION OF CLIMATE SERVICE PROVIDERS.

The right of any organization to exist is not perpetual but has to be earned. Self-evaluation enables self-improvement. Unfortunately, no single measure can provide a clear performance target or focus attention on critical areas of activity (NOAA 2010; National Research Council 2005; Kaplan and Norton 1992). Climate service providers should therefore carefully employ a suite of metrics.

Metrics help climate service providers track performance, identify and evaluate processes that need refining, measure impact, set goals, and inform stakeholders (National Research Council 2005; NOAA 2010). Metrics are also powerful tools of persuasion with funding sponsors, investors, and employees. However, metrics may not provide instantaneous feedback. There may be a long time horizon for evaluating success of a project as well as each individual contributor (Hisrich 1990). This patience is no different from the investment-return time horizon used by venture capitalists who invest in start-up companies.

One of the simplest and arguably most effective ways to benchmark performance is to use a balanced scorecard (Kaplan and Norton 1992). It allows managers to look at the organization from four important perspectives: 1) Customer perspective; that is, how customers see us. This includes cost of the service, quality, and time to delivery. For new services, it may include the time to market. 2) Internal business perspective, which focuses on areas of excellence and expertise. This includes internal operations that enable the provider to satisfy customer needs and will probably be the processes that have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction. 3) Innovation and learning perspective; that is, the ability to continue to improve and create value. This includes the ability to launch new products, and continually improve operational efficiencies. It also includes having a pipeline of new products. Too many new products can strangle an organization; too few is just as bad (Kuczmarski 2000). Measuring the number of products at various stages of development helps to control the process. 4) Financial perspective, which indicates whether the organization's strategy, implementation, and execution are contributing to the bottom line. It may include cash flow, quarterly sales numbers, market share, cost recovery, profits, or return on investment. Too much cash allows managers to follow a flawed strategy for too long while having barely enough cash forces managers to adapt to the desires of customers instead of the organization's treasury (Christensen 2002).

The balanced scorecard will force climate service providers to focus on a handful of measures that are most critical. It brings together, in a single management report, disparate elements of a corporate agenda. It also enables managers to see whether improvement in one area would be achieved at the expense of another. The balanced scorecard puts strategy and vision, not control, at the center (Kaplan and Norton 1992). It establishes goals but assumes that people will adopt whatever behaviors and actions are necessary to arrive at those goals. It also encourages input of people from all organizational levels. Figure 5 presents a simplified balanced scorecard for a hypothetical federal government climate service provider. Some of the goals and measures presented in Fig. 5 were adapted from DeGaetano et al. (2010), Miles et al. (2006), Kaplan and Norton (1992), and NOAA (2010).

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

A balanced scorecard for a hypothetical federal government climate service provider.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94, 6; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00087.1

A second evaluation tool is a logic model, which focuses on the evaluation of an individual product or portfolio of climate services. Logic models are a way to illustrate events and processes in such a way that the causal relationships and fundamental logic become apparent (Millar et al. 2001). Figure 6 depicts a logic model as published by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (2004). It has five basic components: 1) inputs (including the human and financial resources to do the work; 2) activities (processes and events that use the inputs); 3) outputs (direct results of the climate service; 4) outcomes (specific changes in a client's skills, behavior, or knowledge); and 5) impacts (measurable changes that occur in communities, systems, or organizations as a result of climate services). Logic models are beneficial because they enable stakeholders to see what must be done to achieve a desired outcome, assess the probability of success, identify critical factors that could impact the outcome, and clarify the sequence of events. All stakeholders should be invited to help create a logic model because it is an opportunity to identify overlapping priorities and evaluation criteria. Most of the value of a logic model is in the process of creating it. By first defining the desired impacts (Kanter 2010) and outcomes of a specific climate service (NOAA 2010), the necessary resources and activities to meet those goals can be clearly identified and allocated. Logic models can then be used to measure success during a project's life cycle.

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

Basic logic model (W. K. Kellogg Foundation 2004).

