William Edwards Deming once said “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” This is a crucial point in sustainability reporting. Now, Deming did not focus his work on CSR, but was a consultant in how to improve efficiencies, especially on design, quality, sales and testing. His ability to create more efficient methods for operations stems from his inclusion of measurement. These methods allowed for him to understand what works well, what does not, and where improvements could be made. This is exactly what companies need know when producing sustainability reports…where to improve.
Let’s put it in terms more closely related to you. Picture your utility bills. Each month you get a bill that tells you how much consumption of energy, water, gas, etc. that you use and possibly a graph showing what you’ve used in previous months and the year prior. What if these bills were broken down a little bit differently? What if you could see exactly how much electricity comes from using the T.V., the lights in your house, or your heating and air conditioning? Or how much water is being consumed from your shower and bath, the washer, or your sprinkler system? Wouldn’t you be more apt to not use certain things as much, turn the T.V. off when you’re having dinner, or take shorter showers? Of course you would. For one reason, no one likes to pay their utility bills. And second, most of us are curious enough to see what type of effect it might have. Hopefully, your energy company can incorporate these ideas into your next bill.
Now, take the above scenario and apply it to the operations within a company. I’m sure things like rent, employee salaries, and other costs show up on the balance sheet, but what about waste, energy and water use, and costs of production. Measuring these things can give great insight into what is being done well, what is not, and where improvements can be made. You also need to consider the costs associated with each and how to best reduce them. By measuring what you can, you gain knowledge about inefficiencies and thus improve on them.
In previous posts I have talked about how to reduce carbon emissions, increase your philanthropic impact, reduce your waste, and incorporate green solutions to your supply chain. Some of these things you might already do well and don’t need to focus on improvement, but other areas might be abysmal. Go measure, find out where you need to focus and improve and remember that just by taking the time to discover, you’re already on the way to more efficient processes, higher sustainability, and greater profitability.
I’m glad to listen to suggestions and comments. Please share your success stories and where you or your company has improved greatly. Have a great day!