Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Sustainable Efficiency

October 8, 2013

“Designed in California and Made in China” or “Designed in Cambridge and Made in China”.

What do these source declarations reveal? Do they show the companies optimized their inputs for sustainable outcomes to create stakeholder success?

Efficiency can be shortsighted and remorseless. Since the 1980s, developed economies have exported jobs to take advantage of much lower wages. Outsourcing to factories based thousands of miles from customers in the name of efficiency. Considering only the wage costs and the transportation costs can result in half-baked decisions to offshore manufacturing.

What could go wrong? Chasing efficiency with incomplete reasoning is not true efficiency. Sustainable efficiency is much more complicated. Sustainable organizations work to ensure their business networks to address the needs of all stakeholders.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation soon found their costs were higher than they had hoped. Their shoestring venture had to make and sell 10,000 computers at $50 each before ordering another 10,000 units. So many units had failed to meet requirements that the Foundation had to pay for quality control oversight in China to get computers as designed. Nonconformity costs had threatened to sink the fledgling venture.

The Cambridge-based Foundation went back to the drawing board to continue their reasoning and costing including the nonconformity costs. They then opened a Raspberry Pi factory in Britain. Run by Sony, British workers are expertly baking these tiny educational computers in Wales.

The Foundation has now sold 1.75 million basic little computers but it cannot stop improving. The educational computer outstrips the computing and programming skills of their teachers. Many of whom have not ventured far beyond their tablets or packaged software programs.

By engaging more stakeholders to understand their needs, we may see a sustainable future for the Raspberry Pi enthusing future engineers of computers, software and the web. Moreover, failing to recognize and meet stakeholder requirements the first time will probably decrease overall efficiency.

Serving the People to Lead the Organization

May 26, 2013

Live and work to serve the people. This is the vital but rarely mentioned part of any effective management system. Servant leaders live and work this way. They foster a community that shares commitment to the needs of others. Indeed, servant leaders are selfless. They put themselves last. They put first the interests of the community, so their organization can make a positive difference. Next, they put the well-being and interests of the people who rely on them. Last, and last all the time, they consider their own interests.

What are the other attributes of the leaders who serve to lead?

Servant leaders understand the power of their organization as a system. They take responsibility for their system. They ensure their organizational management system is responsive to the needs of stakeholders. They consider the needs of employees, customers, suppliers, owners and others affected by the organization. A servant leader does not blame others for the poor performance of their system. They make followers less fearful of speaking up; however unpopular the truth may be.

Servant leaders ensure departments collaborate effectively. Their management system is cross-functional or process-based. Such systems enable organizational learning of future opportunities. Such systems also reduce the associated adverse risks. Servant leaders persuade, monitor and coach users to show respect for the requirements. They also show their respect for the organizational management system. They ensure it is improved and changed as necessary to enable the organization to improve its performance for stakeholders.

Servant leaders know their strengths and weaknesses. They understand that their team members have innate strengths and weaknesses too. They ensure process teams blend the different strengths of individuals for shared success. They nurture the personal, professional and spiritual growth of individual team members so individuals can make the best use of their talents.

Servant leaders are able communicators. Their systems gather data. After data analysis, information helps with effective decisions. Servant leaders actively listen and encourage active listening by decision-makers. Servant leaders also observe and seek to understand the needs of any silent stakeholders.

Servant leaders see beyond the limits of their organization with respect for customer needs and the needs of other stakeholders. Servant leaders focus on long-term organizational change. They develop future leaders so their organization continues to enable success for the stakeholders.

Servant leaders exemplify, align and share the behaviors, ethics and values of their organization. Their inspirational organizational culture creates and sustains a healthy work environment. It is integral to the holistic management system that is conducive to quality in everything the organization does.

Why no social responsibility certification?

April 25, 2013

Many organizations now are developing their management systems to deliver social responsibility for sustainable stakeholders. They realize that, as with ISO 14001, they must go way beyond compliance with the law to be ethical and socially responsible.

Indeed, our supplier networks must be helped over many years to fulfill requirements while preventing loss and improving lives of their stakeholders.

As organizations create sustainable stakeholders we can learn enough to specify viable requirements (perhaps in ISO 26001) from years of adopting the recommendations of ISO 26000. This may be helped by the mother of all international management system standards, ISO 9001, turning ISO 9004’s sustainability recommendations into requirements (audit criteria).

