In the third of our four part series, Kit Oung provides 10 essential steps for managing your energy.
The demands on a business to manufacture a product or provide a service are voluminous. In order to survive and surpass the competition - in addition to meeting the large and growing range of energy regulations and standards - many businesses implement a barrage of guru soup. Some examples of such guru soup are 5S, lean manufacturing, total productive maintenance, total quality management, six sigma, ISO 90001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, ISO 50001, and the list goes on.
In fact, many are suffering from a initiative fatigue and not able to apportion successes or otherwise to specific initiatives. The following evidence is not in short supply in the media:
- “Not another management initiative!”
- “I have no time! Come back in a few months.”
- “We are very busy!”
- “Well, when the consultants leave, everything goes back to normal anyway!
Why is this happening?
When an organization chooses to implement a new initiative, many are implementing them as independent projects, following a rigid process to meet the requirements word for word. For example, a business operation certified to ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 50001 end up spending time driving five independent management systems - the fifth being the way the business operates on a daily basis.
Inevitably, many organizational activities are focused on closing non-conformities and collecting evidence for meeting the requirements before the next audit. Therefore, businesses get caught into a spiraling loop of constant catch up from audit to audit.
The one management system for all
Businesses need to understand the fundamental principles of management systems. A good and thorough understand of these principles allows businesses to distill and operate one management system: incorporating quality features (ISO 9001), environmental features (ISO 14001), features of health and safety (OHSAS 18001), and energy features (ISO 50001) ... or whichever the business subscribed to.
These fundamentals are based on the multiplier effect of management initiatives engaging with its human capital. As a knock on effect, time and resources is freed for other work within the business. These fundamental principles are:
Use consistent language. Management systems are based on a set of very basic terminologies: Plan, do, check and act. Each terminology has several requirements that are described using simple language. Using these ready-made terms makes it simple and understandable for all in the business.
Whole firm involvement. Many people think that management systems are only for those in a ‘management’ position. In fact, it is a way of working inside the business: from the raw materials input to the product output and from the marketing to satisfied customer.
Allocate responsibilities and resources early. Planning and allocation of roles, responsibility and authority must be allocated as soon as the system is rolled out. An important point is not to assume that everyone knows of their job function and description – a person’s interpretation of their role may be different to another persons’ interpretation of the same role.
Challenge established assumptions. Organizations have in its operations, a set of assumptions, such as regulatory requirements, customer requirements and design parameters. Assumptions could also be how the organization structures its cost and profits leading to the availability of capital and investment criterion. These are invariably correct at the time it was written. These requirements do change. Every change may offer opportunities for improvement.
Integrate into daily operations. Once the ways of workings are established, it has to be put into practice. Without practicing what it preaches lowers personal authenticity, integrity and trust with the management dwindles.
Utilise appropriate performance measurements. Performance measures are necessary to inform the business where they are in relation to where the strategy says they want to be. The worst, and hopefully, not repeated is where everyone is measured against the same parameters. If this is the case, everyone hides behind it and blames everyone else for the failure. Create a good set of overall business performance measure and then divide them into sub sets of performance measurements tied to individual job roles.
7. Integrate into life cycle. Management systems do not stop at product delivery and service delivery. It involves the product and service innovation, buying replacements, designing new facilities and when purchasing too! The one management system has to fit and be integrated into your value chain and the life cycle of your business. Sometimes, more opportunities can be identified.
Continual improvement. DO. DO. DO. Make mistakes, learn from it. And DO SOME MORE. Very few management initiatives are successful according to their initial plan. The key is not to be deluded by the success and/or failure. The halo effect by Phil Rosenzweig comes to mind.
Set stretched but achievable objectives and targets. Objectives, targets and plans have to be stretched to add urgency and excitement to deliver the program. After all, what is the use of goals if it could be achieved in a business as usual context? However, it has to be achievable. Otherwise, people lose interest, brand it as wishful thinking and continue business as usual activities. Be specific about how the goals are to be achieved.
Generate opportunities for quick wins. Finally, there must be actions and things everyone within the organization can do to move the management system forward and its objectives. The repeated contribution of all employees, repeated encouragements from the management reminds themselves of the actions until it becomes the new ways of working.
Kit Oung is author of Energy management in business: 'The manager’s guide to maximising and sustaining energy reduction' published by Gower. Read the first installment and the second installment 'Are your colleagues and staff engaging with your low carbon initiatives?'. Next month we'll be looking at: building your energy maturity.