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Messy Site, Messy Company: Aiming for Environmental Excellence

by Mark Polet

When it comes to running a good business, cleanliness really is next to godliness.

I want to explore with you why you who are pursuing excellence in business need to weave good environmental practice into your operations.

Messy Site, Messy Company

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company. Because poor environmental practice is often quite visible in a disorderly site and disorganized operations, it is often the most evident warning bell to any investor or customer that something is wrong with this firm.

Why do I stay that? After over forty years of assessing companies for environmental excellence, including Kingdom-Oriented firms, there is one correlation in my experience that always holds.

If the site is a mess, the accounting is a mess.

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company.

A messy site means messed up books. I have reviewed firms across a score of industry groups. At times I will come across a  company that has an unkempt site. Sometimes it is debris lying around; other times it is  far worse, with spills contaminating the soil. In all cases, I find as I continue my audit that their financial records are equally messy, and their regulatory compliance is spotty at best. The management of their supply chain was poor. The amount of waste they generate, both in lost productivity and actual, physical waste, is evident.

Overwhelmed Entrepreneurs vs Chronic Issues

I am not talking about short-term problems. An overwhelmed entrepreneur, under capitalized and under resourced, struggles to keep his or her hand on all aspects of the business, but eventually brings things under control. That’s not unlike many of us letting our house get messy when things are busy, but catching up later.

In contrast, long-term messy companies have chronic issues. In all cases, a lack of discipline is apparent. The sites show a chronic, consistent mismanagement. The books show the same lack of management or analysis of cash flow. The approach to employee-care and safety is ad hoc. Often the firms are unaware of regulatory requirements, let alone complying with them.

A Four-stranded Rope

What advantage do we have as a Kingdom company? We believe in a wholistic Gospel, that our service and gratitude for what God did for us compels us to excellence in all aspects of life. As Stewards, we do not want to mess up what God has given us. We also want to be Light. The Light does not shine brightly when muck covers the bulb.

As proclaimers of a wholistic Gospel, we often split our outcomes into four bottom lines: Environmental, Social, Spiritual and Financial. But these bottom lines are not discrete. They are more like a four stranded rope, if one frays, the whole rope breaks.

With proper financial reporting, Terri was able to work with the owner to resurrect the board and improve governance. The board members were able to see in part how the company was doing because they had good financial records to review.

Here’s how it can work in practice. My wife Terri and I work as operational contractors for Kingdom businesses in challenging places. This means we stay for extended periods to help strengthen their four-stranded rope. In one company we served, the critical issue was the state of the financial books. Two years of hard work finally brought the books into line. With proper financial reporting, Terri was able to work with the owner to resurrect the board and improve governance. The board members were able to see in part how the company was doing because they had good financial records to review. They could then provide better guidance.

Tangible Results

The guidance from the board led in part to a new approach on the ministry plan where the focus shifted to employee-care. That resulted in developing a health plan, bringing people on as employees from being contractors so that they could receive benefits, and developing a human resources manual, policies and formal assessment programme so that each staff could blossom.

Having a focus on employee care meant we could improve safety and occupational health. Having good books means we could know what was in inventory. We cleaned up the physical space and started recording the hazards of the chemicals used while developing safe practices for their use. Cleaning up the warehouse meant a safer, cleaner place to work, and staff and the environment were protected from spills and misuse of hazardous chemicals.  This combined effort on financial, social, spiritual and environmental issues was not sequential, but very much like braiding, where lifting one strand allowed us to weave in another one.

We saw tangible results. One benefit was increased staff loyalty, one staff member stayed with this company rather than accepting a better paying job with a major international organisation because, she said,  ‘you (the company) take care of me’. The Kingdom business showed love, care and concern by providing a clean, safe, caring environment in which this person could blossom. She had a firm rope to grasp, with strong social, environmental, spiritual and environmental strands. She saw the Light shining.

This combined effort on financial, social, spiritual and environmental issues was not sequential, but very much like braiding, where lifting one strand allowed us to weave in another one.

Our hope in the BAM Global Creation Care Group* is to make good environmental practice good company practice; that Kingdom companies do not see four strands, but one rope. As we prepare for the BAM Global Congress 2020, we will continue to provide Kingdom companies with maxims and practical advice.

Whether you are a business owner, mentor, governor or investor, you have a responsibility to keep the company clean, and in so doing keep the earth clean. There is joy of being a good Steward and a wise businessperson committed to sharing the Light. A clean company is a well-run company.

 

Read more on the topic of Environment and Creation Care in BAM:

>>  Should Environmental Concerns Be a Priority?

