The purpose of this report is to determine how managers at MetroRail can achieve ecologically sustainable management values and practices utilising planning and controlling methods, while running and maintaining a metropolitan rail network.
This report will analyse initiatives higher level management at MetroRail can consider in order to achieve ecologically sustainable management, due to investment in new rolling stock and expansion of rail network. The report will look at strategies MetroRail can adopt to run an environmentally friendly transport service with minimal carbon footprint.
The information used in this report will use ecological sustainable management values and practices. To facilitate these value and practices, the use of tools such as management planning and organising will be used by MetroRail.
It is assumed that MetroRail’s environmental vision has been promoted to all employees. The policy statement is to establish MetroRail’s environmental commitments and provides the basis for setting our environmental objectives and targets. This policy will pursue policies that protect the global and local environment and those that are consistent with principles of ecologically sustainable development.
This report is limited by its focus on planning and controlling of ecological sustainable management values and practices to satisfy this report’s requirements. In addition, only key elements within planning and control have been addressed. Organisational and leadership functions are also represented within MetroRail, however these will not be included in this report.
MetroRail is a state run corporation in the state of Queensland, providing passenger rail services covering suburban Brisbane and extending to south western, western, central west and northern regions of Queensland.
MetroRail plans to expand its network as part of the Federal Government Nation Building – Economic Stimulus Plan, with further investment in new rolling stock to cater for the growing demand for clean, reliable, passenger rail services.
This report will first discuss the importance of ecologically sustainable management values and practices before discussing planning and controlling methods utilised to achieve their nominated functions. Several practical and theoretical concepts will be outlined to management on different proposals to be taken. A summary of recommendations and justification will be presented at the conclusion of this report.
2.1 Importance of Ecologically Sustainable Management Values and Practices
The introduction of new rolling stock and expansion of rail network raises the need for MetroRail to recognise the growing need for more ecologically sustainable management practices, Robbins, Bergman, Stagg and Coulter (2009). As a result, both state and federal Government have required MetroRail to review its environmental policies and strategies to be eligible for grant funding.
Sustainability has become an important value in many corporate cultures, however implementing this concept has been very challenging (Esquer-Peralta, Velazquez and Munguia, 2008). This could be due to sustainability having various meanings according to the interest, needs, and values of different societies.
Planning is an approach to establishing the long-term future of an organisation and then moving that organisation in an appropriate direction to achieve the future. (Bell, 2002). Through planning a strategy can be developed on the concerns about organisation’s impact on the natural environment (Robbins et al., p.175).
By clearly outlining the ecological sustainable management values of the organisation it can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the company by providing focus and direction (Hamel and Prahalad, 1994).
Goals are specific, measurable outcomes that you want to achieve in the next week, month, year, and five years (Chang, 2005).
As MetroRail is a government corporation, its goals are set by the state and federal governments. However as governments can change during election periods, MetroRail must be able to set its own goals. These goals must be measurable, an example of a rail company setting goals is CityRail in New South Wales of Australia. The 2009 Customer Charter outlines their specific goals for improving customer service over the next three years, coupled with tangible actions that will directly benefit customers over the next 12 months (CityRail, 2009).
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Within planning there are two major types of planning that affects a company. Strategic planning is a process of deciding in advance what kind of planning effort is to be undertaken, when it is to be done, who is going to do it, and what will be done with the results (Frank Harrison, 1999). Top level managers such as Chief Engineers, Chief Technology officer and the Department of Transport are usually involved in strategic planning for the corporation. Operation planning is the other type of planning. Manager at both middle and lower levels perform operation planning in order to define the specific tactics and action steps needed to accomplish the goals specified by top management (Morrisey, 1996).
Management at MetroRail needs to set clear goals in regards as to how they will expand their current rolling stock, network, and maintaining its existing infrastructure. These goals need to be strategically planned along with operation planning to achieve realistic targets. An example of such goals is to ensure all future rolling stock does not consume more electricity than current rolling stock while featuring extra security features. One way to achieve such a goal is to ensure all new rolling stock is equipped with regenerative braking. This will ensure less wear and tear on brakes as well as less power consumption.
Strategic planning brings about an integrated perspective of the company, a foresight of the company’s direction that is built upon experience and hard data from research (Schmetterer, 2003). Collecting these ideas as building blocks is instrumental to the development of strategic plans. Mintzberg (1994) insightfully said, “The big picture is painted with little strokes”.
There are a number of tools to formulate an effective strategy. Research can be used to see how other companies go about tackling their ecological sustainable management practices. However research in the organisation itself is vital to understand if its current policies and missions are adhered to. Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis helps identify where MetroRail is performing well in its environmental policies and where improvements need to be targeted at.
Upon completion of a SWOT analysis, the three key points, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat must be carefully taken into account when setting up ecological management values and practices. A strategy on how to lower MetroRail’s carbon footprint must be developed with industry and community consultation.
Management must set boundaries on available resources, such as human resources, budget and facilities before a strategy can be formalised. If MetroRail does not have the necessary resources to initiate environmentally friendly initiatives, it must find ways to implement the strategy with its limited resources. If it cannot allocate the resources to the initiatives, it may need to reduces its goals or form an alliance with key industry partners to get the resource it requires.
