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Business Process Design & Sustainability: A Masters of Environmental Studies Plan of Study


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This is a summary of my plan of study for my York University / Schulich School of Business Masters of Environmental Studies / Graduate Diploma in Business and the Environment (2010-2012).

The plan of study is the "term paper" for the only compulsory course in the program ES/ENVS5100 - Interdisciplinary Research in Environmental Studies.

This presentation summaries my plan of study. It describes the overall direction of my masters program. My plan of study is focused on exploring what is and how to do sustainability business process design.

I note SlideShare doesn't do a very good job of the PowerPoint animations which makes some of the slides more comprehendable - so suggest you download it. Also allows you to see the speakers notes on many of the slides.

Published in: Business, Technology, Education
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Business Process Design & Sustainability: A Masters of Environmental Studies Plan of Study

  1. 1. What’s Process Got To Do With Sustainability? An Overview of my MES* Plan of Study “Business Process Design and Sustainability” Dec 1, 2010 Antony Upward † , CMC, C.Eng ‡ (Details on Speakers Notes) <ul><li>* York University Masters of Environmental Studies with Graduate Diploma in Business and the Environment Faculty of Environmental Studies and Schulich School of Business </li></ul><ul><li>Full resume at </li></ul><ul><li>Certified Management Consultant , Chartered Information Systems Engineer </li></ul>
  2. 2. Agenda 1. Sustainability 2. Process 3. Design 4. A Model for Further Learning Bibliography & Proposed Service Offering
  3. 3. A Simple Model of Human Development <ul><li>An attempt to explain: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do we try to get what we need </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How we try to get better at getting what we need </li></ul></ul>Understand Outcomes to Meet Needs Design Mechanisms to Produce Outcomes Act to Implement and Execute Mechanisms Measure Realized Outcomes All steps can be at any level of consciousness / intention or unconsciousness and of individual or collective action. Further each step will be influenced by level of formal and informal knowledge. This is a variation of t he Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle which is art the heart of the Total Quality Management (TQM) process (see Deming, W. E. (1986). Out of the crisis Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study). Discussions on ways of making these steps more effective over time include Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organization. New York, N.Y.: Doubleday Currency. Learn
  4. 4. What are the Outcomes of Our Current Designs and Actions? <ul><li>Status Quo </li></ul><ul><li>Billions of Kg of toxic materials put into the air, water and soil every year </li></ul><ul><li>Production of materials so dangerous require constant vigilance by future generations </li></ul><ul><li>Gigantic amounts of waste, placed irretrievably in holes all over the planet </li></ul><ul><li>Slow poisoning of people and ecosystems, limited only by thousands of complex regulations </li></ul><ul><li>Economic prosperity tends to reduce the number of people with valued work </li></ul><ul><li>Creates prosperity by digging up or cutting down natural resources then burying or burning them </li></ul><ul><li>Erodes the diversity of species and cultural practices with unknown consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Change with “Eco-efficiency” </li></ul><ul><li>Release less while ignoring long term impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Produce less while living in fear </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller amounts of useless / irretrievable waste </li></ul><ul><li>Increase number, complexity and stringency of regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Gain greater economic prosperity not human prosperity </li></ul><ul><li>Dig up and cut down less </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce speed of diversity loss </li></ul>McDonough, W. (2002). In Braungart M. (Ed.), Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press.
  5. 5. Sustainability as a Revised Description of Our Needs <ul><li>“ The possibility that human and other life will flourish on the planet forever.” </li></ul><ul><li>Possibilities for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Abundance not limits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone and everything forever not just me, now </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flourishing by being not surviving by having </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Positively contributing not doing less damage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enduring not failing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity not homogeneity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Happiness not worry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confidence not uncertainty and distrust </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Outcomes with economic, environmental and social effectiveness </li></ul>McDonough, W. (2002). In Braungart M. (Ed.), Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press. Ehrenfeld, J. (2008). Sustainability by design: a subversive strategy for transforming our consumer culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  6. 6. How Do We Meet These Revised Needs ? <ul><li>If sustainability is a better description of our needs… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What does it mean for the mechanisms to produce the outcomes? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. the processes in our organizations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does it mean for the design of the mechanisms to produce the outcomes? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What does a sustainable process design look like? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How can we design sustainable processes effectively? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. What is a Process?* <ul><li>An organized group of related tasks that together reliably create stakeholder value </li></ul><ul><li>Or How Stuff Gets Done </li></ul><ul><li>Processes Determine: </li></ul><ul><li>How inputs are transformed into outputs and hence outcomes of value </li></ul><ul><li>How the work / tasks fit together into a whole to produce value </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People, Jobs, Organization, Knowledge, Tools, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Often known as an organizational or business process; the literature doesn’t use the term “business” to limit the scope of the discussion to for-profit organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>Hammer, M. (1996). Beyond reengineering: how the process-centered organization is changing our work and our lives. New York: HarperBusiness. