Want a Greener Supply Chain? Put on Your S.M.A.R.T Y Pants!

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Transitioning to a more sustainable, “greener” business takes a long term commitment and a strategic on-going plan. Creating and implementing a plan based on “S.M.A.R.T. Goals” is a great way to plan, achieve, and analyze specific benchmarks along the way. With its emphasis on creating organizational goals that are Specific, Motivational, Attainable, Relevant, and Trackable, a green plan inspired by S.M.A.R.T. Goals offers your sustainability team a strong tool in the implementation of environmentally-friendly changes at your company. Consider the following applications:

1. Set Specific Goals

The first step to setting specific goals is to generate conversation and document suggestions from company-wide teams and assemble a core group of individuals that will motivate and promote the greener supply chain. Creating opportunities for everyone to contribute toward a common goal, such as taking part in a company-wide energy audit activity, can help build camaraderie between groups. See http://www.energystar.gov. Team leaders will need to set up formal communication about how a greener company will save operational costs and promote a more powerful and positive corporate image, which also feeds viability and profitability. Once the team is assembled and employees are on board, each area can help write specific measurable goals reflecting benchmarks to contribute to the overall sustainability plan. Specific supply chain goals might include local day-to-day procedural items such as: reducing redundant processes, reducing paper waste, setting computers to idle when not in use, and setting priority standards for acquiring materials through companies with reduced carbon footprints.

2. Work Motivation into the Plan

Although there is an initial investment with larger sustainability purchases, such as installing a solar panel, switching out lighting options, installing a dual flush toilet, etc., those investments clearly pay off over time. You can include the entire company in small contests to determine the most innovative ways to recycle, reduce, re-use, re-purpose, up-cycle, and compost waste. Most employees will respond to a little friendly competition for team prizes – gift certificates to local green businesses. Long range savings can be shared to improve common areas such as installing a gazebo in an outdoor break area, or sprucing up an indoor staff room. While it is important to keep the motivation going, it is also important that the goals themselves and the process of reviewing them are inherently motivational. Teams who meet or exceed goals should be publicly recognized and those that need assistance meeting goals should have the mentoring in place to meet goals. Inviting speakers to share what worked in other companies can build alliances across the community and can serve to promote a more visible image of sustainability. For motivation, you can circulate a reading list or websites with case studies such as: http://www.mbdc.com. A motivational strategy needs to be focused, methodological, aligned with organizational goals and most importantly – consistent.

3. Set Attainable Goals

While some of your long-range goals will undoubtedly require months and perhaps years of coordinated efforts, be sure that you have also set short-term goals that are attainable. Employees need to be able to feel a sense of accomplishment in order for the sustainability program to gain the momentum needed for the long haul. Overall employee review goals should reflect a greener company culture. From the top down and the bottom up, the infusion of goals and the specific process needed to get there needs to be visual and attainable. Motivating individuals allows for necessary adjustments. Sometimes, despite strenuous efforts, goals are not achieved, and that is okay. The learning process in your sustainability program should focus on the process more than meeting any one specific goal. It is important to keep an eye on the details, but remember that as long as overall commitment and activity is moving forward, you are in the right direction.

4. Make Relevant Goals

Individual goals should reflect each person’s job description. The goals set and the process used to monitor and assess them need to be relevant to each group. A variety of communication skills are needed to make sure that each person, group, division, executive, board member, etc. fully understands what the plan is and what his or her role is in the process. Sharing in a value-driven commitment to sustainability involves the commitment of everyone working together. Keeping your message relevant to each group will build a longer lasting green supply chain. Setting goals that motivate your teams to identify local, sustainably-sourced products, and green certified business partners at every part of your supply chain, is one way to promote your sustainability plan and create relevant goals that are team specific. Every area can work on reducing the overall carbon footprint of the organization. See this EPA site for ideas: http://www.epa.gov/osw/partnerships/wastewise/carboncalc.htm

5. Document Your Tracks

Keeping solid records of your process not only helps you celebrate accomplishments, but also gives you great data to review in moving forward. In the process of tracking each person and team’s process, you may find new leaders emerge that can breathe new life into the core sustainability team. Strong documentation can be used to identify groups that might benefit from increased mentoring, a webinar, or other team building activity. Specific monitoring of supply chain goals in the areas of materials, process, and output can illustrate the areas that need additional resources and can open dialogue between areas. Sharing your accomplishments through the web can strengthen client relations. Tracking the sustainability process will also help clarify additional short-term and long-term goals, with adjustments being made along the way.

Although the transition toward becoming a more environmentally sustainable company is often a long and detailed process, public opinion polls repeatedly show that corporate stewardship for the environment s becoming increasingly important when choosing business relationships. There are many ideas out there regarding greening your business. Implementing a strategic, organized and cohesive plan such as one inspired by S.M.A.R.T Goals can help you orchestrate a sustainable green supply chain – one that reflects your own unique corporate culture in effective ways that maximize your time, energy, and monetary investment one step at a time.

The University of San Francisco, in partnership with University Alliance, has provided this article. The University of San Francisco offers higher education opportunities through online master certificates, including supply chain management and sustainable supply chain management. To see additional information please visit http://www.usanfranonline.com.