Strategic Direction in a Competitive Environment

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Environmental Protection Abstracts

This section contains abstracts for various articles Mr. MacLean has published. To be notified of new articles as they become available, please join our email list.

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Full text of the older articles are available in HTML format from the Archives of Environmental Protection magazine by clicking on the cover at the left.  Open the EP Archive to the month of the column of interest and click on "Manager's Notebook".


April 2007
Correcting the Communication Conundrum
        - Models help management understand emerging EHS dynamics

It should come as no surprise to readers of this column that today’s environmental, health and safety (EHS) dynamics are vastly different from those of just a decade ago. Management, however, may not fully understand how the underlying forces have shifted and what the resulting competitive business implications are. Simple operational models offer an easy and visual explanation of the evolution of EHS issues.  Now may be the time to run a reality check and ensure that everyone is operating with the same underlying assumptions.

January 2007
Sustainable Development
        - The emerging backlash surrounding "sustainable development"

Sustainable development and green marketing have become the darlings of the corporate world. But far off the radar scope of most environmental professionals, there is an emerging debate that these efforts might be nothing more than a sophisticated form of greenwash. Is this a bogus issue and nothing more than the rantings of extremists? What are the dynamics in play and what should you do?

November 2006
At the Tipping Point
        - A new wave of environmentalism is upon us

In the first eight months of this year, there were 10 national magazines with environmental cover stories. I lost track of the front-page and feature articles in other major print media sources. Radio, television, and Web stories -- impossible to track. Search for the keyword "environment" and you get more hits (2.2B) than "sex" (845M), "drugs" (443M) and "rock & roll" (21M). In keeping with a 60s genre -- you don't need a weatherman to know something different is in the wind. This month we explore what direction the wind is blowing and the forces driving it.

October 2006
Metrics, Las Vegas Style
        - Instead of betting on the numbers, develop a metrics strategy

For the past 30 years, environmental, health, and safety (EHS) professionals have struggled to find the definitive set of performance metrics. The reality is that, while there is no universal set, there definitely is a group of key performance indicators for your company to use in order to win the competition game. And it takes a strategy, not a roll of the dice, to identify these metrics.

September 2006
Environmental Politics and Strategy
        - Five years later

In a 2001 Manager’s Notebook article of the same title, I wrote about Washington D.C.’s influence on environmental progress. Three future scenarios were described: Scorched Earth; Build-up Breakthrough; and Same-Old-Same-Old. (For a free copy of this June 2001 article, visit www. eponline.com and look under “Archives.”) Five years later, let’s examine which of these scenarios tracked true and the relevance of environmental strategic planning today.

July/August 2006
Conference Changes
        - What's Hot, What's Not, and Why
Conferences are a good leading indicator of emerging environmental trends. The meetings themselves may be planned a year or more in advance, but speakers generally talk about what is going on in “real-time” terms. Even more revealing are the informal networking discussions during the breaks when attendees share their hopes, fears, and ambitions. Indeed, tuning in to the buzz at these conferences is sometimes the best reason for attending. What’s the buzz about today?

June 2006
The Six W's of Leadership
        - What Kind of EHS Leader Are You?
The vast majority of environmental, health, and safety (EHS) professionals are competent, dedicated soldiers who fight the day-to-day battles to protect the health and safety of fellow employees, the community, and the environment. But the history books’ tales of struggles usually focus on the generals — the individuals placed in leadership positions who made the critical strategic decisions that either won or lost ground. In this issue, we characterize today’s leaders and, more specifically, the moral and ethical challenges we all face in pushing an EHS agenda. We examine the six W’s of leadership: wimp, wonk, wacko, weasel, warrior, and whoop-ass.

May 2006
It's NOT My Job
        - In a changing business environment, just what are your job responsibilities?
Environmental, health, and safety (EHS) roles and responsibilities have been shaped over the past 30 years primarily by U.S.-based regulatory requirements. But what happens if other forces were to dominate how EHS professionals add value? That tipping point may be approaching, and once reached, EHS roles and responsibilities could dramatically shift, hopefully for the better — but maybe for the worse. Will other functional areas grab the very best jobs? The answer lies in whether EHS professionals will lead, follow, or get pushed out of the way.

April 2006
        - Moving through four transitions
The nature of environmental, health and safety (EHS) auditing has changed dramatically over the past thirty years. It may be on the verge of making its next big transformation: joining the ranks with mainstream business governance functions. How has EHS auditing changed and what may be on the horizon?

