The Continuous Improvement Process IBM: Driving Operation Changes through an Energy Monitoring System

 The first step in the institutional change process for continuous change is defining your goals. That is, decide what outcomes are desired (or required) over what period of time. Behavioral, organizational, and institutional changes typically are means to achieve desired energy, resource, or greenhouse gas emission outcomes. They are not ends in and of themselves.
Agencies may derive goals from multiple sources, such as:
• Formal executive orders or other requirements
• Facility-specific assessments of major sources of energy use and causes of energy loss.
Next Step
The second step in the institutional change process for continuous change is to identify the rules, roles, and tools constituting context in your organization. Rules, roles, and tools define the current situation, shape the action plan, and affect an organization’s ability to effect and maintain desired changes.
• Step 1: Determine Goals
• Step 2: Assess Institutional Rules, Roles, and Tools
• Step 3: Develop an Action Plan
• Step 4: Implement an Action Plan
• Step 5: Measure and Evaluate
The measure and evaluation step is crucial to ensure that institutional change efforts produce successful results in meeting goals. To measure success, an evaluation is needed.
An effective evaluation:
• Provides a framework and information to support strategic planning efforts
• Confirms that actions being taken are proving effective or are in need of adjustment
• Identifies opportunities for new or increased improvement
• Helps justify actions to others for validation, increased support, and future resources.
Develop an Effective Evaluation
To develop an effective evaluation, you need to identify:
• Outputs and outcomes
• Baseline measurements
• Control groups.
Outputs
Outputs measure how an organization is doing things while outcomes are measures of how well an organization’s efforts work. Institutional change programs will likely have a number of short-term outputs and a few long-term outcomes. For any output, several metrics could be selected. Output metrics help determine the effectiveness of the process. Outcome metrics help determine the effectiveness of the intervention itself. However, output metrics are tied to outcomes, so it’s not an either/or situation—it’s a both/and situation.
Baseline Measurements
Setting a baseline of current energy or resource use is essential to determining the extent to which a program or intervention is successful. Without a baseline it is not possible to determine whether an action has any effect. One important component in measuring the baseline is to do so before beginning the implementation. This way, evaluation is a program activity that is part of your overall program plan, not an after-the-fact analysis.
Control Groups
Data on output metrics will inform you of whether anything is changing relative to the baseline. An important question to ask is whether your program implementation is causing the change. Perhaps the best way to evaluate the impacts of an organization’s implementation activities is to use a control group of employees. This control group would be employees with similar characteristics and elements to measure who are not aware of, or affected by, the program input. It is not always possible to establish a clear control group different from the test group but look for opportunities to use test or control groups when possible. Thoughtful program design and implementation using these types of techniques can make an evaluation accurate, effective, and convincing.
Keep in mind that programmatic impacts may take some time to develop, so it is important to allow the change to take effect before taking measurements. Make sure to establish a data collection plan that allows for this time lag.
Adjust Actions and Goals
Impact evaluations gauge changes from the start of an intervention, including the amount of energy, resources, or money saved. Process evaluations seek to identify the ways in which an implementation process can be made more efficient and effective. Process evaluations facilitate lesson learning and the establishment of best practices that organizations can apply.
Measurement and evaluation naturally lead to modifications to implementation efforts, goal redefinition, and the establishment of new goals. Therefore, measurement and evaluations are crucial to a cycle of continuous improvement.
Next Step: Repeat the Cycle for Continuous Improvement
The next step is to cycle back to Step 1. This time, refine or set new goals. This practice embodies the Continuous Change Principle. Periodically repeat the steps in the institutional change process for continuous change. Doing so will help ensure that the goals remain valid, that the action plan is still appropriate for your organization, and, most importantly, that interventions are resulting in measurable progress toward your sustainability goals.
• Step 1: Determine Goals
• Step 2: Assess Institutional Rules, Roles, and Tools
• Step 3: Develop an Action Plan
• Step 4: Implement an Action Plan
• Step 5: Measure and Evaluate
Writing a good action plan is one thing; implementing it is another. Institutional change principles and methods can be incorporated into action plans (program design), but on-the-ground implementation activities must also be conducted in a manner that is suitable to the organizational context and the people in the roles being targeted.
