Not long ago a few of us from the Forest Service Southwest Region and the Intermountain Region spent a day with Ed Quevedo from WSP Environmental
What a refreshing break from the usual hum-drum tedium of EMS in the US Forest Service — the stuff I've been blogging here for some months. Instead of focusing on a burdensome employee centered process, Quevedo stressed the importance of top management in the process. He stressed the need to carefully design, review, and improve decision-making and policy-making processes. He stressed the importance of culturing auditors intent on furthering education and organizational learning rather than accepting (and/or fearing) auditors who focus to tightly on "compliance" and "conformance" particulars.
The approach was fine-tuned to public engagement and organizational learning as driven by leadership, not followership. All of it was structured to empower employees without mposing undue burdens on any--in particular on, say, EMS coordinators.
Quevedo talked about those few EMS centered organizations who look beyond and transcend the ISO 140001 Standard, rather than focusing all the organizational time and energy on the guts of the "standard" and on nit-picky conformance/compliance requirements.
What Quevedo did not do, was to denigrate the ISO Standard or the EMS process. The focus was on developing and managing an EMS that works with and for the organization, rather than focusing on how to develop and maintain a 14001 standard-driven process that tends to work on the organization.
Quevedo talked about things like "ecological footprint," three types of "capital" (natural, human, and financial) and how each contributed uniquely to organizational processes. He talked a good line about quality improvement. His words were music to our ears. But we have not yet seen his words in action. For that we need to watch closely what the White River NF in Region 2 is up to, working in conjunction with WSP Environmental. And we need to roll up our sleeves here in Regions 3 and 4 to see what our pilot forests will develop as we do the same.
And we need to keep our ears to the ground to see what develops from the discussions going on right now in the "EMS lessons learned workshop" in Tucson, AZ. I'll try to work up a post on that and what I've gleaned from inquiries into the White River project soon.