Green flagship - a plan for disaster

Centre-of-excellence or silliness ex-centre ?

Here's how it often starts ...

The political elite of a faceless corporation gather round the table and say..."We need to spin some good news and we need it fast" - "So how do we do it?"

A few blank faces look down but no blank cheques are offered. The plan is to cook up some nonsense that sounds good, ideally looks good for long enough and costs very little indeed. In other words a Green Centre of Excellence is a great place to tell some tall-tales.

This may one-day divert attention from the hideous environmental super-whoopsie that "faceless corporation" knows some gutter-scraping journalists probably intend to pass off as corporate irresponsibility. 

So to have a timely fluff piece held up their sleeve is nothing if not cheap insurance and jolly sound corporate governance to boot.

OK so maybe I am ladling the cynicisms rather heavily, and many of our clients are huge corporations - and many really do their best and invest in the process -

BUT, the "Corporate Centre of Excellence / Green Flagship"  yarn is getting a little long in the tooth to be told as News.  So I'm going to tell it my way...

They go wrong - ( without fail ? - comments welcome ) and this is why...

First of all as George Orwell showed in his parody of communism, there is equality and there is super-equality (where super means above not more).  A flagship (until the rats leave) stays afloat, just as long as the admiral is on-board. Note - to lose the flag is as demotivating as it gets - followed by a guaranteed plummet in performance.

After the photo-call, press-conference and petite fours, the quick lick-of-paint soon flakes off as things get "thankfully back to normal" and the facility managers lets out a long sigh.

Next - consider that the budget to achieve magic at the Flagship had top-tier backing while it was "flavour of the day".  Three years later, out in the trenches, the time, resources, motivation and even general competence that grow up around a relatively high budget exercise just don't exist.

Now if you run a gazillion outlets that are a nightmare to manage, an idea some bright spark will offer sounds like this ...

"Why don't we find out what works once-and-for-all here, and then if it does work we can roll it out far and wide" 

is sadly inadequate.  The outlets are different from the head Office - Why are Head offices always chosen for flagships I wonder - rhetorically  

Oh and then there is corruption, mismanagement, misappropriation and general "I don't give a ...." to contend with. 

Bottom line - flagship "centres of excellence" sink to the bottom (for exactly the same reasons as they are suggested - expedience), but may in the interim temporarily surpass the flotsam of business as usual, at least long enough to spin out a good press release.

The alternative - Good engineering, intentionality, long-term benefits, better comfort and performance. And a corporate culture that is built on rock rather than whimsy!

Talk to your engineers, find out what they need, challenge them, decide, deliver AND FOLLOW THROUGH !