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How Smart and Sustainable Cities Contribute to Healthier Citizens

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Image Source: Samson Katt | Pexels

Compared to previous decades, the world has more innovative and safer cities that take better care of their citizens. A smart city represents an area that uses information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance administrative performance, disseminate information to the public, and boost the standard of services and the welfare of residents. A 2022 study reports that between 2000 and 2016, there was a global decline in the number of deaths from lower respiratory infections among children under the age of five, which fell by 54%, and roughly 13% overall.

Making a city smarter has been identified as the most effective method for enhancing residents’ quality of life and tackling urban challenges. According to a 2022 top from Ranking Royals, the smartest cities in the world have developed in the Nordic countries (namely Norway, Finland, and Denmark), Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, New Zealand, Spain, Austria, USA, and South Korea. 

Boosting Sustainability and Citizens’ Wellness

While getting smarter, urban regions have implemented sustainable systems and tools that contribute to the Green Deal agreement. The EU Green Deal’s primary goal is to achieve climate neutrality as the first continent by 2050. That will lead to a cleaner environment, cheaper energy, smarter transportation, new jobs, and a better lifestyle. The strategies of smart cities aim to improve life quality for inhabitants by using innovative technologies and saving resources. 

For example, in Graz, a smart city in Austria, energy efficiency is considered essential for future developments. In 2010, the “Smart City Graz” project, whose purpose was to transform the territory into a sustainable and energy-autonomous urban district, was launched. 

Denmark demonstrates its strength and sustainability level by covering the needs for energy production without using foreign energy resources. It secures its place as the greenest country in the world by continuously practicing a sustainable economy. For instance, a 2020 case study presents one of the wealthiest areas in the world, a Danish island called Bornholm. Bornholm’s wealth comes from developing new energy market mechanisms to control energy networks with a high proportion of renewable energy resources. 

To support sustainable initiatives and contribute to citizens’ welfare, Vitoria-Gasteiz city (Spain), the European Green Capital of 2012, launched a secure bicycle parking network called VGBiziz. It is a low-cost initiative comprising 9 parking sites for around 400 bikes (including electric and cargo bikes). In 2009, Valencia, Spain’s largest city, joined the Covenant of Mayors, and in 2010, it announced its first Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). The agreement should reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 in accordance with the goals set forth by the Mayors’ Covenant on Climate and Energy Program. By using the VLCi Platform, a global platform for smart city management, Valencia moves forward with its Smart City Strategy.

In the 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) rank, Denmark received the highest EPI score (77.90), with 14.90 points increase compared to last decade. The Environmental Performance Index is a tool for measuring the environmental performance of a state’s policies. The United Kingdom earned the second position with a very close score, 77.70. Finland occupied the third place with 76.50 points, followed by Malta (75.20), Sweden (72.70), and Luxembourg (72.30).

How to Monitor and Improve Citizens’ Wellness

Sustainability concerns not only the welfare of the planet, but also the well-being of its inhabitants. The environment can positively or negatively impact human health. People need good resources to evolve and stay healthy: fresh air, good food, and drinking water. But how can people know if they have all of these? To evaluate life quality, municipalities usually use publicly available and updated key performance indicators (KPIs), such as: 

  • # Outdoor air pollution 
  • # Air quality complaints 
  • # Risk Management Index
  • # Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI)
  • % Households with a reliable supply of water
  • % Drinking water compliance rate
  • % Households with access to safe water
  • % Satisfaction with food quality

Since respiratory infections are influenced by air quality, specific KPIs for measuring the air level of pollution should be included in weather updates. Individuals that suffer from chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are susceptible to the negative effects of air pollution. Asthma and COPD are aggravated and triggered by air pollution, raising respiratory morbidity and mortality. Also, cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio are just a few of the illnesses that can spread due to contaminated water and poor sanitation. People are exposed to health risks when water and sanitation services are absent, unsatisfactory, or improperly managed.

Leaders can use key performance indicators to improve quality of life and make decisions based on the results. Some KPIs, which they can consider are: 

By monitoring the energy-related KPIs, community leaders can see if they can satisfy the needs of citizens, using only renewable energy resources. Additionally, KPIs such as # Initiatives promoting greater environmental responsibility and % Current environmentally friendly projects help raise environmental protection awareness.

To advance your knowledge and skills among professionals in identifying most effective KPIs for your organization and its use in measuring performance, be a Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner. The certification in KPI Measurement courses of The KPI Institute are designed to help practitioners understand the KPI measurement challenges and ways to address them. Invite your colleagues and enroll now! For further information, visit kpiinstitute.org.

