If Sustainability Costs You More, You're Doing it Wrong. The Do’s and Don’ts of Sustainable Value Chain Management

There is a lot of anecdotal information on what makes a value chain sustainable, but very little data. To change that, we partnered with ASQ, the Institute for Supply Management, and Deloitte, on a multi-year research study to identify proven management practices and cost-saving approaches, and the initial findings are out.
The supply chain is where the ROI on sustainability gets real — in the triple digits according to this research. It’s also what separates “real” sustainability from “green washing.” That’s why many businesses and NGOs are looking at how to make the value chain (supply chain, distributors, partner organizations, etc.) more sustainable. While others have conducted research in this area, there are two things that make this research significant:

Leadership is About Expressing Yourself - Not Proving Yourself

Leadership is first being, then doing.  Everything the leader does reflects what he or she is.  Therefore, leadership is about expressing yourself, not proving yourself.  ~Warren Bennis

I recently attended a concert—and I’ve attended hundreds over the course of my adult life—but this time one of the musicians said something I don’t think I’ve ever heard uttered from the stage. She said, “thank you for letting us serve you with our music.”  When she made that statement I realized one of the reasons I had enjoyed the concert so much was that all three of the musicians in this group were on stage to simply reveal and disclose who they were. It was very much an expression of their lives and they let us (the audience) sit in and listen for the evening.

As Bennis suggests, expressing yourself could be contrasted with proving yourself. We’ve all known people dead set on proving who they are and we’ve all slipped into this chasm at one time or another. Our efforts become a means to justify, validate and convince others of our worth to the project, the department or the organization. It’s very hard to be drawn to someone trying to prove themselves; on the contrary, we tend to be repulsed by what feels like a very self-centered existence. 

Five Steps to Gaining Company-Wide Discretionary Thinking

If every employee gave just five or ten percent more than the required thoughts every day at work, how much stimulus towards performance excellence would result? Is it possible to raise the level of your staff’s discretionary thinking, company-wide, and find out?
Yes! It is possible, and those organizations that have been fortunate enough to discover how to stimulate discretionary thinking are reaping about 500 more positive thoughts daily. These thoughts from each employee are centered on enhancing the organization, helping to propel it toward performance excellence.
The average human brain produces 60,000 thoughts a day, and according to the Institute for Human Health and Human Potential about 8% of those are used at work. A thought can be as simple as “I need to pick up a pen,” to as complex as “We should alter our monthly tactical plan because…” Simple math tells us that, on average, we use 4,800 thoughts on the performance of our daily work duties. Increasing that number to 10% instead of the normal 8% would give you—and hopefully you guessed it—6,000 work-related thoughts.
Increasing the number of work-related thoughts doesn’t happen with a snap of the fingers, but there are several simple steps you can take to warrant more from your employees. Here are five tips on how to increase organization-related discretionary thinking company-wide:

Carrots & Sticks are So Last Century

As the parent of a Chicago Public School student, last week was a challenging one. More than just interrupting our newly established school day routine, and our regular traffic patterns around the city, the strike brought some big questions to light, including the question of how to motivate teachers and students to excel in the midst of challenging circumstances. This, of course, is a fundamental question of leadership and not just education.

The science of motivation has gone through some radical shifts in the last decades. While we used to assume that rewards were the way to motivate good behavior, we now know that only works to a point: if you pay people a reasonable amount, paying people more won't necessarily get you the results you want, or need. As author Daniel Pink says, "Carrots and sticks are so last century."

Pink, in his book Drive, highlights extensive research that shows if you want to motivate performance that is beyond mechanical behavior, you need to rely on:

Beyond the Rubber Stamp: Strategic Leadership and the Role of the Board

Why are Boards barely mentioned in the literature when talking about leadership in any form?

One of the most important roles of the Board, in addition to their fiduciary responsibility---or as a part of their fiduciary responsibility -- is to ensure the organization has a strategy that provides for the long term viability of the organization and that the underpinnings of the foundation are a set of values that reflect an ethical and moral organization

Based on a survey of 1,450 executives from 12 global corporations, among the 21 crucial competencies they identified as important for global leaders were “ability to articulate a tangible vision, values and strategy.” (Ireland & Hitt, 1999, p. 48) How is that vision, those values and that strategy determined and how is it measured? Does the CEO do it alone without input or accountability? Does the CEO just have a Board that “rubber stamps” their vision, strategy, values without taking into consideration the purpose of the organization?

Rowe talks about different leadership styles in his article on “Creating wealth in organizations: The role of strategic leadership”. (Rowe, 2001) In this article he talks about the managerial leader, the visionary leader and the strategic leader:

If a Tree Falls In a Forest ... (A Tribute to the Humility of Neil Armstrong, and a Call to Ego-Free Leadership)

If I achieve great things, and no one notices, did they still happen? Of course they did, so why the obsession with recognition? Why the concern over whether “we matter?”

Do we “matter?” I hope so. I believe so. But why, exactly, do we matter, and why should we matter? Our culture is absorbed with success (as it defines it) and impact (as it defines it)…. And praise for both. What if achievement and impact came without the fame? What if we actually said—insisted, repeatedly—“No” to the call of public adulation?

Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012, aged 82 years. He did a remarkable thing. He became the first of 12 people to step onto the moon. He and his crew employed their considerable talents, years of preparation, and no small amount of courage just to try it. Thousands of NASA professionals did their part to make it possible, and the nation committed enormous resources to meet President Kennedy’s decade-old challenge. Please enjoy the two minute tribute above.

Well…. after his unique experience, Neil Armstrong did another remarkable thing: He went home. He returned to private life. He didn’t cash in to seek public office. He didn’t cash in to seek money. And, he didn’t cash in to seek fame. He refused invitations from both political parties, he refused corporate sponsorships, and instead taught aerospace engineering near his home, at the University of Cincinnati. This Eagle Scout / Aeronautical Engineer from Purdue and USC / Korean War Vet / Navy Test Pilot / NASA Astronaut / Farmer didn’t just decline to seek fame. He refused it when it came to him.

How comfortable are we if our success is not praised, or not even noticed?