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System Approach to Management

A system approach is identifying, understanding, and managing integrated and interdependent processes and their risks that contribute to the organization's environmental management system effectiveness.

Reviewing the inputs and outputs of each process as only a section of the company as a whole contributes to understanding the effects on other processes within the organization. This approach helps managers avoid analyzing problems in isolation.

The most common system model used for environmental management is the ISO 14001. There have been other models, such as the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and the Responsible Care model, developed by the American Chemical Council (ACC).

Many organizations, when implementing their environmental management system (EMS) to ISO 14001 requirements, have used the PDCA methodology, based on Deming's “Plan-Do-Check-Act,” implemented in post-WWII Japan.

The focus in the twenty-first century has been on the environmental revolution, and the ISO management system's emphasis has been on continual improvement. In 1995, I developed the Three-Step Process: Identify, Insure, Improve™ for management system implementation. These three steps can be applied not only to quality but also to implementation of an environmental management system (see Figure 7.1).

FIGURE 7.1

SYSTEM APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT

Focus: Environment – Prevention of Pollution

1 Do you view the environmental management system (EMS) meeting ISO 14001 as an advantage for you in improving your organization's business sustainability? How?

2 Has the company adopted the ISO 14001 standard as its business management system for managing its environmental issues?

3 Does top management understand the requirements of the standard? How has this been confirmed?

4 Does top management understand the benefits of a system approach following international standards?

5 Do you have a separate management system structure to manage environmental issues or have you integrated environmental issues into your business management system framework?

a. Integrated with occupational health and safety

b. Integrated with quality, environment, health and safety

6 What opportunities does the EMS create for the company?

7 What low-hanging fruit has your company worked on for environmental improvement?

8 To understand your system approach has your company done process mapping?

9 Did you engage your internal/external stakeholders in the identification of environmental risks and programs tied with your process?

10 I s your system approach transparent to your engaged stakeholders?

11 Do you integrate your environmental management with your quality and health and safety? Why? Why not?

12 Do you have an integrated management system in place now? If not, do you think an integrated management system will remove duplication of activities and documents?

 
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