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business value


A simple lesson in sustainability and creating business value

dMass is the absence of mass.  More importantly, it's the absence of mass that's no longer necessary to produce the same or higher level of value.  Products and services deliver a useful function; the trick is to deliver greater function with less mass.  (This is a very simplified version of what dMass is; we have more complete definitions of dMass.) Look around where you're sitting right now and see if you can find something that's a good representation of dMass.  One easy approach is to think about an object that's changed over time, like a computer screen.  If you're a pack rat, you might have a screen that weighs about 20 pounds, is a foot deep, and is a pain to move.  If you're lucky, you're looking at a screen that's thin, light, and delivers a better, clearer picture. 

Now see if you can find something that serves the same function in a different way.  How about a shelf full of books versus a Kindle that stores 1,500 titles?  A CD rack versus an iPod?  Information technology is the obvious area to search for dMass.   So widen your view.  Look at everything. 

One example I saw recently was a plastic fork with a hole in the handle.  Let's consider the fork for a minute, setting aside any discussion about whether we need disposable forks.  It serves the same purpose as an older model of fork, it seems to be as strong as the original, yet it requires about 10 or 15 percent less mass to get the job done.  That reduction in mass translates to savings in production (less materials to purchase), distribution (lighter shipping weight), and waste handling (smaller throughput in materials).  It also generates less pollution - you can't lose the mass you didn't use in the first place.

Out on the road, I noticed a low cement curb or barrier between the carpool lane and regular highway lanes.  The curb had 3-foot breaks in it, spaced about 20 feet apart.  The breaks were too small to allow cars through, so the barrier still served its purpose.  But, the curb with the breaks uses 15 percent less cement than a continuous one.  Same function, less mass.  

dMass can also result from organizational or process changes.  Dis-intermediation, which involves eliminating steps in the supply chain to deliver products and services directly, can be a dMass strategy.  Often, though not always, it results in delivering more value using less mass.    

See if you can identify a way to dMass a product or a process at work.  Start small.  Try to think of something you can do that will preserve or improve the benefits that your item delivers.  So, for example, if you're thinking about reducing the amount of toner you use in printing, check out Ecofont.  (Ecofont reduces the amount of ink required to print a quality document by leaving imperceptibly small holes in the black type.) 

This is just the first step in a larger process.  We'll talk later about how we can rethink your entire organization and its activities from the standpoint of function and benefits. 

Have fun, and please share your findings!