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Organizational Purpose and the Role of Process Organizations Exist to Create Value for Stakeholders Stakeholders Receive Value as the Outcome of Organizations’ Processes Outcome is How Closely Process Output Matches Requirements* Outputs are Produced with Effectiveness † and/or Efficiency from Inputs <ul><li>Stated or unstated by Stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>How Closely Output matches Stated requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Hammer, M. (1996). Beyond reengineering: how the process-centered organization is changing our work and our lives. New York: HarperBusiness. </li></ul>
  9. 9. What’s Process Got to Do with Sustainability? <ul><li>Increasingly stakeholders want outcomes that are : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sustainable in their production and consumption </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Produced by organizations which are sustainable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To achieve this processes must be designed with these needs in mind… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design is the key signal of our intentions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sustainability outcomes will not happen by accident! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Designing and based on current understanding of sustainability is the only way to learn </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. An Inspirational Design Brief for Processes with Sustainability Outcomes <ul><li>Create a net increase in wellbeing, natural and human capital*, e.g.: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Homes, offices and factories: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Produce more than they consume </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Purify air, soil, water </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Products & services † : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>During use: contributes to wellbeing and eco-systems </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>At end of life: 100% bio-degrade or reuse </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>A world of abundance, not of limits, pollution and waste </li></ul>Planet Society Economy <ul><li>Financial, technological, knowledge, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Includes transportation </li></ul><ul><li>McDonough, W. (2002). In Braungart M. (Ed.), Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Compatibility with Status Quo <ul><li>This design brief: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Doesn’t reduce the importance of economic growth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proactively seeks sustainable maximization (i.e. lowest overall risk) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leverages existing knowledge, tools and techniques for achieving efficiency and effectiveness…but with sustainable outcomes in mind </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Importance of Design Patterns for Sustainability Outcomes <ul><li>The process of design is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Complex </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Abductive reasoning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Inference with knowledge to imagine the future </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Thinking about “everything” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risky </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Inference is error prone, and generally thought to improve with experience </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Identifying patterns of design which are known to improve sustainability outcomes will </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce risk of design process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve design process effectiveness and efficiency </li></ul></ul>Martin, R. L. (2009). The design of business: why design thinking is the next competitive advantage. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.
  13. 13. Sources of Design Patterns for Sustainability Outcomes <ul><li>Initial research suggests at least the following sources for applicable patterns: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Industrial Ecology – “Waste as Food” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Systems Thinking / Cybernetics Archetypes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Product as Service Business Models </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Process Re-Engineering Design Rules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Total Quality Management </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. A Model for Learning Context Dependent Variable Dependent Variable Moderating Variables Independent Variable Independent Variable Moderating Variables Execution of process happens here! Sustainability Outcome Business Process Design Artefact To Be Identified - 2 Design Process Design Patterns & Archetypes To Be Identified - 1
  15. 15. Questions for Research <ul><li>What design patterns and design processes would enable business process outcomes to be sustainable? </li></ul><ul><li>When designing a business process what process design archetypes (patterns) are better at achieving sustainable outcomes than others and in what circumstances? </li></ul><ul><li>How does one design a sustainable business process? </li></ul><ul><li>What “market” conditions (macro scale and / or micro scale) are required to allow / enable sustainable business process design and implementation? </li></ul><ul><li>When comparing alternative business process designs, prior to implementation / execution, can we predict, based on the design alone, which will have the superior sustainability outcomes? </li></ul><ul><li>What factors need to be present in an organization to enable it to increase the level of sustainability of its business process designs? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Bibliography <ul><li>See bibliography in attached MES Initial Plan of Study </li></ul>
  17. 17. Proposed Consulting Service Offering <ul><li>To determine which processes to focus on, organizations need to understand how they currently fit in the economy, society and the environment </li></ul><ul><li>EdwardJames Consulting’s first service offering achieves this goal </li></ul>