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Re: Size of Market for P2 Services?
RE: the ongoing message thread about P2 services (and underlying
debate over the value of P2 consultants)
Michael James wrote (in part):
> If you are building jet engines or semiconductors and the consult
> arrives on site and must first learn what your factory is about and
> how it works, then you may be in trouble.
I have to say (somewhat reluctantly) that I disagree with the
conclusion that a P2 consultant (regardless of who pays the bills)
cannot provide real value unless they have intimate knowledge of the
process and industry that they are working in. As someone who has
stubbornly remained in the "other" category (neither consultant nor
industry-type) for most of my years, hopefully I can say this without
Admittedly, pollution prevention hinges on an understanding of the
technology involved in production; however, this understanding is
rarely sufficient. A skilled practitioner of pollution prevention
(regardless of stripe) typically must bring something else to the
table as well. This "something else" might be:
* an understanding of underlying engineering phenomena (often times
"good in theory" turns out to be "good in practice as well!")
* an understanding of technology systems. Being able to take a step
back and ask apparently stupid questions about the reason for doing
something requires skill and courage. Being able to take the answers
to these stupid questions and come up with a new way of doing
something is a skill sometimes lacking in the technical expert.
* an understanding of people and organizations. Have you read
Dilbert? Then you know what I am talking about.
* an understanding of "process." No, not electroplating or circuit
board etching (though it sometimes helps). I'm talking here about
change processes, business processes, and facilitation processes.
Some of the best P2 people I've observed in the field were skilled in
just this one thing.
I would argue that many of the better P2 consultants (private OR
public sector -- there are stars in both) bring one or more of these
skills to their client sites, and as a result provide a great deal of
value. I think the fact that these skills don't seem to have an
enormous market potential is because they tend to be catalytic in
nature. As in chemical processes, you don't need a lot of catalyst to
get a reaction started, but it's pretty hard to make anything happen
Interesting metaphor, if you think about it. We could spend a great
deal of time talking about catalyst selectivity (different catalysts
for different jobs), rate limiting steps, pore (poor?) diffusion, and
catalyst deactivation (some of us more than others...).
But I won't go there right now.....
Clueless in Seattle,
Scott Butner (email@example.com)
Pacific NW National Laboratory/Seattle Research Center
4000 NE 41st Street
Seattle, WA 98105
206-528-3290 voice/206-528-3552 fax