eLearning | specialize in your preferred energy related sector

eLearning | specialize in your preferred energy related sector.

We respectfully invite Veterans, Active Military and / or their Families (as young as 8 years of age) to benefit from FREE Energy Industry related eCourses.

Honoring our Veterans and creating their accountability / oversight / support of our Home School Program.
REGISTER NOW, classes begin November, 2012


Why Managers Are Bottlenecks

Flowchart diagram

Image via Wikipedia

Why Managers Are Bottlenecks

Posted by Jeff Hajek, May 15, 2011

Quite often, whether on the shop floor or in the office, a process grinds to a halt when frontline employees have to go seek manager approval for something. Whether it is for spending that exceeds a prescribed threshold, when two employees want to swap work stations to stay fresh, or to sign off on a repaired product after a defect is corrected, if a manager is not immediately available, work flow is disrupted.

In some cases, the manager even intentionally develops a batch process to avoid interruptions. Perhaps she reviews all new spending requests on Thursday morning. Great if you come up with an idea on Wednesday afternoon, but not so good if you have your flash of brilliance at the start of the shift on Friday.

So, to combat the review processes in your company, I recommend you look at every manager approval your organization requires. The goal is to determine the underlying reason that the check is in place. Then, see if any of the assumptions that drive the review process are valid, or if they are obstacles that can be removed.

Why go through this drill? For two main reasons. The first, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, is that approval processes disrupt flow. They also add copious amounts of waste. The manager is interrupted and has to figure out what is going on, which takes their time. And, of course, there is also the time the employee spends explaining what is happening, or gathering and documenting information. Plus, and perhaps most problematic, when a file is sitting in a stack waiting to be looked at, a customer is frequently not being served.

The second, and far more important reason, though, is that approvals send the wrong message to employees. If you want a continuous improvement culture with an empowered workforce making decisions that strengthen the company, leaders have to actually give authority to their teams. Requiring sign-offs, especially for minor things, doesn’t scream empowerment.

Some common reasons approval processes exist include:

  • Lack of a Process: Some managers use ‘gut feel’ decision making. For example, when deciding whether to let someone have a day off of work, a manager probably considers several factors, but likely doesn’t use the same criteria each and every time. By defining a process, a team could easily develop its own vacation process and manage it themselves.
  • Lack of Training: When a process is in place, but is not known by teams, it is the same as having no process. Teach teams how to think the same way that a manager does, and they will get the same results.
  • Access to Information: Managers generally have access to more information than employees do. A prime example is the budget. An employee making a decision about a purchase may not know where the team is in terms of expenses. Give your teams more information, and they will make better decisions. When they are thinking in terms of actual dollars, they will also be more likely to weigh the costs and benefits of the decision, and will even filter out some of their requests on their own.
  • Risk: Asking someone to take risks requires that they get more substantial rewards. Many people will feel uncomfortable making decisions ‘above their pay grade’. Managers should keep the riskier decisions to themselves, but in truth, most frontline employees don’t want to take on deciding whether to roll out a new product or where to build a factory. They would, however, love to be able to decide to purchase a new computer monitor to replace one with a bad flicker. And they don’t want to have to jump through a bunch of hoops.
  • General Convention (AKA “We’ve always done it that way”): History is tough to overcome. If the best answer you can find about why a manager makes a decision is that the manager before made that decision, it is time to work on eliminating that approval process.
  • Psychological Factors: Some managers like having power. They like having control. They like feeling important. There’s probably even a psychological term that describes how people lacking control in one area of their lives grasp onto it in another area to compensate. This situation is particularly hard to deal with because reason and logic often don’t play a major role. If you suspect this is the case, an anonymous request to a more senior leader for a specific process improvement project, or a conversation with a trusted mentor or HR rep can help get this barrier removed.
  • Fear: When a manager has been bitten by a problem in the past, he is less likely to give up control in the future. Look at the reasons for past issues, and consider the root causes that led to the failure. You’ll find that most of those reasons could have been prevented by clearly defining a policy or process, and by making sure employees knew, understood, and followed it.
  • A Mandate: Often, a manager must approve something because of a mandate. Perhaps a director in the finance department saw an increase in overnight shipment charges, and got a policy implemented that requires all ‘red’ shipments to be signed off on by a manager. Mandates like this, though, are seldom passed after a visit to gemba, the specific place where the actual work is being done. Many mandates are established in a conference room. Try this: Mandate that all mandates be physically signed off on the shop floor after speaking to a frontline employee, and more than a few probably would end up in the trashcan.
  • Lack of Trust: While it is seldom explicitly stated, a common driver for approvals is that many managers simply do not trust their employees to make good decisions. Trust, though, is often just the surface reason. It often is related to another item from this list. Solve that underlying issue, and the trust problems tend to dissipate. Keep in mind, though, that trust issues are amplified when there is an adversarial relationship between managers and their teams.
  • Crime: This is the elephant in the room. Some leaders think that employees will steal if not monitored. The question, though, is whether employees act unscrupulously at a higher rate than managers. I’ve never seen any data that shows that ethical behavior is correlated to rank. In fact, if I were to gamble, I would bet that more total dollars in losses are related to criminal activity that comes from white collar crimes at higher levels than from ethical lapses originating on the shop floor. Regardless, in cases where there may be a temptation, consider using peer review to have teams police themselves.
  • Legal and Regulatory Requirements: Sorry. Not much to be done here. Just make sure that a qualified expert has reviewed the legal statutes and regulations, and that there is, in fact, a requirement for manager approval. Sometimes, misinterpretation creates more work.

