Driving massive change through creative collaboration – is there still time for the bees?

Scientists found bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had left their hives and died. Photograph: Rex Features

Scientists found bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had left their hives and died. Photograph: Rex Features

“Honeybees abandoning hives and dying due to insecticide use, research finds.”  This is the headline in the Guardian, May 9th, 2014.  The most recent study by  Dr. Chensheng Lu, an expert on environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health, points to neonicotionoids as a trigger to colony collapse disorder.

“No”, say the experts at Bayer CropScience, “the study is seriously flawed.”  Flawed or not flawed, neonicotionoids banned or not banned, farmers with them or without them (the pesticides? the bees?).  You can see where this is all going – nowhere.

At the Heart of the Matter

Yet at the heart of the matter, everyone agrees that bees are important pollinators for food production.  Colony Collapse Disorder, whatever the cause, is decimating the planet’s bees.  And to quote a famous, misquote, “If the Bee Disappeared Off the Face of the Earth, Man Would Only Have Four Years Left To Live.”

We get it – it’s a complex problem.  But finger pointing and jousting with research studies isn’t going to save anyone or any bee.   This battle is not for market or media share; it is for the future of our children.  That is why Dr. Barbara Gray’s work, “Sustainability through Partnerships – capitalizing on collaboration” is an important  guide to unimaginable collaborative solutions.  She lays out a roadmap on the four factors that influence partnership outcomes: 1)external drivers, 2) partner motivations, 3) partner and partnership characteristics and 4) process issues.

Collaborative Solutions – from forest to bees

Last year Avrim Lazar, Former CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada spoke passionately at the 2013 Accelerate – Collaborating for Sustainability Conference about how the forest industry, NGOs and others came together to create a platform for sustainable forestry.  It wasn’t easy.  “You have to put what’s important at the centre of the discussion,” he told us.  These type of collaborations are no place for egos.  They are a place for authentic leadership, relationship building and innovation.

Imagine for a moment,  if the key stakeholders in the honey bee issue came together on a convening question like: “How can we collaboratively build a resilient, healthy bee pollinator population today and for generations to come?”

And imagine if chemical companies, government, farmers, environmental groups, citizens and other stakeholders could come together and create a learning process partnership.  Dr. Gray’s road map would direct them to: 1)  Construct fair processes and manage conflicts, 2) Create expectations that solutions will not emerge quickly, 3) Ensure a voice for all participants, 4)  Set evaluation criteria, 5) Allow time for representatives’ constituencies to build relationships, review and ratify agreements and 6) Develop authentic leaders competent in partnership skills.

We do need a new way of solving complex problems.  Barbara Gray, Avrim Lazar, Peter Senge  and the other speakers at the Accelerate Collaboration for Sustainability Conference on June 5 & 6 in Toronto will be talking about driving massive change through creative collaboration.  We need these new approaches.  Otherwise we’ll bee battling research, media barbs and shiny new Bee Care Centers right – into – oblivion.

bethechange

 

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Great News! It Doesn’t Take a Visionary to Change the World

Take heart. According to Researcher Sandra Waddock “a personal desire to make a difference” – matters.

As reported by the Network for Business Sustainability, Waddock studied the emerging DifferenceMakerssystems and institutions that frame the discussion of corporate sustainability and responsibility today.  She found that the “difference makers” were not charismatic leaders and visionaries with a clear long-term agenda. Instead, they “stumbled” into their ultimate vision or made sense of it after the fact.

Waddock writes that these “difference makers” had a deep sense of purpose drawn from a recognition of injustice, or a more general desire to make the world a better place.   And that the key to their success was a pragmatic vision; a willingness to take multiple small steps toward what they viewed as desirable system change, rather than attempting to implement a grand vision all at once.

Small Steps Do Matter After All

If you are like me, you are eternally grateful to hear this.  We are continuously reminded that this “incremental change” stuff is for the birds.  We can’t get from here to there with  small steps.

But as I sit at my desk reading 27 letters from the Water Rockers, a group of Grade 6 students who are fiercely proud of their environmental efforts, I have to think that good things can come in small packages.

Blue W is a unique community-based program dedicated to promoting municipal tap water as a healthy, easily accessible alternative to purchasing bottled drinks.

Blue W is a unique community-based program dedicated to promoting municipal tap water as a healthy, easily accessible alternative to purchasing bottled drinks.

