I’ve had a chance to travel and meet and talk with a lot of great people, but two of the conversations I had this summer will stay with me for a while.
The first was a conversation where I was told the benefits of Bio-Mass as an alternative energy source and why Bio-Mass was better for the environment instead of Nuclear Power. The second conversation was one where the topic of RCRA, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, came up. The interesting thing about this conversation was that the speaker didn’t know what RCRA was or why it should be considered relevant to his business.
Now, here’s where it gets really interesting. The first conversation was with a nine year old boy and the second conversation was with a senior VP of a waste company!
A lot has been mentioned in the past few weeks about innovation and the importance of innovation. President Obama told us that we had to out-innovate the rest of the world, consultants and business leaders are calling on companies to step to the plate and increase innovation. But, what does that really mean?
Merriam-Webster defines innovation as: the introduction of something new, a new idea, method or device.
Does it mean that we need better products or does it mean we need better processes or does it mean that we need both?
Based on the old adage, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve been getting”; I believe that it means, both. Not a very Ivy League definition I know, but it does hold true.
So, this brings us to where we are today. Companies are looking around and wondering what they can do that will differentiate their products or services. They know that they need to change, but the where and how, seems just out of reach. Continue reading
Not to long ago I was in a meeting to discuss sustainability initiatives. I looked around the table and saw representatives from marketing, environmental, legal, and corporate social responsibility. What I didn’t see was anyone from the Facilities Management group or the Architectural Design and Build group. The meeting began and we talked about all of the buzz topics; green media, social programs for young people, energy usage and of course, carbon footprint. Every time I hear the discussion of carbon footprint and someone gives a statistic about how many cars that equals that we have taken off the road I’m reminded of Joel Makeower’s comment ” I sometimes wonder whether adding up all the cars-taken-off-the road marketing claims would yield a number that exceeds the actual number of cars on the road.” Strategies For The Green Economy
I participated in the meeting and didn’t say anything about the missing potential team members, until the end of the meeting. That’s when they asked me if I had any other thoughts or questions I’d like to add…You know I did. Continue reading
Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a group of college students regarding sustainability. They had a list of questions that were centered around career opportunities. Such as, what kind of jobs are available, what kind of education and experience are required and will sustainability persist or will it fade away?
It occurred to me during the conversation that these were the same questions I have been asked by companies and organizations. I told the students that many of the companies they were looking to go to work with were asking the same type of questions.
I gave an example of a company that recently directed two recruiters to me. They had told the recruiters to ask me what type of person would be needed to fill the positions and to see if I knew of any viable candidates.
I thought this was a little strange. They didn’t ask me if I was interested in the positions, but they wanted me to help them understand the requirements and find people. Wasn’t I good enough to work for the company in one of the roles? But my favorite call so far has been the one where the recruiter called and told me that she had been hired to fill a Sr. Sustainability Director position. She wanted to know if I could tell her what that was. Continue reading
Thank you for all of the comments and emails. It seems that my last post, The End of Sustainability, contained something that many of you could relate with and have experienced in your careers. A good many of you wanted to know more. I was asked, “You only listed a few examples, could you give more examples of areas where I can look within my company?”
So, in this post we’ll go over a few and point you to other resources that you can use to help you spread sustainability throughout your organization.
I was asked recently if this sustainability movement was over. I have to admit I was puzzled by the question. I asked my friend what he meant? He said, “You know, the leaked climate change emails, the Copenhagen meltdown,the head of the U.N. Climate Chief resigned, and BP, Caterpillar and ConocoPhillips not renewing their memberships in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. With all this bad news doesn’t that make you think that this sustainability thing has ran its course?”
That’s when it hit me. He thinks sustainability is only about climate change!
I was in a meeting recently and one of the designers in the room said “I think we should use the newest approach to design, biomimicry.” I almost fell out of my chair. “Newest approach?” This approach isn’t new. Da Vinci studied birds in flight to better understand how man could fly.
I didn’t say anything, and trust me, that took great restraint. I caught myself and realized that with all of the recent “green” and “sustainability” buzz going around some people were just now getting exposed to this and other sustainable development concepts.
Which brings us to today’s blog, “What is Biomimicry?”.
In 1994, Interface founder and chairman Ray Anderson set an audacious goal for his commercial carpet company: to take nothing from the earth that can’t be replaced by the earth. Now, in the most inspiring business book of our time, Anderson leads the way forward and challenges all of industry to share that goal.
The Interface story is a compelling one: In 1994, making carpets was a toxic, petroleum-based process, releasing immense amounts of air and water pollution and creating tons of waste. Continue reading
Low hanging fruit…you’ve heard it before. When you are trying to get your organization started down the sustainability path, consultants and authors tell you to reach for the low hanging fruit. They want you to succeed, so they point you in the direction of quick wins. For many of them your waste stream is one of the first places they encourage you to look, and by waste stream they are referring to what you place in a dumpster. They talk about examining what it is that you are placing into the dumpster. They want you to be able to identify the items that you are throwing away and re-think how they got there. This is something you should do, but lately I’ve had several companies remark when I was introduced to them as the guy that is going to help us identify waste reduction measures say, “Oh, you’re the guy who is going to start our recycling program.” In my head, I’m thinking, “Oh, if it were only that easy!”
Over and over I have the same discussion with sustainability professionals, they want to know what they can do to enhance their presentations to fully engage their listeners, to open their audience’s mind to the possibilities that exist. Many times when they have a chance to talk about what they were doing or what they were planning to do within their organization they felt as if their message and plans were falling on deaf ears. Their audience was constantly checking their blackberry’s or looking as if they wished they were in any place other than sitting in a room listening to him or her speak.
Sound familiar? Continue reading