Thomas E. Swarr
                United Technologies Corp., One Financial Plaza, Hartford, CT USA
                                            James Fava
                Five Winds International, 626 Meadow Dr., West Chester, PA USA

Abstract - Effective integration of life cycle environmental and social objectives into
routine business processes must balance the internal demands for customized deci-
sion- support methods with external demands for standardized measures to facilitate
comparison and accountability. It is also important to assure any sustainability initia-
tive is fully aligned with the business strategy. Capability maturity models provide a
practical framework for developing customized methodologies tailored to the specific
competitive context of an organization. Action learning workshops are one alternative
to accelerate implementation.

One of the objectives of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative launched in 2002 was
to promote implementation of life cycle thinking in routine business decision – making
processes. Stakeholder feedback indicated that life cycle practices were often poorly
integrated. Available tools were considered too complicated and lacked practical guid-
ance. Tools needed to be customized for specific product categories or industrial sec-
tors to be useful. However, standardized sustainability reporting e.g. the Global Re-
porting Initiative, determine the metrics that all companies must track to show their
progress. These metrics were formulated to promote the best practices for sustainabil-
ity developed by leadership organizations. Thus, life cycle advocates are faced with a
dilemma. There is a desire for customized solutions and metrics that will facilitate in-
ternal learning and decision- making, but external demand for standardized measures
to facilitate benchmarking and accountability drives a ‘one size fits all’ approach to
push best-in- class practices of leadership companies into all organizations, regard-
less of capability, readiness, or competitive context.

Corporate strategy is a set of targets, policies, and action plans designed to achieve
specified business goals. Effective strategy must form a cohesive whole so that limited
resources are allocated to establish a unique and defensible competitive position.
Sound strategic planning considers organizational strengths and weakness, antici-
pates changes in the external environment, and accommodates contingent moves by
competitors. There is no one “sustainability” strategy that works for all companies in
any competitive context. Further, the strategic approach to environmental and social
       Table 1. Strategic Options for Managing Social and Environmental Issues
                 Description                           Degree of Integration   Business Benefits
Compliant        Legal compliance with regulations     EHS department          Compliance and cost
Informed         Tracks key activities beyond com-     EHS, manufacturing,     Cost avoidance &
                 pliance, participate in external      government affairs      pollution prevention
                 groups, e.g. trade associations
Market driven    Reactive to customer expectation      Marketing & sales       License to operate
                 for environmental issues              Purchasing              Access to resources
                                                       Product development
Competitive      Proactively uses understanding of     Marketing & sales       Increased market
advantage        environmental issues to take advan-   Purchasing              share
                 tage of market opportunities          Product development     Revenue growth
                                                       Business management
Sustainable      Proactively integrates social and     Marketing & sales       Long term competi-
development      environmental concerns to protect     Purchasing              tiveness , innovation
                 long term value of industry sector    Product development
                                                       Business management
                                                       Executive leadership
                                                       Board of Directors
issues must be consistent with the overall business strategy. There are a range of
strategic options, moving from compliant to market driven and eventually to sustain-
able development shown in Table 1 above[1]. Each of these has organizational im-
pacts that must be aligned with corporate strategy.

As companies move from compliance to market or competitive driven strategies, effec-
tive management of environmental issues depends on broader integration with other
business functions. For example, a market- driven approach that is not seamless with
the customer value proposition is not likely to succeed. Volvo combines environmental
responsibility with a strong message on vehicle safety and quality to strengthen the
brand. A company in a commodity market competing based on price and delivery
would not necessarily benefit from a similar product- oriented message. However, a
message that demonstrates corporate responsibility might be useful to protect the li-
cense to operate and facilitate siting of production facilities or access to natural re-
sources. The message is simple. Strategy- business strategy- comes first. This sets
the scope of enterprise operations, drives organization architecture, and determines
the resource requirements for successful implementation. The approach to sustain-
ability must fit with the corporate strategy, organization, and capabilities.

It is obvious that successful implementation of a strategy depends on the available
resources and capabilities of the organization. There must be organizational and indi-
vidual development programs to support a sustainability initiative. Capability maturity
models (CMM), originally developed to improve software engineering processes, pro-
vide an effective framework for prioritizing improvement actions that are meaningful to
the organization [2]. CMMs are a process improvement approach where organizations
assess themselves against a structured collection of practices that describe effective
implementation. The objective is to incrementally build skills and capabilities, assuring
that the organization has a solid foundation before attempting to add higher level ca-
pabilities. Processes are gradually developed from ad hoc and chaotic, to managed
and repeatable on a project scale, and eventually to optimizing processes continually
improved based on quantitative understanding of common causes of variation. A pro-
posal for a sustainability CMM is summarized in Table 2.