The Water Rockers started a Blue W Program  in their little town this Fall.  They go into the village and sign up businesses.  They even have a fundraising program to sell reusable water bottles.  They tell me that they write for the local newspaper and have been on the front page, and they have been on the local radio five times.  They write – did I know that they parade down Rainbow Hall on Waste Free Wednesday’s banging their homemade instruments, dressed in crazy clothes celebrating litterless lunches.  And they know it is really working because they used to fill “four giant bins” of garbage every week and now they are down to one.

I think the most astounding thing is  – they think it would be “cool” to meet me.  Let’s be serious, I think it will be really cool to meet THEM!

Social Entrepreneurs are Everywhere

I know that behind those children is an innovative teacher who knows how to glue all parts of the curriculum to social and environmental responsibility. Need to practice persuasive writing:  research a speaker for our upcoming festival and tell them why they would want to come to our school.   Must learn graphing and charting: keep a 3 year running history of waste per capita waste on the bulletin board in the hall.  Public speaking a requirement: let’s go talk on the radio about the Blue W program and the Water Rockers.  A subtle but powerful difference in approach, one that creates authentic student engagement, achievement and citizenship.  Shouldn’t we all want that for our kids?

Waddock concluded, after researching the social entrepreneurial efforts of  difference makers’, that it does not take a visionary to change the world.  What it does take is a willingness to risk action that moves a system or organization in the desired direction.   That might include banging a drum on Waste Free Wednesday in Rainbow Hall, setting your students free in town to advance a Blue W program or quitting your six figure salary to start a sustainability training business.

We are all shifting the system, inches at a time.  Sometimes so imperceptibly, it seems we are standing still.  And then sometimes you get 27 inspiring letters from 27 outstanding young people and you feel privileged  to be part of the “difference maker” club.  It really is beautiful to be in such good company.

Read More about Dr. Sandra Waddock’s Research

 

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Gameification of Systems Thinking Training

How would you rate your understanding of systems thinking?

I want to share a downloadable, fun and practical toolkit that will increase your success.

systemsthinkingin action

We live in a world of systems.

We live in a world of systems.  The traffic you drove through this morning, financial markets, the company you work for, your family, the natural systems that feed you, the climate.  They are all systems; big and small, complex or simple. And most of us go through life oblivious of their power over us.

A Sustainability Core Competency

Systems Thinking is a core competency for sustainability professionals.  As agents of change, we need to understand the shift that humankind is making, from reductionist, rational, linear thinking to systems thinking.  Sounds like crazy talk – doesn’t it?

systems change

Understanding systems allows us to find key leverage points for effective change.

We wouldn’t try to land on the moon without understanding astronomy, astrobiology or aerospace engineering.  We need the right mental map to be successful.  It is the same for sustainability.

But where does one go to learn about systems thinking?  You might try to read great technical books like Donella Meadows’ “Thinking in Systems”.  But I’ll warn you, it gave me a brain cramp.  I personally haven’t developed the neural pathways to make it stick.

A Practical Tool for Systems Thinking Training

That’s why last week’s  breakthrough is “shareworthy”.  Gabby Kalapos of the Clean Air Partnership invited me to a session with Dr. Steve Easterbrook, University of Toronto - and my Systems Thinking lights came on!

Steve was speaking a language that everyone in the room could understand.  He was playing “games” with us.

Gameification of Systems Thinking

A few years ago he discovered “The Systems Thinking Playbook” by Linda Booth Sweeney and Dennis Meadows;  a book of experiential games that demonstrate how systems work.

As we played Avalanche, Living Loops and other games; we learned about feedback loops, positive and negative reinforcing loops and balancing loops.  We started to make connections to sustainable habits, climate change, and energy systems.  We left with new insights and a starting point for learning and sharing systems thinking.  And – we had fun!

Getting Credible

systemsthinkingplaybook

This Playbook is a subset of the Systems Thinking Playbook. It is downloadable and contains 22 games.

Bob Willard once said, “If we want to be successful changemakers for a sustainable world; we need to get credible.”  Being able to understand, explain and use Systems Thinking is essential to our current work.

Coming soon will be the “The Systems Thinking Playbook for Climate Change” a short version of the total playbook with 22 games that help your audience understand systems and climate change.  For instance, the first game, Arms Crossed, demonstrates how behaviour change is hard and uncomfortable at first, but clearly something we can overcome.

