Posts filed under ‘Change Management’
The San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission recently proposed installing global positioning system (GPS) tracking devices on motor vehicles to aid in taxing drivers for vehicle miles traveled (VMT). This proposal is part of a larger trend in how local governments fund transportation infrastructure and encourage people to change their driving habits.
As in most other states, California’s road repair and improvements have historically been funded from gasoline taxes at the federal and state level, which have then distributed the revenue to the local governments. Today, local governments are being asked to pay a larger share of the bill, even as the infrastructure ages and requires more repair.
In the Bay Area, the intent of the VMT is to generate revenues for road repairs and improvements.The basic premise seems sound: The more you use the roads, the more you should pay to build and maintain them. Policy-makers also expect that the financial incentive will encourage drivers to drive less and take public transportation, two environmentally supportive behaviors. This equitable approach has generally worked with fuel taxes (a convenient surrogate for miles traveled) and vehicle license fees. Initial public reaction to the VMT, however, has been very negative. Some attribute the reaction as a sign of bad policy while others speculate that the public is simply resistant to change and new taxation.
In Alameda County, lawmakers have proposed a ballot measure to make a one half cent sales tax permanent. Several counties across the country have similarly used the sales tax approach but historically these measures have a finite life and are brought back to voters every 10 to 20 years for reauthorization. The existing tax is used to fund transportation projects within the Bay Area county and greatly improved transportation and environmental conditions. The shift to a permanent tax represents a recognition that local governments will continue to carry a greater cost for their local transportation.
While tax increases and initiatives such as the VMT may be unpopular, hard times demand bold measures and local governments need to fund more of their own infrastructure. The evolution and debate on these public policy shifts will be interesting case studies for environmental professionals.
Will citizens accept the installation of GPS tracking devices in their vehicles so their mileage can be tracked and they can pay more taxes? Is this government intrusion to one’s right to privacy? How do you tax nonresidents when their enter MTC’s jurisdiction—toll booths? Should hybrids pay the same rate as SUVs? Does this interfere with interstate commerce? How will driving habits change as a result of this new tax and what are the unintended circumstances? How does government equitably distribution fiscal and environmental impacts and how do human react to more aggressive change?
Mark Posson is the former Director of Environment, Safety and Health at Lockheed Marin Space Systems Co. and a current instructor of environmental and sustainability management with the University of California Davis. He recently began offering consulting services to help organizations improve environment, safety and health performance.
In a business, change presents an opportunity to eliminate environment, health and safety (EHS) risks, and learning how to initiate and drive necessary change is an important skill for EHS leaders to cultivate.
Here are a few observations on how to reduce EHS risks by taking advantage of change:
- Identify the relevant opportunities: One of the key challenges is to explain which opportunities merit your involvement and why. While this may seem obvious to you, it may not be to your leadership or to the project managers who are under pressure to deliver results on schedule, under budget. There are the big opportunities such as a facility move, consolidation, or expansion, and new or modified equipment. These offer excellent opportunities to implement fire protection systems, machine guarding, electrical safety devices and ergonomic principles. New or reformulated chemicals or materials and changes in chemical use offer a more subtle opportunity to reduce EHS risk by substitution, improved control and more efficient use. New product introduction can be an opportunity to address long-term, regulatory-driven challenges such the European Union Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive or the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) directive. New customers, contracts and suppliers may be game-changers where EHS requirements are concerned.
Business leaders need to understand the EHS risks and opportunities that come with these new relationships.
- Get a seat at the table during the initial planning phase: This requires networking upfront with key process leaders as well as infusing EHS into the policies and procedures of the engineering, manufacturing and procurement departments. It also means engaging in strategic planning and product development processes. These relationship-building investments will pay dividends in the long-term. I have experienced missed opportunities due to lack of upfront involvement, such as failing to conduct a Phase I ESA prior to leasing a manufacturing facility and not specifying fireproof ceiling materials when renovating a building. Typically, trade-offs in material and equipment selection and capital investments are much more palatable when considered as part of a change.
- Make the business case in broad, but tangible terms: When conducting the traditional return on investment analysis that we are all familiar with, consider the financial benefits of EHS- driven investments that improve quality, improve productivity (e.g., more efficient material flow, reduced labor, and shorter cycle time associated with ergonomic improvements), reduce insurance premiums and avoid the cost of regulatory compliance administrative tasks (e.g., regulatory reviews, operating permits, and compliance training). Lastly, customer and employee satisfaction and retention are highly persuasive aspects of making a business case, if you can do it in credible, concrete terms.
