Why? What? How? What Else? A personal interpretation of the Interface "mid course correction"

In a recent post, I summarised the 4MAT learning styles model and its application to  effective communication.  One well-documented regenerative business success story is Ray Anderson’s “Confessions of a Radical Industrialist” – from 1996 to 2008, Interface cut their greenhouse emissions by 71% while doubling their earnings.  It’s a great story and a useful way to explore 4MAT too. 4MAT revisited… First a quick refresher.  4MAT …

DIY printable furniture ships as information, not parts

Interesting implementation of Regenerative Business Principle #1 – There are no products, only services. “If your modular furniture from IKEA was fashioned from wood harvested on one continent, cut and finished on another, and shipped to yet a third, that’s not exactly sustainable. That’s why design firm Filson and Rohrbacher decided to replace actual furniture with its evanescent, Platonic ideal: …

Regenerative thinking – a big opportunity for small business

The word “business” hides a huge amount of detail.   Business isn’t a single entity with a single set of motivations – the thing we call “business” is more like an eco-system, with a range of different players performing a huge range of functions. So saying “business should change” isn’t enough.   Which businesses?  In which industries?  Big businesses?  Small businesses?  Service businesses?  Manufacturing …

WHY? WHAT? HOW? WHAT ELSE? 4 key communication elements

In thinking about the quality of our communication, making sure we cover  4 key learning questions can make a big difference.   Reflecting on mainstream sustainability messages, many of them are really heavy on the “Why?” question (potential ecological catastrophe) and have limited “What?”, “How” or “What Else?” content.  Sustainability practitioners can increase their effectiveness by understanding the basic learning styles …

The ultimate in low waste food packaging?

Here’s a great example of the Regenerative Business Principle #2  “There are no wastes”  combined with Principle #7 “Think small, local and smart”. Harvard professor Dr. David Edward is developing an edible packaging technology he calls a WikiCell.  Imagine your single serve yoghurt packaged in a soft foam  membrane of raspberry sauce.  The yoghurt is packaged inside its sauce – particles of the sauce are …

The continuing evolution of car sharing

A recent start-up in Portland, Oregon is social car sharing. Instead of renting from a carshare company, you rent cars by the hour from people around you. So “waste” unused car hours are reduced and the car owner gets some extra income. (Part of the scheme includes management of risk issues such as insurance.) It’s a smart combination of the …

7 design principles for Regenerative Business

I got seriously interested in sustainability years ago, during post-graduate studies.  I was fortunate to be introduced  through  great books like “Natural Capitalism”, “Cradle to Cradle” and “Biomimicry”. Along with  a mass of detail and lots of “reasons why” sustainability was important,  I found a set of  straightforward strategies that challenge out-of-date 20th century assumptions about the “how” of doing business.   I …

An elevator speech for Regenerative Business

At a networking event the other day, we were talking about business sustainability.   Somebody asked me what I’d say if I found my ideal CEO client next to me in an elevator. KNOW / FEEL / DO One great tip I work with (from Bill Jensen’s Simplicity Survival Handbook) is about being clear in your communication.  Do you have the answers …

What is this thing called "business"?

“Business doesn’t listen!” is a regular complaint that I hear in environmental circles – but what IS business?   Essentially, business is a group activity – a process.  There is no physical thing called business that we can put in a wheelbarrow.  We may be able to put a building, a product, a machine or a person  in a wheelbarrow – but not “business”. At …

10 tips for improved collaboration results

Can you make an offer too good to refuse?   When you make a request for something to be done, do you get the result you want when you wanted it?    If you want to get better results, there are ten things to consider in how you make your requests. Making offers (and requests)  is  a key skill for regenerative business entrepreneurs and …

"I have a dream" for regenerative business

A friend connected me to Simon Sinek’s TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”.   A couple of key points stood out for me (amongst lots of good stuff): Inspirational leaders start from a core purpose, and first answer the question “Why?”  rather than “How?” or “What?” Martin Luther King started from “I have a dream…”  and “I believe…” not “I have …

Into the woods: Seattle plants a public food forest

Great initiative in Seattle, documented on Grist recently.  A great example of smart local approaches to environmental sustainability: “There’s a stretch of arterial in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood that I’ve traveled probably thousands of times without giving a second thought to the empty, grassy hillside it parallels. When I heard about plans to create a seven-acre urban food forest there, I …

WANTED: Strategic roles for sustainability managers

I saw an interesting-looking role advertised recently: Sustainability Strategy Manager.  From the title, it seemed like it could be interesting.  Sadly, when I read it, it wasn’t what I’d hoped.  The role reported into Marketing and seemed to be more to do with external communication than with building strategic sustainability capability within the business. Describing what you DO want When I …

5 tips for effective listening

The first step in innovation success is listening – really getting to know the people you want to influence.  NLP’s model of primary interest filters provides a handy checklist of 5 things to listen for to help you  influence.  Use this list to identify what interests different people have and how you could interest them in the results you want to achieve. Neuro Linguistic Programming …

Regenerative business: sustainability's Third Alternative

Stephen Covey’s new book “The 3rd Alternative” showed up in my library this week.  My first encounter with Mr. Covey was in “7 Habits of Highly Effective People ” and his distinction between “urgent” and “important” tasks has been a key time management tool for me for ever since. To me, “The Third Alternative” is what Regenerative Business is all …

5 Whys for strategic sustainability success

Wandering the web the other day, it occurred to me that the continuous improvement process “5 whys” could be a powerful tool for sustainability.  I was watching a LinkedIn conversation on the challenges of consumption, and there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of depth to the conversation. There was a lot of blaming and complaining going on, but …

Smart business is service thinking

Behind the products we buy is a complex web of businesses that collaborate to make, transport, store, sell and deliver everything that goes in to the final product. This web is often (simplistically) described as “the supply chain”. Each business in a supply chain is a group of people combining a range of skills, ideas and resources to deliver their products …

How can understanding Anxiety increase your sustainability success?

When fear continually lives in the background of our existence, even though there is no obvious impending threat, we are likely to be trapped in a mood of anxiety.” – Dr. Ainslie Meares Anxiety is a powerful emotional contributor to human behaviour and a root cause behind greed and selfishness. The history of the past 100 years can be interpreted …

Recovering meaning: language tools and sustainability

Listening to a passionate sustainability campaigner recently, I suddenly found myself back in class – more than a decade in the past.  I was in my NLP Practitioner Training and we were talking about language.  Whatever your background, if you’re into coaching you understand just how much the language we use limits our experience and the possibilities that we perceive. …

Three keys to successful innovation

So you’ve got a great idea, and you’ve come up with a proposal that will meet the needs of the people you want to use it. Your work here is done… isn’t it? Well, no – not until you have your invention turned into an adopted practice – that’s the real work of innovation. Your proposed change requires a community …