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FW: Site Visits
From: Burton Hamner [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, January 28, 1999 6:24 PM
To: Kevin Dick; email@example.com
Subject: Re: Site Visits
>At 01:00 PM 1/28/99 -0800, Kevin Dick wrote:
>For me, the measure of continuous improvement is the number of companies
>maintaining contact and working with our program over time.
Kevin and y'all:
Last year I initiated a discussion on P2 Tech about a "minimalist" set of
indicators of P2 progress in companies. Some of you joined in (including
the usual suspects). I wanted to give USAID and World Bank development
"experts" a set of indicators that people who are spending a lot of time in
the P2 trenches think are good markers of organization evolution towards
sustainability. The challenge to the policy wonks is that these "Pretty
Good Progress" markers, as Terry F called them, are so much easier to
measure than traditional technical indicators that it rather demands they
analyze the option of using the simple indicators in their program design.
The thrust of the indicators argument is that we should be using a set of
indicators that tells us yes or no, whether a company is moving towards
environmental sustainability, and internalizing P2. Here are the five
indicators that survived a lot of banging around the listserv:
1. Does a company have some organized system for PREVENTING environmental
problems from their business AND can it be described by MOST of the
employees. - note this is NOT the same as simply having an EMS.
2. Do they know how much their waste and pollution really costs them, and
what they will have to spend next year.
3. Do they participate in P2/CP information networks.
4. Have they tried to reduce toxic chemical use at all.
5. Do they understand and use simple, quality-based, process analysis
If a company answers YES to them all, it is very likely going to be ok and
you could count it as a success. If it answers NO to them all it is a P2
problem (or challenge). Even 2 out of 5 is not too bad. And we can get
the answers from a company in just a few minutes. And you can use the
answers to easily determine what part of a company's approach needs the
Using these as the dependent variables, target companies can be scored on a
1-5 scale, and the progress of a TA program in changing behaviors, not
changing processes, can be measured.
If these indicators are chosen for determining program success, then
working backwards, we find that we need to rethink a lot of the program
activities. I say this based on my own experience designing USAID P2
assistance programs where they gave us their pre-determined success
indicators and we had to design to them. I think the programs would have
been markedly different, and more successful, if these new indicators had
I would note that Kevin's indicator he mentioned, "the number of companies
maintaining contact and working with our program over time", is basically a
summation of the "yes" answers to indicator 3. above, "Do they participate
in P2/CP information networks?". The "a" (P2 assessment via worksheets
etc) and "b" (TQM approach to process analysis and operator empowerment)
both fit in the five indicators. The "A" approach reflects indicators 1.
and 2. The "B" approach reflects indicator 5. directly.
Nobody has yet argued to me that this list of five indicators could or
should be any shorter, or that there are lots of things missing from it.
Of course maybe everyone is simply ignoring me. Some people come to
resemble their pets, I think I am starting resemble my computer furniture
and simply blend into the background...
But imagine how much time and money would be freed up if ALL programs DID
use these five indicators for success instead of counting pounds of
pollutants using five zillion arbitrary assumptions and incompatible
Sure it's simplistic. BUT: recently I posted a list of "quality slang"
and its P2 counterpart definitions, and someone nicely reminded me I left
out a famous acronym: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) If you can't make it
simpler, and making it more complicated does not make it that much more
Now I remember another indicator and scoring definition. Using my KISS P2
indicators, a company doing none of these five "intelligent" things would
get a Zero. But sometimes we see firms whose progress can only be defined
as Negative - Less Than Zero. In such situations the appropriate acronym
is FUBAR. If you don't know what that means, you are such a nice person!
Ask a nearby military vet for an explanation.
So are these five indicators a good sythesis of the GOALS of the "a" & "b"
approaches, or just another wheel-spinner?
- Adjunct Professor, Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines
- President, Hamner Associates, LLC
4343 4th Avenue NW, Seattle, Washington, 98107
VISIT the SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS WEBSPACE and my home pages at: