The Anatomy of COMPLETE SOLUTIONS
Complete SolutionsThe "Complete Solutions" mindmap helps people understand the complexity and connections necessary for understanding why and how solutions need care and risk management built into them from establishing real-world business goals, all the way through participating in the infrastructure and environment that surrounds the solution being implemented.
Complete Solutions MindmapSolutions are the focus of our publishing websites. We will explore the anatomy of "solutions" in this article, and apply this overview to specific examples in future articles.
HOW TO USE THE MINDMAP: You can explore the following mindmap by CLICKING on each node to see more elements in the mindmap.
You're also welcome to LINK to this webpage to share this overview of solution strategies with colleagues. Pass this link along: http://www.californiagreensolutions.com/cgi-bin/gt/tpl.h,content=3708
Top Level Solution ElementsLet's look at the elements identified as top-level muscles, bones and sinews of a "complete" solution:
By exploring each of these categories, and applying your own problem and solution to this in-depth look at how "everything is connected", you will have more empathy for your team members in the overall goal of sustainable survival... for your entire team, community, nation and global civilization.
By walking in someone else's shoes...and seeing what they face in their workday, we can have more tolerance for time delays, for concern about compliance and demand for quality.
We can look at recent debaucles such as Toyota's chain of recalls, or BP's catastrophic oil spill and understand how understanding the parts do matter – safety and innovation and compliance ethics can impact a company's survival and value. And we can contrast these problems that are working out their solutions with companies that have strengths that seem to defy the odds – such as Apple and Google and McDonalds, and press their solution strategy up against industry standards.
Out of this thoughtful evaluation of the "rules of the road" that really work, we can build a more sustainable system of supplying the real needs of society and the planet that supports our efforts to provide food, shelter and a bit of pleasure throw in for good measure.
BUSINESS GOALSOrganizations – whether enterprises, NGOs or compliance agencies, are formed to address an "opportunity" and how that opportunity is defined will shape all the remaining choices made to innovate, produce, implement and manage the waste of that productive effort.
Opportunity is diverse – with real property, intellectual property, good will, cash, inventory and even systems such as distribution relationships.
Products and Services include more than a paperclip or a cell phone. Every product or service is like the DNA in a seed – it is supported by customer support services, messaging, related product and services and even systems to handle energy sources and the end of life issue of waste or recycling.
Financial Profits start as gross profits that are then divided to support not only the employees, the shareholders/owners, but the industry infrastructure, the compliance systems, the economic stability of communities in which organizations operate, and again, the earth itself. Business is about more than profits – it is the productivity arm of our civilization.
Stakeholder Relations are also complex, and understanding how we're all in this little lifeboat together, floating on a huge ocean called space, has expanded our understanding that everything and everybody is connected. A business or organization not only has employees who depend on the organization for money to buy food, shelter, education and frivolities, but it is also connected to owners and shareholders; customers who trust the organization to provide quality goods and services; neighbors who have to breathe the air and drink the water impacted by how a business conducts its processes. Regulatory agencies put curbs along our efforts to protect life, and to umpire a fair playing field. Vendors in overlapping industry supply chains take risks to provide the raw materials, assembly services, insurance and the thousands of goods and services required to operate a productive group. And even people on the other side of the globe depend on our local behaviors for clean air, cleanwater, non-polluting recycling practices, consevation of their natural resources by our mining supply chain ... and so forth.
Stakeholder Relations is about being connected, and being kind, considerate and responsible together. Sharing the wealth is never easy when you are stronger, smarter, more well endowed with valued resources. But, as a nation built on democracy and freedom and value of every human being, we believe that might does not make right – and that concept also applies in our work, our workplaces, and our marketplaces.
PROBLEM(S)Sometimes – often – we run into problems. We stretch too far. We make mistakes. We don't have enough financing to safely conduct innovation, implementation and reclamation. Problems happen. Some people think it is negative to think about potential problems and plan for safety or risk management. They fly blind and don't want to know. They want to focus on the upside, the opportunities, the good times. And some unscrupulous people will even bolt when problems happen, leaving their employees, neighbors and nation to pay for their mistakes.
Responsible, sustainable organizations do think about safety for their employees, their customers, their neighbors and yes, the environment they depend on for their daily bread and their daily breath. Risk Management encompasses what you avoid, as well as what you implement. It's about making good choices, and working for best cases -- and preparing for worst cases. And it's not all about money.
Enterprise Risk includes life in its operations. With thousands of deaths annually of people, and millions of birds, fish, trees, water sources, and related natural systems and resources, we have to face the reality that productivity has a high cost. Losses can be death or injury, lost property, lost business value, lost hope and sometimes, groups can cease. Survival is serious business.
