When I explain the concept of Green Jujitsu to people, their first response is all too often not "Oh! That's where we're going wrong!", but "Yeah, that's what we do already, but it still doesn't work!"
Inevitably when they go on to show me their environmental policy, employee engagement material, sustainability/CSR reports and so on, it is drenched in clichéd 'green' imagery and jargon and bears little or no relation to the organisation, its activities, its marketplace or its culture.
That's 180° out. Wrong, wrong, wrong...
The idea of Green Jujitsu is to work with the prevailing culture in the organisation, not against it. So, unless you're trying to engage the employees of Greenpeace, you need to roll back on all the green clichés, language and hand-wringing. You've got to align the frame through which you present sustainability to the day-to-day experience of your employees:
- If you're a creative business, frame sustainability in creative terms.
- If you're an engineering business, frame sustainability in engineering terms.
- If you're a R&D business, frame sustainability in terms of innovation opportunities.
- If you're a hotel business, frame sustainability as part of the excellent service you are providing to guests.
- If you're an architectural practice, frame sustainability as the epitome of good building design.
- If you're a recycling business, frame sustainability as "that's what we're here for!"
You are NOT doing Green Jujitsu if:
- Your material includes images of hands cupping a sapling or some other drippy nonsense.
- You present sustainability as some sort of guilt trip for the industry (you're effectively insulting your employees for being in their jobs).
- Your environmental policy could be applied to any other business simply by changing the name at the top.
- You are trying to explain climate science to employees.
- Your main delivery mechanism is voluntary environmental champions.
- You don't have sustainability objectives embedded throughout your reporting structure.
It has struck me that I should develop a meta-concept - Green Jujitsu Jujitsu? - to use the same Jujitsu techniques to get Green Jujitsu better understood by practitioners!
For more, check out my ebook, Green Jujitsu, published by Do Sustainability.