March 2006
The Folly of 100% Compliance
        - How a myopic focus on compliance minimizes strategic thinking and business value
Environmental, health and safety departments were created in response to regulations. For most, it continues to be their raison d'être in the minds of most business managers. Unfortunately, this headset has typecast EHS professionals into non-strategic roles: service providers who can, at most, add value by cutting regulatory costs. In reality, the opposite is true, but only for those who understand emerging issues and demonstrate strategic thinking.

January/February 2006
Product Stewardship (Part 2)
       - Adding Governance to your stewardship strategy
The following is the second in a two-part series that examines product stewardship governance issues. “Product Stewardship - Part 1,” which was published in our November- December 2005 issue. In this part we examine the current stewardship model used by BHP Billiton and two historical case studies at General Electric and Arizona Public Service that illustrate the complexities in the decision process. These concerns are taking on a whole new significance in light of emerging global regulations based on the precautionary principle and management’s push to develop new products in expanded markets. What are the dynamics in play, and what strategies are appropriate for a global marketplace?

November/December 2005
Product Stewardship (Part 1)
       - Adding Governance to your stewardship strategy
The following is the first part in a two-part series that examines the subject of product stewardship. This issue is taking on a whole new significance in light of emerging global regulations based on the precautionary principle and management's push to develop new products in expanded markets. What are the dynamics in play and what strategies are appropriate for a global marketplace?

October 2005
Engagement at the Top
       - EHS governance takes on new dimensions when business executives and the board of directors seek a second opinion
The accounting scandals, perp walks to prison, and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) have sent shock waves throughout the ranks of boards and executives. Has this significantly improved environmental, health, and safety (EHS) and social responsibility governance at the top? Unlikely. What will it take to get executives and the board fully engaged?

September 2005
Act Locally; Benchmark Globally
       - It’s time to broaden your search for EHS best practices
Companies devote a lot of resources to benchmarking, and for good reason; the return on investment can be enormous. Why reinvent the wheel when battle-tested best practices are free for the asking? The United States has dominated environmental, health, and safety best practices for decades, but that is changing rapidly. Prescriptive regulations and fears of legal liability may be holding back U.S.-headquartered corporations from developing the next generation of corporate social responsibility best practices.

July/August 2005
Map Your Value Proposition
       - Strategy maps can reveal how EHS contributes to the business
Environmental, health, and safety (EHS) issues present a broad array of risks and benefits for corporations. Developing a strategy to identify the problems and the competitive opportunities is difficult, but an even greater challenge can be conveying the message to busy business executives. In this month’s Manager’s Notebook, we examine a promising new business tool used by the author in real world situations to evaluate and communicate strategic plans.

June 2005
Global Drivers
       - Dealing with the next generation of regulations, standards, and corporate watchdogs
The U.S. environmental, health and safety (EHS) regulatory model has dominated the thoughts and agendas of America’s EHS professionals for the past 30 years. State and federal regulations will not go away, of course, but they are rapidly being overshadowed by a fundamental shift in how EHS issues will be dealt with both here and abroad. This article examines these trends and provides some specific examples of how to put the competitive advantage of the new dynamics into play.

May 2005
Merger Mania Math
      - Restructured EHS organizations face the new math: 1+1=3/4

They’re baaccckk! “The most vigorous merger market in five years” is what the Wall Street Journal calls the recent wave of corporate restructurings. For officers and directors, these are happy times because a wonderful exit package awaits even those who lose their lofty positions. But, for real people doing real work, the prospects are much grimmer. How can an environmental, health and safety (EHS) organization survive a major restructuring? Here are eight basic rules and five best-practice companies.

April 2005
Identifying Metrics with Strategic Business Impact
     - Step one: Understand the difference between financial and managerial accounting

Everyone wants metrics: first it was the regulatory agencies; now it is a myriad of stakeholders, watchdogs, and investment analysts. As companies struggle to satisfy these external demands, they may be overlooking the true indicators of future competitive performance. A robust metric set consists of not just what stakeholders want but what is needed to run the business profitably. Identifying the right metrics requires a strategic plan and a set of performance indicators that monitors progress against the plan. Here are some suggestions on how to go about this.

