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Fwd:Re:EMS and performance

Much though I respect my good friend and colleague Bob Pojasek, I must
respectfully disagree. To say that ISO 14001 is not a performance-based 
is to restate the obvious. No one who knows anything about it ever claimed it
was. Criticisms such as that, and most particularly those of Profepa, are based
on deliberate obfuscation and do more harm than good.

ISO 14001 is a systematic process for making environmental decisions that steps
an organization through a process of identifying and prioritizing its
environmental issues, determining its own commitments and taking responsibility
for its environmental activities, implementing a program to meet its
commitments, putting in place the operating procedures needed to meet those
commitments and systematically reviewing and improving tis performance. that is
all it is, but that is a great deal.

The problem with ISO 14001 is not in the standard but in its implementation.
Sure, it can be implemented in a minimalist manner that only ensures a 
plaque on
the wall. This should not blind us to the fact that many companies have done
much more than that and that ISO 14001 has guided many companies in improving
fundamentally the way they address environmental issues. In a recent
benchmarking study we undertook with the Conference Board we found that the
recent management systems improvements made by most companies relate precisely
to ISO 14001 elements, making their management programs more systematic, more
predictable and integrating them in business systems.

Will ISO 14001 improve performance overnight? Not necessarily, because it
targets a fundamental long-term cultural change within the organization. Can it
be implemented in a minimalist manner? Yes. But, can it fundamentally 
change how
a firm looks at environmental issues and result in much greater long-term
improvements in performance? Absolutely, if it is implemented properly and
coupled with a true commitment to environmental imporvement by the
organization's management.

One last point. We all (the public, stakeholders, governments, industry) 
have to
be informed consumers. We have to look beyond ISO 14001 certifcation to see it
has been properly used. This is our responsibility, not the standad's.  If 
I buy
a wrench to put together my son's tricycle, I don't crictize the wrench because
it is not a tricycle, and I don't expect my son to be delighted with the new
wrench he got for Christmas. ISO is a tool to improve performance, its does not
itself guarantee that performance will improve. But it sure is easier to put
together that tricycle with a wrench than without one. (Actually my 
youngest son
is now in college so he probably would not be delighted with a tricycle in any

Richard P. Wells
The Lexington Group
110 Hartwell Avenue
Lexington, MA 02421
phone: 781-674-7306
fax: 781-674-2851