Mike Goodfellow-Smith, director of Quest for Future Solutions, talks to Climate Launchpad about what he’s learnt from past failures and his hopes for the future.
For environmental management systems to provide long-term and consistent benefits to organizations, they need to have strong leadership.
Leadership is needed from the very top of the organization, preferably from more than one sponsor. Objectives agreed at the highest level of the organization are more likely to support organizational strategy, and required resources are more likely to be made available.
It is not a coincidence that the ISO 14001:2015 standard requires integration with organizational strategy and greater leadership from top management; without it, environmental management systems often falter.
The other level at which leadership is critical is in the establishment, implementation and maintenance of the environmental management system. If you don’t have more than one person who understands and can access and update the system, you risk the system failing when that person is no longer available to keep it going.
In the last ten days alone, I have seen three cases of environmental management systems faltering, and even beginning to fail, because of one of these two leadership issues.
Quest for Future Solutions conducts directors’ briefings and supports organizations to help them gain ongoing value from their environmental and energy management systems – contact Julia on 07904 389889 to talk about how we can help your organization.
The transition to ISO 14001:2015 is now progressing at a pace, and patterns of conformity – and nonconformity – are beginning to emerge. One of the most obvious so far is how clause 4.1 ‘Understanding the organization and its context’ appears to be wearing an invisibility cloak. It’s a small paragraph, only 3 lines long; it looks like pre-amble, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of the key benefits of the new standard and provides a foundation stone to the whole environmental management system.
This clause is about understanding what issues might impact on the organization’s ability to improve its environmental performance. Once the issues have been identified, the risks and opportunities associated with them can also be identified, and used to set objectives and operational controls.
Issues can be internal as well as external, and section A.4.1 in the annex gives some useful examples.
One tool to use to identify relevant issues is PESTLE:
- Political issues
- Economic issues
- Social issues
- Technological issues
- Legal issues
- Environmental issues
Another is consideration of ‘megatrends’. Check out PWC’s list of megatrends for starters.
Remember to link these issues back to environmental management. For example, an ageing population (social issue & megatrend) might mean that you need to change the structure of your buildings to improve accessibility. The process of project design and management will need to be managed to consider environmental impacts.
Quest can support you through the transition to ISO 14001:2015, including identification of relevant issues, risks and opportunities. Call Julia today on 07904 389889 to discuss your requirements.
Here at Quest for Future Solutions, we’re fans of management systems. ISO certified management systems are designed to make organizations work better, improve your performance and help you to achieve your organizational aims.
So why do we so often see people and organizations who are not fans of their own management systems; who find them burdensome, or just ignore them until a few days before their audit?
Every single clause of the standards is designed to support your organization. If the way in which you are meeting the requirements of that clause isn’t adding value for you, then think about what that clause is trying to achieve and how you could meet the requirements in a meaningful and useful way.
For example, we often see organizations for whom the management review process is a box-ticking exercise to cover all of the requirements listed in whichever standard they are working to. This is a very expensive waste of top management time! The management review clause is included in the standards to give you a chance to stand back from everyday management system operations and consider whether the system is working well for you, what changes there have been either inside or outside the organization that might mean that you need to change what you are doing, what your priorities are for the coming period and how you are going to resource them. If done well, it is an excellent use of top management time.
If your management system isn’t an effective tool in helping you to achieve your organizational aims, then you need to take action to improve it. If you need a hand, call us to talk about our troubleshooting service. We will be able to help you become a fan of your system.