March 2005
Killer Meetings
EHS professionals are dying to go to some meetings; others bore them to death
Corporations spend enormous resources getting people together for or sending staff off to these networking and learning experiences. For trade associations and professional societies the stakes are even higher: some receive half or more of their annual revenue through their key conferences. So, what are the best practices that meeting organizers use? Even if you don’t plan to run one of these events in the foreseeable future, there are telltale signs of quality that may indicate whether or not a meeting is worth the time and money to attend.

January/February 2005
Information Technology Systems
Some IT systems cost millions. Are they worth it? Environmental Protection
"Environmental, health and safety IT (information technology) systems span the spectrum from simple, home-grown spreadsheets to complex, enterprise systems that promise to do just about anything and everything. Are they the potent relief for environmental, health and safety (EHS) professionals drowning in regulations and facing budget cutbacks? They could be. This month we examine the do’s and don’ts of IT systems, literally turning the design process “outsidein” to extract the value that they promise but usually do not deliver."

November/December 2004
Force Multiplier
Stakeholder networking has undergone a dramatic transformation — what might it mean to your organization?
"As the invention of the printing press in the 15th century gave momentum to the Reformation, the Internet is fueling another reformation in civil society.” This quote by a senior social activist summarizes how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) view the significance of Internet-based communication networks.1 It is an incredibly efficient (and inexpensive) way for NGOs to mobilize support for a cause. This month the Manager’s Notebook examines the evolution of NGO networks and their business implications.

October 2004
Communicating Environmental, Health and Safety Value
    - First identify the real obstacles to communication

Environmental, health and safety (EHS) managers are keenly aware that their careers and longevity within their organizations are dependent upon their ability to demonstrate that they bring something of value to the table beyond just the donuts for a meeting. It’s a subject in need of considerable attention, especially in today’s tight economy. This month we examine how to identify the communication barriers that impede real progress.

Environmental Management Systems
     - A controversial three part series
Appearing in Environmental Protection, February, March, September 2004.

Part 1 raises the question, “ Do they provide real business value?” Yes, an EMS can provide tremendous real business value, but only if it is focused on key business processes. Part 2 explains how to get the most from your Environmental Management System. Part 3 provides reader feedback on the first two articles.

September 2004
Our Readers Talk Back About EMS Value

    - Environmental Protection's Readers respond to the question, "Do environmental management systems provide value?
The February 2004 Manager’s Notebook (available online at no charge at www.eponline.com under “Archives”) that focused on the value of environmental management systems provoked an outpouring of readership response from around the world. In this September issue, we examine the underlying factors that may have produced this flood of feedback and provide excerpts from some of the e-mail correspondence.

July/August 2004
Better Benchmarking

    - How to derive more value and insight in a survey-weary world
Benchmarking is an important tool for evaluating one’s practices relative to best-in-class. If done properly, it can even inspire innovation. The majority of these studies, however, are designed and executed poorly and yield dubious or even counterproductive conclusions. Environmental, health, and safety (EHS) studies, in particular, are prone to these problems. This month we examine the design characteristics that you should consider first before agreeing to participate in a survey or placing too much credence in the conclusions of a benchmark study.

 June 2004
Preparing for an Uncertain Future

     - Environmental strategic planning essentials
The very nature of environmental issues has grown much more complex: from local contamination to global impacts; from toxic hot spots to breaks at the DNA level; from pollution control to supply chain reliability; from regulations to voluntary product certifications; and so on. Strategic planning offers the best approach against being caught off guard, indeed to gain a competitive advantage. Here’s how to go about it.

May 2004
Deep Green

     - Characteristics of companies that take environmental, health and safety performance seriously
Benchmarking is very much in vogue, but how do you identify the best in class? It is more difficult than you may imagine, since reputation and many of the readily available metrics are poor determinants of deep green. What are the ideal indicators? First and foremost, they are a shopping list of sound environmental, health and safety (EHS) practices for boards of directors who are worried about corporate governance and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) of 2002.

April 2004
If Neanderthals Become Homo Sapiens, Will Anyone Recognize the Difference?
    - Many industries have changed, but getting public opinion to change is another matter
Some companies have done horrific damage to Mother Nature out of greed and ignorance. Relatively few individuals have gotten extremely rich on the profits from businesses that passed off the true costs of their operations to communities, workers and future generations who will be stuck with cleaning up the human and environmental wreckage. This legacy has been indelibly etched into the public's view of industry and reinforced with each new debacle. Quietly over the past thirty years, some industry sectors have made dramatic improvements: but few know, understand or are even willing to recognize the progress. This month's Manager's Notebook looks at the progress that has been made, the problems that remain and what your company should be doing to better position itself.

