Category Archives: Sustainability

The complexity of work paradigm

Foto de Ronaldo Ramos

By Ronaldo Ramos*

There are fundamental differences between complicated problems and complex problems, as I have already discussed in earlier articles. There are also different approach techniques and misguided belief that we can fix complex problems with traditional tools. There is no doubt that the circumstances we face today are of primarily a complex nature.

According to the book Six Simple Rules – How to manage complexity without getting complicated, by Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman, we live in a world of growing complexity in which we still encounter two basic managing approaches.

The first is focused on processes, rules, timelines, methods and in believing that human beings are the weakest link in the productive chain, and therefore need to be followed and watched, based on procedure, monitoring and control guidelines. It´s called the hard approach. The second resides in the importance of the emotional side; employees must feel satisfied in order to produce more, acting in the construction of teams, work environment and other elements. As if we climb the ladder of individual necessities, prioritizing self esteem and social well being in the workplace.

Both approaches tend to predict and determine which human behavior is appropriate and to provide recipes to guide employees and other business personnel. Assuming that by these means productivity will increase, given that the employees needs are met, whether based on livelihood or other levels of personal fulfillment.

According to the authors, it is hard to escape the growing complication in procedures, norms and processes in companies that take in these ideas. Accountability, low value tasks and the creation of supervision layers end up being watched, which can lead to a growing disengagement based on the intense standardizing of methods and processes without leaving room for creativity and individuality.

Without the least pretention of questioning the necessity of rigid operation norms in hostile environments – or that represent any risks to the employee – neither quality guidelines that if are not met can threaten society and consumer. The issue refers to the premise of how human beings fit in the organization and how he is welcomed and valued.

All the approaches are based on the idea that human beings must adapt to certain behavior and procedure patterns (including simple rules of coexistence, respect and conduct), within a traditional perspective. In practice, it is hard to deal with disengagement – frequently attributed to the number of generations in the market and their differences in handling hierarchy, labor, leisure, multiple preferences – applying procedures that don’t differ much from each other.

Often, we observe companies that are concerned with the growing amount of stress, burnout, suicide and other mental disorders related to work. Positive Psychology tries to deal through raising individual awareness to their strong points and how to overcome difficulties, reminding that it is precisely these strong points their success.

The nature of the complexity is that no individual has a complete answer, that variables apparently independent posses a high degree of correlation with others, and that it is equally necessary that people use their autonomy to cooperate among each other, creating greater dynamic. Curiously, I remember my grandfathers telling me that in order of me to grow I would need to always keep in mind to enjoy freedom with responsibility. Back then I didn´t understand what that meant, but now it seems that it all makes sense.

The stages of human development – dependent in childhood, independent begging in adolescence and interdependent in adulthood – appear in these matters with absolute certainty. It is as if at this point organizations as going through difficulties created by the exponential technological development, by the power of social claiming and right to dignity, led by minorities and diversities. The workplace and the nature of organizations must take this into account.

Primarily by the pressing need to commit to purposes – not to loyalty to a company, brand or long term career – in the attempt to adapt to this new order. The process occurs by means of a greater opening to corporate secrets or dogmas (such as patents, sharing among inventors, growing use of robots and changes in corporate capacities), greater transparency, need for admiration, and respect for values and simplicity – that includes preserving the individual longing to take part, while respecting and considering, in diversity and in their own individuality.

To think globally, in teamwork, collectively, and to act individually.

Could this be a new paradigm to guide work contracts?

*Founder of CEOlab
ronaldo.ramos@ceolab.net

Sustainability: a shared value

Foto de Ronaldo Ramos

By Ronaldo Ramos*

The concept of sustainability was created 40 years ago due to environmental concern. It now faces the challenge in becoming shared value by business, professionals, consumers, citizens and governments, going beyond the corporate arena and spreading through society. It’s meaning has expanded throughout the years and has gathered many concepts: ecological liability, economic feasibility, socially just, multicultural, renewable, recyclable, natural resource exploration efficient, conscientious consumption and respectful use.

