Overview of what IndEco's all about
IndEco Strategic Consulting Inc (IndEco) is a team of dedicated professionals who help your organization facilitate, manage and adapt to the major changes society will be going through in the next couple of decades. Our primary focus areas are energy and the environment, and we provide advice and tools to assist you to address these changes by:
- identifying and understanding the needed and inevitable changes
- developing strategic plans or public policies to address these changes
- designing and managing implementation initiatives to realize these plans.
Through our work, we strive towards three goals:
- ensuring the success of your organization, and that of your team
- improving society
- developing IndEco and the individuals within IndEco.
Each person on the IndEco staff is committed to these goals, and believes that they are fully compatible. Achieving them requires that clients and staff work in partnership to improve understanding, prepare for acting, and ensure actions are effective. We use a systems approach to promote understanding, strategic planning to move from understanding to action, and project management, monitoring and evaluation to ensure actions are effective.
A changing world
We are living in an exciting time. In the next few decades we can expect major changes:
- Demographic -- the world population of 7.0 billion people is expected to grow to 8.3 billion people by 2030. This has major implications on the demand for goods and services and environmental impacts because of the pattern of population and economic growth, and the distribution of economic activity. Within developed countries, like Canada and the United States, growth will be much slower, and the aging population will create social and economic tensions.
- Environmental -- greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase dramatically around the world, driven by the rising population, and rising economic wealth. Yet stabilizing atmospheric concentrations at 2000 levels will require reductions in emissions of 50 to 85%. In addition, we continue to be challenged by toxic materials, habitat loss, and other environmental issues.
- Social -- there are major differences in wealth both within and across countries. Globally, almost one in seven persons suffers from hunger or malnutrition, and it is the number one risk to health worldwide. And the number of people who are hungry is growing, in spite of nations agreeing through the Millennium Development Goal number 1 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Within developed countries, there are significant parts of the population for whom the coming changes will create difficulties, for example employment impacts from economic restructuring, and rising energy prices.
- Economic -- rapid economic development is anticipated in the coming decades, particularly in China, India and other emerging economies, and can be expected to result in shifts in the balance of economic power. While developed countries continue the shift to post-industrial economies, there is the opportunity and need for a new industrial revolution introducing new technologies, and new sources of energy. There are also growing opportunities for market growth and development at the base of the pyramid, among the poor who were, until recently, ignored by markets. Investors will be looking for ways of capturing these opportunities, will be favouring organizations that address social and environmental issues, or both.
- Geo-political -- addressing continuing geo-political instability will require new strategies, flexibility and vigilance.
In addition to these macro, global issues, major changes can be anticipated at local levels.
Why is a systems approach special and necessary?
It is likely that your organization is no longer confronted with ‘problems’. Rather, you probably face what Russell Ackoff has called ‘messes’, which he defines as a complex system of strongly interacting problems. The only way to grapple with these messes is in a systematic way, often by stepping outside the mess itself to understand the system of which it is a part, and its interactions with other systems.
A systems approach addresses challenges comprehensively, looking at causes, and not just symptoms, and anticipating possible side effects of ‘solutions’.
In many cases, that also means looking at the ‘mess’ from multiple perspectives, considering technological dimensions; economic, financial and market dimensions; behavioural, regulatory and organizational dimensions; and ecological dimensions.
Why should you be interested in strategic planning?
Strategic planning sets the overall direction of your organization. It deals with the development of a mission statement or organizational objectives which lay out the framework for your business planning. Our unique contribution to this field is that we are able to assist you in the development of strategic planning processes which effectively integrate environmental considerations into your planning process and which are appropriately tailored to the special characteristics and needs of your organization.
How do you ensure your actions are effective?
Being effective requires that you identify the right goals, targets and actions, and that you follow-through on these. Needs for following-through and ensuring effectiveness will vary from project to project, client to client but often include:
- ensuring ongoing commitment of your management and your team and good communication mechanisms, focusing on the end result
- careful program design, recognizing opportunities and barriers within your organization and within the market
- developing appropriate metrics to assess progress
- project management tools that are appropriate for the complexity of the undertaking
- on-going evaluation, and -- where required -- course correction mechanisms
- post-completion evaluation, and documentation of lessons learned.
We work with you to develop an effective implementation program that incorporates each of these elements.
A bit about our history and our name
IndEco Strategic Consulting was founded in 1994, and “IndEco” is a contraction of INDustrial ECOlogy. When the firm was founded, it was clear that business would be playing an important and growing role in shaping the changes that society needs to ensure a better integration of the environment and the economy, particularly -- but not exclusively -- as it relates to society’s use of energy. We were convinced then, as now, that a systems approach to understanding and acting on this integration is crucial, and this is one of the foundations of industrial ecology. We were fortunate enough to have clients with problems that could be addressed with some of the tools of industrial ecology, including material and energy flow analysis, life-cycle assessment, and input-output analysis.
As client needs and our work evolved, our toolset expanded, while in the broader world, industrial ecology came increasingly to be associated with a set of specific tools, including the ones mentioned above, and eco-industrial parks. Further we moved from focusing primarily on research and planning to also doing program design, delivery and evaluation.