- Reinforce the value of your involvement by measuring and reporting results: This is often forgotten in the swirl of the work day and the pressure to move on to new challenges. Once the change has been made and you are operating at steady state, do the analysis and demonstrate that the change has delivered what was promised. It will make people more receptive to your input the next time a change is contemplated.
What advice do you have for ensuring EHS is included in the management of change process? What lessons and success stories can you share?
Stephen Evanoff is Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety for Danaher Corp., a Fortune 250 global science and technology company. To learn more about the habits of effective change agents, tune in for NAEM’s Emerging Leaders webinar on “Strategic Influencing: How to Drive and Manage Change” on Sept. 20.
So you know you need an EHS MIS, but the question you’re probably asking yourself is, “Where do I start”?
Whether you need a system to collect and report sustainability metrics, capture incidents, or facilitate compliance, the process of identifying the right tools is complex yet similar in nature. What we’ve noticed time and time again is that many EHS professionals often begin the process by focusing on the technology. This means perusing vendor websites, attending webinars etc. and, before long, find themselves receiving calls from software sales representatives. The momentum this process creates continues to sales demonstrations and ultimately a vendor selection.
Unfortunately, this scenario often occurs without EHS professionals ever having documented exactly how their team operates and what they want this software to do.
What I’d like to emphasize in this conversation is that many of our top recommendations on where to start, ultimately relate back to the “people, process, technology” triangle. The people, process, technology triangle underscores the importance of looking beyond technology as the sole (or even primary) factor in facilitating change. Software is an enabling tool. Sometimes we select software to embrace embedded best practices. But often we don’t. Sometimes we select software based on a prioritized “best-fit” with defined requirements. But sometimes we don’t. Clearly developing a prioritized list of defined requirements with stated and measurable objectives are critical first steps to selecting the “best” technology for your company. However, beyond technology, the people and process considerations are of equal importance.
Unless your company culture is “command and control” (which is usually not the case in today’s world) it is essential that company staff are emotionally bought in and invested in the technology solution. Opposed staff can quickly derail even the best of technology solutions. Including a wide array of staff in specifying requirements, listening to and documenting wants and needs, polling and gathering general input, is absolutely critical to a successful rollout.
From a process standpoint, technology can enable EHS workflow if, and only if, these work flows have been established, understood and at least minimallydocumented. If not, you will find yourself with no other choices than to embrace the workflow enabled by the software. While this solution may work some of the time, it won’t work if you have not consciously made this choice and are just being dragged along.
For those of you who have been through the EHS MIS selection process, what is your advice for how to begin this internal dialogue? How much time did you set aside for the planning process?
Joanne Schroeder is a founding partner of E2 ManageTech, where she is responsible for project management, system solution design, systems implementation, quality control and business development. She will be sharing her advice on the “Top 10 Things to Consider when Selecting an EHS MIS” during NAEM’s webinar on the topic April 18. E2Manage Tech is a member of NAEM’s Affiliates Council.
At a February meeting of my company’s environment, health and safety (EHS) leaders, a guest speaker reminded the group how important relationships are in effective EHS management. The following day, I picked up the Feb. 20, 2012, issue of Time magazine that featured a cover article on the science of animal friendships.
I’m certainly not suggesting that animal friendships can teach us how to develop effective workplace EHS relationships, but these two incidents did remind me how the relationships we build as EHS managers directly impact the organization’s EHS culture. Here are a few of my observations on relationship-building principles that have worked to strengthen EHS culture in organizations:
- Emphasizing the team over the individual: This applies to EHS programs, projects involving cross-functional teams, safety committees, awards, and just about everything else within an EHS context except, perhaps,filling out regulatory agency required reports. The fact is that the EHS function can accomplish almost nothing on its own. Without interdepartmental relationships founded on trust, the EHS role can be lonely and frustrating.
- Acting as an enabler: Before approaching a person or team of people with an EHS issue, answer the questions: “What’s in it for each of them? And how can I help?” This exercise will start you down the path toward a consensus-based solution and help you develop an enabler’s mindset.
- Validating the other person’s perspective: When business leaders and core business process owners feel that the EHS people are cognizant of the demands of their jobs, understand the pressures they face and are aligned with the overall goals of the enterprise, they will be more receptive to EHS initiated projects, and more likely to include the EHS function in decision-making.
- Standing for what’s right: EHS managers who consistently act in the best, long-term interest of the organization (rather than doing what’s expedient, politically advantageous, or in the near-term interest of the EHS function) will, over time, build credibility and respect. These are characteristics of healthy EHS working relationships.
I am sure there are other important principles to relationship-building. What other principles or relationship-building experiences have had a significant impact on EHS culture in your organization?