Leverage Points for Systems Change

Understanding systems allows us to stop tinkering around the edges and make meaningful steps for change.  In a recent blog on key leverage points for systems change, Steve Easterbrook notes that one of those key leverage points is to –  
“Learn systems thinking and gain the ability to understand a system from multiple perspectives; 

Realize that system structure and behaviour arises from a dominant paradigm.

Explore how our own perspectives shape our interactions with the system… And then…take to the streets.”

I like that.  I hope you’ll join me in that journey! (and have a little fun along the way)

Posted in Employee Engagement, Sustainability Engagement Network Discussion (SEND) Series, Sustainability Leadership, Sustainability Strategy | Tagged | 1 Comment

Climate Inaction – Cost to Taxpayers

I think the saying goes – “a penny wise – a pound foolish”.  It is one of those idioms that you wonder just where it came from and how long its been around.  But it sure rang true this week as Toronto City Council debated who would pay for the $106 million dollars in ice storm damages.  The cost could wipe out the city’s 2013 surplus of $93 million (money generated by cutbacks to services like – uh – tree trimming over hydro lines).

We are starting to look a little silly.  By ignoring climate change in order to “save taxpayers money” (as Mayor Ford would say),  it is – well – costing taxpayers money.  The Alberta floods cost in excess of $ 2 billion and the December ice storm is at $.25 billion and growing.  Officials are saying that Federal and Provincial disaster relief funds are not going to be able to keep up at this rate.

US Climate Cost Exceeds $ 1 Trillion

weatherrelatedcosts

According to NOAA, the U.S. sustained over 144 weather/climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The total cost of these 144 events exceeds $1 trillion.  I couldn’t readily find the Canadian figures.

 

Inaction on Climate Change Costs Taxpayers Money

ceres2A recent study by Ceres entitled “Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers” (Oct. 2013) recently noted: “When we examine the full costs of public programs that pay for disaster relief and recovery from extreme weather events-ad hoc disaster assistance appropriations, flood insurance, crop insurance, wild fire protection, and state run “residual market” insurance programs-we can begin to understand the price to U.S. taxpayers of inaction on climate change. Each of these programs is highly exposed to catastrophic weather events. As climate change results in more frequent, volatile and damaging extreme weather across the country, the potential liabilities of these public programs and the bottom line costs to all of us will soar.

We all bear an additional burden: we pick up the tab for damages from extreme weather events that are neither insured by the private insurance market nor reimbursed by government programs. Continuing to ignore these escalating risks may be more comfortable than confronting the many challenges of adapting to and slowing down climate change, but inaction is the far riskier and more expensive path.”

The Ceres report calls for more transparency on extreme weather costs, research, mitigation, adaptation and greater involvement of insurance partners using pricing insurance premiums that consider the use of forward-looking catastrophe risk modeling.

Stern Said Pay Now or Much More Later

Perhaps it is time we started to make investments in our future again.  Maybe it is not all about cost cutting.  Sir Nicholas Stern said we could invest 1% of GDP now to mitigate and adapt to climate change or we can pay 20% of GDP later, as we try to pick up the pieces.   

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Guelph Sustainable Commerce Program Meets UN Responsible Management Principles

This gallery contains 1 photo.

I recently discovered the UN  Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME).   Under the coordination of the UN Global Compact and leading academic institutions, the PRME task force developed in 2007 a set of six principles which lay the foundation … Continue reading

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Session 9: Reporting – Purpose and Content (Sustainability Engagement Network Discussion

By Wendy Firlotte, Employee Engagement for Sustainability Specialist

Wendy gained experience as the Sustainability Engagement Manager for a large multi-national engineeing firm with 171 offices.

Wendy gained experience as the Sustainability Engagement Manager for a large multi-national engineeing firm with 171 offices.

To follow the topic of the last SEND series post on tracking and measurement, this month will focus on the next step, reporting.

The information we collect to track and measure progress is not only useful for your organization’s sustainability report, which will likely only highlight a fraction of the information collected, but also to inform programming decisions.

Creating sustainability engagement specific reports with the results of tracking and monitoring will go a long way in maintaining informed decisions about the sustainability engagement program as well as helping others understand the overall program.

