EC 031: Process Improvement for Social Responsibility – IISE Conference in Orlando May 201831 min read
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On this podcast, I share a presentation I did on the Institute for Industrial and Systems Engineers Annual Conference in Orlando in May 2018. The presentation was called Process Improvement for Social Responsibility and it was with myself and Billy Ingram, who works at Interface in the Lean Development Group. We both went through a training program with the Sherpa Sustainability Institute. Within that program, we talk in the presentation around this methodology called Continual Improvement for Social Responsibility (CISR). That program is like a Six Sigma for social responsibility. It uses a model similar to the DMAIC model, something called SOFAIR. In the presentation, I walk through those steps and explain that.
The presentation is around 45 minutes long. The slides will be available in the show notes, as well as you can go right to the YouTube video and watch the presentation with the slides. Check it out and let me know what you think.
- Video Presentation
- Slides from presentation
- Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE)
- Sherpa Sustainability Institute
- Billy Ingram LinkedIn
- Billy Ingram Personal Page
Billy (BI): If you have any questions, please hold it to the end. I want to make sure everybody has a chance.
Brion (BH): Good morning. Thanks for coming out. It’s the last day of the conference, 8 o’clock. It’s almost as bad as the three something presentations this afternoon, so not the worst spot.
BI: Don’t we know that the dedicated people are to sustainable development.
Male Audience Member: Don’t redeem any favors.
BH: We’re going to talk about process improvement for social responsibility, so really trying to apply these concepts of Lean, Six Sigma, quality improvement around social responsibility issues. Billy and I will talk about some of the work we’ve done around this initiative that we think is pretty cool and wanted to share with you guys.
BI: My name is Billy Ingram. I think you all already knew that, everybody here did.
I’ve been working with Lean sustainability principles for a long time. I came out of the textile industry, went through automotive, spent about 7 or 8 years there. I learned a lot of Lean and Six Sigma, cut my teeth, and I tried to find a job to do. I tried to get out of there as fast as I could. So anyway, I joined Interface in ’97 as an industrial engineer. I’d like to speak about sustainable design and social responsibility.
I love to learn. I do a lot of opportunistic type of improvement and innovation around carpet manufacturing, which is the industry that I’m in and I’m very passionate about individual engagement. If you want to know more about me or check out my social channels, you can check me out on about.me.
BH: Have you got an IE degree?
BI: I actually do not. I have a business management degree and I have an MBA, both from Troy University. I was trained on the job in automotive.
They got me there and the turnover rate was about 30% and they said, “Hey, you interested in being an IE manager?” “Sure. What is an IE?” So then they trained me and I got some really good training there, so that’s what I did after that.
BH: Real-world experience.
BI: That’s right.
BH: I think I know everybody here. I’ve been doing Lean and Six Sigma for the last almost 20 years now. Lately, we’re talking the last 8 to 10 years, been really looking at sustainability and how to bring that into or apply that to some of the improvement work. I’m a Master Black Belt and then also a CISR Practitioner, we’ll talk about what that means. I spent 18 years at Rockwell Collins, an aerospace company; became a consultant last year on my own. I went through the certified B Corporation process, which you can do as a solopreneur, which I didn’t realize. You just go through and assess your own organization and what metrics you’re collecting and what you do with your volunteer time and your donations. So went through that process in January of this year. I’m really passionate about the environmental side of this and I have a book that I put together for trying to encourage other people to go into some volunteer work and bring their skills with them with that volunteer experience.
BI: And it’s really good if ya’ll haven’t read it.
BH: I think everyone’s gotten a copy now.
BI: Some real quick stuff. Since I work at Interface, we are required to show the next few slides. That’s a joke. I was telling Brion, we show this slide every time. Interface, we are actually a carpet manufacturer, but most people think we’re some type of consultancy around sustainability because our founder, Ray Anderson, back in 1994, decided, of his own accord, that he was just going to change the way he was doing business because of a book he read by Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce.
Since then, Interface has been ranked, for the last 20 years, in this particular metric, which is a sustainability metric where people are asked when you think of sustainability, which companies do you think of? So Unilever, Patagonia, Interface, Ikea, Tesla. We talk about that a lot, a lot of our literature is around that, a lot of our business models are around that. So anyway, 20 years later, we’re still working on it and we can talk about that some more later.