March 2004
Environmental Management Systems Part 2

     - Getting the most from your EMC
Certification may be a requirement for entry into some markets, but aside from the public relations value, what else does a certified environmental management system offer? Not much, according to the results of recent research studies of conformance-based environmental management systems (EMS) such as ISO 14001 and Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). In Part i, of this series (which appeared in the February 2004 issues of Environmental Protection), we explored the underlying issues that limit EMS performance and the concerns being raised by the environmental auditors who certify EMS systems. This month, we examine how to review your EMS to find ways to increase performance and deliver business value.

February 2004
Environmental Management Systems 

     - Do they provide real business value?
The winter meeting of The Auditing Roundtable was a wake-up call to environmental auditors. They keynote speaker did not mince words: Conformance-based environmental management systems, such as International Standard Organization (ISO) 14001, are fundamentally flawed. What is the point of auditing systems that don't need value? If certification is not on management's must-do checklist to enable the entry into certain markets, why are these systems needed? ... and who needs these auditors?  

January 2004
So You Need to Be a Consultant? 

     - A survival guide to making the successful transition to being on your own
Many skilled senior professionals are finding themselves on their own, seeking employment for the first time after being forced to leave the "safe womb" of an organization that delivered their paycheck each month like clockwork. Ask these new entrants about this world of uncertainty and they frequently respond "I am doing some consulting.: Saying it and doing it are two different things. This feature, which is the latest in a series of articles by the author about environmental, health and safety (EHS) careers, examines the chances for success in becoming an independent consultant.

November/December 2003
The Strategy of Value 

     - Adding business value takes a strategy, not just tactics
How do you demonstrate to management that environmental, health and safety (EHS) activities are adding value to the business? It's a question being asked frequently by EHS managers who are under tremendous pressure during these tight economic times. Developing an EHS strategy that is in lockstep with the business strategy is essential. This month. Manager's Notebook examines some of the key steps to accomplish this union of purpose.

October 2003
Out to Lunch 

     - Confronting business management's awareness of environmental realities
Environmental, health and safety (EHS) managers struggle to gain business management's support. They try to justify new programs or protect existing activities from cut-backs by "running through the numbers." But the real business value may lie in the subtleties and the hard-to-quantify intangibles of emerging dynamics - EHS opportunities and issues that may be totally unfamiliar to business managers. This article addresses the growing gap between the realities we face as professionals and management's awareness of these forces in play.

September  2003
Sustainable Careers, Part 3 

     - Positioning oneself in a changing job environment
In the first article in this series on environmental, health and safety careers, we examined the need to take direct responsibility for one’s future job security. In the second, we examined the major trends that may dead-end some careers and raise others to new heights. (Manager’s Notebook, “Sustainable Careers,” Environmental Protection, January/February 2003 and April 2003, respectively, accessible at no charge under “Archives” at www.eponline.com).  This month, we examine how to better position yourself in an EHS job market that is undergoing an extraordinary transformation.

May 2003
Where's The Real Value? 

     - Searching for environmental value that matters to executives
In these tough economic times, environmental managers are struggling to prove that their efforts are adding value to their companies. It's a hot issue, but one that appears to be eliciting the "same old, same old" responses that focus on justifying individual projects and staff resources. This article explores techniques for identifying value - methods centered on models of business competition.

April  2003
Sustainable Careers, Part 2 

     - Future career prospects for environmental professionals
In the first article on environmental health and safety careers, we examined the to take direct responsibility for one's own future job security. This month, we examine the major trends that will dead-end some jobs and raise others to new heights. Now may be a good time to take a hard look at your own career.

March 2003
The Three Levels of Environmental Governance 

     - Where is your company in the spectrum: Passive - Active - Aggressive?
Companies are scrambling to improve their governance systems. Now may be the time to offer suggestions to executive management for upgrading your current environmental health and safety (EHS) governance practices. What do corporations typically do for EHS? What constitutes the ultimate system?