>>  Tikkun Olam: How Companies Can Repair the World

>>  What If? Business Solutions to Environmental Problems

>>  Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation

 

*A BAM Global Creation Care Consultation is currently underway which will present its findings at the BAM Global Congress in 2020.

 

 

mark polet july 2018 031Mark Polet is a professional biologist with over 40 years of experience. Working on four continents, Mark and his wife Terri bridge cultures and traditions with people of good will to serve those who are spiritually and materially impoverished. Mark is passionate about bringing engineers, scientists, and business together to develop solutions to challenging environmental issues. Mark has the privilege to coordinate the BAM Global Creation Care Consultation. Prior to working in the impact business space, Mark & Terri owned a number of companies, including an environmental services company and an environmental consultancy.

 

 

Banner Photo by sol on Unsplash

Profile photo by Lucie Leduc

 

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is our first “Staff Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

Grand Openings and Grand Opportunities: A BAM Story

We’re so excited to be open! After 3 years of planning, preparation, cutting through swathes or red tape, remodelling, investment-raising and long days of hard work, the day of our café grand opening was nearly perfect. Lots of customers showed up, neighbors congratulated and welcomed us, and we received lots of positive feedback.

Everyone who walks in says nearly the same thing; some version of, “Wow, this place is beautiful, and so comfortable and relaxing. I might not leave!”

It is gratifying to see people come in and enjoy our products and our service, and then come back again. We have already noticed how this business is giving us greater inroads to be able to share Jesus with people.

New Connections

The most encouraging thing about the opening of our café is the greater openness and acceptance from people that it has provided. The next door neighbor to our shop, who we’ve waved at and attempted to engage with over the past three years, has become our most frequent customer. He brought his family over and introduced them, and has begun having client meetings at our cafe. And, new people are coming around as well. We recently met Lek who was walking buy, decided to stop in, and then asked if I could talk for a minute. We talked about the business and then about him for over an hour. In a couple of weeks, we’re going to meet at another coffee shop in town to work on his English and my Thai.  Read more

Procurement and Technology Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this sixth and final part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Procurement and Technology.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

Human Resource Management Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this fifth part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Human Resource Management.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

The Role of Business Leadership Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

This article picks up where we left off last year in the series on Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

As we continue examining the way the value chain analysis can be useful, we need to keep in mind that these activities do not operate in isolation or for their own purposes. The activities in one functional area impact other areas and must be coordinated to help the company achieve its overall strategic objectives.

For example, if a firm takes a differentiation strategy in which its products, services, brand and marketing messages are unique from its competitors, then every functional area must seek to add value to achieving that objective of uniqueness. A company like Apple spends significant money on R&D, quality components and exceptional advertising to set its products apart. Primary activities including inbound logistics (sourcing components), production (quality control processes), and sales and marketing (advertising) must all support this objective, as well as the support activities of procurement (spending the necessary money to ensure differentiation) and human resources management (hiring, training, evaluating and compensating the kind of employees who will maintain the standards of excellence needed).

Read more

Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. As we start the new year, we are highlighting articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for July to December 2018.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

Read more

Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever: A Response

by Ross O’Brien

Like Mats Tunehag in his original article Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever, I hope that one day followers of Jesus whom God has gifted for business will naturally recognize their vocational call to the marketplace as a call to fulfill the missio Dei, the mission of God.

God’s purpose in the world is to redeem all creation from the effects of sin and restore all creation back into right relationship with himself. As followers of Jesus we have the blessed privilege and responsibility of co-working with God in this mission. I agree with much of what Mats say in this article and in general.

However, I question a few points, which reflects some of my own mental pilgrimage on BAM.

1. What’s in a Name?

Granted, I am an academic and we tend to try to define and describe everything, sometimes to an extreme. However, there is value in recognizing the unique similarities and differences in various phenomenon. The word “missions” for example means different things to different people. For some, going down the street witnessing to people who look a lot like us is referred to as missions. Serving food in a homeless shelter is also called missions. Going on a one-week mission trip a few states away is missions as is moving your family to a foreign country for a lifetime.  Read more

What If? Business Solutions to Environmental Problems

by Mark Polet

In the conversation around environmental impact for social enterprises, impact businesses, and indeed, BAM companies, there are two strands that integrate and weave around one another – like strands of DNA.

The first strand, addressed in my previous post, is that every impact business should be an environmental company, complying with the ethic and regulations around good environmental practice, acknowledging that we are stewards of God’s creation.

The other strand is the provision of environmental technology and solutions as a business opportunity in itself. Positive environmental impact can be achieved, not only through operational choices that care for creation and steward natural resources, but by the very product or service offered by the business.

Environmental Challenges are Business Opportunities

Peter Drucker said, “Every single social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity in disguise.” This is particularly true of the myriad environmental issues to be faced in our day.  Read more