Friday, June 25, 2010


Thoughts on Corporate America and Becoming Green

Figured I would share some thoughts on missed opportunities in becoming green that I have observed from not only my employer but those in the area...

Americans are very wasteful when it comes to food. Ever attend a meeting where food was provided but never thought to ask what happens to it after you are done? Some companies are thoughtful in that they may make an effort to donate it to a homeless shelter in the area, but this is problematic for a variety of reasons. Homeless shelters need to receive food on a consistent basis and not just at the whims of whenever some executive decides to hold a meeting and feed their people.

Is it a good thing to provide homeless people with food that has been sitting out of tables collecting bacteria for several hours especially when they probably don't have good healthcare and can't run to the doctor like me and you when they don't have insurance? A better alternative may be to consider composting instead of just throwing it away. Did you know that composted food makes for a great lawn fertilizer? Did you know that there are companies that specialize in picking up waste for this purpose and one or two may be in your area?

Anyone care to calculate the carbon footprint of Accenture, Deloitte or McKinsey? Isn't it amusing our most clients ignore the 2,000 gallons of jet fuel used by any individual consultant only to ask them to carpool when at the airport? Have you ever visited firms such as Pfizer, Merck, UTC and so on where they have what is labeled as consultants row where all the people who fly in usually only interact with each other and at best may see the client for say 15 minutes a week?

Facetime is important, but consider the value proposition of hiring a consultant to provide you with advice on making IT more efficient only to ignore the obvious value proposition that telecommuting provides. The ability to hire talent regardless of where they live on the planet is now a real possibility. If we truly believe that hiring the best and the brightest is key to sustained competitive advantage, then why are we letting little things such as location get in the way?

Telecommuting isn't just about access to better talent. When done correctly, it could reduce the amount of capital required for buildings, parking lots and other high burden fixed costs. While the vast majority of CIOs have been conned into the value proposition of outsourcing, they continue to leave money on the table when it comes to vibrant telecommuting programs.

Ever look at the parking lots of most major Fortune corporations? Even if you live only fifteen minutes away, it can sometimes take you twenty minutes to find a parking space and make it to your cubicle. While most corporations have formal initiatives around carpooling, they haven't thought about how to enable more informal ways to carpool.

Let's say you work on a campus that has three thousand people. How would you go about figuring out which employees say live within a three block radius of your home? Right now, this only works based on conversations that may or may not happen or in recognizing someone from the neighborhood.

Imagine a scenario where you could combine a feed from the HR system with a social networking platform. An employee could be presented with coworkers who live in their general area without showing actual addresses so that a conversation at least becomes a possibility. Note that enablement of this type of connection is not just usual for carpooling, but may help employees connect on other levels. One example may be that I may also learn that regardless of carpooling that a particular coworker may have kids the same age as mines and they attend the same schools. Maybe we don't carpool to work but do carpool for sports activities.

Anyway, hopefully folks that are reading this will take actions within their own context to help corporate America become more green and not simply exercise their right to remain silent...

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