I keep hearing about sustainability – so I just had to pony up $200 bucks and hit the San Jose Value-Based Sustainability event the other week. It was put on by the folks at Executive Council. Mind you – I am not a fan of any event that starts at 8:00 in San Jose – 101 or 280 at that time is not what I would classify as a “value-add ride” – but I did manage to get there in time to catch some key presentations. Who was there? It was the heavy hitters of the fortune world – companies such as PG&E, Autodesk, SAP, Microsoft, IBM, Coca-Cola, UPS, 1E, Verdiem, EnerNOC, and Stirling Energy.
What is Sustainability? If you are a Googler like me – the first place you go today is to Wikipedia for education. The Wikipedia folks will tells you that:
Sustainable business, or green business, is enterprise that has no negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy—a business that strives to meet the triple bottom line. Often, sustainable businesses have progressive environmental and human rights policies. In general, business is described as green if it matches the following four criteria:
1. It incorporates principles of sustainability into each of its business decisions.
2. It supplies environmentally friendly products or services that replaces demand for nongreen products and/or services.
3. It is greener than traditional competition.
4. It has made an enduring commitment to environmental principles in its business operations.
Ok cool. I am down with that. This was the theme that was echoed at this event. I did find some posting quotes from the event on a cool site called Conference Bites. Let me share a few:
“Metrics are still the holy grail in this (sustainability) space.”
~ Libby Reder, Head of Environmental Initiatives, eBay
“We…need to get value by extracting it out of information, rather than out of the ground.”
~ Kathrin Winkler, VP of Sustainability, EMC
I had a chance to briefly chat with Libby and Kathrin – it’s always refreshing to meet folks who are leaders in their respective spaces and who are also real and fun to chat with.
The event was co-hosted by UPS – Bob Stoffel did a really nice job of sharing what sustainability really means within UPS – and as a long time UPS shipper – there is a large supply chain that must operate efficiently to keep those brown trucks rolling!
How did I celebrate the mid morning event break – nothing better than a nice cold Coke! Bryan Jacobs from Coca Cola (a fellow engineer I might add too) shared his thoughts on sustainability and of course over the course of the event - I had to support his views by having multiple cokes on ice!
There was a strong take away that I had from this event – and it was embedded in both Libby’s and Kathrin’s quotes. What was it? It was the word “Metrics”. If you want to do anything in the enterprise these days – you absolutely need to associate a metric with it. A metric tell you if you are wining, failing or somewhere in between when it comes to delivering on an initiative. It separates reality from vision. It separates execution from planning. I am going to start to hone in on metrics in the next couple of blog posts.
A metric is only a number… so why is everyone is scared of them?