Gareth's Blog

Recent Posts

Archives

Archives

December 2016 - Terra Infirma


Browse All

29 December 2016

2016 at Terra Infirma Towers

If 2016 was a tumultuous one in world affairs – Brexit, Trump, Syria, all your childhood icons dying – it was a relatively calm one here at Terra Infirma Towers. It was a year of solid delivery rather than breakthrough and, possibly related, for me personally, spending a lot of time in physio to try (semi-successfully) to get the little finger I dislocated at the start of January working again. Many of my blog posts in 2016 were written in the coffee shop of the Royal Victoria Infirmary here in Newcastle (a client of ours, so I wrote it off as background research!).

From a work point of view, we delivered on several major projects started in 2015. Two of these, a research project on employee engagement for a major sustainability leader, and a sustainability strategy for NHSBT, will become publicly available next year. I intend to delve quite deeply into those for your benefit when they are launched as some of the content and lessons are really cool, if I may say so myself. A notable new client was Durham University, who we helped to embed sustainability into its mainstream engineering degree syllabus – a real passion of mine.

The Northern England Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group (CoSM) continued delivering top value for its members. What I really like is when I see conclusions from CoSM shaping the sustainability programmes of members in practice. The Group will motor on in 2017 and we're looking to put together a Southern branch.

I put a lot of work updating our Green Academy webinar programme this year and we had some  great new companies signing up. If you want to try it out for free, our 2017 taster session is on 18 January.

So that just leaves me to thank all our clients, partners, associates, friends and family for their support in 2016 – and looking forward to 2017 and whatever it may hold!

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

22 December 2016

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

We're winding down now for Christmas as Terra Infirma Towers, so I'd just like to take a moment to thank all our clients, partners, friends and followers and wish you all a very Merry Christmas! The Flaming Lips song above is one of my very favourite Christmas songs and playing it triggers the seasonal cheer for me, and the lyrics hit the button even harder this year than normal.

Enjoy!

 

Tags: ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

19 December 2016

Keep on nudging people into sustainable behaviour

paths

I found out last week that one of my clients dissuades people from using air travel by requiring the prior approval of the Chief Operating Officer. This creates a pinch point – booking a train is much less hassle.

At another client, staff have to pay for short haul flights upfront themselves and claim the money back, whereas train tickets get purchased directly by the company. This means they could be out of pocket for six weeks.

At a third, we had to remove the bureaucracy around booking the teleconferencing system when we found it was putting people off using it – booking travel was easier. Once the red tape had gone, the teleconferencing went from gathering dust to booked out almost overnight.

The whole 'nudge' theory – make desirable behaviour easier than undesirable behaviour –  has gone out of fashion recently, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work. The examples above show how powerful it can be.

I see a massive overlap with my Green Jujitsu approach to employee engagement for Sustainability as both treat people as they are, rather than what you would like them to be.

 

Tags: , , ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

16 December 2016

Embedding Sustainability into Capital Investment Decisions

live-theatre-mastermindLast Friday saw the final Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group meeting of 2016. We met at the wonderful Live Theatre in Newcastle and had a great lunch at the Theatre's Caffe Vivo.

The subject of the meeting 'Embedding Sustainability in Capital Investment Decisions' - a recurring topic when we discuss other issues. We got so many great insights it was very difficult to boil them down to just twelve for a blog post, but here goes:

  • Use bureaucracy to your advantage – get Sustainability into the checklists and stage gates;
  • You don’t have to tag all sustainability projects as sustainability projects – if it’s needed, it’s needed, full stop;
  • Challenge the status quo and have a good business case prepared in advance;
  • Delegate the job of ‘policing’ decisions on Sustainability to others or you will become a pinch point;
  • Pick the big impact issues and let the small stuff go (80:20 rule);
  • Find the overlap between Sustainability requirements and company strategy;
  • Cosy up to key decision makers long before any decision is taken;
  • Understand the organisation’s financial rules inside out – they may be being applied in a way that unnecessarily prejudices against Sustainability;
  • Outcome based procurement allows potential suppliers to propose best way of fulfilling your needs;
  • Don’t consider anything with a negative impact on customer experience – it will almost certainly end in failure and rancour;
  • There’s always a focus on costs, but there’s nothing worse than reputational damage;
  • Make the case of the downside of less sustainable options/do nothing as well as the upsides of the sustainable options.

