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Vancouver Makes a Bright Green Future its Official Goal

Vancouver just released its new city strategy, titled Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future (PDF), and it's a bold step forward (as well as a flattering adoption of our bright green frame):

We envision a bright green future that couples economic prosperity, health, and happiness with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. We envision less pollution and cleaner air, less machine noise and more birdsong, less pavement and more green space, fewer sick days and healthier people. We want to send a clear and compelling message to the world: prosperity and environmental stewardship can be partners, not opposing forces. We can meet the challenge of climate change in ways that will improve the quality of life for our children, and our children’s children.

The plan's central, measurable goals include:

>eliminating fossil fuels by 2040

>reducing greenhouse gas emissions 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020

>cutting water use 1/3 by 2020

>cutting the carbon footprint of the city's food supply by 1/3

>creating 20,000 new green jobs by 2020

>making all new buildings carbon neutral while increasing existing building's efficiency by 20%

>making trips by foot, bike and transit the majority of all trips in the city

>cutting solid waste by 40%

>planting 150,000 trees

The goals are very much seen as a competitiveness strategy:

“These are undeniably bold for any city,” Robertson said. “They’re certainly achievable.” Many of the initiatives are underway in Northern European cities, the Mayor noted [which] means Vancouver is “playing catch-up”. But Robertson wants the west-coast metropolis to be a world leader in green urban strategies within one generation.

The gauntlet is thrown. Well done, Vancouver!

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Outstanding! Accolades to Vancouver.

May I introduce a broader framework and tool(s) for executing on Vancouver’s strategic intention. This framework has been used successfully around the world by complex commercial and governmental organizations to describe, measure, manage and adjust their strategies for success. One view of this framework is that it enables systems engineering of a given strategy.

Cities are enormously complex systems with interacting components. Achieving these targets will require ALIGNMENT of critical components [systems] within Vancouver [and beyond] so as to achieve clarity, focus, and synergy across multiple silo’s of interest and agenda.

Allow me to make a few assumptions, based on prior experience.

The city of Vancouver, as any city, is composed of vast numbers of subsidiary organizations, units, and functions – within city government and within the commercial enterprises and NGOs that have their own objectives, possibly conflicting with Vancouver’s admirable and desirable goals.

These organizations are led, managed and do their work through people who have their own personal agendas, most of whom operate within a performance management system that is silo’ed, cascaded within job families, and misaligned with the 10 long term strategic goals identified by Vancouver.

Thirty years of organizational consulting [the last 16 of which have been in CHINA] has taught me there is a methodology for creating alignment across conglomerate organizational units, but this methodology has yet to be applied to a city to achieve goals such as those specified by Vancouver 2020. In this comment, I will outline initial thoughts about how this might be accomplished, not for my own commercial interest, but for the greater good.

Vancouver’s ten long term goals and measurable targets can be viewed within a management tool called a STRATEGY MAP. Strategy maps are one page graphic illustrations of an organization [or city, state, country, world] entity’s key strategic objectives.

The objectives are usually organized into horizontal layers of categories called PERSPECTIVES, with higher level objectives as outcomes, and lower level objectives as critical enablers of those desired outcomes.

Vancouver has identified three higher level STRATEGIC THEMES
[objective arenas are in brackets]:
1 Green Economy, Green Jobs
[economy, leadership, buildings]
2 Green Community
[mobility, waste, access to nature, ecological footprint]
3 Human Health
[water, air, food]

The city targets are enormously ambitious and their attainability will be determined not only by funding and government policy, as well as innovation, diligent hard work, but also by the degree to which there is ALIGNMENT of other city level systems and policies with the 2020 strategy.

How to create that alignment? There is a way. We call it the Balanced Scorecard Methodology, and it is applied differently in China than in the developed world. In the US and elsewhere it is usually deployed though the performance management system, thereby cascading it within silo’ed functions, with suboptimal results. In China, we deploy it through organizational units, establishing vertical alignment first [top to bottom], and then doing a second iteration to establish HORIZONTAL ALIGNMENT, thereby dissolving some of the silo-ness that separates people and their organizational units from the strategy.

In the deployment process an OFFICE OF STRATEGY MANAGEMENT is created, which could be called, for a city, something like OFFICE of SUSTAINABILITY or Thrivability or anything that enables a conceptual understanding that this office cuts across all other functions, and is responsible, among other things, for ensuring each function, department, or subsidiary organization has objectives that are in alignment with the strategy. In this case, the V 2020 strategy.

Without this, suboptimal results are guaranteed, because of conflicting priorities, agendas and interests.

I will e-dialogue with any Worldchanging reader or Vancouverite, pro bono, to share how this might be accomplished.

The first published global strategy map [part of a 2 article series published in Cost Management, 2008] for balancing economic and environmental sustainability is available by request at . I don’t have a blog or domain established yet where I can share it. Publishers copyright restricts me from uploading it to a site that is not my “own” :-(

I am working now on the third article in the series. V 2020 will be a part of that article.

Visualize a diagram with 4 – 5 categories called Perspectives, that are horizontal rows. Economy/Jobs, Infrastructure and Food/Energy Water are in the top Perspective, called Sustainability [or ?Thrivability?] Outcomes.

There might need to be an intervening Perspective, but in the absence of more info, I would suggest the next Perspective would be called Driver Objectives. The three 2020 themes reside here [and emanate up to the desired outcomes]. [it occurs to me on a second read that Vancouver might want to publicize or "brand" their city and that activity and objective(s) could be included just below the crtical outcomes identified above]

City leaders would need to determine what are the enabling objectives that will make the most difference to achieving their desired outcomes at the top. These would be included in the second [or third] Perspective. Plus what other, lower level objectives fit here? Possibilities include several other critical objectives: Mobility, Waste, Access to Nature, Ecological Footprint, might fall in this Driver Objective Perspective.

Beneath it falls the third [or fourth] Perspective: Learning & Growth Enablers. This Perspective might include Leadership, Education, sharing of best practices. Operational issues for executing the city's strategy fall here, such as establishing measurement systems, establishing the Office of V 2020 [by whatever name] chartered with creating the alignment necessary for success, driving the monthly and/or quarterly reviews of progress, obtaining funding for critical initiatives, etc.

Finally the fourth [or fifth] Perspective might be called Financial & Policy Enablers. This is where the money and policies required to enable the Learning and Growth and Driver objectives to be achieved.

Each objective has either a measure or initiative(s) or both. Too many measures become confusing and make it a metrics project rather one focused on action, analysis, learning and recycling the process. An initiative is a finite project with a beginning and an end that is resourced with money, people and time. Some initiatives may evolve into operational processes that are maintained by someone’s job description, but job descriptions cannot be allowed to interfere with the strategy.

The strategy is paramount, with greater priority than one’s job description once a leader, manager, or staff person istasked with supporting the 2020 objectives.

All managers and employess can be tasked with supporting the strategy. The question arises, how? That is management. Each person should know the stratgy map for V 2020, and each subsidiary organization can establish its own strategy map [and balanced scorecard] in alignment with the top level strategy map. How each person can support or enable one or more of the critical objectives should be a part of the management process.

Welcome to managing the execution of sustainability strategy in the 21st century. [but I like Thrivability as a substitute, myself]

Irv Beiman, Ph.D.
Shanghai, China

Posted by: Irv Beiman on 20 Oct 09

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