                      Table 2. Sustainability Capability Maturity Model
                  Description           Span of         Metrics          Decisions       Core Compe-
                                         control                                            tencies
   1           Chaotic, success        Individual    Compliance,         Individual       Root cause
 Ad hoc       depends on heroic                       waste, inci-        agenda          Aspects &
               effort of individual                      dents                             impacts
   2          Requirements man-         Project       Process in-      Team- based,       Env. Acctg
Managed      aged, measured and                      puts/ outputs     visible trade-     Risk mgmt
             repeatable results on                                          offs
                  project basis
    3        Standard processes,      Organization   Gate- to- gate,   Rule- based,       EMS, LCA,
 Defined       consistent across                       use phase,      trade- offs to    eco- efficiency
               org., measures of                       regional or     achieve org.
             process & work prod-                     facility focus       goals
   4           Statistical process    Value Chain    Cradle – to-       Fact- based,       6 σ, SPC,
Quantified     control, quantified                   grave, value      anticipate en-    LCIA, systems
               objectives, special                   chain, global     terprise trade-      thinking
              causes of variation                      impacts               offs
    5        Process improvement        Society      Sustainability    Value- based,     Dynamic mod-
Optimizing   objectives continually                   measures,         co- evolution    eling & simula-
                revised to reflect                   externalities       of business      tion, ecosys-
              changing business                                         within socio-    tem valuation,
               objectives, agile &                                     economic con-        innovation
             innovative workforce                                            text
There are significant overlaps with the strategy model presented above. Higher capa-
bility levels require broader integration with other functional groups within the organi-
zations and across the value chain, and eventually reaching out to society. Different
capability levels have a suite of tools, metrics, and decision- making processes that
are appropriate to that level. Effective implementation requires using tools and organ-
izational structures that fit with the capabilities. Just as formal education develops a
curriculum that incrementally builds skills, process improvement initiatives must move
through a sequence of learning steps that build capacity to successfully learn higher
level skills. While CMM presents a logical path for the development of organizational
resources aligned with strategic objectives, it creates an administrative challenge for
the cost- effective delivery of necessary training and development support.

Action learning workshops have been used to accelerate process improvement initia-
tives [3]. A common objection to formal classroom training is that standardized presen-
tations are difficult to apply to real work problems. Also, the lack of retention for mate-
rial presented verbally is well documented. Action learning workshops are facilitated
by subject matter experts that provide just- in- time training to conduct just- enough
analysis to successfully complete the task at hand. Participants learn based on their
prior knowledge and practice, stimulating growth tailored to their stage of develop-
ment. Learning is structured as a collective activity, and team members are encour-
aged to provide emotional support necessary to draw participants out of their comfort
zone to openly question underlying assumptions of practice. Most importantly, the
workshop provides intrinsic feedback from the work itself rather than an external au-
thority. Learning is personalized and more likely to result in behavioural changes nec-
essary for sustainable practice [4].

The design of action workshops can be tailored to the CMM level of the organization
to develop the appropriate skills. Duration and scope of the event can be adjusted to
                                                     fit the resource constraints of the
                      Day One                         organization. However, it is imperative
 • Goals & objectives                                 that the event be framed as “real work”
 • Training: Kaizen principles, process mapping,      and that it is expected to generate
    hazard identification                             sufficient financial benefits to more
 • Activity: Map processes, identify inputs & out-    than cover any costs. A process
    puts, hazards                                     improvement Kaizen on the metal
                      Day Two
                                                      finishing lines should be given a goal
 • Training: Risk assessment, root cause analysis,
    brainstorming                                     for annual savings from reduced water
 • Activity- Rank & prioritize hazards, conduct root  and chemical use.
     cause, brainstorm potential alternatives
                        Day Three                   An example schedule for a five- day
•   Training: Alternative selection process         process improvement Kaizen is shown
•   Activity: Investigate alternatives, implement   in Figure 1. The focus is on specific
     quick fixes                                    projects and developing process map-
                        Day Four                    ping capabilities. These workshops
•   Training: Developing alternatives, financial    would be appropriate for CMM level 1
                                                    or 2 organizations.
•   Activity: Complete alternatives assessment,
     apply cost accounting tool, project schedule
                         Day Five                   Each day begins with a training ses-
•   Training: Ground rules for mgmt presentation    sion. The team is provided just enough
•   Activity: Complete report to mgmt, complete
                                                    training to complete the planned day’s
     quick fixes, Make final presentation to mgmt   activities. As the week progresses,
                                                    training sessions become shorter and
 Figure 1 – Typical schedule for process Kaizen     activity sessions become longer. If
                                                    specific issues arise during the day,
the team can be brought back together for additional training or information. The role
of the subject matter experts is to assure that the team is given adequate resources to
successfully complete the defined goals and objectives. A productive workshop de-
pends on the expectation that the team will deliver the identified objectives at the end
of the event. Thus it is critical that the event has an executive sponsor that can assure
resources will be available. Typically, the facility operations manager would sponsor a
process improvement Kaizen.

