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Developing an Environmental Golden Thread - Part 1 (Using a DSM)

In this blog post we walk through the approach developed by Marissa Kephart in collaboration with Lean Compliance to define a golden thread of assurance for an environmental program.


In this post we look at the use of a Dependency (or Design) Structure Matrix (DSM) to better understand the interactions of The12 Environmental Pillars (download them here), which interactions are essential, and which ones contribute the most to overall program effectiveness. This information will help determine which should be part of the golden thread.


In Part 2, we will consider the use of a balanced scorecard to monitor the golden thread and provide insights for decision makers on how to improve overall program performance.


What is a Golden Thread?

The 12 Environmental Pillars

To provide assurance that environmental obligations will be met, an environmental program must perform such that its outcomes are continuously advanced towards the overall goal of community sustainability. This outcome is created by the product of the interaction of 12 environmental pillars.


A “golden” thread that runs through the pillars of an environmental program – Environmental Golden Thread – can serve to provide assurance that essential capabilities exist and are operational. It can also provide traceability and transparency for retrospective and prospective analysis, ensuring the integrity of the environmental program and all its systems and processes.


Using an Environmental Golden Thread can also provide leadership and management with valuable insights to help make better decisions associated with environmental obligations, commitments, and investments.


Additionally, this thread will enable better coordination and alignment of effort across an organization in support of overall program objectives.


What is a DSM?


A Dependency Structure Matrix (DSM) is a tool used to represents a system and its components to better understand critical dependencies. A DSM models system elements and their corresponding information exchange, interactions, and relationship in a compact visualization to highlight the important dependencies.

Dependancy Structure Matrix

An environmental program will include many aspects which can be modelled using a DSM. We have used it here to model the 12 environmental pillars which need to be advanced simultaneously towards the goal of community sustainability.


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