Report Planning and Scope

Primarily, the substance and schedule of sustainability engagement related reporting needs to align with your organization’s sustainability engagement strategy.  This strategy will provide additional direction to enhance reporting relevance and focus.  It will help you identify  what you will report, your target audience and how your report will be used.  More on aligning with strategy is available in a previous SEND post on Planning and Strategy.

Depending on your organizational context, your reporting needs and outputs will vary from other organizations.  Here are a couple of possibilities to consider when deciding on report types. Both are useful tools to communicate program goals and progress.

Progress Reports:  Quarterly data summaries at the region and office level are valuable to create timely snap shots of how the program is progressing.  Using this data to create annual progress reports will allow office staff to see how they are doing in comparison to other offices, as well as, the company as a whole.

Formal Evaluation:  When your organization conducts a formal evaluation of your engagement program and revision of your engagement strategy; creating a report to illustrate your findings is beneficial.  In addition to reporting on quantitative data, this type of report is useful to identify progress on other important elements of sustainability engagement such as organizational culture, employee understanding of sustainability, etc.

Report Fundamentals

When creating a sustainability engagement report there are some fundamentals that can improve its effectiveness in terms of structure, relevance, substance and user-friendliness.   The following are few considerations:

Audience:  It is important to consider who will be your target audience.  Will it include executive leadership, regional and office management, local sustainability/green teams, all employees or other types of audience segments?  Do you have specific communication goals for each segment of your audience?  How will you address these elements when creating the report framework?

Purpose:  What purpose will the report serve?  What are the objectives of the report in regard to supporting overall programming?  What types of information will you include?  Will the report include information that is qualitative, quantitative or both?

Content:  The information you have collected for your report will come from the evaluation plan.  It could include: an online survey (perhaps a follow-up survey to your needs assessment survey to illustrate progress), the results of tracking and measurement for your internal programs, focus groups, etc.

How will you relate this data to the overarching programming goals as well as specific operational goals such as performance improvement?  Mapping out how you will present your data and analysis will greatly impact the reader experience.  For example, how will employees feel the data connects to their everyday actions at work, including management and leadership?  One approach could be to identify specific program goals and use these to help create the framework of your report.  This approach could assist employees in making the direct connection to how your organization is progressing toward specific goals.

Creating space for qualitative data to help tell your program’s story from the organizational level is also valuable; for example you could include some best practice examples from internal initiatives or illustrate general comments and feedback from individuals or local teams.  Creating words clouds are an interesting way to illustrate feedback; Wordle is a free online tool.

In terms of moving forward with programming, reporting provides a data and fact-based platform to create change.  Based on the data analysis and discussion, create a section for recommendations; this will provide the space for rationale for any improvements to the engagement program.

Make it readable.  We all hope that the reports we create are actually read by our intended audiences.  Therefore, we need to make sure we create reports that will be read.  Keeping it relevant, clear, concise and whenever possible use diagrams to illustrate data will go a long way in improving its readability.

Share it.  Reporting should be included in the engagement programs communications plan. It is an effective communication tool and should be marketed as widely as possible.  For example, have offices print copies for bulletin boards, make it available online and promote its release to increase its readership through online articles, send targeted emails to specific audience segments such as office mangers, regional management, executive leadership, all employees, etc.

If you have any comments, ideas, additions to share please a comment below.  This discussion series is about learning from each other.  Hearing about your experiences is valuable to everyone!  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Wendy Firlotte or Kathryn Cooper.

Other topics already covered in the SEND discussion series may also be relevant to your situation; please take some time to read through previous posts and stay tuned for future posts and related discussions.

Session 1 – Planning and strategy

Session 2 – Addressing scope – Local vs. corporate plans

Session 3 – Communicating with frontline staff

Session 4 – Internal benchmarking & office rating systems

Session 5 – Beyond start-up – Dealing with plateaus and revitalizing programs

Session 6 – Participation – Overcoming barriers and competing priorities

Session 7 – Integrating sustainability into operations

Session 8 – Tracking and measurement

Session 9 – Reporting – purpose and content (Current Post)

Session 10 – Wrap-up Session

The Sustainability Engagement Network Discussion (SEND) Series is a network of Sustainability Practitioners using peer learning to accelerate employee engagement for sustainability.  If you are interested in participating in our ongoing sustainability engagement discussions, please contact Kathryn Cooper.

