Parks and outdoor interpretive organizations are always looking to green their operations. But sometimes the enthusiasm of the moment results in a “Ready, Fire!, Aim” approach that has unexpected consequences.
Please use the following “Ready, Aim, Fire!” framework to generate additional discussion at your own location.
First, understand the purpose of greening your enterprise (Ready). What problem do you wish to solve?
This may sound counter-intuitive, but the purpose of greening your space is not about ‘saving the planet’ or ‘protecting the environment’. While individuals and organizations may be passionate about such issues, framing a discussion around these overmarketed hot-button slogans could have combustible results. Remember that a manager, co-worker, budget officer, a visitor, even a financial donor may have a very different perception about these words and their meanings.
The purpose of greening your organization should instead be grounded in measurable benefits like reducing waste, reusing-recycling materials and conserving energy. Any green activity must make sense financially.
Second, understand the business justification (Aim). What results or benefits do you wish to obtain from your green project? Here are three of my favorites:
– Obtain the marketing high ground.
– Gain a competitive advantage.
– A healthier bottom-line.
Obtain the marketing high-ground: By reducing waste, reusing-recycling materials and conserving energy you can market yourself as a good neighbor and a positive influence in the community. Good neighbors are hard to find. Good neighbors have value.
Gain a competitive advantage: You want to provide a potential visitor less of a reason to say ‘no’ about visiting your location. By demonstrating a healthy and clean place for families to visit and spend quality time you gain an advantage over competitors (competitors include anything that will distract a possible visitor from spending time at your site).
A healthier bottom line: If you measure the results of your green processes (reducing waste, reusing-recycling materials and conserving energy), review and make adjustments along the way, the long-term effect will be a healthier bottom line for your organization.
Third, now you have defined the purpose (Ready) and understand the business justification (Aim), you can pull-the-trigger (Fire!). Here are five helpful steps to consider:
Step 1: Scope
Document your project’s scope – this includes the project’s purpose and business justification. Imagine that you will sit down with a hard-nosed decision maker – you only have two minutes to answer their question, “Why should I care about this?” Open up a blank PowerPoint presentation and start typing; in 5-7 slides, no more than 10 you can make an executive level presentation – short, quick, to the point. Even if you never use this document in a presentation, you understand (and can communicate) the scope of the project.
Step 2: Assessment
The purpose of an assessment is to help establish a baseline for your green practices. A baseline is an original plan for a project, and any changes will be measured against the baseline. Here are two green business frameworks to help with your assessment. These frameworks were developed by the Santa Clara County – Bay Area Green Business Program (please look these up online for the latest versions).
Please note the Bay Area Green Business Program can only certify businesses and organizations within their territory (San Francisco Bay Area in California). Possibly the need exists for a national certification especially for interpretive centers and related organizations (hint).
Step 3: Implementation
This is an entire subject by itself of which future articles will be written. But here are some key points to remember when implementing your green processes.
» Build on small victories.
» Generate momentum (buy-in) for your project by demonstrating the economic benefits.
» Green activities should not be dictated from above – rather modeled.
» Don’t clutter up people’s lives with inconvenient solutions to small problems.
» Document processes.
Step 4: Communicate
Publish the processes on an intranet or another centralized internal website. Communicate with your donors and visitors about how you are reducing pollution, etc. Educate any front line staff to the advantages and goals of your project.
Step 5: Measure
Refer to your original baseline and track progress at least on a monthly basis.
When greening your own operation remember a “Ready, Aim, Fire!” approach before starting a project. Understanding the purpose and the justification of the project will help you in reaching your green goals.