Safety and Sustainability Are Not Barriers to Business Success

Last week, I spoke with Dennis Averill (who recently published a book titled Lean Sustainability: Creating Safe, Enduring, and Profitable Operations) about employee and environmental concerns in relation to business success. I asked him, "How can a business create and maintain operations that are safe, sustainable, and profitable?" Here is Dennis' full reply:

Some business leaders still contend that protection of employees and the environment, and conducting their operations in a safe and sustainable fashion are barriers to business success. These myopic managers maintain that safety and sustainability are extra work that require additional resources, and divert business efforts away from the primary job of building efficient and profitable operations. It is a myth that safety and sustainability are contrary to business success.

The key to achieving safe, sustainable, and profitable operations is integrating and leveraging Lean methodologies in all areas of the business. Safety and sustainability are not additional or separate work, but rather, they are the way one runs a “Lean, Green, and Serene” enterprise. Lean, SHE (safety, health, environmental protection), and sustainability focus on similar objectives:

  1. Eliminating accidents, incidents, waste, and losses.
  2. Increasing operational efficiency.
  3. Conducting business in a sustainable way that conserves resources and reduces the business’ environmental footprint.

By linking an organization’s Lean, SHE, and sustainability processes, a natural synergy and efficiency is created that benefits all areas of the business, and offers the enterprise a real prospect of achieving sustained profitable growth, or, as is commonly expressed, “the opportunity to do well by doing good.” However, as with any complex business endeavor, realizing the vision of “Lean, Green, and Serene” is easier said than done. In other words, the devil is in the detail. The novel and effective approaches that I've used are:

  1. Autonomous Safety -- which supplies employees with knowledge skills, skills, and motivation.
  2. Triple Zero -- the achievement of zero accidents, zero environmental incidents, and zero losses.
  3. Green Value Stream Mapping -- the application of value stream mapping to environmental and sustainability issues.

Are any readers currently involved in an Lean initiative that considers both safety and sustainability? What was upper management's initial reaction to the plan? Did they feel it would merely reduce efficiency as well as profits?


The TWI Programs -- Who Needs a Trainer?

Donald Dinero, author of two books on the topic of Training Within Industry (TWI) -- Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean and TWI Case Studies: Standard Work, Continuous Improvement, and Teamwork -- spoke at the recent TWI Summit in Florida. After his presentations, I mentioned to him in an email: "The TWI Programs appear to be very simple. Does one really need a trainer to start?" I decided to reprint his entire response here:

"Because the TWI programs are skill based, there never will be a 'how to' book for them. You can read and absorb as much as you want about the TWI programs but, as Walter Dietz says in Learn by Doing
, 'One must learn by doing the thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try it.' In my books, I've tried to pass on some of that knowledge from lessons learned by others. However, it cannot be emphasized too much that a short time spent with an experienced, competent trainer will save countless hours. You should know that the TWI programs will work for you no matter what organization you are part of. If you find that they do not work, it is because you are not using them properly. Back up, analyze the situation, and try again. When used correctly, they will yield benefits beyond what you have expected.

An experienced trainer is required if you want to be as good as you can as quickly as you can. Without a qualified trainer, you will experience much trial and error and may never achieve optimum results. As with learning any skill, there are many nuances that can cause one to succeed or fail. If these nuances were the same for everyone in every organization, they could be documented. Because every person is an individual and every organization has its own culture, we must rely on a knowledgeable person to coach us initially. The programs are standard and will apply to all organizations, but they must be implemented on an individual basis because each organization has its own culture."

Have any readers embraced the TWI programs within their organizations? Did you employ a trainer right from the start? What were the cultural hurdles?