Losses are felt by people, and they can fester and cause community-wide loss of good will. And yes, they can reduce or wipe out profits and can endanger the permits or licenses required to conduct business.
Experienced losses aren't the only problem to confront. There are also lost opportunities to think about and plan how to mitigate. If a product or service is too slow to market, the value of that product can decrease. Poor reputation of a company can swamp a great product. Lack of innovation can shrink a company's future and pave the way to buggy whip history. Inadequate financial resources can cause inadequate supply for the demands of a distribution system ... and that opportunity will be filled by competitors. Production inefficiencies can put a company at a disadvantage by sharper, leaner competitors.
Lost opportunity can even result from taking risks that are too big for the organization to swallow. Pythons can't swallow elephants. By betting the company's survival on high risk ventures, the lost opportunity isn't just profit... it is survival.
NEEDS ANALYSISNo organization is 100% effective. Perfect goals. Perfect implementation. Perfect productivity. So needs analysis is an ongoing effort. Watch for problems. Watch for opportunities. Grow. Change. Thrive. Shrink. Prune. Life on a volatile planet can take lessons from nature itself. Survival is about organic systems that change, evolve, and adapt for survival and thriving.
Problems are called many things, frustrations, inconvenience, obesity, poverty, sickness, accidents, failures... But identifying the underlying problem, and the cause of the problem isn't always obvious.
Causes for problems in a system can come from any of a wide variety of mismatches such as inefficient systems, quality of materials, choices and selection processes, decisions and human error, unimaginable events... often gaps in information or skills are involved. Sometimes we just don't prepare for the inevitable volatility of what nature throws at us.
Measurements can help us visualize our systems, and identify best practices. By identifying key metrics – those critical elements that must be watched most closely, we can simplify research and analysis in the future. By knowing that safety is a key metric if you don't know how to fix a problem that could occur – you can reduce your risks. Best practices improve performance and reduce risk.
But Measurements also help us understand and manage the scale of our operations, and identify gaps in service or product lines, and identify points and operations that require extraordinary safety measures – or face monumental, devastating blowout – scale damages.
Measurements filed away in a cabinet aren't useful and are not a good investment in opportunity. Measurements need to be turned into recommendations that can be acted upon for continuous improvement or growth. And sometimes, sale, elimination or decommissioning of a product, a factory, or a property. The future is also embedded in the opportunities that can be identified by in the Needs Analysis, Best Practices, Measurements and Recommendation process. Where there are itches and gaps – there could be opportunity for innovation.
PLANNINGComplexity of our world is growing. Not only is technology growing more complex, but even our understanding of natural systems is growing and showing us how air travels around the world... with pollutants. And oxygen supplies are connected to phytoplankton that floats on our oceans. And fresh water supplies are connected to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that we release into the atmosphere and affect weather patterns.
Everything is connected.
When we are audacious enough to innovate and manufacture and restructure the surface of the earth, we might benefit from a healthy scoop of planning. By evaluation of Needs Analysis results we can better review diverse system connections. Systems as diverse as natural systems, technological innovations, food supplies, education levels of workers... and compliance curbs and processes. At some point, we have to select solutions to implement... and that can be risky business.
By setting clear goals that can be broken into objectives and tasks, we can match them with valuable "key metrics" – both elements to monitor and measurements. We can prioritize selected solutions according to overall goals, our ability to finance and innovate them into launch and effective deployment. We can test, remeasure, re-evaluate, and refine results for continual improvement.
Out of this planning process can come "Best Practices" that, if implemented conscientiously, can reduce risk, improve opportunity and balance productivity with value. We can then share at least some of those best practices with our industry to promote a strong national security and foster a robust workforce trained and cross-trained to optimize the end results of survival on our volatile planet.
IMPLEMENTATIONInnovation and needs analysis are great. But implementation produces results. Starting with demand generation, and regulatory compliance, and financing... well... implementation gets complicated fast.
Problems -- and we're looking at problems in this overview – problems can be broken into three phases: Regulatory and Legal frameworks; Decommissioning the Old (If there isn't a problem, it's probably a new opportunity that doesn't require fixing) ... and Implementing the New – which replaces the Old.
Regulatory / Legal systems vary in size and complexity by industry niche. An information business has special circumstances because it is covered in our US Constitution under "freedom of the press". But even a little Mom and Pop restaurant has a host of regulatory licenses, inspections, wage and zoning regulations to manage. Large energy companies have dozens of compliance and regulatory agencies to work with. Co-generation installations of solar PV have a few as well. Drilling a well... or adding an addition to a home all require implementation planning, permitting and monitoring.
