I have worked with several EHS departments to increase their performance and cohesiveness. In partnership, we’ve addressed performance beyond simply meeting regulatory compliance, examining ways that they can integrate EHS deeper into the organization and impact sustainability and CSR. In all of these engagements, I have started by getting the EHS management system up-to-snuff and firing on all cylinders. Beyond the EHSMS, we then focused on:
- Team vision: developing a strong vision based in the team’s collective wisdom.
- Communication skills: strengthening internal and external communication and generating alignment.
- Team learning: developing mechanisms for feedback, analysis, and integration.
- Systems thinking: strengthened skills in systems ID and mapping.
Due to increased uncertainty since the financial meltdown, companies have shrunk their strategic planning cycles, making it challenging to align internal structures and processes with changing strategies. EHS professionals have had to respond with greater flexibility and innovation in breaking down organizational silos to help generate alignment between strategy, structure, and process.
The recent issue of the McKinsey Quarterly included interviews with four corporate Chief Strategy Officers (CSOs). While the companies are diverse (Estee’ Lauder, Visa, Boeing, and Smith International) and the CSOs diverge on issues, there are several common points that EHS professionals should note. All of the CSOs discussed shrinking planning cycles—in many cases, what were once annual cycles are now quarterly or even monthly ones. They also echoed that business assumptions that once seemed indisputable are now coming into question. Read More
Challenged to achieve regulatory compliance, EHS professionals are always looking for beyond-compliance ways to reduce risk. As organizational models have evolved to push accountability away from corporate functions toward business units and process-specific operations, the role of EHS professionals has also morphed.
The trend has been for EHS professionals to act in the role of consultant or coach within the organization, as opposed to an enforcer to be avoided. While this trend makes sense, a significant component of EHS accountability still resides within the EHS department and its professionals.