 

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Sustainability Engagement Network Discussion (SEND) Series # 8: Tracking and Measurement

By Wendy Firlotte, Employee Engagement for Sustainability Specialist

Wendy gained experience as the Sustainability Engagement Manager for a large multi-national engineeing firm with 171 offices.

Wendy gained experience as the Sustainability Engagement Manager for a large multi-national engineering firm with 171 offices.

Measurement, monitoring, evaluating and reporting sustainability engagement is essential to the effectiveness of your program.  Feedback loops and processes for continual reflection, evaluation, learning and improvement provide evidence of the program’s value, while helping participants to monitor their progress and achievements.

However,  engagement data is quantitative and qualitative and many organizations struggle with finding practical ways to measure, collect, monitor, evaluate and report it on an regular basis.

Creating a Monitoring Framework

Much has been written on choosing metrics and indicators.  In this post I’m going to stay away from discussing how to choose metrics and indicators and talk more about some of the considerations and logistics of creating a monitoring framework that really works for your program.

Quantitative or Qualitative Data?

From a measurement standpoint, we aim to create a monitoring framework that identifies related:

  • outputs
  • outcomes
  • specific indicators

Quantitative data is useful for reporting and building the immediate business case for the program; while qualitative information greatly improves programming and builds an important story to support the business case.  You need both.

Metrics Linked to Strategy

Measurement, monitoring and reporting also provides a significant opportunity to connect your program with the organizational context, goals, program objectives and priorities.  It’s helpful to look at the “bigger picture”.  An effective tracking structure supports and links the engagement strategy with a strong, logical framework that allows an employee to see a clear link between their daily actions and outcomes presented in a company sustainability report.  (For further discussion on strategy, see a previous SEND post: Session 1 – Planning and strategy)

Enhancing your Monitoring System to Ensure Greater Success

So what is our core objective here?  We are all looking for a program that provides clear evidence that it: 1) directly supports the company’s sustainability strategy, 2) makes a contribution to the bottom line and 3) makes tangible progress year over year.  You might have other objectives as well.  Perhaps productivity or employee attraction and retention are also important to you.  You need to be clear up front about the type of story you want your metrics to tell.

Therefore,  it’s important to take a step back and clarify your monitoring and evaluation framework from a more holistic perspective.  You need to stay mindful that you don’t want to get bogged down in collecting numbers  that don’t accomplish any of your stated goals.  Here we will take a look at important qualitative considerations to data collection including: support, collaboration, effectiveness, communication and dialogue.

Effectiveness

How effective is your program?  While collecting data, we need to also capture whether or

Photo credit: TheTruthAbout...

Data may not reflect whether they are relevant or successful. For example, if we collect numbers of locations with recycling stations, we also need to ask “Are they being used?”

not your program is both useful and functional.  As we monitor initiative numbers, we need to recognize that the data may not reflect whether they are relevant or successful.  For example, if we collect numbers of locations with recycling stations, we also need to ask “Are they being used?”.  Or, if certain office or plant locations are not participating in specific parts of the program, we may need to ask “why?”.  Conversely, this is also a great way to identify best practice examples by asking “what worked”, “what didn’t work” and “what lessons have been learned”.

Support

Bundling requests for data with other communication and support, such as check-ins and follow-ups, is an effective way to increase overall engagement in the program.  Regular check-ins can  identify when teams or individuals are struggling or need support.  For example, on top of collecting data we can ask offices/locations if they need any support on existing projects or to start new projects?  This is also a great opportunity for local dialogue and to identify local champions.

Communication & Dialogue

Tracking and monitoring systems can create avenues for dialogue and communication.  This could be between teams and management, between employees in an office, between offices, between corporate departments and offices, or between departments (you get the idea).  Progress reports with tangible and timely data can be a foundation for local, regional or corporate discussions on organizational sustainability.  What are your windows for such a dialogue?  How does your data roll up into your Sustainability Report.  It is important to be strategic about these discussions to support and enhance your program.

Collaboration

Tracking and monitoring provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate with other departments and program leads in other sustainability related areas. By working together you can demonstrate that your program is integral  in integrating sustainability into operations.  For example, who is coordinating the sustainability report?  Walk them through your Tracking and Monitoring Framework outline and discuss all of the possibilities that would assist in sustainability reporting.  Also express your interest in creating a framework that would allow employees to see a direct connection between their daily actions and what they read in the sustainability report.  How could you work together to make it more relatable to employees?

