Sould There Be an I in Team When Addressing Environmental Issues

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Should there be an i in ‘Team’ When Confronting Environmental Issues? A team can be described as a group of 2 or more inter-dependent people who interact and influence one another while working together to achieve a common purpose or result (Fullerton, 2008). When tackling environmental issues should we try to address the problems that we face from an interdisciplinary’ team’ perspective? Should we come together, to create a revolution in the world that we live? Or do we fail as a team in addressing this issue? Should we instead try to approach the problem as individual leaders, motivated by the small changes that are possible on an individual level? In this paper our approach in tackling environmental issues will be critiqued. Difficulties in confronting the problem will be highlighted and finally some suggestions for change will be provided. Matters relating to the environment have taken on increasing importance over the past 10 to 15 years. And so it should. When faced with the crisis related to global warming (i.e. floods and droughts, rising of global sea levels, and the extinction of animal and plant species), we soon realize that we have reached a point where we are forced to stand back and evaluate how we operate in our daily activities, both in business and at home. Environmental change is often addressed as an interdisciplinary ‘team’ effort – drastic change is needed and it will require the convergence of societal groups to undo the damage that has been created by the industrial and global era. Peter Senge (2008), in his book ‘The Necessary Revolution’ speaks of an environmental change created by individuals and organizations that work together to create a sustainable world. Acting as an interdisciplinary ‘team’ to solve the environmental problem has produced many successful stories of change (i.e. Nike, Dupont, Xerox). However, there have also been failures – especially on an individual level. As individuals we fail to make the smallest of changes, yet we set the bar high and make big demands on corporations to reduce their carbon footprint. We can find an example of these individual failures in our very own backyard. Everyday thousands of disposable coffee cups make their way to a landfill contributed by our very own students and faculty. And this is not due to a lack of alternatives. Reusable coffee mugs have been on the market for at least the past 20years. In an era where environmental issues are at the forefront, we are faced with a problem that could easily be addressed and solved yet we neglect to. Why? If we are part of the societal ‘team’ that are going to come together and tackle the complex environmental issues – how is it that we fail to conquer a problem where the solution is well known, inexpensive, and easily accessible? If we cannot make this minor adjustment in our lives, how can we expect society as a whole to come together to tackle the complex environmental crisis that we face? Do we have too many teams and not enough leaders?...or are we acting too independently in addressing the issue lending to a lack of commitment, consistency, cooperation, and process focus - omitting some of the key elements which lead to a team’s success (Fullerton, 2008). Success of teams is evident in many places especially in sports. However, as noted by Johns (2007) “In sports, successful teams have a game plan” (p4). According to Marsh (2008), “a plan begins with an explicit stated objective that is worth doing. The statement of objective(s) is followed by a list of each of the tasks necessary to successfully achieve the objective. Each task is described, along with an estimate of the required resources, who has primary responsibility for the task, what the deliverable or outcome is, and when the task must be completed...” In addressing environmental issues as part of a global team, it may be that the game plan is not always clear. Without a plan we lack objectives and time lines. This leaves us with...
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