Why You Need a Chief Green Officer

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The C-suite is a well-known grouping of your company’s highest echelon. The CEO, CFO, and – in recent years – the CIO all handle the broad strokes of their areas within the organization. Sometimes these C-level officers are created with an individual in mind. For instance, Bill Gates turned over his CEO duties to become Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect (which I suspect is a way of saying “I founded this company, but I want to spend more time counting my money – keep cutting me a check and no one gets hurt”). But some are crafted with a specific organizational need in mind.

The problem with greening your organization in general and your IT department in particular is that so many people see just part of the company, and it’s hard to see what else is going on. That is, while you may be making changes to your IT department, you may not see how changes by the accounting department affect your efforts – or how your changes can help other departments. This is where a Chief Green Officer (CGO) comes in. The CGO isn’t going to be doing green efforts in addition to his or her regular job – it is all he or she will do. And it’s important to be able to coordinate efforts between your organization’s departments.

The CGO isn’t just reading from the company’s greening plan. This person also needs to have their nose stuck into the daily activities of the organization’s various departments. The CGO will also be responsible for environmental stewardship, corporate communications, strategic partnerships, and product development.

With all this responsibility, the door seems wide open for a huge and bloated green staff. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Rather, the CGO needs to have strong relationships with the department heads, and a program management office should be established. The management team can then guide programs that are developed.

The CGO, ultimately, is going to be responsible for three things:

* Reducing the organization’s environmental footprint

* Engaging diverse stakeholders

* Discovering new revenue opportunities

Another benefit of having a CGO is that forward momentum can be maintained. That is, let’s say you’ve decided to green your datacenter and have decided to virtualize. After getting the work done, you might be content to sit back, congratulate yourself and get on with your job. The reality is that even though you’ve greened your datacenter (nice job, by the way) there are still other things that need to be done. You can install better clients, address your storage network, and continue to tweak your datacenter. A CGO’s job will be figuring out what to do next. The CGO is also accountable – if milestones aren’t reached, he or she is the one who takes the heat.

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