Also, use this framework as an opportunity to utilize existing networks?  Does your organization have health and safety, environmental health and safety or quality representatives in each location?  Could they double as a sustainability contact or could they assist in appointing one in their office?  Is health and safety already collecting data for their own tracking purposes?  How are they tracking it, what could you learn from them?   Is there another related program you could join forces with to track and monitor?  Think through your own context and whom you could approach to partner with or learn from.

How are we measuring progress? 

It is important to have the discussion - how do we define success?

It is important to have the discussion – “How do we define success?”

The first question that comes to my mind when considering tracking and measurement is: How are we defining success?  What would success look like for your sustainability engagement program?  If we are not sure exactly where we are going how will we know when we get there?  How will we measure our progress?

Measurement and Feedback

Once you have mapped out what success looks like for your program, you need to determine appropriate program milestones, metrics, outputs and outcomes.  For the purposes of this post, here are some questions you might consider:

  • What metrics do you already track?  Could they be shared?
  • Are some programming areas harder to track than others?
  • What measures do you struggle with?
  • What measures have you had success with?

I think this would be a great conversation to have during our SEND networking discussion.

No matter what metrics your organization uses, you need to establish a baseline.   We cannot measure progress if we do not know where we started.  Also, you will need to determine the frequency of data collection and monitoring.  For example, you could have quarterly updates on progress that feed into an annual evaluation.  I definitely recommend setting up some sort of ongoing feedback avenue that allows timely and potentially anonymous comments where individuals or offices may express their concerns at any time without having to wait for a formal process.

With tracking and evaluation comes reporting.  The information is not only useful for the sustainability report, which will likely only highlight a fraction of the information you’ve collected.  Pulling together your own progress report with the results of the monitoring and evaluation will go a long way in helping others understand the overall program.  Share it with your leadership team, regional and local managers, local teams and individuals participating in the program.  Make it available online and promote its release to increase its readership.

Possible Frameworks

Office Rating Systems – These can be a useful tool to use as framework for tracking and

Office rating systems at Harvard award 1 to 4 leafs based on achievement of sustainability goals.

Office rating systems at Harvard award 1 to 4 leafs based on achievement of sustainability goals.

measurement. This type of framework provides a strategic, clear, consistent and effective avenue to implement your engagement strategy locally.  For further discussion on office rating systems, see our previous SEND post: Session 4 – Internal benchmarking & office rating systems.

Key multipliers – Since the foundation of sustainability is rooted in local context, a coordination platform is required for creating relevance, while meaningfully supporting and empowering local efforts.  Building a network of regional “key multipliers” in to the implementation structure provides regional contacts, communication, and tracking and support for local office teams or committees.  This includes a regional representative who regularly communicates, follows up and supports a set number of local offices.  The regional representatives then regularly report to the program coordinator on progress.

Tools

Mind map it – Pulling together a comprehensive tracking and monitoring system can be a bit complex.  I find it helpful to use mind maps to visualize the framework.  Coggle is a free and easy online mind-mapping tool that I use often.  You are able to drag and drop pictures, as well as, share and collaborate with others.

Online Data Collection Tools – If you do not have your own departmental data collection team, there are useful resources out there.  My personal favorite is Surveymonkey, which provides a free or low cost (depending on your needs) platform for data entry and analysis.  It is a very useful tool.

Software – I often get asked about this.  This could very well be a useful and viable option for your organization.  I have had many software tracking companies approach me with their products over the years.  Two things were a “no go” for me: 1.  The cost.  They were basically cost prohibitive,  at a whopping $50,000 purchase price followed by thousands of dollars per year in operating costs.  2.  I wanted to promote more dialogue within the organization and I felt taking this kind of approach would make all conversations virtual, not that organizing virtual conversations is a bad thing, but in the context of tracking and monitoring I wanted there to be real, regular conversations.

Creating your own system

When looking to construct your own tracking system, I highly recommend using a mind map technique (see above) to think through your possibilities.  Once you have this rough picture in your mind, you can thoroughly brainstorm each aspect and how you could measure success in this area. It can also be helpful to look for examples from other organizations and best practice case studies.  Use these as inspiration and pick and choose what pieces would work for you and adapt them to your own context.

