When a Green Team Stumbles ... and then Flies

Last year a green team I have been mentoring did some great energy efficiency work. Then the CEO, the green team manager, the year and the project all changed at the same time. Many green teams fall over at times like these. We all want to be on the winning team and a table with two people around it ain't winning anymore. But it is amazing how powerful renewal can be. Even strong teams should do it often. The Phoenix of mythology is a powerful change agent.

We met with the new CEO, who backed us in straight away. We developed a waste reduction plan for the Organisation, audited waste streams, checked the flexibility of waste collection contracts and next month we had five at the table. Things were heating up.

Next we checked out new bins, investigated composting options for catering and then spoke to the senior leadership group about the importance of the project. The dam wall burst.
Our meeting this week did not have enough chairs around the table. We had the CEO, OH&S, maintenance, volunteer coordinator, waste collection, Org support, catering and representation from another four departments. In one hour we worked through the practicalities of the new waste system in a blaze of positive, creative, excited thinking.

The best part was that one major and two minor organizational systems were completely redesigned in a way that will improve customer service, reduce waste to near zero and save money and time. Quite often when the right people are at the table, a small conversation about, say, composting leads to a deep process change that improves all aspects of operation. Amory Lovins once said that the sustainability game is the only one in town where you see a $50 note on the ground in your business, you bend down to pick it up and you find $100 underneath. Water, waste and energy are generated where the work happens and they are also business inefficiencies. Why pay for them? In removing them other inefficiencies, outdated processes and old systems are looked at anew and improved.

This organisation WILL reduce waste by 60% next year and they'll save money, impress customers, inspire their national group, improve business systems, look modern, lower purchasing costs and probably win an award. They are on a mission.
To get everyone involved it took perseverance, renewal, a big refocus and an exciting project that will effect everyone's job. It also took a few smiles. Never underestimate the power of a meaningful project that has a fun, inviting atmosphere about it.

Of course, the biggest cog in this chain of events was the CEO - genuine unconditional support from the top opens doors and cascades throughout an Organisation.

Watch this space for the results in 2014.