Archive for September, 2009

Reducing Company CO2 the easy way, Carpool, Flex-hours and Telecommuting

Many cities and companies are promoting carpooling as an easy way to reduce carbon emissions. There is little doubt that their are enormous benefits to carpooling but from a commuters point of view (i.e. someone trying to get to work in the least amount of time) it seems like carpooling will take additional time. However, if we do a little commuter math, we can determine that, on average, carpooling actually saves time. Why? Let’s say, for example, that every commuter made an effort to car pool. An average communiting time to downtown Toronto during rush-hour from surrounding community is about 1.5 hours. If we were able to reduce the number of cars by even 1/4th there would be a significant decrease in average commute time, possibly 30 minutes. And even if we don’t succeed in that amount of reduction, there are carpool lanes for cars with more than one person. The time saving becomes more significant over time because congestion is increasing with even more severe impacts on commuting time. There is a certain volume of traffic that the road ways can easily handle. Up until that point, there is very little impact by adding traffic. But after that limit is reached, the congestion increases considerably for every additional car. So removing even 5% of the cars would reduce commute time by more than 5% on average. It only stands to reason then that every car we get off the road will make a positive difference in reducing commute time and CO2 emissions. For the individual commuter, sometimes there is a trade-off if they have to stop and wait for a carpool or go out of their way to drop someone off, but as more people opt for carpooling, there will be better matches. Imagine if 25% of the vehicles were taken off the road. Commute times may be reduced by 30 minutes which would easily make up for any inconvenience.

Benefits of Carpooling

What are the other benefits of carpooling? First, you make friends, get to meet someone new and get to know them well because you see them on a regular basis. Second, you get to share costs of commuting. If you still have a car, at very least you save on gas. If not, you may get to save on repairs, insurance and other costs. Third, if you’re riding with someone else, you may get a little more time to sleep before getting to work. Fourth, in many cities you save time because you get to use designated carpool lanes. Fifth, if your company supports carpooling, you get to leave at a regularly scheduled time(and for reasons I’ll explain later, this is also good for the company). Sixth, you help to save the planet. In the battle against climate change, you get to reduce carbon emissions by sharing a ride directly (more riders is better) and by reducing average commute time for everyone, you help every vehicle on the road because all of them enjoy a slightly shorter commute time. Yes, as even one car comes off the road, there is just a little less congestion and every other car benefits a little and contributes a little less carbon.

Getting your Company Involved

There are many ways to participate in car-pooling and there are many direct and indirect benefits to the company for doing so, not the least of which is your company’s contribution to reducing CO2. But before you roll-out a carpool plan, it is like many other projects, you need think about how to inform staff and management on the benefits to them and to others. Following are a few steps to consider: » Continue reading “Reducing Company CO2 the easy way, Carpool, Flex-hours and Telecommuting”

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Climate Change impact on Business Leadership and Planning

As we watch the news of enormous red dust clouds over Arizona and Australia due to record drought, the discovery of the record melting of Icebergs in Greenland at a rate that the IPCC models failed to predict, record temperatures being set in northern and western Canada, record flooding in Atlanta which is sweeping people and vehicles away and  record wild-fires in California all at the same time, in addition to the recent first time ever passage of a commercial German vessel through the north east passage without an icebreaker, along with record flooding this year in Taiwan, Burma, and Vietnam, if there was any doubt left that we are experiencing climate change, there certainly isn’t anymore. And anyone who believes that it’s not caused by human activities simply isn’t accepting reality.

The question now is, how will the world be impacted and how will businesses respond? Although there is still far too much rhetoric, even the world leaders at the UN Summit on Climate Change preceding the Copenhagen meeting, most notably Obama noting that “the old habits, the old arguments are irrelevant”, are beginning to speak seriously about the issue. Even China, which understandably refuses hard targets in the light of excessive energy usage and emissions from developed countries, is taking a leadership role in developing solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

 The question is not about whether changes in business will occur: the question is, what will drive business the most? Will there be sufficient agreement on policy and limits at the global or national government levels or will the change in the earth’s environment itself be the greatest imputus for business to adapt and what will that mean for business? » Continue reading “Climate Change impact on Business Leadership and Planning”

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What does Education contribute to Leadership?

One of my favourite quotes is one that speaks to the value of education in bringing out the most in people:

“Regard man as a mine, rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can alone cause it to reveal its treasures.” – Baha’u'llah

Whenever we look at an individual with the view of helping them to become leaders, education is a key. Why? Because, while someone may have natural talent in influencing others, or specialized skills that they can share, they still need to learn and understand concepts of leading. Among other thing, they need to learn empathy, they need to be guided by ethics, they need to learn how to lead people in a direction that will do long term good for the organization, and they need to learn that while having a short term outlook has its place in leaderhip, that it must be balanced with integrity and long term perspectives.

Forging leadership skills is a process, not an event. This process requires continuous education, nurturing, practice and learning from successes and failures. And because newly promoted leaders are also dealing with the lives of others, they need to learn how to be sensitive to the results that they create in the lives of others and how those impacts may be signaling problems with their own skills. Being defensive won’t solve their issues.

For example, while it is reasonable that a leader may periodically call upon certain staff members to work overtime on occasion, habitually calling upon them to do so generally is likely a signal that certian skills are lacking. They may lack planning and estimating skills or the skills necessary to communicate to their own superiors that their teams are over-loaded. They may also may have resources who are undertrained or they may lack stragic planning skills which will help them to periodically stop their own work to look at the situation from a broader perspective. Look at the larger perspective will help them to eliminate unnecessary tasks or process steps.

Education is a key in learning and advancing leadership skills, attitudes, concepts and habits, and knowing that a candidate is likely to continuously strive to advance themselves is an important criteria in the selection process.

All the best,

Garth Schmalenberg
web:  http://www.hbi-leadership.com
e-mail: garth@hbi-leadership.com
Phone: 416-919-6598
twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gschmalenberg

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Global Corporate Development – CEO Salaries and the (positive) impact of Outsourcing

In a 2006 article written by US Senator Jim Webb, he addressed an increasing disparity between salaries of CEOs and their employees, where CEO salaries top 400 x the amount of their average employee, vs 20 years ago when the difference was 20 x. Recently with the economic downturn, an even brighter light was focused on this issue as a result of failing financial institutions doling out rich and unjustified executive bonuses. Those of us who are not in the position of a major corporate CEO may view this disparity as a fundamental injustice. While there will always be richer and poorer in the world, the extremes of wealth and poverty can be problematic for a number of reasons, even though there are arguments which strive to justify these compensations.

But are they helpful or hurtful to global development? » Continue reading “Global Corporate Development – CEO Salaries and the (positive) impact of Outsourcing”

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