Some business leaders still contend that protection of employees and the environment, and conducting their operations in a safe and sustainable fashion are barriers to business success. These myopic managers maintain that safety and sustainability are extra work that require additional resources, and divert business efforts away from the primary job of building efficient and profitable operations. It is a myth that safety and sustainability are contrary to business success.
The key to achieving safe, sustainable, and profitable operations is integrating and leveraging Lean methodologies in all areas of the business. Safety and sustainability are not additional or separate work, but rather, they are the way one runs a “Lean, Green, and Serene” enterprise. Lean, SHE (safety, health, environmental protection), and sustainability focus on similar objectives:
- Eliminating accidents, incidents, waste, and losses.
- Increasing operational efficiency.
- Conducting business in a sustainable way that conserves resources and reduces the business’ environmental footprint.
By linking an organization’s Lean, SHE, and sustainability processes, a natural synergy and efficiency is created that benefits all areas of the business, and offers the enterprise a real prospect of achieving sustained profitable growth, or, as is commonly expressed, “the opportunity to do well by doing good.” However, as with any complex business endeavor, realizing the vision of “Lean, Green, and Serene” is easier said than done. In other words, the devil is in the detail. The novel and effective approaches that I've used are:
- Autonomous Safety -- which supplies employees with knowledge skills, skills, and motivation.
- Triple Zero -- the achievement of zero accidents, zero environmental incidents, and zero losses.
- Green Value Stream Mapping -- the application of value stream mapping to environmental and sustainability issues.
Are any readers currently involved in an Lean initiative that considers both safety and sustainability? What was upper management's initial reaction to the plan? Did they feel it would merely reduce efficiency as well as profits?