From Science to Sustainability

So here it is! My first blog in the world of sustainability and I have to say that I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this amazing collection of ideas and experiences.

First off, I have to make a confession. I started out in the environmental field, not for my interest in sustainability, but instead because of my interest in the natural sciences and engineering. I’m truly fascinated by new and innovative technologies that strive to repair and minimize the damage inflicted on our environment on a daily basis. Between you and me, I’m probably one of the few people out there who often thinks about the effluent quality of stormwater retention pond and the potential impacts downstream. As interesting as it sounds, I have to admit that it might not be for everyone.

Photo Credit: Pixomar

Unfortunately a passion for all things technical didn’t provide me with the tools necessary to understand the underlying drivers for implementing real change in an organizational setting. An educational background in the technical fields tends to give a somewhat limited view of environmental problems. The story always seems to consist of a pollutant and the resulting detrimental impacts to critical natural systems. In the environmental sciences, you often learn just enough to appreciate something before you find out how close it is to impending disaster!

With this in mind, my initial approach to implementing change within my area of influence was to try and justify action based on the righteousness of the cause. Needless to say, I wasn’t too successful in my efforts. What I didn’t know was that implementing change in an organization takes so much more than simply trying to get people to see your point of view. Understandably people in the real world have different priorities, and as hard as it is to admit, the environment isn’t always front and center. Even in a room filled with seemingly like-minded “environment first” professionals, it’s pretty rare for people to agree on which part of the environment we should be concentrating on.

That’s where my interest in sustainability started, with the concept of the triple bottom line (Economic, Social and Environmental) and implementing process improvement and change management as a rallying point for creative solutions. I’ve come to realize that some of the most interesting sustainability research going on isn’t only with ecological food chains but also with sustainable supply chains. And, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, sometimes the best way to promote an environmental initiative is to show that it makes a good financial initiative. The reality is that some of the best ideas to benefit the environment are coming out of corporate boardrooms.

That being said, I’m a small fish in a big pond of sustainability ideas. With a background in science and engineering I find that a process flow and root cause analysis philosophy is the key to identifying both the challenges and opportunities for driving organizational change. Using this blog I hope, at the very least, to generate some discussion about some of those opportunities.

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About Jody Addah

Jody Addah is an environmental professional with over 12 years of experience in consulting and the public sector. With a background in environmental science and engineering (and an MBA to boot), Jody’s interests lie in finding sustainability through process improvement and strategic opportunities. When not trying to figure out the problems of the day, Jody spends his time trying the figure out the two little people that have recently come into his life.
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