Servitization: Selling Usability and Performance

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Image Source: Anete Lusina | Pexels

Sell the mobility, not the vehicle! Sell the light, not the lamp! Sell the cooling, not the AC!

In a continuously changing market with intense competitiveness and constant shifts in the customer’s behavior, traditional manufacturers have to keep adapting and innovating to maintain their positions. 

An innovative business strategy that shifts the traditional way of doing business is servitization, a process through which the producers go from a product based model to a Product-Service System (PSS). Companies are no longer producing and selling products alone. They are selling services, integrated solutions, and an overall greater experience for the end consumer.

According to Miying Yang and Steve Evans’ study on “product-service system business model archetypes and sustainability,” a generally agreed-upon way to classify the PSS is to include it in one of the following models:

  1. Product-Oriented – when the provider sells the product that ends in the buyer’s ownership. Other services such as consultancy or maintenance can be sold.
  2. Use-Oriented – when a business provides customers with the utility of a product while keeping its ownership. Examples are renting or leasing.  
  3. Result-Oriented – when the company sells the results of a product or the value being delivered to the customer. The customer only buying the consumed light instead of lighting products is a relevant example of this typology.

To remain relevant in an always-evolving environment, companies should seize every opportunity to enhance their performance and obtain competitive advantages. Servitization is a win-win model benefiting all the involved parties that’s  why an increasing number of businesses are approaching it. 

Competing through advanced services is, first of all, an opportunity for growth and profitability as the revenue streams are more diverse. By offering complimentary ongoing services, the income gates certain stability due to recurring and incremental revenue streams.

The relations with the clients are strengthened as their satisfaction is increasing and their loyalty is drive-up. Greater alignment with the customer needs facilitates a long-term relationship and a better relationship with the customers means higher barriers to competition.

Using a servitization model can become an important source of insights for further innovation because providers are still connected to their service which eases the detection of improvements and can spark ideas for new services. Additionally, services are more labor-dependent and less visible which makes them more challenging to replicate and become a sustainable source of competitive advantage.

With all the above benefits also come challenges that companies face in their process to adopt servitization. The biggest problem results from the aversion to change. Old habits die hard while shifting towards servitization requires fundamental changes in the way companies are doing business, affecting every aspect from the strategic approach to everyday operations.

It is a time-consuming transition that needs to be done gradually to avoid putting pressure on the enterprise’s resources. Also, it requires adjustments in the existing capabilities, new technologies need to be deployed to support the services offered, and the employees need to develop related competencies.  Customers’ perception is another challenge that companies face, as clients may be reluctant to adopt an unfamiliar servitized solution. 

Selling Performance: Pay-per-lux and Power by the Hour

Philips Lighting, currently activating as Signify launched the ‘Pay-per-lux’ model, a ‘lighting-as-a-service’ offer for its customers. Signify handles the entire lighting service – design, installation, maintenance, and upgrades while the customers pay a monthly service fee for light. The program considers circular principles and uses advanced technologies like AI and the Internet of Things. In this model, Signify keeps the ownership of the lighting systems and offers a five-year performance contract, which is based on a series of key performance indicators such as light level, uptime, and energy savings.

The solution was first deployed for the National Union of Students from the United Kingdom. Signify is responsible for the lighting system for 15 years, while NUS pays a quarterly fee. As a result, the energy costs have been minimized while the technologies used are continuously updated, and annual checks are done to assess the system’s health and prevent maintenance. 

Rolls-Royce manufactures engines for the aviation industry and implements a servitization model named Power by the hour through which customers have access to a service package by a dollar-per-flying-hour payment mechanism. CareServices solution offers a variety of services to customers such as engine monitoring to predict potential maintenance problems and ensure the aircraft is ready to fly on time, efficiency services to balance the low fuel consumption with optimized flight operations, asset and safety management solutions, in addition to world-class customer support.

The most recent service agreement has been signed with South Korean airline T’way Air. It will benefit from a service concept based on predictability and reliability that will secure the cost of operating, maintaining, and enhancing aircraft availability.

To sum up, there are many other companies from different industries that are moving their focus towards servitization. Even though it is not shielded from risk, the model can create significant benefits in relation to resource efficiency, growth, customer relationship, resilience, and impact on competitiveness. For a traditional manufacturer, a gradual transition from product commercialization to a servitize offering can become a decisive factor in its long-term sustainability.

To ensure a smoother transition from the traditional way of doing business to servitization, join the Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional course offered by The KPI Institute. Develop the right plan and strategy for your business in achieving servitization. For further details, visit kpiinstitute.org.

Practitioner Interview: Ihab Ibrahim’s Take on Aligning Sustainability Targets To Strategy Plan

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In an interview with The KPI Institute (TKI) Publishing Team, Ihab Ibrahim Mohamed Alsakkti, a Strategy and Performance Manager at Alkifah Contracting Company, shares his insights and expertise in organizational performance management for the next issue of Performance Magazine – Print Edition.

On the one hand, investing in sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have strategy. But it is absolutely a need-to-have strategy to ensure compliance with governmental and regulatory requirements.

Here is an excerpt of the interview, where Ihab highlights the effect of sustainability in strategy planning and performance management.

The Circular Economy Model: Developing Environmental and Organizational Long-term Value

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A hundred billion tons of materials enter the global economy every year. Only 8.6% of the total amount of the materials are cycled back into the economy. This is the result of  the linear economic model. In a case study written by Thibaut Wautelet, he refers to the linear economic model as a production and consumption model based on the “take-make-waste” scheme. He explained that raw materials are collected, then transformed into goods that are used and finally discarded in landfills or incinerated as waste. This approach turned out to be broken, enabling overconsumption to the detriment of planetary health.  

Governments and businesses are looking to adopt the circular economy model and start repairing the damage created by unsustainable production and consumption. According to a published research in “Cleaner Environmental Systems Journal”, authors define circular economy as a catalyst for sustainable business. Moreover, the circular model  promotes “…the use of resources within closed-loop systems, reducing pollution or avoiding resource leakage while sustaining economic growth.” 

The pressure to adopt sustainability compels companies to implement the “reduce, reuse, and recycle” practices from the design stage to post-sales activities. Based on the same research, “Circular economy as a driver to sustainable businesses”, the influence of the circular economy can be seen in many business areas:

  • Cost management – The circular model leads to the transformation of products at the end-of-life cycles into resources for new products. Integrating material recycling into new components production can close the loop, reducing waste and the usage of more expensive raw materials.
  • Supply chain – The circular management of the supply chain is based on the coordination across the different members in closing, slowing, or narrowing energy and material flows. Additionally, the packaging system is an important aspect of the distribution process circularity. 
  • Process management – The business processes are rebuilt to make them more circular, facilitating the reusing and recycling out of the desire to extend product life and reduce environmental impact.
  • Service management – The Product-Service system is considered an enabler of the circular economy by offering services instead of products aiming at pro-environmental outcomes.
  • Research and development – The achievement of circular goals relies heavily on design, which determines the circular potential. The life-cycle-based research and development allows the selection of the type and quantity of materials and determining how they are combined – a process that affects the product life and the possibility of repairing and recycling it.  

Figure 1. Product Lifecycle in Circular Economy Model | News European Parliament

Companies Leading  the Change

Companies embrace the concept of circularity in response to the growing interest of customers in green practices and concerns about the global waste problem. Philips is one of the companies that are successfully paving the way toward the circular economy in their industry.

Philips was one of the largest electronics companies in the world. But it has changed its focus on health technology, looking to improve people’s health and well-being. Its products include large-scale and small medical equipment and home care products. The company developed new business models to adapt to the circular principles organized on seven strategic pillars:

  1. Close the loop with current products through take-back, refurbishment, and recycling
  2. Further circular practices across Philips sites, including zero waste to landfill policy
  3. The circular design of products and business models
  4. Technical competence building
  5. Driving change with external coalitions and supply chain
  6. Embedding in the Philips Business System

In 2016, the company set goals to generate 15% of revenues from circular products and services and send zero waste to landfills in internal operations. At the end of 2020, Philips achieved their circular goals. Therefore, they set three greater targets for 2025: to generate 25% of revenue from circular solutions, send no waste to landfills, and  close the loop by offering a trade-in on all professional medical equipment.

The Benefits of Adopting the Circular Model

The Circular Model and its principles are still new to the business ecosystem, and the market penetration of circular business models remains limited. But the potential to scale up the model is considerable in many industries. 

Besides the environmental impact that the circular model creates through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or the use of fewer nonrenewable resources, or achieving zero waste, shifting toward circularity can help companies secure a competitive advantage and create long-term value.

The circular model enables new revenue streams by accessing new markets or cutting off costs from waste generation. It reduces the dependency on raw material suppliers and increases the resilience in the face of supply chain disruption.

Additionally, by implementing a circular model, businesses can attract new clients and improve the retention of old ones, as sustainable practices are becoming an influencing factor in customers’ buying decisions. Also, customer loyalty is favored due to servitization, product-as-a-service offerings or take-back programs.

Based on the survey conducted by Deloitte, more consumers this year are pursuing a better sustainable lifestyle. Results show that 40% of the consumers choose brands that promote sustainable values and practices, which increased by six points compared to 2021. The number of consumers who stopped purchasing from a specific brand due to their ethical or sustainable issues and concerns towards the company has also increased by six points in 2022, which is 34%.

Going in circles is the way forward. It is time for companies to rethink how they do business, considering the industrialization’s impact on the environment, relevant international initiatives, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, and  the increasing importance of sustainability to everyday customers. The change may be difficult for organizations used to operating in the linear economy but not impossible as seen in the above examples. In order to thrive in the market, companies must establish circular business models and adapt their strategies to the circular economy.

To advance your knowledge in establishing an effective strategy and planning for organization, enroll in The KPI Institute’s Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional course. Invite your colleagues and sign up now! 

How Can Competency-based Education Improve Employee Performance?

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Competency-based education (CBE), according to the non-profit organization EDUCAUSE, enables students to advance their development based on their learning capacity, skills acquisition, or competency improvement at their own pace. This learning journey could happen in almost all types of environments.

CBE creates opportunities for learners and employees to nurture integrated performance-oriented capacities that can help them handle different challenges. This strategy is designed to accommodate various learning styles and can result in more efficient learner outcomes.

CBE would not work well without high-quality trainer’s training. Trainer’s preparation is a critical component of successful CBE deployment. Trainers must learn how to assess learners and tailor learning experiences to their needs. They must have a thorough understanding of the CBE process, techniques for tailoring learning experiences, mastery-based assessment, and the critical role of technology in learning customization.

Developing competencies standards is a crucial part of CBE. It helps sustain skills at the enterprise level by defining an ideal competent performance to measure a worker’s actual performance. The competency criteria can be tailored to a specific country’s setting and confirmed through a local method. The ILO (2021) recommends considering the following factors when creating a local validation strategy:

  • The industry’s size and geographic dispersion (so representative businesses can participate)
  • The industry’s diversity (i.e., the technology utilized and the products produced)
  • The worker’s profile (to guarantee that all competencies are included)
  • Validation costs and validation time

They must be aware of the differences between CBE and traditional education (TE) while developing competency maps, assessment goals, learning speed, grading, and promotion. They must also understand the importance of assessment in adapting training.

CBE in Healthcare

Healthcare institutions and organizations are being confronted with a number of challenges, including developing clinical approaches and a scarcity of resources. On the other hand, healthcare providers are expected to use care skills effectively and put theoretical knowledge into practice (Eijkenaar et al., 2013; Goudreau et al., 2015). However, a growing amount of research from several countries demonstrates that the clinical performance of healthcare systems is not up to par (Eijkenaar et al., 2013).

Below is a case study demonstrating how CBE works, its effectiveness, and its application to professional practice. It includes a population of physicians, nurses, medical students (residents or interns), and nursing students. CBE courses were offered to improve the clinical performance of medical and nursing students, physicians, and nurses. Traditional education was provided to the control group, and the clinical performance of the study population was the outcome.

The study “The effect of competency-based education on clinical performance of health-care providers: A systematic review and meta-analysis” aimed to evaluate the influence of competency-based education on the clinical performance of healthcare providers. The study takes into consideration the need to develop an intervention to improve the clinical performance of healthcare providers.

The criteria for inclusion were clinical or quasi-experimental trials; physician/nurse or medical/nurse participants; an age range of 18–65 years; adoption of the CBE approach; measurement of clinical performance of the participants using concrete tools of performance assessment; presentation of the results quantitative scoring; and the use of traditional teaching methods for the control group. The exclusion criteria are the use of a combination of CBE and other educational modalities, the lack of a control group, and the measuring of the participants’ theoretical knowledge or non-clinical abilities.

The study used six international electronic databases: PubMed, Ovid, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, ProQuest, Scopus, and Google Scholar. The national electronic databases IranMedex and SID were also used to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis. In addition, the study comprised other studies that were related to the research goals. The Cochrane Collaboration’s Risk of Bias Tool was applied to assess the studies’ quality.

According to the random-effects model, CBE could improve the clinical performance of health care professionals in the intervention group compared to the control group (SMD = 2.717, 95 percent CI: 3.722 to 1.712). 

Competency-based education can help health care practitioners improve their clinical performance. Meanwhile, high turnover rates, decreased job satisfaction, increased presenteeism, poor patient safety, and increased medical errors are consequences of a lack of clinical skills and competencies

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