It is necessary that the event organizers and subject matter experts works with the
sponsor to identify appropriate projects and objectives prior to the workshop. These
can be tailored to develop the desired organizational capabilities. For example, a level
1 organization might start with goals to reduce waste water discharges. An isolated
EHS project might only consider alternative waste treatment technologies. The Kaizen
event would strive to build capability by selecting projects that guided the teams back
to source process reductions. Team membership would include process engineers,
plant floor operators, health and safety, and possibly purchasing personnel. Teams
would be encouraged to find ways to reduce waste generation at the source, while
promoting more effective integration of the EHS and operation functions. A level 2 or-
ganization might conduct similar projects, but the added capability would enable pro-
jects that moved even further upstream to consider material substitution or alternative
manufacturing processes to reduce waste generation. Another key outcome is to build
skills in financial analysis and developing convincing presentations to sell implementa-
tion projects to management.

As the organization builds capability, more functional groups must be integrated into
the action learning events. A design charrette with integrated product development
(IPD) teams can touch every functional group in the enterprise. A schedule for a two-
day event conducted during the
                                                                Day One -AM
concept development stage is shown
                                           • Goals and objectives
in Figure 2. These events can be
powerful learning experiences, but the     • Training: DfE principles, Product requirements,
                                               life cycle analysis, hazard identification
challenge and cost of pulling together
                                           • Activity: Map product system life cycle proc-
a cross- functional IPD can be                 esses, identify & prioritize hazards
daunting. It is critical to have a product                     Day One - PM
manager sponsor for the event and to       • Training: Risk assessment, root cause analysis,
assign a small core team to prepare            decision criteria, brainstorming
background material prior to the event.    • Activity- Review & validate priority hazards, rank
Scheduling demands will typically limit        selection criteria, brainstorm potential alterna-
access to the full team to no more             tives
                                                                Day Two- AM
than two or three days. The core team
                                           • Activity: Continue brainstorming alternatives,
working with the product manager will          investigate any information gaps
develop the goals and objectives for       • Activity: Rank alternatives using pre- defined
the event and prepare an initial map of        selection criteria
the product system life cycle. Success                          Day Two- PM
of the event depends on having all         • Training: Financial analysis, value proposition
necessary functional groups repre-         • Activity: Develop action plan for detailed evalua-
sented, and the event should not be            tion of alternatives
scheduled until participants have been
                                            Figure 2 – Typical schedule for design charrette

Day one starts with an introduction to design for environment (DfE), life cycle analysis,
and hazard identification. The sponsoring product manager should also provide an
overview of the product charter and customer requirements. There will be a mix of par-
ticipants; some from the product development world well versed in customer require-
ments, and some from the EHS world well versed in hazard identification. The intro-
ductory session attempts to establish some common language between the groups.
One of the first exercises is to have the team validate the preliminary life cycle map.
Additional detail may be added, and each functional group is encouraged to discuss
their specific issues/ concerns. The goal is to develop a comprehensive list of re-
quirements for a quality design. When the group is satisfied with the life cycle map,
event facilitators provide formal training on risk assessment and decision criteria.
Various techniques can be used to prioritize the hazards, but nominal group technique
is simple and works well. Each member is allowed to vote on which hazard/ problem
they would most like to have solved.

