Category Archives: Environment
I have absolutely no interest in getting into a political debate. I am not interested in anyone’s political views. That is not the point of this blog. The question I have has to do with the leadership style exhibited by President Obama in an interview on NBC. Here is the specific clip from the interview about the oil spill in the Gulf.
President Obama wants to know “who’s a@@ to kick”. Right away, I jump to this being a trait of a traditional leader. Someone looking for a scape goat and looking to place blame. I agree that BP should be held responsible for the effects of the spill, but what good does it do to blame a person? Shouldn’t we be concerned with the temporary containment of the oil leak? What about the clean up? More importantly, how do we error proof this so it never happens again? I can remember getting my rear kicked when I worked in the auto industry. In fact, it took all of 3 days before I had the assistant plant manager screaming at me, because I allowed 3 or 4 bad parts through in my 12 hrs of inspection of about a thousand parts. He was also one of the first to go when we started implementing lean.
So, is this comment taken out of context? Is this comment a trait of a lean leader or a traditional command and control leader?
I was shocked, but happy when I read the EPA is trying to educate businesses on lean principles in order to help improve efficiency resulting in a better environment. The interview is with George Wyeth, a professor at Lawrence University who leads the innovation efforts with the EPA.
From the interview with Mr. Wyeth:
Lean manufacturing is really a business strategy, not an environmental strategy.
Mr. Wyeth recognizes lean as more than a set of tools to get a greener world, but a business strategy that can help companies reduce waste resulting in a smaller carbon footprint. It sounds like they are trying to educate on the how (lean principles) in order to get the what (cleaner environment) that is wanted.
Lean, because it focuses on the elimination of waste, has a lot in common with what we call pollution prevention, which we’ve been preaching for 20, 25 years. As companies focused on eliminating waste, we realized they were doing pollution prevention and didn’t even know it.
It is refreshing to see someone recognize the synergies between lean and green. How they are intertwined with each other. When I worked in the auto industry in the early 2000′s, we knew we had to control our costs better. One way was to use the water from our painting and electroplating lines more efficiently and what we was excess we needed to recycle back through the system. This was before the green movement become so overwhelmingly popular. We spent quite a bit of money to implement the system but it paid itself back in less then a year in not only water savings, but also less cost to cleanse the water before disposing it in the city drain.
From the article:
We thought that presented an opportunity for us to take the message we’ve been preaching for a long time and presenting it in a way that would be better understood and be more easily incorporated into the business, so it’s not seen as, here’s the government with a hammer forcing you to do something.
The EPA knows they are a regulatory agency. Unfortunately, the perception is very similar to the cost versus quality perception. You can’t have both. It is either one or the other………..regulatory compliance or low cost. The EPA wants to educate that you can have both and using lean principles is a way to get both. WOW!!! Cost, Quality, and Low carbon footprint………you can have them all?! Who would have ever thought?
Companies must be interested in how lean can help with the environment:
We get a lot of hits on our website on lean manufacturing materials, and there’s a lot of interest from people who want to talk to us.
I am glad to see the EPA has lean materials on their website. Not only about lean and the environment but also lean and government. Is this a way to get more people interested in lean principles and how it can help their business? I hope the EPA continues to help companies see the benefits. They could be another outlet to reinforce the lean message.