A key strategy for MetroRail in ecologically sustainable management practices is to ensure the procurement of all equipment, services and resources have the environment in mind. An example would be to purchase a portion of energy to come from renewable sources. MetroRail is committed to becoming a carbon neutral company through policies the management sets. MetroRail’s environmental policy needs to be filtered through the company to ensure all employees continuously strive to improve its environmental performance.
Many of the key strategies are developed by full time planners who would develop business strategies. Mintzberg (1994) points out, one of the key weaknesses of this approach was that the strategic planners, while being superior analysts of hard business data, were outsiders of various business functions. As such, many plans devised by these strategists were poor.
In order to create the most effective strategic planning strategies, each specific business or activities is to be planned by those involved with the particular business and activities. Higher level management should only initiate policies and ideas. This paradigm shifts the decisions downwards to lower level persons who have direct knowledge and in-depth understanding of the subject matter at hand (Barney, 2002).
Setting realistic plans is the next important activity once a strategy has been formulated. Planning is the process of establishing specific objectives, action steps, and a schedule and budget related to a predetermined program, task, or project (Kerzner, 2003). Planning helps to focus on critical areas that need attention and action. Short term plan needs must balance with long term plans. Different types of plans are needed to meet each specific department, as they require different methods to reach their goals. The strategic plans will be created by higher level management, while operational plans will be formulated by individual divisions.
As MetroRail is a state government corporation, it is bounded by the government’s vision. Higher level management at MetroRail will formulate the strategic plan for the whole organisation on how best to minimise environmental impacts. This is usually released as an organisation policy on the environment. An example of strategic planning, is all future rolling stocks must feature regenerative braking to minimise energy use.
More specific operational strategic plans will stem from each division. These ecological sustainable management practices and values will flow into divisional employees to guide them and follow. Operational plans include, how to minimise energy with moving empty rolling stock between stations and stabling yards. These plans will be long term as they are on-going issues and are performed repeatedly.
Both strategic and operational planning are important, because the success of MetroRail in its ecological sustainable management depends on creating new paths to the future as well as implementing short term operational plans (Noy, 2001).
The function of control process is taking a systematic approach to figuring out if what has been planned is has achieved or not (McNamara, 2008). This process occurs after the planning process. This allows managers to make decisions on whether to modify the plan as required.
2.3.1 Approaches to Control
Setting standards specifies criteria’s by which work and results are measured and evaluated (Chang, 2005). Standards provide guidelines for measuring performance of ecological sustainable management practices. In order to make comparison on how well MetroRail is being measured on its ecological management practices, it will be benchmarked on technical, planning, perception against other corporations.
Many of the high level controls put in places come from the strategic planning stage. These need to be measured to show the public and government MetroRail is committed to reducing its environmental foot print. Benchmarking, however has limitations, such as data not been available, and in such cases, estimates must be made.
Managers may use techniques to study samples, ratings, data collection to measure the performance of the organisation (Dhillon, 1987). To evaluate performance is to evaluate work in progress, assess job completed and provide feedback. Example would be to control the roll out of new maintenance of pneumatic pressure gauges. This needs to be benchmarked to the old maintenance scheme to assess if the new system lowers leaks from the system, thus reducing waste on compressing air.
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To exercise control, manager can perform inspections, review progress and define and add variation to plans. Managers exercise control over projects when serving as project leaders (Katz, Light and Thompson, 2003). The main driving forces for the implementation of controls such as Environmental Management System and ISO 140001 in industry are to satisfy customer requirements, to ensure legal compliance, to improve risk management, to improve public image, and in a systematic way utilise the potential to save money and natural resource (Sammalisto and Arvidsson, 2005).
2.3.2 Types of Control
There are three types of controls used by mangers, Robbins et al. (2009). The first is feedforward control. The essential feature of a feedback system is that performance is compared to a standard and this comparison becomes the basis for corrective action (Tadepalli, 1991). MetroRail must use feedforward control as much as possible. This comes mostly from the planning process, such as utilising the Environmental Management Plan.
The second type of control is called concurrent control. Concurrent control involves monitoring and adjusting ongoing activities, Erdogan, Bauer, and Carpenter (2009). The best way to for managers to continuously monitor and adjust activities is to manage by walk about (MBWA).
The final type of control is called feedback control. Feedback control provides managers with information concerning outcomes from organisational activities, Enz (2009). With feedback control, managers measure performance against targets set during planning. An example of feedback control is measuring the power consumption of the new trains to technical plans provided during the planning phase.
Planning and controlling are essential tools in ecological sustainable management values and practices. Planning allows managers to forecast and to regulate plans for sustainable management. Planning to procuring new trains with regenerative braking and effective and efficient movement of trains between stations and stabling yards are sustainable solutions. Proper planning ensures the strategy and goals developed can be achieved.
Control process is followed by the planning process. This link ensures plans are controlled to reach their set goals. Control ensures MetroRail is complying with applicable environmental legislation and regulations, and addresses government policy.
In summary, planning and control process ensure MetroRail aims to achieve ecological sustainable management values and practices.
Implement mandatory training on ecological sustainable management values for all employees.
Provide an audit and review framework to achieve continual improvement in ecological sustainable management.
Establish objectives, targets and key performance indicators to monitor environmental performance and drive improvement.
Comply with applicable environmental legislation and regulations, and address government policy.
Minimise use of natural resources.
Adhere to the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
Procurement policy to consider ecological sustainability practices and values.
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