Photo by Trent Bigelow.
Welcome guest poster, Mary Reilly, of Reilly Green Associates, a Six Sigma™, facilitator and green sustainable consultant. (Six Sigma™ is a business management strategy. For more information on Six Sigma, see here.) I had the pleasure of meeting Mary at the Jumpstart Conference in NJ and was totally fascinated by her. I asked her to write an article for me utilizing her specialty of Six Sigma™ with sustainability.
Many companies that are now touting sustainability got their green start from concerned employees. Most of the employee teams started with small, but well planned projects. If you would like to move your company in a green direction, go for it, but do it with a plan. This guide, derived from Six Sigma™, will help you gain buy-in, increase credibility for yourself as well as sustainability endeavors, and enjoy the project as it rolls out. (This is specifically for small projects.)
1. Know what you (and your team) want to accomplish: The more specific, the better chance you will have of accomplishing your goal. While rolling it out, be careful not to enlarge the scope of the project. You can always take on more later.
2. Write a list of all stakeholders: all people who will be involved, whose agreement you need, who might be threatened or who could help you on this.
3. Have a plan to win over each of the stakeholders. This will most likely involve different forms of communication for different people.
4. Have a plan to promote your projects: Company newsletter, word-of-mouth, and lunch programs are all means of promotion as long as they are within company policy.
5. Establish steps to the process: and identify what should happen and who should do it.
6. Anticipate possible problems: and prepare to handle them.
7. Show the savings/costs of the project: Calculate a baseline (“before” costs) and then the resulting savings. There is nothing like cost savings to win the hearts and minds of business people.
8. Make it easy for people to succeed with your endeavor: for example, are the recycle bins easily accessed (if you are doing recycling)?
9. Tell your direct supervisor after you have given this some thought and before you do anything. Although you may need his or her help, make it clear that this project will not cause more headaches for him/her. Also, it will not take away from your work time or the work time of others involved. A clear plan will give upper management confidence that this project will go as planned.
Example: One group decided to start a “Coffee mug” campaign where they would ask all their compatriots to use a ceramic coffee cup instead of company supplied paper cups.
They let their boss know after they had done some of the planning and the boss was cautiously supportive.
The group knew that the person who ordered the cups might feel left out if she were not involved, so they included her in the initial group. Not only was she happy to be invited, but she was able to give the team cost information about cup costs.
The money spent on paper coffee cups before starting their project was $400.00/month for the whole office (160 people). The team used this number to compare the amount spent after the project to calculate the savings.
The team launched the project by holding a lunch time information meeting. Their boss had helped them secure the room and the team served cookies to attract their co-workers. Although the cookie idea sounds corny, it worked; the cookie lovers became first adopters of the cup campaign.
The team then went around to their coworkers during lunch and breaks asking their fellow workers to use ceramic cups and forgo paper cups – at least for a trial period. Most of their co-workers were willing to try it and brought in their own cups to use for coffee, tea and water.
After a month, the cost of paper cups had been cut in half. When the Green Team presented their findings (and their savings) to management, management supported the project by purchasing cups with a “Waste Not” logo on it.
The results: savings to the company, less waste, and the employees were recognized for their good work and on to the next project. Furthermore, the team grew as more people wanted to become involved in a worthwhile, successful project.
Mary Reilly has successfully facilitated corporate adoption of sustainable practices, lowering costs and improving employee engagement. Using Six Sigma, Adult Learning techniques, and group dynamic tools, she has helped her clients cut process time by 40%, improve sales by 25%, improve leadership, and of course, embrace a green culture. You can contact Mary at Mary@ReillyGreen.com To learn more about Mary visit her website.
If you wish to guest post on Green Talk, give me a shout. Anna