So, again, I recommend that you take a look at each and every approval process, and determine what would need to happen to remove that need for authorization. If you want a truly empowered workforce, they have to have the authority to make decisions on their own.

Now, I am certainly not saying to just eliminate all approvals tomorrow, but I do firmly believe that it will be good for your company in the long run to improve your processes so approvals by managers become unnecessary. Just get it into your mindset that approvals are a warning sign of poor processes.

My challenge to you, before you leave this webpage, is to commit in your mind to one approval process that you will start working to eliminate. I’d love to hear the process that you are going to work to resolve. Let me know what it is at Info@Velaction.com.

This article originally appeared on Jeff’s Gotta Go Lean blog.

EERE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy « eeS GROUP

EERE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy « eeS GROUP.

Illinois is 8th in United States for Green Buildings

Illinois is 8th in United States for Green Buildings.

Knowledge is power, free education is better


ecoWise decisions

A Chemical Reaction movie

A Chemical Reaction, is a documentary movie that tells the story of one of the most powerful and effective community initiatives in the history of North America.

It started with one lone voice in 1984.  Dr. June Irwin, a dermatologist, noticed a connection between her patients’ health conditions and their exposure to chemical pesticides and herbicides.

With relentless persistence she brought her concerns to town meetings to warn her fellow citizens that the chemicals they were putting on their lawns posed severe health risks and had unknown side effects on the environment.

Read more…

16 Big Green Ideas We’re Thankful For

treehuggerIt’s the season of giving thanks, and these big ideas deserve gratitude.


By Jaymi Heimbuch
San Francisco, CA, USA | Wed Nov 04 12:00:00 GMT 2009

Jim Esposito Photography L.L.C./Getty Images

Green Holidays | Less Is More | Thanksgiving

At Planet Green, we’re always grateful for any new invention or concept that carries an aura of sustainability. But now we’re entering into the season where it’s time to voice that thankfulness. There are quite a few major ideas that have changed the way we function within our daily lives, our communities, our cultures, and within the movement for sustainability. Some of the ideas have become so integrated into our thinking that we only notice them in their absence, while other ideas are still being developed by scientists, researchers and activists – though we know they’ll be a substantial part of our lives soon. Some of the ideas are ways of viewing the world and our role in it, while others are specific tools that help us live our green ethics. Without further ado, here are (most of the) big ideas we’re thankful for:

1. Green Blogosphere

We’ve got to put this at the top of our list. The green blogosphere has done wonders for connecting people to one another, spreading green living ideas, creating an ever growing community for eco-activists and burgeoning greenies, and giving a platform for the spread and creation of sustainable thought. We’re thankful for all the blogs that are part of this network, and all the people who create and read them – and that means we’re thankful for YOU!

2. Microfinance

Kiva just celebrated a landmark achievement of facilitating the loan of over $100 million in its 4 short years of existence. Kiva started the popular movement of microfinance as a viable option for redistributing wealth and helping small business owners make a living. More programs, such as MicroPlace and the Women’s Microfinance Initiative, have been starting up and helping to shift money around in small, sustainable, and significant ways.

3. Online Social Networking

Social networks online have been an incredible big idea to help green. Twitter not only helps people spread stories and thoughts, but also gather for events and raise funds for charities – charity:water’s twestival is one example. Recently, 350.org held a global day of action, the turnout for which was heralded as impossible without the help of online organization. Networks such as Facebook and WiserEarth help people connect with each other and causes. There seems to be no end to the green good online social networking can do.