Brion mentioned, just a second ago, we’ve been working with a group called Sherpa Sustainability, and their focus is on applying Lean and Six Sigma to social responsibility or social sustainability. We call that social responsibility and we have a slide to go over there in just a minute. But anyway, what it does is that the organization makes decisions and activities with society and the environment in mind, and this includes a lot of different things. “Social responsibility will contribute to the sustainable development, including health and welfare of society, takes into account the expectation of stakeholders,” which is a big game changer, “is in compliance with applicable laws, and is consistent with international norms of behavior,” and this is really important when we talk about global organizations that are sharing product, and then, “is integrated throughout the organization and is practicing in its these relationships.” This is a real summarized version and there’s a lot that goes on behind this.
Here’s the seven core subjects. How many are familiar in here with ISO 26000? Somewhat? These are the things that you’re trying to take into account from a stakeholder’s standpoint. So this is really important because when you’re trying to solve a problem, especially at a root or change behaviors, and how you form the problem changes your solutions. So to me, setting about a new perspective of forming the problem differently gives you different solutions. This has been the primary thing for me that’s been very, very different about this type of work.
As you can see the thing, I won’t read them off to you, but it’s a little bit of common sense. You can find this online. It’s real easy to find ISO 26000.
BH: It’s not a certification; it’s just a guidance. So you can’t be certified as ISO 26000, at least not yet. I don’t know if they will ever do that. I hadn’t heard about it until we got into this training and they started talking about it. We go through and they explain all the details of that, what is involved in there.
Female Audience Member: Do we know any companies that are currently using it?
BH: Practicing it? Not that I know any major companies that use this as their framework. If you are a benefit company or you sign up as a benefit company through your state, then you have to have a framework that you’re using to drive your social responsibility. It could be you become a B Corporation or you can adopt something like GRI, Global Reporting Initiative, and say that’s how we’re going to measure and show our progress towards improvement, or you can adopt ISO 26000 as another option. You have to just pick something and go with it. There’s a couple other options that, at least in the state of Oregon, you have these options to use as frameworks. That’s the only thing. I’ve seen it, but I don’t know any major company that says we’re using ISO 26000 as the way we’re improving.
BI: I will say this, almost all of the ones that was on that previous slide, where you talk about the GlobeScan SustainAbility Survey, almost all of them have at least given consideration to ISO 26000 and at least have a response on their website because I’ve went and researched several of them. Interface has a response guidelines that we follow and they say how we follow the guidelines, so that’s helpful.
BH: I was just thinking, I wonder how they match up with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
BI: They’re similar.
BH: The women who put together the Sherpa Sustainability Institute developed that out of a book they wrote called Continual Improvement for Social Responsibility that’s available. I think they had put on a little workshop or a webinar of their book, highlighting the key points in there, and that’s how I got involved in that, is I was just interested to learn about it. And then, as part of the training then, you get a copy of the book and get to go and learn. And they have an online training that goes through a lot of the details and then a part that, like a lot of improvement programs, is you do a project, so we’ll talk about some of the projects we did.
They use the acronym CISR, sounds like scissor. It’s a methodology based on a Six Sigma approach to look at sustainability or social responsibility. It uses a similar approach like DMAIC does in the Six Sigma world, so they call that SOFAIR. SOFAIR stands for the S is stakeholders and subjects. In ISO 26000, the seven subjects are those different areas and then the stakeholders are all people that are affected by your organization. It’s not just your internal employees and leadership and customers, but it’s actually the community, the environment, and everybody who’s affected by that organization.
The way you can see over here has shifted to the left from your traditional DMAIC model, and that’s because in traditional approaches, you start off with a problem and say we’ve got this internal problem or our customers are complaining and we’re going to go solve that problem. With this methodology, you would back up and say who is all the potential stakeholders first? Let’s get our hands around that and then let’s go talk to them and find out what the problems are that they care about, and then let’s connect it to our internal problems and, together, we’ll find something that helps our organization and addresses the stakeholder issue that they’re complaining about or frustrated with as an organization, so then we can have a win-win there. Because there’s so many different issues organizations can dig into, so let’s have our stakeholders help us to define those and then let’s start the project after that. That’s why it’s shifted over.
Then you’ll get into stuff like the objective, measurements, focus, Pareto Principle, analyze, improve. There’s also an innovate section that gets into how do we rethink these problems and not just be really narrow-minded about solving it? How do we think outside the box a little bit and use some more innovation tools in there? And then report and repeat, sometimes these are left out of DMAIC a little bit. I’ve even seen the major models with an R at the end to make sure people summarize and quantify and communicate out the results, so they have that piece embedded in there too.
