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Plan or not to plan?




P2techers,

One of my trainers used a quote from Mario Cuomo on planning: " I have
no plans, and no plans to plan" when he was informing the public that he
was not running for president.  No planning  is a great approach to NOT
do something!

I wanted to share my perspective on the P2 Planning discussion.  We use
a Baldrige-based model in NM and it has been very successful.  It
provides us with a broader look at how to integrate environmental
decisionmaking and improvement into core business practices.  I
encourage folks to look at our webpage (www.nmenv.state.nm.us (we are
working on the 2001 criteria now which should be completed in a couple
of weeks...it won't be significantly different from what's up there now
for 2000) and to also look at the Baldrige webpage(www.NIST.gov)...it
makes for good reading and it may broaden the P2 community's perspective
on business management practices. It is prevention-based, but maybe in a
slightly different context than we are used to.

We developed a separate environmental approach based on the Baldrige
criteria because it was evident to us that businesses tended to address
environmental issues in the Public Responsibility item under Baldrige
and not all the way through the criteria as we thought they should.  Our
Green Zia model uses the Baldrige framework to call out environment
specifically.  This could all be done under Baldrige as written.

We moved away from the traditional p2 assessment model because we spent
alot of money on assessments that were done as a service for businesses
without involving the staff as deeply as we should have.  For the most
part, these assessments and the ideas were not implemented because they
were prepared by an outsider.  It was not money well spent for us.  What
we learned from this experience is that we wanted to provide a framework
for learning, let them do the assessments themselves and then we could
provide them with assistance to implement ideas, if they needed more
technical expertise than they had on staff.

I wanted to address some of Bob's points and the also address the value
of right answers and technical assistance with a different twist.  Bob
is right...true change seems to take about 3 years in the average
company...less in some, more in others.  A recurring theme learned from
companies using the Green Zia model has been the importance of employee
involvement in developing improvement projects.  For some of our
companies, over half of work orders are initiated by employees and many
of these have env. improvement aspects. Bob is right, employees do not
resist their own ideas.  It is important to establish a system that
captures these ideas, funds the improvement projects and measures the
success on an ongoing basis...continuos improvement never stops.

Planning is critical for long term, recurring environmental
improvement.  Many of our states have planning laws and can prove the
success and value of planning.  I think most of us recognize the value
of planning.  The Baldrige type model, as I see it, is a very mature
planning approach.  It is also the most rigorous performance evaluation
model that I am aware of.

I think the state technical assistance programs are  important,
especially for small businesses.  I also think that having a database
with ideas for improvement is useful in that it may give folks a
starting point to understand available alternatives, technologies,
contacts etc.  It may also spawn new thinking.  Case studies demonstrate
other people's successes...that is important as well, they don't have to
be seen as the way people should do something.  Perhaps instead of
thinking of these things as right answers, we should continue to
document  and share best practices (many of these P2 technologies or
approaches that we have been using are best practices).....this has
always been valuable to our customers.  I would challenge us to think
more broadly about prevention approaches and best practices and build on
what we have done to date.  Our NM companies have some great
practices...like benchmarking supplier relationships to reduce
inventory, establishing systems that encourage affirmative procurement,
conducting workshops on green building and use of inexpensive native,
local materials in low-income neighborhoods (or the Navajo Resrvation as
was done here...community best practices...six houses were build as a
result of this outreach and valuable trade skills were learned)).  We
have one company that ties the VP's bonus to environmental, health and
safety results...that's the best benchmark I have seen for management
commitment!

I think that we, as the P2 Community, should be continuously improving
our approaches and programs. We should practice what we preach!   It
would be great to look at the planning programs in place and see how
they are doing...and try to learn from  the best approaches and
practices that are going on.  Oregon, Wisconsin, NJ, MA, CA, NM and
many, many  other states are doing some pretty innovative things.  We
can all learn something from these approaches and then adopt them in our
own programs.

The P2 community is dynamic.  The National P2 Roundtable is a great
place to share these ideas (www.p2.org).  I hope you will all be at the
Chicago conference at the end of this month.  Instead of arguing that
one approach is right and that other approaches are wrong, lets do what
we do best:  innovate, share ideas, learn from each other and help
protect the environment!

See you in Chicago!

Pat Gallagher