It been a while since I have been in the office consistently, I have missed a day due to being sick and then the office was closed another Friday due to an all staff meeting, then I forgot to write last week, so I have not had much to write about in the ‘blog-o-sphere’, which is what I am told ‘this’ is. A couple reoccurring themes have emerged in the recent weeks since I have been back to work that are worth noting. All of them pertain more to an organization’s work environment then and the actual work I am doing.
The actual work I am doing is continuing to do research for our ‘product library’ and I have also been put in charge of doing research on distributed generation, or renewable energy generation in residential applications as well as energy efficiency measures. This is where most of my interest lies and the subject that I have been doing a lot of personal research(yes I am a geek) on lately. Through my research I have found two things. 1) I would like to go back to school (eventually) and get a joint MBA+MS in power engineering, which is a type of engineering that is concerned with energy generation and transmission and 2) I have found an organization that is as innovative and groundbreaking much like GRT, but they focus on many types of energy usage specifically transportation. Its called the Rocky Mountain Institutes (rmi.org).
Back to the subject…work environment…there have been a couple themes emerging. The first is that even a large city such as Boston I have found that networks of professionals in industries is quiet small. This is something that you always hear in class, on TV and the like, but until you witness it, it doesn’t really sink in. Two opportunities have arisen, both of which have been very helpful. The first is in relation to a business that I am starting, I won’t go into the details, as I was alerted there is a link to this blog in NY Times online, but we can just say it is related to transportation. Anyway, so I’m putting a team together, both external and internal, to build credibility, experience, etc. So, I had a conversation with Barbra, the women who runs the GRT, and she was very helpful both in her advice, as she is very entrepreneurial and is going to put me in touch with people who might be interested. The lesson I learned is that it’s always good to talk about your concept with everyone and get as much feedback as possible and you never know who you are going to be talking to or who they know.
The second opportunity came from asking people what they did before they worked at GRT, I found that a couple of people had worked at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative; I believe I mentioned this before, in one of my last blogs. However, I have talked with more people and found that there funding has increased since a new bill has passed the state government and that the agency is expanding and looking to hire. So I found some contacts within the organization and contacted them to talk with them about MTC to see if it is a place where I would be interested in interning, etc.
The other item I noticed was the importance of employees doing what they enjoy and the increase in productivity an organization will notice from having its employee belief in the cause. People and employees specifically, like to contribute to something larger than themselves. With the GRT, all of the employees are responsible for savings a lot of energy and reducing pollution with their everyday work, they are leading the green building movement. I can see the benefits in the higher quality of life of employees, the good work environment, and collaborative culture. It is very clear that the culture is centered on collaboration as everyone is working to a goal they really believe in and not just for a paycheck.
I think this is a really important characteristic to keep in mind when working at or starting any organization. Again, it is one of those things that you always hear but don’t understand until you see it. Well, this is the first time that I have noticed it, and it makes total sense. After all, humans have many more physiological needs then simply having food and shelter, and being a part of a group or movement that is something larger than themselves is one of the ‘higher level’ needs of people. This is something that is very valuable to tap into with people and something that all ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ companies, or more traditional companies could use and have the potential to but may not be.
Take insurance for example, it is something that seems very boring, conservative, etc. However, I’m sure that insurance companies could find stories of their insurance programs savings peoples’ lives, ie, if the people didn’t have insurance they would have died. This information could surely be conveyed to the workforce; so that employees feel there work contributes to something larger than themselves. Perhaps some already do this internally, if not, they could surely benefit from it. I think one difficulty would be quantifying the results. Then again, if the organization needs to quantify the results of increasing the happiness, quality of life , and thus productivity of their workforce, it might not be such a good place to work anyway.