For two months in the fall of 2019, I worked as a “cellar rat” in a custom crush winery in Napa, California. The days were long, physical and exhausting. I learned a tremendous amount about the passion, effort, and technical know-how that goes into a good bottle of wine. I will cherish many memories from those two months. However, what I continue to consider most are the philosophies embodied within my hosts, Scot & Allison, the husband/ wife duo behind the organic sustainable winery, Mountain Tides.
Scott & Allison were in the early stages of a mission that they will continue for the rest of their lives. A mission that, up until a recent operations lecture, I did not have the perfect word for. Kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement. It is often applied conceptually in business activities as a philosophy of continuously improving functions, most often in supply chain and operations. But for Scott & Allison, the concept of Kaizen was not limited to honing and improving processes within their business operations. They incorporated this concept of continuous improvement into the daily lives relative to their environmental impact.
Incorporating sustainable measures in my personal and professional life has been a matter of growing importance for me. Upon arriving at IMD, I was eager to involve myself with the sustainability committee. This is a group of MBAs who work with IMD to help further sustainability measures on campus and within the program.
The Sustainability Committee: Setika Gupta, Dmitry Koval, Doug Petry, Rita Yuan and Sebastian Rosas Solari
This year, we have adopted this concept of kaizen as we plan out our objectives for the coming year. What is paramount for us is fashioning an objective that builds upon the work done by last year’s committee. We want to ensure that we will be creating change that has a lasting effect. In particular, continuing the waste reduction initiatives that were started last year, while looking for further ways to expand on those efforts.
For us, that means taking those initiatives off campus and into the homes of the MBAs. One such initiative is developing Living Sustainably in Lausanne tips as part of the welcome packet for all incoming MBAs. This document will provide necessary information on composting, recycling, and waste. It will also highlight tips for reducing waste and living sustainably at home.
When I reflect on my own sustainability journey – both personally and here at IMD – I now consider it relative to the concept of Kaizen that Scott and Allison embodied. I believe that we all have a personal responsibility to consider the environment in our decisions and actions. As future business leaders, it is imperative that we bring this ethos into our professional lives as well. While ambitious plans touting carbon neutrality goals or waste elimination targets grab headlines, it is adopting an improvement mindset like that of Kaizen that transforms these lofty goals into an achievable reality. I am hopeful for the lasting impact these small initiatives at IMD will be able to have moving forward.