4. Smart Grid

The smart grid is helping us integrate renewable energy into the electric grid, and use what energy is created in an intelligent way. The installation of smart meters facilitates communication between utilities and consumers, making energy consumption visible, and therefore much more manageable and efficient. While there are big questions to be answered regarding issues such a privacy, smart grid projects are getting the attention and funding they need to move forward and modernize our energy use.

5. Renewable Energy Sources

Tapping into the abundant natural energy sources that are renewable and clean is an idea for which it seems impossible to express enough thankfulness. Transitioning our electricity from being generated with fuels that require steps such as wiping entire mountains off the face of the planet, and have consequences as dire as dissolving the shells of corals and crustaceans, to being generated with fuels that are as abundant and constantly present as the sun and wind will help us in immeasurable ways change the course of our current destructive path to one of sustainability.

6. Neutral Carbon Footprint Accounting

Having a way to measure the carbon footprints of businesses, products and services is a key issue for sustainability, since you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Companies like HP and Apple are among many working to make their carbon footprint apparent to consumers; however, we currently lack a standardized method for accounting and comparing footprints. AMEE is one company working to create that neutral and transparent carbon footprint accounting platform, measure the footprint of everything on earth. A trustworthy number associated with everything we consume will help us reach our own sustainable carbon footprint.

7. Reuse Economy

Communities organized around keeping products in the consumer stream are a vital way to reduce waste, slow manufacturing of unnecessary items, and shift our concept of “need.” Services that help us accomplish this and that we love include thrift stores, swap parties, garage sales, Craigslist, and similar systems. They’re all part of the eco-nomics of sustainability.

8. Freeganism

Like a reuse economy, we’re also thankful for an economy that doesn’t require money – or even the exchange of products or services. Freeganism means zero waste, and that’s an equation we love. Freeganism covers everything from keeping perfectly good food from going to landfill, all the way to the service of tool libraries where members can utilize whatever is in the shed when they need it for free. Craigslist and Freecycle are two of our favorite community-oriented websites that help facilitate freeganism, as well as larger events such as Really Really Free Market.

9. Farmers Markets

Speaking of markets, farmers’ markets are of course on our list of big ideas we’re thankful for. In a way, a farmer’s market is such an old idea that it feels a little odd it would need to be included. But as we’ve moved away from buying food from local farmers and on to buying processed edible products from the agro-industrial complex, we’ve been lucky enough to realize just how incredibly valuable farmers’ markets actually are for our health, and the health of the planet. Getting to know our farmers’ markets again and creating our meals from the seasonal, sustainably grown foods found there is again a great big green idea.

10. Sustainable Cities

Cities that can thrive without damaging the ecosystem in which it exists, or the rest of the planet is a big idea we love. Making cities walkable, with loads of urban gardens, buildings that are efficient and nontoxic, regulations that promote zero waste…the list could go on. We’re seeing pieces of this happening in cities across the world, and we’re seeing ideas for new eco-cities. Ulitmately, we’d love to see all cities converted to enjoyable places to live with zero footprint.

11. Cradle-to-Cradle Design

Perhaps one of the biggest ideas to come from biomimicry is cradle-to-cradle design, and manufacturing, using, and recycling something as completely as any natural system. The earth wastes nothing when it comes to creating new life and reusing old stuff…why would we settle for anything less in the products, buildings, and systems we create?

12. Birth Control

Scientists have noted over and over again what happens to ecosystems when a species’ population booms out of control. Humans are no different. Birth control is a big idea that can can solve our own destructive growth without us having to give up our fun. It is also one of the cheapest solutions, beating out any other low carbon technology being researched for controlling our GHG emissions.

13. Less Is More

It’s not just people we need less of in order to be sustainable, we need less of everything. A Less Is More mentality gets us back to smaller portions of higher quality food, smaller cars with better fuel sources, smaller homes that offer more benefits… Having less is ultimately more.

14. Commuter Bikes and Electric Vehicles

Getting out of cars and onto bikes is a big idea we’ve seen boom. From bike share programs to wonderfully hacked bikes for getting groceries, along with companies and cities becoming more bike friendly, the commuter bike is making a comeback. And along side it, so too is the electric car. It’s old news – as in century old news – and yet we’re only just getting around to making the electric car a fact of daily life. Despite being slow to come around, we’re grateful.

15. Biomimicry

Biomimicry is an idea that seems obvious, and yet is cutting edge within science – looking at the way Mother Nature does things and using that as inspiration for how we want to get things done. Janine Benyus is one of the major leaders in biomicry, creating AskNature.org as a resource for cataloging all the many ways in which nature has already answered any design questions we can think up.