Add onto the compliance paperwork the need for reporting to these agencies, the need for risk management plans and insurance polities, safety systems ... and you have a sizeable investment of time, talent and money in a group's internal infrastructure.
Selling to an organization requires an understanding of these compliance and risk management operations. Investing in a company requires awareness of why these compliance curbs are in place – they usually indicate high risk. Working for these organizations requires awareness and acceptance of varying levels of risk to one's own future, one's health and safety.
Decommissioning the Old is about replacing out-dated equipment, tearing down one building to build a more efficient workspace, fixing oil-spills and damaged equipment, and progress. Permits are required for demolition because of past conventions such as use of asbestos. Landfills are bulging with excess building material wastes that are increasingly being recycled instead of being treated as waste. Landfills are becoming new mining operations to reclaim some of the metals, chemicals and gases that have been accumulating for decades.
Decommissioning also requires a variety of well-trained specialists who can respond to problems, who can reclaim the materials and restore the property to viable landscape. The US has over one million designated brownfields that have been polluted by chemicals dangerous to living creatures, and often the Environmental Protection Agency is involved in auditing properties for dangerous substances.
But decommissioning isn't just about buildings. It's also about living creatures – people and maybe even wildlife, insects and endangered plants or landforms. Workforces can be displaced during the time of renovation, and they might require new skills for the new facility that will arise in the place of the old, outdated workspace. Challenges such as retraining and financing a layoff or work disruption become part of decommissioning.
Implementing the New is also becoming more complex and challenging – but with upsides in efficiencies that can be longlasting competitive Operation advantages. Energy savings can be achieved through high-performance building design and construction. Water savings can be achieved through sustainable landscaping and low-water use plumbing appliances. Transportation cost reductions can be harvested with localized business focus or optimizing routes or loads.
From purchasing to Productivity –– production, shipping, marketing, and service can be improved with new technologies, smarter scale, high performance design and new supply chain relationships. Even Financial advantages can be enhanced with better operational funding, more precise profit projections, balanced risk management and futuristic lifetime product costing for economic and environmental/compliance advantages.
The health benefits and productivity enhancements are just now being measured and turned into best practice alternatives that can be optimized in New operations. We're re-learning how to use natural lighting, and natural air for ventilation, and natural materials such as clay and sand and grass instead of toxic substances and volatile organic chemicals.
Many of these new operation advantages can improve governance and management by reducing risks, improving efficiencies, and attracting talent that cares about more than a financial bottom line that is respected and demanded in today's global marketplace. Talent training can be supported with policies and procedures that focus on best practices and maximize industry networking among industry leaders and partners, compliance agencies and supply chain providers.
INFRASTRUCTUREWhich brings us to Infrastructure. The communities in which we operate, work, play and rear our families.
Infrastructures exist inside an organization with policies and procedures, a vendor community, employees and regulatory guidelines. But infrastructures cover more than that: The Regulatory Chain stretches from one's industry to local government, state, federal and international standards, tax systems, certification standards, etc. And then you must deal with the Industry Supply Chain which has standards and quality or procedural structures. And the Value Chain which is a vertical system that stretches from raw materials through logistics, manufacturing, distribution, retail, service and end of life responsibilities.
And today, regulators and manufacturers are facing the Customer Supply Chain – not only for the equipment they might buy from a manufacturer's distribution chain, but the energy used, the supplies used, impact of use on health and the environment, financing systems and waste management.
COMPLETE SOLUTIONSSolutions aren't easy. We take for granted that "somebody" will handle all those details and make our lives easier, simpler and more luxurious. But we are realizing that the days of "easy come" have turned into "easy go". Natural resources such as marine foods, trees and metals are being harvested at a faster pace than the earth can replenish them. Pollution is piling up. Weather is becoming more volatile.
Solutions are getting harder to innovate, implement and manage. It's important that we ALL understand the complexities that have to be faced with each new product we buy. Each new service we take advantage of. Each new job created.
And we need to apply many of these "solution strategies" to our jobs, our personal choices, our community participation, and our expectations. And yes, our attitude that is the base of understanding that "everything is connected."
We can live well by "doing well"... by buying less, but buying better. By reducing, recycling, reusing and respecting the earth's realities. It's true that we don't understand all the earth's realities – but we can grasp that natural resources are limited, fragile and part of systems that can be destroyed.
Complete solutions work WITH fellow human beings, WITH all life forms, and WITH the earth. Your mastery of good judgment, careful career choices and productivity make a difference. Each of us have productive results far beyond what we see – and what we can imagine.
Complete solutions start with your values and your goals.
Solutions can be more sustainable – can leave the earth in better condition to replenish it's natural resources that we depend on for the very breath of life.
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