By Andrew Winston
Going green in general is not easy; it takes planning and execution, like any effective strategy. But leaning your operations, a much more narrowly defined objective than greening your products and services, may be less challenging.
As you explore easy targets and quick wins, keep in mind ten guidelines.
1. Find the “head-slappers”, such as using outside air to cool a data centre or, on the flip side, shutting that outside air out to warm a room.
2. Don’t worry about size. Don’t look down your nose at small improvements. Each area may save a modest amount, but in total, you can make a noticeable dent in cash flow and profitability. Twenty changes of 1% each add up.
3. Get everyone looking for ways to cut back, and use cross-functional teams.
4. Change behaviours to save money at nearly zero capital cost. When that doesn’t work...
5. Automate as much as possible. Don’t just ask everyone to turn off lights – use motion detectors and software.
6. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look to unbiased industry and government resources, which are dedicated to gathering information and best practices.
7. Find partners and service providers who want to reduce your costs and explore guarantees or profit sharing to reduce up-front costs.
8. Set short-term goals. Now is a good time for aggressive, but tactical goals. Tell everyone to cut energy use by 10% - by next month.
9. Increase recycling, and you may turn a cost into a small profit centre.
10. Reduce costs, but don’t stop investing. It makes a big difference when you dedicate money specifically for green initiatives. Green projects may never get the focus they deserve without some specific money dedicated to the purpose.
The tips are taken from a plan for a strategic green recovery - 'Green recovery: get lean, get smart and emerge from the downturn on top', by Andrew Winston - to be published in full by Harvard Business Press in August 2009.
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