And then these are the different types of tools. You have your traditional process improvement tools, but a lot of these are focusing more on the team interaction and the discussions and quantifying information that sometimes, in social responsibility, is not as clear-cut. We don’t have great metrics for a lot of these things, so we have to use a little bit more team building skills, tools to get all the stakeholders together and come up with some priorities. So you see, if there’s – I’m not going to go through all these different tools – but TRIZ, Hoshin Kanri, risk assessment so they have a social responsibility. Social responsibility, FMEA, and looking at risks from that standpoint, 5 Ys, 5Ws, that type of stuff is traditional things. These are the different tools used or considered at different phases. That’s what you go through and learn about in the training.
BI: Brion did a great job summarizing all that. I would’ve been a lot more lengthy in my summary of that. But being what you know, so what’s the key points that’s different? Social responsibility is front and center and, as I said, the stakeholder analysis that he’s talking about engagement is a great way to bring in the Hoshin Kanri and strategic deployment type concept, which one of the projects that I actually used at Interface was to try to draw some people together to move forward.
I didn’t explain exactly what I do at Interface; I just said I work there. You don’t know if I’m the janitor or whatever. My job tile is I’m Director of Lean Product Development and I’m one of the only Lean people at Interface. There’s probably a handful in the whole company worldwide, so we are not a Lean house, we are not a Six Sigma house, and ironically, we are known as a sustainability leader. I don’t get it, but nevertheless. Maybe we couldn’t have got there through Lean Six Sigma, I’m not sure.
Anyway, what’s the difference? Social responsibility is front and center, stakeholder engagement is robust. There’s several tools that make it extremely robust. As I mentioned earlier, the more you understand your stakeholders, the better you can align and align your projects and the things that you want to accomplish with globalization and it, literally, helps you align and be more successful.
Social sensitivity, I’m not the most socially sensitive person in the world. This definitely makes you more aware because it brings it out in focus because you invest into what these set of questions will help you. Preservation of diversity. The stakeholder engagement piece also helps you preserve diverse thought to keep powerful personalities from controlling the ideas, so it’s helped me in that way. Transparency, authenticity, and general purpose driven organizations are also some things that you can get when you start connecting your ideas and your problems and your solutions with social causes that people feel strongly about rather than you saying, “Hey, yeah, let’s everybody get excited. Go make more money.” That doesn’t really work in my opinion.
Anyway, real quickly, I’m going to walk through these SOFAIR projects. Again, I’m responsible for product development at Interface. My first project practitioner was called Project Phoenix and it literally means exactly what it said it means. It was somewhat offensive to other people and some types inside of our company, especially our Dutch friends. I’m not sure why they didn’t like it so much, but they specifically had an issue with the name. I’ll tell you a 30-second story. The guy who’s the president of that division, I was eating dinner with him and his technical guru and I was explaining to him what we wanted to do. He said, “So let me get this straight,” and it’s Dutch English. He said, “What you want to do is burn our process to the ground and start over?” I said, “Exactly. You’re exactly right. That’s exactly what I want to do, although we won’t actually burn it; we’re just going to rearrange it.”
So that’s where we started and the goals that we had, up here, was to improve the iterations, the possible iterations in product development from one every eight weeks or seven weeks to one a week. Think about how does Lean Six Sigma help product development? Well, it helps it a lot when you take a trial that takes seven weeks and you collapse it to it takes one week by improving the reliability and cycle time. Now my designers get seven looks at the same product if they need it or either, if I take three of them, we take four weeks and make the process faster.
The second one was when we talked about the project itself, we had two primary opportunities. One was to improve the administration, which is often overlooked, of the process, the soft side, and the other one was to improve the actual cycle time of producing carpet, so we could focus on both. We were taking a three week lead time in administration, and we collapsed it to one day, and we took a full week manufacturing process and collapsed to five days, which is what we… Basic industrial engineering, basic Lean Six Sigma. We applied it that way and those two circles up there are just the amount of effort that it takes to do one or the other. I couldn’t figure out how to represent it very well.