January/February 2003
Sustainable Careers
     - Preserving your career options while protecting the environment.
Environmental professionals are consumed by day-to-day tasks - just trying to keep their heads above the wastewater, so to speak. Working hard to satisfy the needs of your organization can sidetrack you from long-term career development goals and leave you vulnerable, should you find yourself unemployed or seeking new opportunities elsewhere. Here is some practical advice to build personal security in today's uncertain job climate.

November/December 2002
Brown Bricks
     - Often it's an individual rather than "the system" that holds back progress.
Robert Shelton coined the term “green wall” to describe corporate cultures that exclude environmental management from key decision making processes. Yes, “the system” can be a major barrier, but frequently an even greater obstacle is a single individual in the management hierarchy. Who are these “brown bricks” and how do you deal with them?

October 2002
Greening the Big Apple
     - Benchmarking with New York City's Con Edison.

Consolidated Edison (Con Edison) has had its share of serious environmental problems. The programs and strategies that have evolved as a result of these issues have received little recognition in the mainstream press and even less in environmental magazines and journals. The company has developed unique approaches to environmental health and safety (EHS) management that provide an interesting benchmark, especially in these times of increased attention to governance.

September 2002
The Sum of All Figures
     - Metrics that matter to top executives.
Environmental managers have been very successful at controlling the performance metrics that executives have tracked for decades: emissions, wastes, accidents and compliance. Unless things have gone completely haywire, these numbers just do not attract serious consideration anymore. They also deflect attention away from the emerging issues and competitive dynamics that should now be on management's radarscope. How do you identify the metrics that will matter?

July/August 2002
Governance Questions
     - Ten questions executive management may ask you.

Governance is the dominant issue in business today. Your management may be wondering about the soundness of their own environmental health and safety (EHS) programs. Don't wait to be asked. A better approach may be to answer these questions before they are even asked. Whether you are the EHS leader at a plant site or the vice president at a major corporation, a proactive approach will give you credibility and respect with your management. Here's how.

June 2002
Eco-Friendly and Fuzzy
     - Eco-friendly terms sound great in company statements to the public, but their use can create unintended consequences.

Spinning the company's environmental commitment in vague and ill-defined terms may seem risk free, but is it? How can a company be held accountable for stating that it is dedicated to leadership and excellence? The lower threshold of basic, no-frills environmental health and safety (EHS) management has become well-defined and codified over the past 10 years. A company that professes its environmental excellence, and does not deliver even a rudimentary system, may be viewed by the public as disingenuous and by a jury as willfully negligent. It is time to take a closer look at what your company is promising.

May 2002
Uncovering Dirty Secrets
     - Governance is essential but can be a career risk if not done right

Business management does not typically embrace an environmental, health and safety (EHS) manager "looking for problems." Like a long overdue medical exam, it may be necessary, but turning vague suspicions into concrete issues that now must be faced and financed is very challenging. So, how do you uncover dirty secrets? Carefully. This article features suggestions for good governance and career longevity.

April 2002
The Big Picture
     - Adding the Strategy to Strategic Planning

A well-developed strategic plan can be a wonderful business tool to educate management on emerging issues, to seek resource support, and to deliver a key message to executive management. Few take full advantage of this potential. All too often, the “strategic plan” is little more than a punch list of programs and projects for the next five years. Here are some suggestions on how to add some strategy to your plan. 

March 2002
Dirty Secrets
     - The Enron debacle may prompt a re-examination of EHS governance... Be ready.

Enron is all about systemic governance failure. You can bet that directors and executives are now asking their staffs, "Where are we vulnerable?" These probes will not, however, be narrowly confined to Enron-type issues. Ideally, boards are staffed by strategic thinkers who probe far and wide, and environmental health and safety (EHS) is a recognized liability area that may come under much closer scrutiny. This article is a summary of the likely avenues that these inquiries may take and the possible fallout.

February 2002
Shifting Gears

    - Moving from resource management to resource strategy.
The buzzwords abound: sustainable development, natural capitalism, triple bottom line, pollution prevention, life cycle assessment and so on. When you cut through all the jargon, it boils down to this: responsible resource strategies. Visionary business executives are just beginning to see the implications of the transition from managing emissions to the broader question of who gets to use what slice of the Earth’s (pie) crust and when. What does this mean for environmental managers?

January 2002
    - Formulating an integrated disclosure strategy.
Companies are required to disclose a tremendous amount of environmental, health and safety (EHS) information and many go far beyond the basics. Put simply, there is a lot of information flowing externally from many people in different departments. Keeping all this consistent and in sync is a task that few companies address, perhaps because the “silos of responsibility” can be so divergent. This month we examine the forms of public disclosure and point out areas where a consistent strategy is especially important.

