Is the economic downtown turning a corner? Well, yes it is…just which corner it’s turning no one really knows…yet. In the meantime, most companies are sitting tight, private capital is hanging on the sidelines, and the “green” natives are getting restless. So it was with great interest that this week an article was published in the MIT Sloan Management Review which echoed the sentiment that I have carried forward with my clients for years. Recalling Michael Douglas’ “Wall Street” character’s statement that “Greed is Good”, MIT Sloan’s basic message is… “Green is Good”.
MIT presents two ways of thinking:
-Old Thinking: Companies have long mistakenly thought that adopting environmentally friendly processes adds costs.
-New Thinking: Green practices like recycling, reusing and reducing waste can cut costs because they make a company more efficient.
Using an example set by Subaru of Indiana, there are many proofs to the axiom that prevention of pollution and continually improving efficiencies …one idea that focuses on environmental improvement, and the other on business economics, works even in lean times. Subaru found that:
1.Profits come by increasing efficiency and reducing waste—but they don’t always come immediately.
2.Management’s leadership is vital in setting goals and getting departments to cooperate.
3.The front line workers have to be engaged to spot opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle, and find other ways to create efficiencies.
4.Sustainability initiatives achieve maximum benefit from involvement of their supply chain.
5.All waste by-products are potentially new products
6.Green initiatives foster creativity and can enhance competitive advantage.
Let’s all be honest…that last point…competitive advantage is what really motivates business. So company sustainability initiatives cannot and should not be viewed through strictly an environmental lens, but through the balanced “sweet” spot of the Triple Bottom Line.
To paraphrase Guy Kawasaki in his book, Rules for Revolutionaries, what really matters happens at the edges. The action is not in the centers or areas of sameness. Organizations must challenge conventions and change the way products and processes are thought of and delivered.
So take the Lean and Green challenge…do what Subaru has done and get to work innovating and creating.