We need to learn from the effective socially responsible organizations creating sustainable stakeholders all over the world before we develop the definitive audit criteria necessary for any credible certification scheme.

Meanwhile, we among the world’s citizens should not rely on ISO (or auditors!) to protect our rights. We must continue to fight for our rights so we value them and protect them.

Productive work creating prosperity for all

September 11, 2012

Can we live within our means without robbing future generations of their livelihoods? Yes, by productive work within process-based organizational management systems that eliminate causes of waste, assure quality and assure social responsibility for sustainability.

Process-based organizational management systems, driven by lean sensibilities, enable the people who work within them to add value faster and prevent loss sooner. Productive work adds value to metals, plastics, soils, food, people, data, information etc… That is to say confident customers will happily pay a lot more for the output than the cost of all the inputs. Supported by a management system, work may increase the value of inputs tenfold or more. Some of the increase in value pays for sustainable design, production and delivery. The increase in value also pays for the facilities, investors, money lenders (or partners) and taxes. That leaves the employees who use their share to look after their families, their communities and themselves.

However, countries and their citizens cannot prosper by enabling their people to polish each other’s shoes. Nor can they rely on their citizens continuously shopping for stuff. Nor should they print money willy-nilly. Countries must compete or cooperate on opportunity and quality to export more and earn new money to invest so their citizens can feel secure and confident enough to invest, work, study, play and enjoy family life. Therefore some nations’ taxpayers invest in healthcare, infrastructure and education (especially in the sciences and engineering) to enable thriving enterprises to protect the environment while adding a lot more value for global markets. This way inventors and entrepreneurs are encouraged to solve problems that create wealth and well-being through more value adding work.

Trade imbalances vary according to the relative productivity of each trading nation and that influences the value of each country’s currency. Sharing low value adding work with other countries may result in less inequality globally between countries. Enabling customer countries to make what they would otherwise import could more responsibly improve sales (such as making Range Rovers in Saudi Arabia). Devaluing currency is widely seen as a sign of economic failure but may be temporary to boost exports.

In the eurozone we see the results of nation states affected by these economic facts of life while, unfortunately, sharing the same currency. Germany invested long term and sold its products all over the world. People living in the ‘club-med’ region bought these imported products with cheap borrowed money, instead of earned money, or in place of privatizing and paying taxes to invest in creating more value themselves. Consequently, regions that largely comprise government workers, food growers and hosts of tourists are not adding enough value to compete with “Vorsprung Durch Technik”. Years of nonproductive work, easy money and underemployment are now having their tragic consequences on the lives and fortunes of ordinary people.

Process-based organizational management systems are used to make work more productive in farming, education, training, purchasing, design, production, delivery, operations, maintenance, government, and recycling. Just about every enterprise can benefit or suffer consequences of not providing the means for teams to determine and fulfill requirements. Without process-based management systems we see silos of like-minded individuals trying to keep their bosses happy instead of earning the confidence of customers and other stakeholders. Occupying jobs instead of working productively for customers is a road to ruin. The future may see food producing countries, coupled with government reforms and the removal of subsidies, earning enough for a positive balance of payments with their trading partners. Apart from the adverse and beneficial effects of global warming it all depends on the quality delivered and value added by work of farmers aided by animals and then machines. More productive farmers tend to result in farmhands becoming factory workers adding value to other materials thereby earning more dependable incomes.

And today marks another painful anniversary of four evil acts never to be forgotten. Nations enjoying a temporarily bonanza in non-renewable resources may invest in healthcare, infrastructure and education but some do not oblige their young men and women to work for a living. Wherever the idle live, if they don’t feel loved or are taught they are superior, they may harbor hate for strangers or colleagues. They may even choose work that adds no value and destroys life and lives. Hopefully the reawakening of the people will restore wise leadership, respect for others, productive work and leading-edge science and other important human endeavors.

Sustainability, from being socially responsible in all that we do, can prevail if all nations prepare. Visionary leaders prepare people for the era beyond the loss of abundant natural resources. They enable work to increase value while conserving resources. They cooperate internationally for justice so more people have a chance to work for a secure living. They encourage cooperation and responsible competition. Their example makes us want to volunteer, to contribute to the arts, and to invest so we prosper more equally and sustainably with time for play and well-being from our productive work.

Accordingly, all organizations in government, not for profit and commercial sectors are well advised to develop and optimize their process-based management systems so workers help each other to fulfill stakeholder requirements while removing all work and waste that does not add value for all.