December 2001
Collateral Damage
    - Terrorist attacks stall environmental progress.
The horrific terrorist attacks on the United States will have a global impact on environmental progress. The indirect consequences will affect us in ways we do not yet understand. If there was ever a time to start thinking and acting "outside the box," this is it. Dust off that strategic plan.

November 2001
Feeling green around the gills?
    - It is time to check the health of the environmental profession.
The results of the 2001 salary survey, conducted by Environmental Protection magazine (see "2001 Salary Survey", August 2001, under "Archives" at www.eponline.com), found environmental professionals to be an overworked, ignored and generally frustrated lot. Without question, the reaction of nearly everyone caught up in the current economic downturn would be, "So what, things are rough all over." Indeed they are, but is there more to this story than just growing cynicism and negativity found by the survey? This month, Manager’s Notebook examines an issue that many readers of this magazine have sensed at a gut level over the past decade: something is seriously wrong. If our profession is to successfully meet the challenge posed by emerging global environmental issues, we must increase our effectiveness and influence. But how?

October 2001
Countdown to Zero
    - Environmental staffs are growing smaller, but what is the ideal size?
Benchmarking is a common business tactic, but does it make sense to use this gauge to measure the efficiency of environmental, health and safety professionals?  More specifically, should benchmarking ratios be used as a basis for rightsizing an EHS organization?  The short answers to these two questions are (1) rarely and (2) never.  This article may provide the information you will need to survive the countdown to zero, as economic woes mount.

September 2001
Sustainable Development
    - Walking the sustainable development talk to achieve business value
Sustainable development is the buzzword de jour.  Pick up any corporate environmental report and it will wax eloquently on the company’s total commitment to sustainability, sustainable growth, or some variant of this concept.  Are companies doing the easy talk or the serious walk?  And is there really any business value in walking the talk?

August 2001
What Were They Thinking
    - Using scenario development to evaluate the soundness of your company's environmental strategic plan.

Billy Wilder, the famous screenwriter, once said "Hindsight is always 20-20." California capped the retail market price for electricity but allowed the wholesale price to fluctuate according to the laws of supply and demand. The plan for deregulation failed miserably over a fundamental principle of economics. Today we indignantly shout, "What were they thinking!?" If we can easily view the past with perfect hindsight, we should, with a little skill and effort, have the capacity not to be totally blind to the future. Foresight may be admittedly fuzzy, but it is an important survival technique for business. This month we examine techniques for scenario development, a key tool to test the robustness of your environmental plan. This article is the fourth in a series on strategic planning published in Environmental Protection this year.

 July 2001
The Value Chase
    - With the economic slump, the pressure is on to increase performance and demonstrate value to business management

Quality control in the 1970s was often viewed as a cost drain and a bothersome task that manufacturing "had to do". Sound all too familiar? A remarkable transformation over the past two decades has elevated this poor stepchild of industry to celestial proportions with programs, such as Six Sigma. Selling the value of improving environmental performance in 2001 is like making the pitch to management for improving quality in 1971. Indeed, many of the key business incentives are remarkably parallel. This month we examine an emerging tool with which to set the conceptual framework for measuring, tracking and improving environmental, health and safety performance. Just as Six Sigma caught management's attention, an adaptation of the well-known Baldrige business quality model may provide the conceptual framework needed to gain management support.

June 2001
Environmental Politics and Strategy
    - Understanding Washington politics is a key element of developing a strategic plan

Have the barbarians taken over domestic environmental policy, as one environmentalist group claims? Or is there more to the recent string of "anti-environmental" policy actions by the Bush Administration than some may recognize? The answers to these questions will be sorted out over the upcoming months, but what has been completely overlooked is the immediate impact that Washington politics is having on business strategy for the environment. This is the third article in a series on environmental strategy. In the first two we examined the necessity for developing a plan and the basic strategy options. This month we examine a specific issue -- politics -- and its impact on strategic planning.

May 2001
What's Your Strategy?
    - Environmental strategies get obscured in a fog of politically correct rhetoric. It's time to lift the cloud.

