"Greening Solutions" = Healthier Workplace?

How much have you considered the "health" of your organization's work space in regard to the success of your organization? Sustainable design is proven as an effective approach to the development of productive and healthy work spaces. Sustainably designed and redesigned work areas not only benefit practical aspects such as energy costs, but longer-term social issues such as reducing employee absenteeism and recruiting a wider pool of talent. 

Just recently, a forward-thinking book book entitled Green Up! Sustainable Design Solutions for Healthier Work and Living Environments by Stevie Famulari was published addressing this burgeoning topic. During this past month, I had the chance to discuss this new book with Stevie, and I asked her directly:  “What are ‘greening solutions’ and how do they contribute to a healthier workplace environment?” Here is her complete response:

There are many ways to look at healthier work place environments.  Greening solutions is one approach that improves the air quality, as well as the emotional health of the people who work there.  Let’s consider this -- we spend notable portion of our time in a work environment.  The views, air, colors, scent, lighting -- all these factors influence the health of the space and affect how we feel about it.

Greening solutions look at using natural resources, including plants, composting, recycling, and other sustainable resources to create a sense of ownership in how each person can improve the space.

One greening solution is to use plants that improve the air quality of work spaces.  Most people have read that any plant benefits a space for air and psychological effects.  That is true, but there are also some plants that can be used to clean contaminants of work spaces -- such as the off gassing of furniture, the VOCs from paints, and the cleaners used throughout the office.  Some plants specifically can be used to uptake those contaminants.  They are called plants for phytoremediation.  Using those can be specific for a site.

Then, go a step further -- Use plants for fresh scents, for color accents, and for soft shapes.  With growing plants, people can experience unexpected moments of joy, change, hope while watching something one cares for flower, leaf, die, and then return again.  These changes allow people to remember that we move forward each day and can make new choices.

Greening solutions come in a variety of scales, and can be specific for each site -- for each budget, lighting, space, users, materials on the site, contaminants, and message the company wants to share.  Greening solutions can help the employees have a work space in which they are healthier and the clients who visit the site to expand their practice of healthy spaces.  Greening solutions experts can help any person look at their space with fresh eyes to find new ways to practice a healthy lifestyle.

What do you think of Stevie's perspective? What is your company doing to improve the health of its office and work space?


Why Must There Be a "New Normal" for Leadership?

John Dyer published a very interesting book in September entitled The Façade of Excellence: Defining a New Normal of Leadership that challenges most conventional thoughts about leadership and its role within organizations. His book contends that leadership actually has many dimensions and several definitions, and it explores four different styles of leadership: The Crisis Leader, The Idea Gathering Leader, The Team Forming Leader, and The Empowerment Leader.

I spoke with John recently and asked him: “Why must there be a ‘new normal’ for leadership?” Here is his full response:

It has been nearly four decades since the NBC documentary “If Japan Can… Why Can’t We?” was first aired.  This program was a massive wake-up call and prompted the creation of initiatives such as Total Quality Management, Lean, and Six Sigma.  While some progress has been made, most organizations, especially outside of manufacturing, are still using old, outdated management practices such as fear, management by objectives, and hierarchical organizational structures.  
Recently, I asked on social media the question: “If you had one word to describe the main ingredient to sustain and expand an improvement initiative, what would it be?”  A word cloud was created to show the most popular results.
Take notice of the two largest words: Leadership and Commitment.  These were followed by: Culture and Buy-in.  You may also notice words like: Engagement, People, Communication, Trust, and Vision.  These are all words associated with questions such as:  “How do we improve our organization’s culture?  Why won’t my leaders fully and wholeheartedly commit to something that seems so obvious to many of us trying to make a difference?  What will it take to get my boss to fully buy-in to allowing teams of employees the opportunity to improve the way things are done (and at the same time, how do we get the employees to trust us and fully buy-in as well)?”

It is interesting that ‘Leadership’ and ‘Commitment’ had similar results.  This reminds me of the old joke that when making breakfast, the hen is involved but the pig is committed.  Commitment means completely tearing down all of the old ways and defining a new ‘normal’ of how things are done at every level within the organization.  Unfortunately, many managers think that it is sufficient to do the bare minimum and try to fake their way to achieving excellence.  They might allow a couple of teams to be formed (with no real authority to change anything) or spend some money on training (but not attending the classes themselves since they are so busy or it is beneath them) or ask their employees for ideas on how to improve (with little to no resources dedicated to implementing these ideas).  All they are doing is creating a flimsy façade of excellence that crumbles at the first sign of trouble. 

A new definition of leadership is required at all levels, from the Board of Directors to Executives to Supervisors.  My book builds the case for change and presents a step-by-step roadmap that leads to collaboration that will put your organization on the path toward achieving excellence.

What do you think of John's perspective? Do the management problems John details here exist in your organization?