Do you ever find that you find some things really annoy you on the Lean & Green journey and others come as pleasant surprises?
Well, this happened to me recently. I was working in Canada running an open workshop on our award winning Staying Lean approach, which included a great talk by Ron Harper, President of Cogent Power. We then visited the Burlington, ON site and were taken around by a group of company managers.
The thing that really annoyed me (as it does in most hotels) was the typical greenwash sign in the hotel (similar to the one below) that was a thinly disguised customer unfriendly cost cutting measure. At the same time every (high energy) light in the hotel was on, you could not turn the air conditioning off and the meal sizes were astronomical (did you know 30% of all our emissions are caused by the food chain and over 30% of food is wasted). Actually, the only time I can recall not being annoyed by similar signs was a hotel in Australia which offered guests an incentive to reuse towels in the form of a discount on meals the next day.
What I found to be a great experience was walking round Cogent Power with a number of visitors from other firms. 30 minutes in to the tour, where we went into great depth about their lean approach (including pull systems, visual line-of-sight boards, jidoka system, staff engagement and pull-based suggestion scheme), I discovered my guide was not an engineer but the HR manager! A real insight was that the firm was not just doing lean but that it had a real lean feel to it. Everyone we talked to could identify with the company goals and direction. They all talked about what this meant to them and in an animated way about how they were part of the journey and what they were doing to make it happen. Lean in Cogent Power is really about the people.
Finally at the end of the tour I came across this sign. This gave me the real feel that they were not just a lean firm but had really thought through the issue of wider environmental wastes…..they are firmly on a wider lean and green journey.
If you want to know more about Lean & Green, watch out for our new Creating a Lean and Green Business System: Techniques for Improving Profits and Sustainability (Keivan Zokaei, Hunter Lovins, Andy Wood and Peter Hines), published late spring 2013.