Action plans lay out the set of strategies a federal agency will roll out over time to instigate, sustain, and, potentially, extend its energy or sustainability goals. How the program will be implemented is as important as what will be implemented.
For instance, if the launch of the program makes a big splash but employees don’t believe that the leadership who gives the speeches won’t “walk the walk,” the program likely will be less than optimally effective at the start. (If that’s the case, choose credible roll-out leaders, even if they are not top management.) If there is a mechanism for eliciting employee ideas but never any follow-through, that channel for building momentum will be lost over time. (If there is no mechanism to adopt new ideas and give credit to employees, choose another strategy.) Implementation also involves metrics for such elements such as:
• Communicating the current situation (the baseline): The quality of the upfront diagnostic analysis is crucial to both the program design and the implementation process. Involved staff need to know the agency’s starting point, goals, and how progress will be measured.
• Evaluating progress toward achieving goals: How will targeted employees know that the agency has taken action and that those actions are resulting in reduced energy and water use? Feedback in energy and water use reports, recognition for achievements, and new goals and activities are all important. These mechanisms convey to employees a seriousness about achieving sustainability goals and indicate that the agency’s involvement is long-term.
• Identifying where improvements or refinements are needed.
Case Studies
The following case studies illustrate some elements of initiatives agencies and organizations have implemented in moving toward their energy or sustainability goals. They reference relevant institutional change principles and how the rules, roles, and tools that constitute institutional context come into play. Use these examples to think through how to implement institutional change.
• IBM: Driving Operation Changes through an Energy Monitoring System
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Connecting Sustainability to the Agency’s Mission
• U.S. Navy: Data, Feedback, and Awareness Lead to Big Energy Savings
• U.S. Postal Service–Lean Green Teams
• Enabling Sustainable Acquisition by Improving Procurement Systems
• Rock the Watt: An Energy Conservation Campaign at Pacific Northwest National Lab
• U.S. Forest Service’s Power-IT-Down Program:
For more information about how to implement institutional change, read Finding the Right Place to Start Change.
Next Step
The next step is to measure and evaluate to gauge effectiveness and identify where refinements are needed.
• Step 1: Determine Goals
• Step 2: Assess Institutional Rules, Roles, and Tools
• Step 3: Develop an Action Plan
• Step 4: Implement an Action Plan
• Step 5: Measure and Evaluate
After establishing goals and assessing the rules, roles, and tools, you can develop an action plan (select the strategies that will be implemented over time to achieve and maintain energy and sustainability goals).
This action plan should target specific audiences with tailored strategies and take into account the need to review and revise strategies in the long-term. The action plan must include appropriate metrics and regular measurement. Remember that planning useful efficiency and sustainability evaluation is necessary before an organization begins to implement an action plan.
When developing your action plan:
• Articulate your energy or sustainability goal—setting specific, measurable, and verifiable metrics
• Identify linkages among resources, activities, and outcomes—as well as gaps or disconnects that need to be addressed—through your analysis of institutional context
• Tie your plan directly into the goals and metrics you established and select strategies that help you change particular groups’ behavior to achieve those goals.
When you start developing your action plan, use several proven strategies for effecting institutional change, tailored for your context of rules, roles and tools.
• Step 1: Determine Goals
• Step 2: Assess Institutional Rules, Roles, and Tools
• Step 3: Develop an Action Plan
• Step 4: Implement an Action Plan
• Step 5: Measure and Evaluate
After determining your institutional change sustainability goals, the next step is to analyze the context within which these goals are to be achieved.
Start by assessing the organizational rules, roles, and tools that shape the current context and may influence success in achieving these goals. Assessing the linkages among rules, roles, and tools and how they interact will help in implementing solutions for success.
Learn more about:
• Rules: The formal and informal rules that affect workplace behavior
• Roles: The people within an organization who are important to achieving and maintaining sustainability goals
• Tools: Workplace technologies, systems, and processes used to meet particular needs.
Next Step
After assessing the rules, roles, and tools that may affect the institutional change, you are ready to take the third step to develop an action plan.
• Step 1: Determine Goals
• Step 2: Assess Institutional Rules, Roles, and Tools
• Step 3: Develop an Action Plan
• Step 4: Implement an Action Plan
• Step 5: Measure and Evaluate

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