Become a Champion for Life Cycle Assessment
Most LCA experts have been trained in technical skills and try to capture reality in a model to see what can make a change. However, technical skills are not sufficient to make a change. We learned from successful LCA practitioners how they are working to become an internal champion, an intrapreneur for LCA, someone who connects with other people and departments, who pleads the cause of LCA and that explores how LCA can contribute to the company's goals.
Business managers want to have as much information as possible to reduce the risk, but know that you never know 100 % for sure. The same holds true for designers, they often work on an idea, a hunch without knowing whether it will work; for instance, they know they have a cost target, but in the early sketch phase they have no way of checking the cost with any precision, so unlike many LCA experts, they are happy with any information that helps them to stay on course and consider the environmental impact. A large part of training the designers is about managing (and living with) uncertainties.
Intrapreneurship has some aspects that are quite contradictory to LCA. Perhaps the most important one being that you are not completely sure about the outcomes before you do something. You take a calculated risk. That requires courage and stamina as you do not know what the outcome will be. It also requires the courage to acknowledge that we are imperfect. In businesses, people are used to making decisions with an uncertain outcome, at least to some extent.
To understand how people use the results from an LCA it is important to look at yourself from their perspective. That can change a lot. Just as turning the camera on planet earth – as the astronauts from the Apollo space mission did – had a tremendous impact on how we look at what we do to (the environment on) the earth. A very simple way of doing that is meeting with the users from your LCA study without a specific purpose, drink a cup of coffee and listen to what they are working on, what drives them, what successes they have achieved, and what challenges they face. That will give you great insight in what opportunities LCA can help with. And seizing opportunities is what makes a change.
Knowing what your (internal) clients need – or call it your audience – will also help to present the results in a way that is appealing to them and is relevant for their goals and needs. If you learn how to tell your story, you can convince, motivate and stimulate people to do something with the results from your LCA study. And of course, facts play an important role in that story.