Green Consulting

by

As I noticed once again today, the most interesting and beautiful site on the drive across Kansas is the wind farm somewhere between Salina and Burlington. The expanse of hundreds of wind turbines always takes my breath away; today I stopped to take pictures. The timing was funny; I passed it right after listening to a podcast on the latest trends in sustainability initiatives. It got me thinking in general about what consulting firms can do, as well as what specifically we can do at Thought Ensemble, related to the environmental aspects of sustainability.

The most relevant decision Jim and I have made to date that will positively impact the environment is the decision to operate virtually. The reasons for this are numerous – we believe the experienced people we hire can operate more productively and at a lower cost to our clients using this model. The environmental benefits here are obvious: by operating out of home offices, we not only save on the environmental costs of another building, we significantly reduce the amount of time we spend in our cars.

That leaves two other areas where we directly impact the environment: travel and paper. Consultants are notorious for gluttony in both. Travel can be reduced, but not eliminated – the type of work we do will take us around the city, country and globe. Some of our work is much more effective in person – facilitating strategic planning workshops, for instance. But we can and will minimize this travel as much as makes sense; and coordinate in and out of town travel to maximize trips. I have noticed people are generally very open to working around a schedule when you let them know when you’ll be in their suburb or traveling to their city. People are also getting much more comfortable with teleconferencing and video conferencing, and those options can work well for some types of meetings.

The other area where we can make some bigger changes is in our use of paper. This is a cultural change, for consultants and our clients. Since we are in the business of strategic planning, our “product” is generally published on paper. Consultants joke about valuing reports based on cost per page, which drives longer reports. When I began doing this type of work, green wasn’t even discussed. Each week, we prepped long reports for the executive committee meetings, team meetings and phase completions. It sometimes seemed that the objective was to generate so much analysis that the executives had to believe you. The most significant waste of paper often comes along the way when printing and reviewing drafts. I’ve had clients who wanted draft versions of a 150-page final report color copied, printed and bound for ten in multiple meetings leading up to the final review.

When Jim and I built our Thought Ensemble writing format, we talked about how to minimize paper and then created a format that minimized pages, maximized content on each page, referenced external content versus including it all, and supported double sided and multiple pages per page printing. That’s the first step, but the better solution is to move to more electronic forms of presentation and we have some ideas to get there as well. For now, people like to have a report they can write on during a presentation and then grab out of their desk drawer later for reference, so we can offer a hybrid where we only print the few pages we plan to cover in a meeting and use a computer to project the rest as necessary.

The bigger opportunities for consultants are in helping our clients think about things differently. All solutions we propose should consider sustainability. For example, reorganizations should consider the sustainability implications of where and how people will work. Technology recommendations can be key enablers to sustainability initiatives.

So that’s what we are doing to shade Thought Ensemble green. I’m curious what other consultancies are doing or what ideas people have.

READ MORE

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

About a week ago, I completed the second live (virtual) training in the process of becoming a Certified Professional Coach through iPEC. Once again, my mind was blown! It reinforced for me that virtual workshops can, and do, work, and, in a lot of ways, I prefer them...

read more
Finding My Work-Life Balance

Finding My Work-Life Balance

In my previous post, I told the story of how I got back into consulting after becoming a mom. All of the diverse experiences I had during that journey have helped me to find my work-life balance by… Defining Boundaries “Go home,” my first boss said 12 years back —...

read more
How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

I Landed My Dream Job Throwback to 2014, I had completed my MBA, landed my dream job as a consultant, and was hoping that my new consulting career would exponentially ramp up my career growth for the next 5 years. This would position me to take on critical decision...

read more
Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

In August of this year, as part of our annual company meeting, our team at Thought Ensemble participated in the foundational session of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training led by Dr. Nika White, IOM, CDE (she/her/hers). One of the most meaningful moments...

read more
Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

It is often said that organizational culture is like a fog — it is all around us; it impacts our ability to see, to move quickly, and to deliver; but we cannot quite put our finger on it. Indeed, some organizations see their culture as a byproduct of operations,...

read more
We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

Why have we refreshed our brand, you ask? Well, as we have grown and matured as an organization, we felt that our previous brand elements no longer represented us as well as they could. You see, we founded Thought Ensemble back in 2008 to help companies better compete...

read more
Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

I recently wrote about how company purpose is being tested and inspired by all the events of 2020. This topic is very real for us at Thought Ensemble. We’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters as we’ve navigated the...

read more
How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable rewrote their statement of corporate purpose. I followed this with significant interest being that I have never forgotten the debates about corporate purpose in business school almost two decades ago. We were taught that the...

read more
Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

I love working with companies who really want to make a difference, beyond just making money for their shareholders. I mean, making money is fun and all, but it is even more rewarding to join in on a just cause. Plus, as this HBR article explains, companies who have...

read more