Environmental Management Systems

 

When I hear the concept of Environmental Management Systems, the first word that personally has more importance of the tree, is the word environment. Maybe because solving environmental problems in a holistic manner is one of my ultimate professional goals. But doing the EMS exercise, broadened my way of thought. During this exercise I was told to locate myself inside an specific context: An environmental Management department of a company called Platform Inc. which needed to start building a EMS.

I found out that while we were all focused trying to address specific topics regarding EMS such as:

  • a vision of what environmental excellence, and the role of the EM department in making that a reality

  • a specification of what information the EM department needs, and can provide, as input/output of the EMS

  • a specification of what information needs to be collected routinely (as opposed to information that is specifically requested)

Other problems keep popping out making them difficult to discuss these EMS topics. To be more specific it was hard for us to organize all our ideas into a coherent unified answer for each topic (or issue). Before starting to address the EMS topics we needed to address broader topics regarding the social organization and social context. This is when I realized that out of the three words (Environmental Management Systems), Management had its importance, specially the part of management that leads with getting people together to accomplish desired goals.

If solving environmental problems is the goal, then Management can be seen as the path. Through management you achieve that goal.

During the EMS exercise I learned that most lessons thought were regarding the management and social problems.

We encountered some problems as a team:

  1. As EM division we had fixed assignments but there wasn’t an EMS organization scheme at a company level in which we could see the big picture.

  2. We had no practical background information about Platform Inc. Usually a company that incorporates an Environmental Management System is all ready a functioning company that has social working schemes and decision making processes. Before we focused on the environmental issue we had to address some more generic company and department questions to understand which where the activities and decision making boundaries of the EM department.

  3. There was no social structure in our division, which made the interaction more disorganized. As team members we considered ourselves professionally as equals so there was no hierarchy or division role.

Practical Lessons

  1. We need to be able to place ourselves in a broader context so that individual assignments (departmental assignments) can take a broader meaning.

  2. As a group it would be useful to create a company context and specify what is required and expected form each department by developing a company departmental organigram, tasks and activities of each department, decision making process, company goals and values…

  3. Inside each department we need to learn how to organize ourselves in a social environment in which the social interactions, roles, hierarchies are unknown and come up with an explicit,functional social structure in which each team member plays a key role in order to give structure and organization to the working team.

The most important lesson the idea that as a group it would be very useful to create a common context, a common language ad a common scheme of work in which we could all place creative ideas and solutions to environmental problems related to Platform Inc.
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