16. Inalienable Rights for Nature

Perhaps one of the biggest ideas we’re thankful for is this – nature has a right to flourish without humans mucking it up. Many cities and countries are recognizing this within their legislation, such as Ecuador and Switzerland. We look forward to seeing the rights of nature more widely acknowledged on a global scale.

This list isn’t comprehensive, so be sure to leave comments with the big ideas you’re thankful for!

More Things to be Thankful For
Five Climate Change Events To Be Thankful For
10 Green Things to Be Thankful For
Thanksgiving: So Much to be Thankful For

Climate Law Seen Raising Gasoline 13 Cents A Gallon

fueling tankDate: 03-Nov-09
Country: US
Author: Timothy Gardner

NEW YORK – U.S. climate legislation would hike gasoline prices about 13 cents a gallon as oil companies push the price of carbon permits on to consumers, according to report by Point Carbon, an independent consulting company that tracks global carbon and energy markets.

The analysts did not share the oil industry’s view that a U.S. cap-and-trade system to curb greenhouse gas emissions would decimate demand for gasoline and force large numbers of refineries to shut down.

Climate legislation being debated in the Senate after passing in the House of Representatives narrowly in June would force big polluters to hold carbon credits for every tonne of carbon they emit.

Point Carbon analyst Emilie Mazzacurati said oil companies would face substantial carbon permit costs under the legislation because they would get few of the permits the government would distribute to companies during the first years of a cap-and-trade program.

But that should not hurt integrated oil companies very much, she said, because they could largely pass the costs on to consumers in the form of higher fuel prices.

If carbon prices average about $15 a tonne, about half the level at which price controls could start to kick in, oil companies would would boost gasoline prices about 5 percent from current levels, or 13 cents a gallon, the report said.

Exxon Mobil Corp, for example, could face about $5.9 billion a year in carbon permit prices, but would be able to recoup all but about $277 million of that, the report said.

“They are just going to increase prices, which is going to allow them to recover the money they are spending buying (carbon) allowances,” Mazzacurati said.

Point Carbon assumed the fuel price rise would not be enough to reduce demand for gasoline.

Power generators could face higher costs than oil companies, Point Carbon said, because they are not as free to boost electricity rates, which are controlled by state governments.

That means power generators who burn large amounts of coal would face big permit costs they would not be able to recover.

Utility Southern Co would face the highest costs of the largest emitters in the energy business, Point Carbon said. Carbon regulation could cost Southern an amount equal to about 3 percent of its yearly revenue.

“Climate legislation should not be about winners and losers but protecting the economy, our customers, and the economy,” said a Southern spokeswoman in an email.

Power generators that rely more on low-carbon power sources could make out quite well. Exelon Corp, which owns the country’s biggest nuclear power fleet, could see its annual revenue jump 9 percent, Point Carbon said.

That’s because Exelon would not have to buy large amounts of carbon permits that the big coal burners would, but they would be able to take advantage of any higher power prices that resulted from national emissions regulation.

Reprint from Reuters (Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker)

The #1 Way to Fight Global Warming


Do Your Part


Support a clean car standard to save us money at the pump, make our country more secure, and fight global warming!

What’s the single biggest step we can take to reduce global warming emissions?

Give up? The answer is requiring our national fleet of vehicles to average 35.5 mpg, which is exactly what the Obama Administration is proposing to do.

The EPA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) need your support if they are going to follow through with strong new standards for car and light truck emissions.

The proposed standards have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 950 million metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in model years 2012-2016.1 That’s the equivalent of shutting down 204 coal-fired power plants for a year!

But that’s not all. During the same time period these standards could save 1.8 billion barrels of oil, which works out to $3,000 dollars over the life of a new vehicle.2 That’s money we’ll keep in our pockets instead of shipping it to countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria.

Tell the EPA and DOT that we can’t afford to wait–send a message supporting strong vehicle emissions standards today!

It’s time we take vehicle standards out of the 1970s and into the 21st century and lay a strong foundation for the cleaner vehicles we need to end our reliance on oil and curb global warming.

We need your help to win strong standards that will save us money, make our country more secure, and fight global warming.

Thanks for all that you do to protect the environment.

Mary Anne Hitt
Sierra Club Big Picture Campaign

P.S. Please forward this message and help spread the word to your friends and family!

[1-2] “Sierra Club Applauds New Fuel Economy Rules,” September 15, 2009.

