As I was getting my day going by catching up with my typical round of marketing blogs, I caught an article on mashable.com about the value Canon is getting from “going green” (4 Ways To Make Your Office Greener, http://mashable.com/2011/07/12/green-office-canon/). I found this article interesting as I have always thought that the use of the word “green” in marketing and business is overused, trendy, and underwhelming. This feeling comes from my tendency to cringe every time a word becomes overused in advertising like cutting-edge (of course we will ignore my tendency to use the word awesome at every opportunity). However, as companies work to find ways to cut costs and streamline processes, it appears that the savings some organizations are experiencing by “going green” are anything but underwhelming. In fact the results can be quite impressive.
According to mashable.com, Canon saved 2.7 million kilowatt-hours of energy from 2009-2010. This equaled a savings of more than $300,000 in utility fees over a two-year period. With companies scrimping and saving these days, we aren’t talking small organic potatoes. The four areas they focused on in this initiative included replacing monitors, switching traditional light bulbs with low carbon lighting, and replacing personal printers with multi-function systems. However, the area of change that stood out most to me was on the operations side. The change went beyond the usual turning off of lights and updating equipment. The drive to “go green” also became part of the organizational cultural. As part of the program, they conducted environmental education and training for the staff. In my opinion, this additional step was why their initiative was so successful.
According to the Daily Energy Report (Feb, 2011 http://www.dailyenergyreport.com/2011/02/how-to-incentivize-employees-to-go-green-at-the-office/) most buildings that are considered green are not living up to their green performance ratings. The main reason for this discrepancy, the Report states, is that the employees themselves are not “going green.” They are not following the green guidelines for various reasons. To rectify this issue, organizations need to look beyond the processes and see what they can do to influence the organizational culture with stakeholder buy in from all.
It is amazing how these articles mesh perfectly with our AEIOU approach. The vowels stand for Adoption, Execution, Implementation, Optimization and Utilization. An organization can have the best processes of any company in the United States, but without the additional AEIOU, the process stays to paper and rarely becomes fully executed to its full potential. AEIOU gives meaning to the measureable components and creates a real transformation effort. Unfortunately, this additional step is frequently overlooked as organizations concentrate on the areas that are measurable.
For a company to truly go green, they need to look beyond how many energy-saving printers are available and look at how best to get employees to move from thinking to acting. Processes and Training are only part of the equation. The culture also needs to change to create maximum impact. That is why Canon was successful at going green, while other organizations have missed the mark. They understood that changing light bulbs and printers was not going to give them the results they were looking for. They created support from their employees and made them stakeholders in the change.
So perhaps I should look at “going green” a bit differently myself and see it as more than just a marketing catch phrase but truly a frame of mind.
If you have any thoughts or want to add to the conversation, please do. I’m always interested in other perspectives.