So that was the first project. That was actually my CISR practitioner project that was very similar to Black Belt in Six Sigma. So all those tools that Brion showed, I used all of them as required to actually finish the course and this often aligns. The hardest part for me was the discussion boards, which is the big, giant challenge for me, but I managed to force my way through that.
The second project was the CISR Expert, which is a Master Black Belt level, so we had to use all of those tools listed, which was a little tedious, but nevertheless, it helps you be very thorough. This was about Hoshin Kanri at Interface, strategic deployment, so I was able to get one thing done out of this, this was the focus phase. I needed our senior management, from our president down, to agree on what they wanted to do in product development. I gave them three initiatives, so an operations plan for the next three years, so we gave them three initiatives. Can we all agree we want to improve product development? Yeah, we can all agree on that. Can we all agree that we want to deploy what we learn in product development to the other divisions? Yeah, we can agree on that. Can we all agree that we want to re-engineer the carpet making process and start up from scratch? No, we can’t agree on that.
So the truth was that was my project, at the end, was just to get everybody to agree on two primary things, which I constantly remind them of over and over. “Remember you said you wanted to improve the profitability? Remember that operations plan presentation? That’s why we’re doing this. Remember you said you wanted to deploy capabilities? That’s why I need this money to build this new plant,” or whatever. So those are my two projects and it was very useful, it very, like Six Sigma Black Belt, Master Black Belt, it was very labor-intensive, but saying that, I learned a lot through the process.
A lot of the stuff we’ve used here, these are some of our metrics. You can’t really see them that well, but we’ve been measuring Interface Mission Zero, we’ve been measuring all of the things that have to do with using no materials since 1997 I think is when we started, so we’ve been measuring this for 20 years. You can find all of these slides that you can actually read on our website. So what we’ve done is that we’ve tracked that globally and we reduced everything from materials, water, every type of sustainable metric you can think of, from how much we recycle to how much we get bio-based, carbon emissions, everything. We’ve been able to reduce that significantly just by a focused effort, one thing we can all agree on.
Our latest initiative, and again, I’ve already talked about stakeholder engagement a lot already. Our latest initiative, Climate Take Back, is what you’ll hear people talking about now at Interface. This is what they’re promoting. The basics of it is why can’t carbon be a new tool to help us in our processes? So instead of thinking of it as a negative thing, we’re thinking of it as a positive thing and see if we can actually use our processes and our products and our materials to sequester carbon and use it as a building block so we can store it. The basics are up top up there – love carbon, let nature do the cooling, lead the industrial re-revolution, and then live zero – is the high-level thing that you’ll hear people preaching at Interface now.
We actually have processes. I work real closely with the R&D group and they have very plausible, practical ways that we will be able to fulfill our Mission Zero goal and create a whole new line – actually, we’re in the process of building them now in product development – building all of our new products and we call them not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative. They’ll be sequestering the carbon in process as we go through and put it back in. I was a little skeptical that this was even possible until I actually walked through with the R&D group and they explained me the three primary projects.
Guess what my model was for those projects? I was helping them engage their stakeholders and organize their stakeholders, analyze it so they can create a Hoshin Kanri effect globally. That was my involvement with it. That’s really important when you’re trying to get people to do things that they’ve not done before. They may say, “Wait a minute, now. What are you talking about? You say you’re going to sequester carbon? You say you’re going to try to use it as a building block?” A lot of people are like me and say, “Show me. Show me, prove to me. I don’t want to hear your rhetoric and your opinion; I want to see fact.”
This is what I’ve learned. At Interface, I have a lot of Lean and Six Sigma experience. I really joined Sherpa Sustainability at Holly’s request. I ran into her at the Lean Six Sigma conference, we was talking about the same thing. I was talking on the second-grade level and she was talking on the PhD, so I said that’s an opportunity for me to learn. My biggest learnings here is that I had a good economic skill set, a good skill set applying Lean Six Sigma to environmental issues because I work at Interface. I’ve been there a long time, so that’s kind of second nature now.
What I did not have was the practical tools around social responsibility, social sustainability, or stakeholder engagement, so that was a huge gap that filled for me. Now I feel much more confident in actually working around social issues now. It was a very challenging curriculum, which I liked. Learners learn when they’re challenged. Practical application, I rarely learn things that I don’t want to use. I feel like I just don’t have enough time left in my life to be learning things that don’t mean anything, so I learned things and put them practically into use. Like Brion, I love collaborating with people that are very forward-thinking, so this group is a hub for people who were thinking that way, so that was very much a draw for me and forced, like I said, a lot of this inside of Interface, just filling gaps for other people. I suspect, and I speak a lot to people, especially students, and a tell them that I wish I would have known about this ability to lay this type of Lean Six Sigma knowledge into social responsibilities about 20 years ago. It would’ve made a big difference for me, so now I tell other people and make a big difference for them.
BH: I also got involved, probably two years ago, with the program and learning this methodology. I’m running a nonprofit right now. It’s an older nonprofit, it’s been around 30 years in Oregon, and I ended up becoming a president last year or maybe two years ago. Because I had a lot of influence in that organization, it made for a good project to try to apply this for my practitioner project. What we were focusing on was how do we engage individuals in Portland area, Portland metro area, in activities that they can do to improve the environment? We had already established that we’re going to go after coffee cups as an initiative.
Through this project, what I think some things I took away from this, and going to the next level of that, so we already had the project but we wanted to back up and say who are our stakeholders and really trying to back up and say it’s just coffee shop owners, it’s customers who drink coffee, and it’s regulatory, it’s waste haulers. How do we get their voice pulled into our initiative because what if we go down a path and start promoting something that they fight us on? We don’t want to get to that point, so really thinking of who’s affected by this initiative that we need to consider or take into account first. Because, like anything, you don’t want to get to the very end and say we’re ready to push forward on some solution and then you find out that’s where all the complaints come in and push back and then you have to go fight those battles.
The main thing to come out of this was really trying to focus in our message a little bit on there’s two options we can really promote, bring your own cup to the coffee shop if you’re going to drink coffee, or dine-in and enjoy a cup of coffee using one of their cups. What allowed us to focus in on the bring your own cup is because that applies to everybody, whereas not every coffee shop offers reusable cups. There’s concerns with can I wash them and there’s extra labor involved and stuff, so sometimes they’re not really promoting as much. So staying focused on what is our clear message we’re going to go after helped evaluate the… Did some little surveys and said most of the coffee shops offer reusable cups, but not everyone, and so, everybody, we can promote bring your own cup. That applies to every shop, no matter what their situation is.
The other thing we talked about is innovation and what is it really we’re trying to get at. Because if we just always think about coffee cups, it’s very narrow-minded, but really, the goal is to get coffee into the consumer and so maybe we can broaden it a little bit and think about what does that ultimately look like? Is there a way to even bypass coffee cups in general, intravenously getting coffee through? I don’t know what that would look like.
BH: It doesn’t have to be a cup. I guess that’s very limiting, and so trying to broaden it to what is really the something called ideal final result and it’s really getting coffee into the consumer, and so then it broadens the possibilities a little bit wider than what you might normally think about, so that was good. And really just also thinking about sustainability of the organization. How do you take this nonprofit to keep it going for another 30 years or more?
And then I’m also coaching people and so there’s a brewery in Portland that I helped and their issue was really around this organizational governance, which really is something I didn’t understand at first, but it’s really about how are decisions made in the organization? If it’s very top-down driven, you can’t have good social responsibility because the employees basically don’t feel like they have a voice in that organization and it’s very hard to do anything if that’s the setup. And so for this brewery, what they were doing is they were growing very rapidly and having a lot of success, but they were just making a lot of decisions and not really involving or having a good forum for getting the employee input and concerns addressed and heard.
What that project revolved around is how you pull in that input from employees and get them to voice their opinions, feel safe voicing their opinions, get a response, good or bad, and say, “I heard you, I understand, but we’re not going to do that. We can’t change this.” And then the feedback just to management that says, “You’ve got some struggles here, some challenges.” So they’re working on some surveys and then taking the survey results and then having daily communications. Changes in the menus, how do you communicate those out instead of people saying, “I didn’t hear about that. No one told me”? So incorporating it into when they log in, that it pops up with the changes for the day. “We’re out of this supply, so you have to tell the customers this before they order. Make sure you read our update on the discounts we’re offering,” and, “There’s a sale coming in,” or, “We’ve put out these coupons, so you might see a lot of these coming in today,” some way to better communicate to their employees. That was a real focus around social responsibility and that’s something that you don’t normally think about.
That was my experiences going through there, and then I’ve coached a couple of other people through the process as well. I’m going to be starting up my expert project, probably on my own consulting business, to see how do I improve my social responsibility or my B Corporation scores as a way to move forward.