Know the benefits / savings; share with everyone that drives

Get into action helping Truckers

As it is National Poetry Week; relate it to our mission to help others.

woman-truckerToday is a great day; to show many Truckers the way

Ask by the gallon, how many miles; their expenses plagued by trials

Ask what they would do; given a 5-8% savings by you

Would they avoid being late; oh they love to celebrate

When they see the savings is more; they will never show you to the door

Safety is such a big factor; while traveling far and wide in the tractor

May be a rig; it sure is big

The toxic carbon emissions they spew; will be reduced by you

The weight it pulls impacts miles; the results you offer create smiles

Share your gift; their spirits are sure to lift

CSea Perkins

The 4 Pillars of Sustainability: Food, Energy, Transportation, Social Responsibility

City or rural countryside, most action for sustainable living falls into one of these 4 categories.

Marye Audet

By Marye Audet
Lancaster, TX, USA | Sat Oct 03 09:00:00 GMT 2009Marye Audet

When you hear the phrase “sustainable living” what do you think of? Do you think of a farm, or a small homestead, or even a Little House on the Prairie episode?

Living gently on the earth is possible anywhere. People often wonder how you can practice sustainable living when you live in the city or a highly populated urban area. It is just a matter of thinking outside the box. Sustainable living is a state of mind.

Can You Live Sustainably in the City?

In some ways, living in the city makes it easier, especially with public transportation. You can grow vegetables in containers on your balcony or shop at farmers markets. There is always a way if you look for it.

Check your lifestyle and see how you can make changes no matter where you live. Like all things, the sustainable living lifestyle is made up of a series of habits and small actions that add up to a big impact over time. It is hard to make huge lifestyle changes but by understanding the principles of the sustainable lifestyle you can make small permanent adjustments to the way you live.

Everyone Can Do Something

If you can make one small change every month in one of these areas you will have made 48 positive changes in your impact on the environment in one year. In 10 years that is 480 positive changes and a really huge impact.

Making those small changes are easy to do. Try making one change a week or one change a month. Keep it doable for you. In 21 days it becomes a new habit. Too often we make these huge changes in our lives and they only last for a few weeks.

Take it slow, make it easy, and make it permanent.

The 4 Categories of Sustainable Living

Everything needed for a lifestyle of sustainability falls into one of the following categories.

1. Food

The way we eat has a huge impact on the environment, either positive or negative. Make small changes in your eating habits to make a big impact on the eco-system. Eating sustainably is not something that just people who live in the country can do. It is more about the choices you make everyday in your own life.

Choosing foods that keep your body healthy, that are free of toxins, and that are local can keep thousands of tons of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere every year. When food is shipped from one place to the other the carbon footprint becomes bigger and the food loses nutrients in the time consuming process.

For some, this will mean eschewing meat, perhaps all animal products. For others it will mean buying organic, and still others will lower their impact by eating less meat, or hunting, or raising their own.

Packaging not only adds to the overall impact of your food because it eventually ends up in the landfill but also because it has to go through the manufacturing process. Trees are cut to make paper, factories must be supplied with power, and gallons of toxic inks used to get that colorful cereal box on the store shelves.

Learn to make your own bread and baked goods or can and preserve fruits and vegetables. The more you do for yourself the smaller impact you have, the more money you save, and the more confident you will become.

2. Energy

Energy is what makes our world go ’round. There are two kinds:

  • Renewable energy is that which has been in use since time began. Renewable energy is the kind that you use when you are is hand chopping vegetables rather than using a processor or using solar panels to supply light to your home. Renewable energy does not impact the environment much if at all.
  • Non-renewable energy is that which has only been used for the past hundred and fifty years or so. Coal, gasoline, and other petroleum products become depleted as they are used. Once they are gone, they are gone. The impact on the environment both in gathering the product and in manufacturing it is huge. Generally non-renewable energy sources also leave a residue of pollutants and toxins in the environment.

3. Transportation

Transportation once meant walking from one place to another. Later horses, wagons, and bicycles were added and allowed people to travel longer distances. It was the bicycle that had one of the biggest impacts on society, as a matter of fact. Bikes allowed the middle and lower classes to move out of the cities and commute during the late Victorian era.

Cars, planes, ships, and trains all need high amounts of non-renewable resources to get from one place to another. The less these vehicles are used the fewer carbon emissions there are. Shopping locally is important for the economy but also for the savings in transportation costs and pollution. Take this quiz to find out your transportation footprint.

4. Social Responsibility

The last pillar of sustainability is one you don’t hear about in that context so much, and that is social responsibility. Social responsibility is the mentality that all organisms are interconnected and exist because of the synergy between them. When I buy clothing that is made by a local seamstress I may pay more for the item but I know that the purchase contributes in a positive way to the earth as a whole.

Donating to a food pantry, knowing your neighbors, pitching in and helping out, and being aware of how your life impacts others positively or negatively are all important ways of protecting the environment and sustainable living.

Everyone Can Do Something
%d bloggers like this: