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Strategies for Success with Environmental Regulatory Relations: Part 3

We’ve been discussing strategies for better relations with environmental regulators. We talked about building positive relationships in Part 1 and communicating our interests in Part 2. In this article, we focus on the process and not the people to achieve a desired outcome.   STRATEGY NO. 3 Focus on the process, not the people. Management Consultant, Edwards Deming said, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” Any number of competent people can make the same mistakes when using a faulty or cumbersome process. Likewise, if we dismiss the regulatory process and focus solely on the regulatory personnel, we may overlook the root cause of difficulties when navigating a complex bureaucratic system. Consider the regulator’s perspective. Industry advocates or public watchdog groups often challenge their decisions. The regulator is held responsible when environmental problems occur (i.e. Why did you issue that permit? Why didn’t you shut them down?). They anticipate the worst possible...

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Strategies for Success with Environmental Regulatory Relations: Part 2

We’ve been discussing strategies to help your business have better relations with environmental regulators. Almost every business interest has some environmental impact, which means you probably are regulated by your local or state environmental agency, or maybe the US EPA directly. We talked about building positive relationships in Part 1. Now we want to think about the best way to communicate with regulators to achieve a desired outcome.   STRATEGY NO. 2 Communicate your interests, instead of stating your position. Most people will argue a point based on what they want (their position) instead of why they want it (their interests). The classic example to illustrate this concept is the story of two sous chefs arguing over a single orange in the kitchen. Each is adamant that they need a whole orange for their individual recipes. When the Executive Chef asks why each needs a whole orange, the first chef says their recipe calls for...

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Strategies for Success with Environmental Regulatory Relations: Part 1

Does your business affect the environment? Perhaps you need a permit. Maybe an inspector visited your site and discovered violations. No doubt you have found yourself in the company of federal, state, or local regulators. Sometimes those interactions go well, sometimes… not so much. Environmental regulatory issues can be dreadful affairs, but they don’t have to be. In this three-part series, we will explore useful strategies to help achieve a favorable outcome.   STRATEGY NO. 1 Build positive relationships with regulators and your surrounding community. Bob Burg’s now famous relationship-building principle known as the “know, like, trust” factor is a sales concept that can apply to regulatory relations too. The basic principle is that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Of course, we are not selling to regulators, but it is a transactional relationship, such as receiving a permit or negotiating a penalty. How well we are known, our likeability...

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