The bottom line, as always, is that sustainability is rooted in local context and there is no one path or one way to do something.  Involve others, get dialogue going and be creative.  Become your own sustainability case study.

If you have any comments, ideas, additions to share please a comment below.  This discussion series is about learning from each other.  Hearing about your experiences is valuable to everyone!  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Wendy Firlotte or Kathryn Cooper.

Other topics already covered in the SEND discussion series may also be relevant to your situation; please take some time to read through previous posts and stay tuned for future posts and related discussions.

Session 1 – Planning and strategy

Session 2 – Addressing scope – Local vs. corporate plans

Session 3 – Communicating with frontline staff

Session 4 – Internal benchmarking & office rating systems

Session 5 – Beyond start-up – Dealing with plateaus and revitalizing programs

Session 6 – Participation – Overcoming barriers and competing priorities

Session 7 – Integrating sustainability into operations

Session 8 – Tracking and measurement (Current Post)

Session 9 – Reporting – purpose and content (November 2013)

Session 10 – Wrap-up Session

The Sustainability Engagement Network Discussion (SEND) Series is a network of Sustainability Practitioners using peer learning to accelerate employee engagement for sustainability.  If you are interested in participating in our ongoing sustainability engagement discussions, please contact Kathryn Cooper.

 

Posted in Employee Engagement, Sustainability Engagement Network, Sustainability Engagement Network Discussion (SEND) Series, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reducing Green House Gasses by Analyzing Household Environmental Footprints

Reducing Green House Gasses By Analyzing Household Environmental Footprints: Study (via http://www.toolsforgreenliving.com/)

Reducing the amount of energy we consume domestically could do more than reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this light, scientists in Switzerland conducted a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. They analyzed differences…

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Study Identifies Benefits and Potential Environmental/Health Impacts of Lithium-ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles

Study Identifies Benefits and Potential Environmental/Health Impacts of Lithium-ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles (via PR Newswire)

Life Cycle Assessment Highlights Ways to Reduce Global Warming Emissions, Addresses Nanotechnology Innovations to Improve Battery Performance BETHESDA, Md., May 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Lithium (Li-ion) batteries used to power plug-in hybrid and electric…

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Four Natural Laws of Creating Sustainability Ambassadors

Culture change toward sustainability, safety or even quality isn’t quick or easy.   Yet, Environmental Health and Safety Managers are often expected to lead these cultural transformations with minimal staff and resources.  Leveraging Employee Ambassadors can build a community of excellence within a company’s workforce.  But where do you start and how do you grow the movement?

The Starting Point

In the book, “The Tipping Point”, Malcolm Gladwell laid out the case that any socialtippingpoint movement could be “tipped” toward adoption if you could reach out to the right people, with the right message, for the right reasons.

1. The right people:

We all have “go to” people on our work teams.  Some of them are “connectors”; individuals who are formally and informally well connected in and outside the organization.  Some are “Information brokers”; employees who pay attention to the details and are keen to share their knowledge.  And some are “Persuaders”; charismatic individuals with powerful negotiation skills.  Engage these people first in your sustainability or safety culture movement; they are an essential leverage point.

2. The right message:

The right message is one that resonates with us.  How it resonates depends on the way we see the world.

Studies show that individuals who value discipline and authority, tend to respond to a “call to duty” message which asks them to do the “right” thing for their families, children, and social group.

Individuals who value freedom and individualism tend to respond to a “call to action” message that focuses on their personal goals and aspirations.

Individuals who value equality, and service to others, respond to a “call to imagine” asking them to help create a better world.

Individuals who value interconnectedness and understand how systems relate to one another, respond to a “call to service” asking them to help restore vitality and balance to the world.

3. The right reasons:

People buy “why” we do things not “what we do”, according to Simon Sinek, the author of “Start with Why”.startwithwhy

Therefore, situating your sustainability or safety movement in the context of “what is important”, helps people to understand “why” you are embracing these programs at this time.  Maybe it’s because your competitors have better quality products and you want to maintain job security within your company.  Or it’s because the lack of a safety culture safety is causing injury or death among coworkers.  Glue your reasons to the context and people will be more likely to buy in.

Growing the Movement

So you have your Ambassadors on side, but you are not done yet.  Roughly, 15% of your

You start to gain momentum after the early adopters are on side, roughly 15% of your workforce.