It is crucial to corporate survival to include and keep up with sustainability issues in governance, professional development, and their results. How to apply this concept in day-to-day business actions? What measures must be taken so the partners can incorporate this shared value in a sustainable fashion?  How to assure it’s fulfillment as well as the inclusion of budget investment?

Usually, sustainability is limited to a specific business venture. It is necessary to check the environmental and cultural aspects of the area to grant advantages or to compensate the community for necessary adjustments before proceeding. The business venture must be carried out to consider the community’s needs, cultural, religious, ancestral and environmental values. A central challenge is identifying the sustainability inputs in tune with corporate strategy, presenting them to the steering committees, incorporating to operations, and permeating the concept and practice throughout the company and stakeholders.

The Brazilian companies greatest difficulties in expanding and effectively adopting sustainability guidelines is the lack of reference when returning to projects. The second edition of “The managing state of sustainability in Brazil” (“O Estado de Gestão para a Sustentabilidade no Brasil”) study, published by Fundação Dom Cabral in 2014, suggests no significant changes and that the main challenge in 2012 is still valid: to reduce the gap between discourse and practice.

Since business does not carry out sustainable ideas, the companies are unaware of the financial benefits and efficiency that could be brought to the chain of production, including its longevity and renewing operation licenses with greater ease. Governments and citizens have the duty of comprehending and applying the concept in their initiatives, attending public hearing for the implementation of business and projects as part of a fundamental education to guarantee sustainability. By these measures, it is possible to suppose that government incentives for the implementation of sustainability projects can boost business in the internal administration and their relationship with society. Contrary to transparency it is based on a systemic and long term concept.

We are now in the era of shared management and sustainability should be regarded in a chain of valued perspective. The search for operational excellence also must be understood and stimulated by domestic business as a path to bring forth and differentiate its practices and products in a global market. A company that does not introjects sustainable values will have difficulties in the internationalization process.

According to HR specialists, the company should manage the employees in a sustainable method, aiming their wellbeing, promoting health, security, and balance in the work/life relationship, diversity and inclusion, gender equality, just rewards, fair pay, promoting development, internal positive communication, open dialogue and community relations. The approach of topics associated to the concept must be rooted in the business. It is a task that requires the effective communication of business values and mission.

One of the largest annual researches in the corporate sustainability world, the “Managing State of Sustainability 2013” (“Estado dos Negócios Sustentáveis 2013”), indicates that HR is precisely one of the corporate functions least committed in matters of sustainability. Corporate treasure was classified as the least committed, not much behind R&D, Strategic Planning and Marketing. This lack of concern shown by main departments reflects the current state of underdevelopment of sustainable values.

Although CEOs consider that commitment to consumers is the main motivation factor for accelerating sustainability investments, they are generally out of tune with the motivation for the purchase of sustainable products and services. A global study published by Accenture brings out that only one third of consumers consider sustainability.

Pioneer way of thinking and managing requires business that intends to be sustainable, to have smart, creative, committed and keen leaders that cultivate the culture of purpose.  The most valued persons do not contend with fund raising and donation politics. They need meaning in their work and their surroundings. The culture of purpose can be dismembered in three stages: cultural expertise, characteristics and attributes. Also requires energy, resilience, opening and personnel truly committed to these objectives.

According to the guidelines of the best practices of corporate governance published by IBGC (Brazilian Institute of Corporate Governance) in 2010: “Corporate governance is the system by which organizations are administrated, monitored and encouraged, involving partner, board of directors, managers and management control relationships.  The good practice of corporate governance turns principles into objective recommendations, aligning interests to preserve and optimize organizations value, providing easy access to resources and contributing to its longevity.”

The board of directors is responsible for orienting the process that defines tools and management indicators, including pay, to link sustainability matters to strategy options. This posture should spread out throughout the productive chain. The public authorities and the population’s participations are essential to the society’s responsible economic evolution. The individual challenge relies in rethinking our habits and customs in a sense of giving small but certain steps towards a sustainable future.

*Founder of CEOlab
ronaldo.ramos@ceolab.net