Exploring Lean Six Sigma and Environmental Improvement Initiatives
There are two incredibly powerful business trends which are shaping today’s corporate landscape. They are organizations’ demands for an increase in efficiency in production and the social imperative that companies reduce their environmental footprint. Modern process improvement experts have discovered that the two aims do not have to be mutually exclusive or unrelated. As a matter of fact, if a Lean Six Sigma implementation has environmental improvement as one of its objectives, it is more likely to become a permanent part of corporate operations and receive funding.
What change managers need to understand is that projects based on environmental improvement are not opposed or passed over because an organization’s management opposes them or that they do not care about the environment. They fall by the wayside because, by themselves, they are not presented as being significant enough for top level leaders to allocate significant resources to them.
However, a combination of environmental improvement initiatives and Lean Six Sigma is certain to sweeten the deal. Such combined projects are certain to appeal to managers because they offer both environmental and quality advantages to the organization.
Environmental Impact Analysis of an Organization
Getting into more detail, analysis of your organization’s environmental impact is a measure of how much your company impacts the surrounding environment. When you are busy operating business processes and the supply chain, there may be negative environmental impacts caused by your business that can occur with or without you knowing it. Among these are spillages of toxic waste, leakage, improper disposal of waste, and other kinds of contamination.
At times, these occurrences may not be easy to notice. Similarly, pinpointing the exact source of such contamination may be difficult. In order to avoid having an adverse effect on the environment, it is essential that you carry out environmental impact analysis.
The variables that you measure and how they are measured largely depends on the type of operation and the industry within which your organization operates. For most lean organizations, the carbon footprint, water use, energy consumed and the percentage of waste recycled are the most common metrics.
Connecting Lean Six Sigma and Environmental Impact Analysis
Carrying out regular analysis of your impact on the environment can be expensive and time consuming. However, when the right approach is taken, unnecessary costs can be eliminated. The initial data collection and analysis is what requires the most manpower, money and time. However, once you have perfected your processes after the first round, you can repeat the steps again after regular periods.
There are many Key Performance Indicators and variables that you can measure to establish how much of an environmental impact your business has. Still, it is important to select the right ones and stick to them.
For your organization to achieve this, it is recommended that you appoint a certified Six Sigma project manager. This manager should be at least a Black Belt. The project manager has the task of collecting the correct data from the right sources. The project team could be comprised of more Six Sigma experts who will collect, store and analyze data.
Once the appropriate data is at hand, you can use it to establish if there are any changes that you can make to your operations or supply chain. To do this, it is recommended that you compare the results of your organization to those of your competitors while also examining existing legislation.
Through taking a proactive stance with your environmental impact study, you could potentially save countless hours and avoid falling foul of strict environmental protection laws. The avoidance of fines can often be the biggest driver of improvement, to get the attention of management.
No matter whether you support climate change laws or not, the fact is that governments all over the world and customers are agitating for organizations and businesses to be run in an environmentally friendly way.
Companies that carry out production and manufacturing operations should expect to be the most affected by tough new environment-related legislation. However, through the reduction of waste and elimination of unnecessary production steps, your organization can be well prepared to avoid losing time and paying hefty fines.
In combination with Six Sigma methodologies, carrying out environmental impact analysis and acting on the findings is the best way to run environmental improvement initiatives.
To learn more, visit LeanSixSigmaEnvironment.org