To read company environmental and social responsibility reports, one may surmise that companies today have strategies of "environmental excellence", "sustainable development", "minimum harm to the environment", or some similar nice-sounding phrases. But what do these expressions really mean in actionable business terms? Not very much. This is the second in a series on environmental health and safety (EH&S) strategic planning. In February (see www.eponline.com under Archives), we examined the necessity for developing a strategic plan. This month we examine the basic environmental strategy options available to business executives. It's not what the companies claim, but how they allocate resources that determines the real strategy and that's where the confusion arises.

April 2001
Playing it Safe
    - Emerging health and safety trends that could impact your company . . . and your career!
Many, if not most, environmental practitioners have some level of responsibility for health and safety issues, and some are the strategic leaders of the fully integrated EHS programs for their companies. This month we examine emerging health and safety issues that are potential destroyers of entire businesses. Everyone knows that asbestos causes cancer and many companies that once used it are now are bankrupt - but what is next, who is next, and what can you do about it?

March 2001
Opacity or Transparency?
    - Voluntary reporting is becoming more common, but where is it headed and will it ever really matter?
Transitions never occur smoothly and predictably. The early signs become more frequent and increasingly visible to a wider audience and then several events "trigger" a major step change – the proverbial paradigm shift. This month we examine the sometimes confusing signals in the growing prominence of corporate social responsibility reporting. Companies claim that they are becoming more transparent, and indeed, some are making significant strides. But is this much to do about nothing or will reporting have a profound impact on environmental programs even at individual manufacturing sites?

February 2001
Coming to Grips with (Business) Reality

    - Making the Case for Strategic Planning
Over the past ten years environmental managers have had an increasingly difficult time delivering their message to business managers. The bad news of new, tougher environmental regulations and the good news of cost savings by picking the "low hanging fruit" have been replaced by a legislative and regulatory slowdown compounded by even tougher hurdles to demonstrate shareholder value. Executives have time for immediate, critically significant business issues but the environment, in their view, is not where the action is today. Strategic planning is an ideal tool to re-engage management on emerging issues, and priorities. Readers who witnessed the purging of entire planning departments during the 1980s are probably saying to themselves, "Yah, right!" We urge you to read on - environmental strategic planning is an emerging trend that addresses a number of current problems faced by environmental managers.

January 2001  
What's the Winning Strategy?

    - The Competitive Game Plan for Sustainable Development
Sustainable development has made it as far as the public relations lexicon of most companies, but that’s about it. It remains a total mystery to business executives and even to many environmental professionals. Like any sports game, unless you understand the rules and know the players, it is very confusing and hard to follow. Just what does all this stuff really mean to running a competitive business? Why do we even have to be playing this game? T his month we translate the warm and fuzzy concepts of sustainable development into terminology and a winning strategy that every business executive can understand. In the player's language of sustainable development, metrics represent the score card.

December 2000
Delivering the Message
   - Techniques for educating executive management on future environmental issues
In the November column I outlined a technique for looking into the future for competitive threats and opportunities for your business or organization. Scenario planning is a powerful tool to peek into Pandora’s Box of future environmental issues. If you find a major issue looming on the horizon, how do you deliver the message to executive management? The answer: very carefully. This month's Management Notebook offers suggestions on how you can both educate management and gain closure on an effective strategy to deal with future issues and opportunities. The advice is primarily directed at mid to large corporations where access to upper management is at a premium. The underlying principles hold true, however, for small companies and individual manufacturing sites.

November 2000
World resources depleted…human race doomed!

    - Full story tonight on news at eleven
We live in a world filled with news stories the size and depth of bumper stickers. The total number of environmental media sound bites has probably increased from the 1970s -- when the nation was galvanized into action -- but the messages seem to have lost impact. Viewed by the metrics that business executives track, things have never been better. Compliance has improved, emissions are down, and the public isn’t outraged. So what's the issue? The new global environmental dynamic remains an enigma to business management. This month we examine the impact that a new generation of environmental communications is having on long-term business strategies. Dramatic sound bites may capture funding for activist organizations, but what effect is this collective mass of information having on management's perception of the state of the environment? More significantly, what should you be doing about eliminating possible misperceptions?

October 2000
Not what it used to be

    - Delivery of environmental services: How do you maximize value and treat everyone fairly?
This is the first of a new series that examines how to be a more effective environmental, health and safety manager. This month the author examines the changing relationship between company environmental staffs and external service providers. Commodity services have emerged and "virtual teams" are now providing strategic services.


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