On Wednesday this week I launched my sustainability mastermind group with an inaugural meeting at the Baltic Art Gallery. We booked a third floor meeting room with stupendous views along the Tyne (see above) and worked through to lunch which we took in the sixth floor restaurant - this was delicious and accompanied by even better views!
The concept behind the mastermind group is to bring together a small group of sustainability practitioners from some of the country's largest organisations to explore sustainability in depth and share experiences and insights. We were operating under Chatham House rules so I'm not going to reveal who exactly was at the event, but here are a few of the key 'take homes' which arose from our discussions:
- Need to reframe the argument from "environment or profit" to "environment and profit".
- There is a need to focus on intent rather than process. The intention of, say, implementing ISO14001 is to improve environmental performance, not simply to achieve and maintain certification.
- Likewise with targets, you need to focus on the purpose of the target, not simply meeting it.
- If your business and sustainability targets are intertwined, why bother trying to separate them?
- The political policy framework will always be uncertain, so you need to accept that fact and work with it. After all, we accept and manage the inherent uncertainty in markets.
- If you have stretch target and you think you are never going to meet it, don't dilute it, redouble your efforts - that's where innovation can kick in.
- On the other hand if you are meeting a target easily you should raise the bar, not sit on your laurels.
- It is important to nurture personal passion for sustainability and not frustrate it.
- Middle management is where green projects go to die. The answer is to work with HR to embed sustainability into job descriptions, personal targets, appraisals and personal development.
When delivering workshops, I normally adhere strictly to my timetable, but this time I took a "while the discussion is generating more nuggets of value, I'm not going to curtail it" approach. There were so many of those nuggets, we only got through half of the exercises I had planned out. For once I saw this as a sign of success.
I'm really looking forward to the next one!
If you are interested in the mastermind group and you are a senior practitioner within a large and/or asset-intensive business, then please drop me a line for more details. Places are limited.