You start to gain momentum after the early adopters are on side, roughly 15% of your workforce.

staff needs to adopt your program before everyone starts to op in.  This is where the Four Natural Laws come in.  These Natural Laws can create the momentum to reach the tipping point to shift the system.

Law 1 – Have a holistic plan and put “why” at the center. 

As discussed before, people buy why you do things not what you do.  And the “why” needs to be at the center of your plan.  Ingersoll Rand’s One STEP Forward program is a key component  of the company’s sustainability engagement strategy.  STEP stands for:

S – Sustainable: Contributes to a better world

T – Transformative: Supports you in living your values

E – Encourages Others: Inspires your colleagues, friends, and family

P – Personal: Connects to something that is meaningful to you

Law 2 – The plan should inspire the “thinking”, “feeling”, “willing”, “social” side of associates. 

One size does not fit all.

Different things resonate with different people.  The program needs to appeal to the cognitive (thinking), affective (feeling), motivational (willing) and belongingness (social) side of employees.  Key messages and joining opportunities need to vary to tap into all these elements.  That is why FijiFilm ensures its Safety program offers multiple ways for Associates to be involved.

Law 3 –  People join because they crave belongingness and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.  Consider the Wisdom of the Crowd.

The Wisdom of the Crowd says, “If everybody else is doing it – I should too.”  So it is important to create intentional awareness around your program.  The more people see others doing it, the more they will likely opt in.  This is the reason that “Awareness Raising Activities” like a Resource Library, Sustainability Success Stories (SSS),  Lunch & Learns,  Sustainability tips calendar,  Sustainability quiz, Employee recognition, and Engagement surveys are conducted and communicated at Ingersoll Rand.

Law 4 – Structures and rules can be barriers or enablers for Sustainability Ambassadors.  Align yours to enable.

Individual Sustainability Ambassadors can create ripples through their own networks creating momentum for the program.  However, this can only happen if organizational systems support, and are not barriers, to employee involvement.

Leadership, decision, communication, recruitment, measurement and reward systems and organizational structures can put up barriers or pave the way to the adoption of your program.  This is why reinforcing systems such as: Safety Committees, See-Think-Plan-Do processes, Safety Organizational Structures, Daily, monthly, annual and random audits, Task assessment reports, Quarterly Meetings with Senior management on safety and Personal Pledges all reinforce adoption of the new safety culture at FujiFilm.

The Bottom Line

Like the diffusion of a drop of dye into a glass of water – there are natural laws to dyedropthe way that sustainability and safety movements grow.  If we start in the right place and consider these Natural Laws; over time, we can tip the system toward our new sustainability or safety culture.

Kathryn is President of the Sustainability Learning Centre, a learning and networking hub for sustainability.

For More Information on this Topic

Attend Inspiring Engagement in Sustainability (On-Line Course), starting Oct. 16, 2013

In this course we provide you with insights on how your facilitation approach, the different worldviews of your staff, ingrained habits,  and culture impact your employees’ engagement in sustainability.  We’ll provide you with a perspective and tools to “inspire” staff in your sustainability movement.  For more information: Inspiring Engagement in Sustainability On-Line Course 

“The program provided a great balance of important ideas and practical approaches to applying them. I valued the access to content from Thought Leaders in this space and the practical guidance from Kathryn Cooper and the Sustainability Learning Centre for applying them.”   Wendy Lomicka, Sustainability & Citizenship Leader, Nova Chem.

Attend 2013 National Association Environmental Managers Management Forum, Oct. 23-25, 2013

Track 4: Culture & Engagement – Identifying and Developing “Culture Change” Ambassadors for EHS&S Programs

This session will help attendees tackle this important challenge and provide methods to identify and engage EHS&S ambassadors. Take part in a short Ambassador training camp and hear success stories from your peers on how they’ve created effective EHS&S culture change.

  • Kathryn Cooper, President & Chief Learning Officer; Sustainability Learning Centre
  • Gretchen Digby, Director, Global Sustainability Programs, Center for Energy Efficiency & Sustainability; Ingersoll Rand.
  • Susan Roche Hendrix, Health, Safety and Quality Management Systems Manager; Fijifilm Manufacturing USA Inc.

Moderator:

  • Mark Fowler, Environmental Health Safety, Facilities Manager; Invivo

NAEM Environmental Managers Forum, Oct. 23-25, 2013, Montreal.  For more information: http://ehsforum.naem.org/

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