If you’re interested in the training, they have different levels – Advocate, Facilitator, Practitioner, and Expert. That’s at the SherpaSustainabilityInstitute.org, if you want to learn more about that.
Social responsibility is really critical for businesses and organizations. A lot of it is coming from consumers, especially within the consumer-facing market, and employees are asking for this. That’s what makes it good for business is because you want to attract as many consumers as possible and you want to keep your employees happy and keep them around. So that’s a big driver, I think, of a lot of these initiatives that companies are trying to step up to meet those demands whether they believe in this or not.
SOFAIR methodology is very similar to the DMAIC model of Six Sigma except we’re spending a lot more time upfront figuring out who the stakeholders are and getting their voice into deciding what we’re going to focus our improvements around. Then there’s ways to expand your knowledge – check out the book or get signed up for some of the webinars or learnings. Tina and I gave a webinar last week around her project around the IISE Sustainable Development Division and some of the work being done there. That was also through this SOFAIR that we used.
BI: I would like to add, too, that the stakeholder engagement piece is more important than just saying, “We’re going to try to pick out projects that work and get everybody aligned.” I’ve killed at least 10 projects because I could not get alignment and could not get support.
Male Audience Member: You made the comment that you’re known as a sustainable organization but not necessarily as a Lean organization. I thought that was really interesting.
BI: There’s no doubt, we’re not a Lean organization.
Male Audience Member: One of my friends did some research on the synergy between Lean and Green and did find that it’s easier to go from being Lean and then adopting a waste lens on other waste issues that are considered sustainability wastes rather than going the other direction, that it’s harder to build the skill set, at least in the correlation in the analysis that he read. I thought that was an interesting point. Are you making a specific effort to try to make the organization more Lean?
BI: Actually, we went about it from investing in the individual standpoint. I would like to think, with no ego, that you can have one person, and I would say I’m an example that I’m not always as successful. You can have one Lean person in an organization, that makes a huge difference. People don’t have to understand Lean, they don’t have to understand Six Sigma, neither do they have to understand the SOFAIR methodology or DMAIC to say, “Yeah, I would like to make more money,” and you set your projects up so that they also help be more environmentally minded and also more socially. It’s kind of like, “Yeah, that’s good too. Where’s my money?” We took the, in our area at least, we’re focusing on training up the product development team to be those types of people, so we’re teaching them Lean and Six Sigma, we’re teaching them this methodology around social responsibility. Basically, as long as we have a budget for it, everybody generally likes the results.
I’m under no illusion that I’m going to change our company by going and talking to our presidents and changing their mind and, all of a sudden, they’re going to become entrepreneurial. Don’t get me wrong, where their knowledge is at, they’re doing the best they can with what they have, but we’re focused on individual engagement, so maybe more of a grassroots type of approach. Because people can make a difference in organizations and then Brion has proven, outside organizations too, when you’re actually connecting with other organizations and nonprofits and stuff like that, changing people’s perspectives. That’s we’re focusing our efforts on.
Male Audience Member: For doing this in a facility with the sustainability aspect, in ISO or anyone else, is there established standard measures when you go in the factory to measure and you have to have baseline for air usage, energy usage, water recycling, waste, that someone who comes on with a Master’s degree has a means to go, “This is where we can start these measures”?
BH: I would say the part of this methodology is tying your metrics back to the GRI metrics, which are these generic social responsibility metrics that look at all those things from the environmental input, energy usage, carbon emissions, to employee engagement, outreach to the community, donations. All that kind of stuff is packaged up that these are the type of metrics you should be looking at. They’re trying to use that as a framework for getting standardization across many different companies to say can we all measure this at least consistently so that we can now start to do comparisons that says how does Interface actually compare to Tesla in terms of these metrics? Whereas if everybody has their own metrics, then it’s hard to say, “You guys are measuring it differently, so you’re counting that and they’re not counting that and that’s not really fair.” The GRI is intended to allow for comparisons by standardizing how those metrics are done, but each company may or may not have an application to those, each metric.
BI: A couple of applicable tools we use at Interface that I think are more just industry nonspecific, LCA, Lifecycle Analysis, and then EPD, Environmental Product Declarations, are the two that we used to do exactly what Brion says. We also use the GRI metrics as well to measure other things, but we make a lot of business decisions based off those EPDs and LCAs. And we’ve got them stacked up high and deep on our website if you want to read those.