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94, 6; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00087.1

Efforts should also be made to document the economic value of climate services. For example, for every $1 that energy companies spend in acquiring NOAA data, a potential cost savings of $495 is realized as a result of not having to purchase their own observing infrastructure and climate data warehousing (Centrec 2003). Extrapolating the savings to the entire U.S. energy market yields a potential benefit of $65 million. Similar examples are archived at the site www.ppi.noaa.gov/economics, which provides high-quality information about the economic value and real-world application of NOAA data and services. It is an example of the type of economic impacts collection system that is needed by the climate services enterprise.

The management and implementation of evaluation metrics and analytics will differ among government, academic, and private climate service providers. Government climate service providers will use metrics to inform the public, increase accountability to Congress, and guide strategic thinking (National Research Council 2005; NOAA 2010). Although private sector climate service providers may use metrics to do much of the same, fundamentally they will be used to compete (Davenport 2006; National Research Council 2005). Academic climate service providers may use metrics to supplement peer evaluation, hiring, and tenure of faculty (National Research Council 2005). These differences present unique challenges for the development, collection, and sharing of metrics. Nevertheless, use of evaluation metrics will enhance the provision of climate services.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS.

Innovation is the root of human progress. Discontinuous innovations disrupt existing industries and generate new industries, new products, new services, new solutions, and new jobs. Because of the nation's economic situation, impacts of climate change, and state of science, an opportunity exists now to foster a new era of climate services that are discontinuous and disruptive. It is up to us to accelerate innovation in climate services such that climate-sensitive clients are able to solve problems in new ways with new datasets and products.

To accelerate innovation in climate services, we must cross the R2O valley of death with purpose and ambition. Though there are nuances between each type of climate service provider, the three E's (engagement, entrepreneurship, and evaluation) can help all providers traverse the R2O valley of death to create relevant, valuable, and discontinuous climate services for our nation.

Now is the time to accelerate innovation in the climate services enterprise. The timeless ideas embodied by the three E's are drawn from proven management practices, theory, and the author's own experience. Although they may seem untenable or daring, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author wishes to thank three anonymous peer reviewers who offered critical feedback and suggestions for improvement. Sincere appreciation is also extended to those who made this essay possible by sharing their wisdom, suggestions for improvement, and/or reviews of early drafts: Mr. Ed O'Lenic, Chief of the Operations Branch at CPC and Chair of the AMS Committee on Climate Services; Dr. Ted Baker, Professor and Executive Director of The Entrepreneurship Collaborative in the Poole College of Management at NC State University; Mr. Adam Smith, Physical Scientist at NCDC; Mr. Raj Narayan, Esq., Associate Director of the Kenan Institute at NC State University; Capt. Christopher Dyke, Mission Director and Weather Officer in the USAF Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron; Dr. Matthew Simpson, Atmospheric Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Dr. Patricia Sobrero, Associate Vice Chancellor at NC State University; Mr. Tim Owen, Operations Planning Officer at NCDC; Dr. Scott Hausman, Chief of the Support Services Division at NCDC; Dr. Len Pietrafesa, Commissioner of the AMS Commission on the Weather and Climate Enterprise and Associate Dean Emeritus at NC State University; Ms. Eileen Shea, Director of NOAA IDEA Center and Senior Advisor at NCDC; Dr. Terri Helmlinger-Ratcliff, Executive Director of the Industrial Extension Service and Vice Provost at NC State University; Dr. John Anderson, Executive Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at NC State University; Mr. Joe Velk, Principal of Contender Capital; Dr. Ed Addison and Mr. John McGrath, Directors at Infinity Venture Group; Dr. Sethu Raman, State Climatologist Emeritus of North Carolina; and Mr. Russell Thomas, Director of New Venture Services, Office of Technology Transfer at NC State University. Finally, special thanks to Mr. Jeff Rosenfeld, Mr. Chet Ropelewski, Dr. Art DeGaetano, and Ms. Melissa Fernau for excellent suggestions for improvement and ensuring a timely and helpful peer review process. Opinions, conclusions, and recommendations are of the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the American Meteorological Society or the persons acknowledged above. An abridged version of this essay was posted to the AMS Front Page blog in January 2012 (see http://blog.ametsoc.org/columnists/seize-the-janus-moment/).

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