Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adam Werbach's Strategies for Sustainability

Among my favorite posts from Triple Pundit's coverage of the 2009 Net Impact Conference was their coverage of Adam Werbach's talk.  Who would have thought, even 5 years ago, that things like this would be happening in the corporate world:

Companies are starting to create North Star Goals, which are very ambitious objectives that a company aspires to that may be very difficult or impossible to achieve and are aimed at solving a major global human challenge. According to Adam, these goals should be:
  1. actionable by every employee,
  2. core to the business,
  3. solve a global human challenge,
  4. achievable in 10-15 years,
  5. inspirational.
This is so simply put, yet it feels right, doesn’t it? I know I want that. To give you an example, Walmart’s North Star Goals are:
  1. to have 100% renewable energy powering their stores,
  2. to have only sustainable products in their stores,
  3. to be zero waste.
Toyota’s are: to have cars that never crash and that clear the air as they drive. Ambitious and far-fetched? Definitely inspirational.

For employees who work long, hard hours, doing it all for a company that puts forth inspirational goals like this must really help boost morale.  Not to mention that you get your company's brightest minds daydreaming about related solutions on their own time.

I really enjoyed how 3P ties the post up by relating corporate sustainability initiatives to the science underlying how to make people happy (something we can probably all use a bit of):

All of this really boils down to is basic human psychology and the science behind human happiness, which suggests that all humans really need to be happy is: close relationships, experiencing flow and being of service to others. Albert Bandura is an interesting psychologist that talks about some of these social behaviors.

“Change begets change,” Adam said in conclusion. So, choose the battles that are worth fighting and set your expectations high, but also realize that sometimes change comes from those combined small steps that we take and a healthy dose of optimism.

Well stated.  I might add that a key element critical to being an effective changemaker is to keep in balance -- knowing when to put it all down and 'empty your cup' by going for a hike, to the gym, to a martial arts or Yoga class, or for a long camping trip.  It may be all you need to rejuvenate your soul with "a healthy dose of optimism" or to fresh insights into how you can help your company achieve change "from those combined small steps that we take."

I know when my cup is full -- my ideas become stale and passion starts to wane -- all it often takes is a good hike up in Marin or the East Bay hills.  Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes a couple of hours, but reconnecting with nature never fails to empty my clogged cup so that I start receiving fresh ideas again and launch into the upcoming week full of inspiration.

Let us know how reconnecting with nature inspires you to help your company achieve its North Star Goals...

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