Male Audience Member: What is the connection between the GRI as it rolls down to your measurements that you’re taking for auditing? It’s really the students coming out with a plan to measure that [some of the question is inaudible].
BI: Interface has a very specific set of metrics on their website and they’re very detailed and been tracked for 20 years, so if you’re interested in looking at where we’ve come and why we’ve made those decisions. Sherpa is actually having a virtual conference in June, and Connie Hensler is the lady who is responsible for our LCA and EPD program, she’s going to be talking about that, specifically, to answer your question, like I said, how do you get started doing this? Anyway if y’all are interested in that, this is June the 20th or something like that. I’ll be speaking on that, it’s a virtual conference which is great from the sustainability standpoint. It’s truly sustainable, a virtual sustainability conference, and Connie will be speaking as well on the opposite there.
BH: In terms of metrics, too, I think if the organization is already doing some other stuff, like they’re ISO 14001 certified, they’re probably going to be better off with having some existing metrics in place to be able to link in or find these projects. But I’m sure a lot of organizations, you’re getting into there and you’re saying there is no metrics right now, or it’s disjointed, or one person knows about it, but it’s not really fitting into the scorecard. That’s the Hoshin Kanri idea that where does this metric drive to the top level that the management and leadership care about? If it dies somewhere in the middle, good luck with trying to sell your project or make some improvements because that alignment is missing, and so that exercise to go and at least figure out how to get it aligned or realize that it’s not aligned and you’re going to really struggle and that’s a different improvement is to go get it to fit in there at the top level somehow or make it important.
BI: I will say this, too, I share this tidbit with especially a lot of the students that we have working. A lot of times, they say, “I don’t have access to CIO,” or the president or the CEO or whatever, but you do have access to the three or four videos and social postings that come out every week and they tell you what’s important, so make sure your projects are connected with what they’re saying. That way, when you get a chance to say, “I need funding,” or, “I need help,” or, “I need a team,” or whatever, you can be connected to them and say, “You said… So we’re doing that. You want us to stop?” Most people won’t say, “Yeah, stop until I approve it.” No, they want you to do something, they just want to make sure you’re dealing with what’s aligned with them.
BH: I think I was trying to do it in my last company was, with my green team, is say who cares about the green team? Well, there’s some cost savings opportunities, probably the biggest one, employee engagement. I think we can really affect that and then get people caring about what they might see as nonwork-related activities. They feel like the company cares or is interested in these initiatives, maybe they’re going to stick around a little bit or they’re going to care a little bit more about that organization. And this is good publicity too. We’ve got a sustainability award. Is this something we can promote to our customers and say this is why we’re a good supplier for you? How viable would that be? That’s business reasons we can tie back to some that work instead of just saying it’s the right thing to do. That’s great, but what are the actual high-level things that the organization cares about most?
BI: We talk a lot, in our internal teams, too, inside of product development, which is a little broader than just making the product. We talk a lot about, in our group, about doing things that’s good for the person, good for the role they’re in, like the process they’re in, and good for the company. Here’s my interpretation of that. If people are asking you to do things that’s bad for you and saying take one for the team, they’ve neglected you. They’re taking advantage of you. People who want to have this high level of engagement can’t take advantage of people. They have to be honest and transparent and open with them and say, “You need to do this because there’s opportunity for you to be promoted in the future, there’s opportunity for you to learn,” and it be true.
Also, so it’s interesting, too, that a lot of our stakeholder engagements projects we start up with, if you don’t want to be here, leave. We don’t want to waste your time. If you’re there and you’ve got five people in the room and you’re starting a project and four of the leave, well, I think we know where this project is going to get. So make sure that the people, that’s what you get engagement, that’s the way you get real authenticity, and that’s how you also get a lot of the power socially from an opinion leader standpoint. People in the organization at lower levels who want to grow, who want to learn, you track people like that in your area. I’ll say this without any qualms, I very much want to recruit the very best people to work on my team. Doesn’t everybody? I want to have them stacked up and high deep. When we post a job, I want to be able to pick which one is the best fit for our group, and that’s very much how it works out when you offer engagement and sustainability (even on a small scale). Back to the individual engagement piece.
BH: Any other questions?
BI: If anybody has a few extra hours, I’d be glad to talk to you.
BH: Thank you.
BI: Thank you.