On My Mind
Many organizations today are pursuing a green strategy for a variety of reasons including regulatory compliance, bowing to customer pressure, being a good corporate citizen, achieving a competitive advantage, and even for increasing profitability. Innovation is sometimes a key ingredient for success – innovation of the business model itself (e.g., ride sharing) plus innovation of building designs (LEED), behaviors (reduce, reuse, recycle), supply chain logistics, processes, products, and packaging. The recent uncovered exploits of Volkswagen revealed a tragic tale and it reminded me of how some world class athletes use performance enhancing drugs. The new CEO of Volkswagen has the almost impossible task of restoring trust. Most of the major Volkswagen stakeholders are adversely affected by the emissions scandal: citizens at large, customers, shareholders, employees, dealers, suppliers, and regulators. It must have taken a lot of time, talent, energy, and money to create the culprit software. Everyone would have been further ahead if Volkswagen had put those resources to use on more noble green strategy projects.
“The game isn’t over until it’s over.” “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” “You can observe a lot just by watching.” “I never said most of the things I said.” “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Those memorable quotes—and many others—were spoken by Yogi Berra. He continues to be one of the most beloved professional athletes of all time. What many people don’t realize is that in addition to being a humorous character, Yogi was an amazing baseball player. He won ten World Series titles while playing catcher for the New York Yankees during the team’s glory years; he was an 18-time All-Star; he was named the American League Most Valuable Player three times; and he was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Few people have transcended their profession to become such a positive public figure. The world will truly miss Yogi—and for the public memory of him—“it ain’t over.”
The Seventh Annual Advanced Strategic Improvement Practices Conference was held October 7 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. There were five presentations on Innovation: Chris Malakapalli of Seagate; Dick Anderson of Stratasys; Dr. Andy Van de Ven of the Carlson School of Management; Matthew Moore of the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation; and Dennis Power of the Opus Group. Mike Bunn from Fabcon Precast presented on a Lean Six Sigma project. There were five presentations in the afternoon on Sustainability (in the Environmental sense): Vern Campbell of Process Management; Marty Muenzmaier of Cargill Corn Milling; Cathy Moeger and Rick Patraw of the MN Pollution Control Agency; Kelly Braaten of Hormel Foods; and Judy Grew, Molly MacGregor, and Jason Moeckel of the MN Department of Natural Resources. Dr. Alfred Marcus from the Carlson School of Management provided some closing thoughts on Sustainability at the end of the conference. The conference will again be held in October in 2016.
For those leaders of organizations seriously interested in Sustainability – there is an outstanding new book titled, “Leading Sustainable Change: An Organizational Perspective”, edited by Rebecca Henderson, Ranjay Gulati, and Michael Tushman. The book contains thirteen insightful chapters from different experts, but two in particular resonated with me: Chapter 2 on Making the Business Case for Environmental Sustainability and Chapter 8 on Chief Sustainability Officers: Who are They and what Do They Do? If you want leading-edge contemporary thoughts on Sustainability from a variety of experts, then this is the book for you.