Product Stewardship Initiatives: Start Today; Thank Yourself Tomorrow
July 12th, 2018
Ying Chien Liao
Product Stewardship—it’s complicated.
It requires reviewing the entire life cycle of a product chain from raw material selection to semifinished goods manufacturing to finished goods production to distribution to usage to storage and even to disposal. Product Stewardship also includes such activities as raw-material screening, hazard evaluating, regulatory reporting, Safety Data Sheet authoring, labeling and exposure-scenario developing.
So how can a company successfully manage and sustain all these regulatory-driven activities while remaining competitive in the marketplace? Glad you asked.
‘Do Something Today’
My eyebrows raised when I walked into my office recently and found a sign that said “Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For” pinned to my cubicle. I wanted to identify the culprit who seemed to be suggesting that I should go on a diet. As I courageously asked around, my colleagues seemed amused. They were astonished by how I got such a positive message twisted. I explained to them that I had missed the point of this “motivational” work-related message because of my current needs, experiences and goals.
As a Product Stewardship project manager, I partner with clients to implement an effective hazard communication management system and deliver compliant safety documents cost-effectively while achieving an overarching goal of product safety and regulatory compliance. This can only be accomplished by understanding our clients’ business needs and assisting them in their pursuit of sustainability. I realized that Product Stewardship management and performance, very much like the inspirational poster that was given to me, cannot rely on motivation only.
According to “Theories of Motivation,” a chapter in the textbook “Organizational Behavior,” which cites information previously written by T.R. Mitchell in 1982 as well as L.W. Porter and E.E. Lawler in 1968, “Job performance is viewed as a function of three factors”: motivation, ability and environment (see below). The same is true for program performance. While business motivation drives goal-directed performance, it is not enough to achieve and sustain long-term success. Organizations must effectively involve stakeholders and talents with domain knowledge and skill sets to foster a supporting and process-efficient environment.
So how can a company effectively manage and sustain its Product Stewardship efforts? The answer might sound familiar: with the integration of motivation, ability and environment.
- Understand the Ultimate Motivation
Product Stewardship is an integral part of your business. Companies should recognize that Product Stewardship has evolved from simply being a necessity to operate a business to a corporate social responsibility that, ultimately, leads to product innovation and business opportunities.
- Synergize Core Abilities
The most meaningful and effective initiatives are those specific to an organization, its activities and its impacts, which are genuinely supported by its stakeholders.
Product Stewardship management requires collaboration between a vast professional network that encompasses business, marketing, R&D, regulatory and IT specialists. Organizations tend to view stakeholders as individuals or teams. It is important to understand and manage the interdependency of the community. The alignment of stakeholder values with your key motivations is one of the key takeaways when assessing your corporate ability.
- Build a Sustainable Environment
Product Stewardship activities may be managed in several projects and processes tailored to the organizational business model. The performance of these initiatives is optimized when companies provide a communicative, resourceful, supportive and process-driven environment. The deployment of automated solutions often streamlines these requirements by delivering simplicity, transparency and centralization. However, to ensure sustainability, the Product Stewardship management solutions must be adaptive and scalable to support business growth while coping with the constant technology and regulation changes.
A partnership between subject-matter experts and a software service provider whose collective years of experience and exposure to different industries can contribute to engaging your network by building a collaborative community and sustainable environment that can augment your Product Stewardship ability.
Companies that successfully implement, manage and sustain their Product Stewardship initiatives can improve their market competitiveness by benefiting in one of the following ways as identified by the Association of the Dutch Chemical Industry (VNCI) and the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC):
- Increased confidence in the company by its timely and systematic identification of product risks, and the management of those risks from the perspective of the chain.
- The systematic identification and efficient accommodation of the demand for new products with improved safety, health and Environmental Performance.
- The timely observation of an adequate response to new regulations.
- The improvement of the company’s reputation among customers, authorities and the public.
Effective Product Stewardship management will depend on the extent to which three key components are integrated: motivation, ability, and environment. Our team of product compliance experts, supported by our market-leading software and regulatory content, can assist you in excelling in your Product Stewardship initiatives, which will ensure you have the ability and environment when and where you need it. In other words: Do something today that your future self will thank you for.