One exercise that has proved very helpful is to discuss decision criteria. Often the
various functional groups will have competing objectives. EHS objectives will also
typically be relegated to recycling of packaging materials or conserving energy in the
factory. Having the team list the attributes they feel should be used to screen design
alternatives never fails to stimulate a spirited discussion. A simple pair- wise compari-
son of the listed attributes is conducted prior to idea generation. The explicit consid-
eration of trade- offs between various design requirements can help stimulate innova-
tion. Another positive outcome is the discussion elucidates those features where EHS
considerations can add business value, building credibility for future sustainability ef-
forts. It is necessary to provide a break after the criteria ranking, and then follow with
training on brainstorming. There will be a tendency to impose constraints on potential
alternatives based on the project schedule, cost, etc. The facilitator must acknowledge
these realities but entice the team to delay the imposition of the reality screen until the
following day. It helps to have a preliminary brainstorming session at the end of day
one, and then allow participants to “sleep on it.”

Brainstorming is the first action to start day two. It is a good exercise to rebuild the
group energy level, and to quickly capture new perspectives that arose overnight.
When the idea generation has been exhausted, the previously defined and ranked
selection criteria are used to evaluate the ideas. In some cases, information gaps
have been identified relative to one or more of the alternatives, and it may be neces-
sary to chase down some additional data prior to screening the alternatives. Feedback
from these events has consistently identified the formal process of identifying and
ranking selection criteria before screening alternatives as a productive exercise. Train-
ing is provided on methods to financial evaluate the alternatives, and the final action of
the workshop is to develop an action plan for detailed investigation of the alternatives.
One of the challenges is that many alternatives may be beyond the scope of the de-
sign project. Clear boundaries need to be established with the sponsoring manager
prior to the event. The ideas will be captured, categorized as long term solutions and
ranked separately from those ideas within the project scope. Design charrettes are
somewhat different from the process Kaizens in that there will not typically be the
quick fixes that the team can implement during the event. The alternatives are action
items that will require formal investigation during the detailed design stage to deter-
mine if implementation meets business objectives.

The key finding of these events is that each organization must adapt the standard
tools and methods to their specific situation. The active engagement of workshop par-
ticipants in real work and self- directed application of the process improvement and
DfE tools is effective at changing behaviour and achieving smooth integration of EHS
issues into routine business practices. However, the action learning events impose a
high administrative cost to organize and prepare. Capability models provide a helpful
framework for organizing supporting materials in a train- the- trainer deployment pro-
gram. The focus on immediate results achievable with the current organizational ca-
pability makes this approach suitable for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
A simple workbook approach can be used to guide organizations first understand
where they are and then to improvement activities relevant to their current business
situation [5]. Structured questions assess current practice for managing environmental
issues. “Do you know which of your processes or activities are associated with air
emissions? Has your company reduced hazardous waste generation further than re-
quired by permits of regulations?” A second set guide managers to activities relevant
to their specific business context, improving the likelihood of cost- effective improve-
ment initiatives. For example, ”In order to maintain good relations with neighbouring
businesses, regulators, and the community, circle the issue(s) below that is (are) most
   • Ensuring air emissions comply with environmental regulations and permits; or
   • Ensuring discharges of wastewater comply with environmental regulations and
      permits; or
   • Handling, storing and disposing of non-hazardous solid waste in compliance with
      environmental regulations and permits; or
   • Handling, storing and disposing of hazardous waste in compliance with environ-
      mental regulations and permits; or
   • Using energy efficiently and within any set targets (such as targets set by your
      company or by the region or state where your company operates); or
   • Using water efficiently and within any set targets for water consumption (such as
      targets set by your company or targets set by the region or state where your
      company operates).”
 Finally, questions address issues that span products, supply chain, and marketing
and communications.

Combining the workbook which helps each organization know where their stand along
the continually of strategy with the CMM shown in Table 2 provides a framework for
assessing and comparing organizations at various levels of capability. This framework
provides coherence between the analyses valuable to improvement efforts within the
company and defines a path for gradual deployment of the measures proposed by
various external rating schemes that will likely deliver business value for the organiza-

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2. Kelly, S. and Allison, M.A., The Complexity Advantage: How the Science of Com-
   plexity Can Help Your Business Achieve Peak Performance, McGraw- Hill, 1998.
3. Mackey, W.A. and Carter, J.C., Concurrent engineering: Measure the steps to suc-
   cess, IEEE Spectrum, pp. 33-38, June 1994.
4. Raelin, J., Does action learning promote collaborative leadership?, Academy of
   Management Learning & Education, Vol. 5(2), pp. 152 – 168, 2006.
5. Pennsylvania DEP and Five Winds International, Steps for improving your busi-
   ness and the environment: Workbook and tools for small to medium enterprises.
   2004. Available at:

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