Building Engines Executive Briefing DinnerI wish I could take credit for that phrase, but I can’t. It belongs to Building Engines’ client, Hank Ashforth, Chairman of Ashforth Pacific, now called Ashforth.

Hank made that statement last week while delivering a presentation to our guests at an Executive Briefing Dinner we sponsored in Washington, DC.  His topic, and subsequent discussion, focused on Ashforth Pacific’s experience implementing an energy reduction program and other “Green” initiatives over a 10 year period.

The most important factor to consider and manage in any major operating shift, Hank so clearly explained to the group, is the company’s culture and getting buy-in from the people who have to implement and live with the decisions you make.  In their case, Ashforth had a particularly difficult time obtaining cooperation from some of the more experienced people on the engineering team. These were people who were used to doing things a certain way and didn’t necessarily want to change.  According to Hank,  although it was a long and painful process that included making difficult choices to let some people go, the end result was worth the effort.

Ashforth Pacific has made significant reductions in its energy costs over a 10 year period and worked cooperatively with its tenants and community to implement leading edge green programs that benefit all involved parties.  The company has also achieved LEED EB Silver Certification for one of their properties. Their early commitment to the process and the results they have created have positioned them as leaders in the markets they serve.

It was a hard journey, but isn’t that true of most objectives of value?  The real lesson Hank left me with was not to underestimate the need to factor in and manage your own corporate culture:  personalities and operating practices need careful consideration when you embark on any major new initiatives and have the power to de-rail the best laid plans if not considered carefully.

For more reading on making a cultural change in your organization, I recommend reading “Beyond Lean” and Peter Bregman in the Harvard Business Review.

If you would like to request a copy of Hank Ashforth’s presentation, please contact Sarah Fisher at, or 781.290.5300.