Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Green Profiling

I work with a number of organizations to make their workplace greener. I spend much of this effort on change management activities. After a while I've started to see patterns in the ways in which people approach going green. I've even started to categorize an organization by what I call their "green profile." The green profile is the unique mix of people in the organization made up of four types:

Greeniacs. This portion of the population will say “yes” to anything when it comes to helping the environment. They have already purchased their solar backpack, are using geo-thermal energy to heat their home and have an electric car (better yet, they bike to work). When it comes to creating a green workplace for this portion of the organization, they are ready to go and probably impatient for their organization to “get with the program.” This group is not afraid to practice what they preach and share with others what they are doing. Organizations like the Nature Conservancy, the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council have large portions of their population that are comprised of this group.

Business Environmentalists. This group is aware of the environment and active in their community when it comes to green issues. They believe there are environmental problems that need to be solved. They also believe that making good choices for the environment are often good business decisions as well and can save costs and increase organizational value in the long run. This group is already engaged in environmentally-friendly behavior; they may recycle, purchase local foods and drive a hybrid. However, they are not first adopters to green technology or ideas – they prefer to see them tested before they invest time and energy taking on something new. A growing number of people fall into this category.

Couch Potato Environmentalists. This group is willing to try new green behaviors, but only if it is easy for them to do so. They are not interested in going out of their way to try something green, especially if it is disruptive to getting their job done. Green strategies that work with this group are about tackling the low hanging fruit (simple changes that minimize labor or costs to the organization). Strategies that affect them personally and make their life easier are also very effective. An example of this might be providing a campus shuttle to minimize single occupancy vehicles. The shuttle service probably saves these folks the hassle of finding a parking space, so they are willing to adopt a new behavior.

Green Skeptics. This group may be annoyed by the constant media attention given to green issues and feel that even if there are environmental problems, the environment is just one of many very important priorities (and perhaps they are champions of one of the other priorities). This group is a small and a decreasing percentage of any organization, but should be acknowledged, particularly if they are in positions of influence. This group may never enroll in a green strategy or behavior, but will need to be considered when planning for target metrics.

How how do you assess your organization? We'll share that on a later post. For now, know that it's important to acknowlege and listen to everyone (those nay-sayers usually have very good points) and keep your focus on enrolling the Greeniacs and Business Environmentalists - they are more likely to lead the organization into a greener future.

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