Green in a Globalized World

During a recent email exchange with Joao Neiva de Figueiredo -- co-editor of the recently released book, Green Products: Perspectives on Innovation and Adoption -- I asked him what he thought were the most important considerations for the sustainable adoption of green products and services in an increasingly globalized world. Here is his complete response:

"In analyzing examples of green product innovation and adoption in various countries around the world, I believe the three necessary conditions for sustainable adoption of green practices are:
  1. The need for a systemic approach in which the different moving parts in the development and adoption of new technologies are addressed with attention to their many linkages. In addition, interrelationships between these new technologies and institutions and markets need to be considered systemically. It is not enough to have a brilliant solution for one part of the puzzle if the linkages to related issues are not examined and solutions found.
  2. The need for mechanisms that align the incentives of all stakeholders to ensure widespread adoption of a green technology. The first step in the process is necessary to correctly identify the stakeholders and their objectives. This can be a complex process because often major stakeholders are not even at the table and therefore cannot explicitly defend their own point of view. Once stakeholders are identified, it is desirable that markets, society, and governmental institutions provide incentives for those stakeholders to behave in a way that favors adoption of the green innovation.
  3. It is necessary for the innovative solution to address each of the three 'people, planet, profit' dimensions (i.e., social, environmental, and economic considerations need to be integrated in any large-scale proposed green solution). Furthermore, from an adoption standpoint it is helpful to use both a top-down and a bottom-up approach (i.e., policies that stimulate thinking globally and acting locally seem to be the most successful).
I've seen several cases that illustrate these precepts and therefore help sharpen our understanding of the necessary conditions for successful green product innovation and adoption. Whether tourism in the Galapagos or mass transport in Mexico City, whether ethanol in Brazil or electric cars in Japan, each case has lessons that are useful to us as we strive to make ours a greener planet."

What do you think of his conclusions? Have you seen any examples of green practices that have adopted these tenets? Have you seen green projects that have failed due to poor planning or incomplete considerations?


Lean and the Smaller Companies

I recently read this article, authored by Glyn Finney, over on the Achieving Business Excellence site, about the effectiveness of Lean implementations within smaller organizations. Two interesting points stuck out:
  1. Because smaller organization do not have the resources to employ Lean management senseis to drive the initiative, many now have the option of robust online courses.
  2. Smaller organizations often comprise employees that work together much closer than their larger counterparts -- the Lean management systems will reveal waste much quicker.
Do you agree with Finney's points in his article? Do you think that online courses are improving to the point that they can be used in lieu of a sensei? Do any readers have any experiences with online courses? How about experiences with Lean initiatives in smaller companies? What were the particular challenges?


    Perceived Quality and Market Share

    Last week, I had a phone conversation with Robert Fantina, co-author of the recently released book, Your Customers' Perception of Quality: What It Means to Your Bottom Line and How to Control It, about customers' buying habits and what they consider value-adds. Many attendees at conferences I attend often state that their companies' products and services are of very high quality, yet they struggle to maintain market share. Shouldn't the quality speak for itself? I posed this question to Robert, and here is a summary of his answer:

    Unfortunately, many companies do all the right things in terms of quality, including reducing their defects to near zero, eliminating call waiting times, etc., and still struggle to hold onto their customers. Repeatedly, this appears to be because their customers do not perceive them as delivering quality.

    High quality in products and services is vital but insufficient; despite high quality, customers may still perceive quality to be inferior. What is causing that perception?

    The answers to that question are many and complex. Unfortunately, it appears that a variety of concerns experienced by customers translate in their minds into ‘poor quality.’ For example:

    • A customer that buys a product though a third-party distributor and has problems with that distributor, may view the quality of the product as poor.

    • A customer who loves his/her product, but then struggles to find some information on a difficult-to-navigate website, may begin to view the quality of that product as poor.

    • The company that orders 1,000 widgets, and receives them all individually wrapped, and must discard/recycle all that wrapping, may say that quality is poor.

    While it is clear that none of these issues in any way reflects the actual quality of the product, they can influence customers' perception of quality. And if their perception of quality is poor, the actual high-quality of the product is meaningless.

    Do any of you suffer from this situation? How did you recover? Have you experienced an instance in which the delivery of a product or service affected its popularity? How did you discover this?