I've favoured the 'big strategic principles' in that list rather than the myriad of practical tactics which also arose. Alongside that were many company-specific ideas which we don't record as the Group operates under the Chatham House Rule.

If you are interested in the Mastermind Group then click here for more. The present group is based in the North of England, but we're investigating setting up a London branch in 2017, so if that interests you, please let me know as soon as possible.

 

Tags: , ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

14 December 2016

Free Your Mind, and Sustainability Success Will Follow*

sunrise

We had a great Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group Meeting last Friday - I'll post more this Friday (I'm still writing the session up). But one comment really stuck with me over the weekend:

"The realisation that I didn't need everybody's buy-in, just the buy-in of those who matter [in this case], was really liberating, it really made the task achievable."

As I keep saying, the biggest barrier to Sustainability is the space between our ears. That applies just as much to practitioners as non-practitioners. We all get hidebound by self-limiting beliefs such as 'we have to get everybody bought into this' – Sustainability is difficult enough without placing (almost) impossible hoops to jump through along the way.

I recently posted 10 such self-limiting beliefs on a LinkedIn article which has attracted quite a bit of attention, most of it positive but some commentators are still wedded to ideals and political dogma over practicalities. That won't help them or anybody else move towards Sustainability.

 

* with apologies to George Clinton.

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

12 December 2016

Join Green Academy in 2017

For those who don't know, Green Academy is our unique series of 10 sustainability webinars (on-line seminars). These are different from most freebie sustainability webinars in 3 ways:

1. They are designed and delivered as learning sessions, not sales pitches;

2. We provide you with a workbook for each session, so you can apply the learning to your organisation and generate an action plan to take forward;

3. We charge a modest fee to take part which is extraordinary good value given the amount you learn.

The video below explains how it works.

Here are the Green Academy dates for 2017:
green-academy-2017

If you sign up to Green Academy 2017 before midnight on 31 December 2016, we'll give you 33% off the usual price of £330.00 + VAT using the button below (or e-mail us and we'll send you an invoice)


Alternatively you can sign up to the free taster session, 17 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2017, on 18 January here, although you won't get the same deal on the other 10 afterwards.

 

Tags: ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

7 December 2016

Rules of Survival for Sustainability Start Ups


The latest edition of Ask Gareth considers the challenges facing start ups in the sustainable space. His blunt assessment of the difference between success and failure may surprise you.

Ask Gareth depends on a steady stream of killer sustainability/CSR questions, so please tell me what's bugging you about sustainability (click here) and I'll do my best to help.

You can see all previous editions here.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

5 December 2016

WaterAid makes me think twice!

yard-sale-2016

A couple of years ago, the kids asked could we "send some money to poor people in Africa" and it has now become a regular thing to do a bit of fundraising on the run in to Christmas. The two years we gave to SolarAid, this year the kids wanted something related to water so WaterAid was the obvious recipient. As with last year, we ran a yard sale, and although we didn't shift that much stuff, we raised over £100.00 and caught up with the neighbours over a glass or three of mulled wine. It's a nice antidote to the traditional consumerism and gluttony, of which we partake liberally.

When I was clearing the garden to put up the stalls, I realised I needed to clean the decking as it gets very slippery during the winter. So I filled a bucket with hot soapy water and gave it a scrub. I went back to the kitchen to get some cold water to sluice it down. Just as I was about to fill the bucket, it dawned on me. "We're raising money for WaterAid and you're about to throw buckets of drinking water quality water at your decking, you idiot." I went back out into the garden and filled it from the water butt.

Goes to show how behavioural change requires interruptions, even for someone who eats, lives and sleeps sustainability every day!

 

Tags: , , ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

2 December 2016

Let's Build the Sustainable Future we want to see

sunrise

After the groundswell of hope after the Paris Agreement this time last year, 2016 hasn't been a great year for sustainability in general and climate change in particular, cumulating in the election of a (probable) climate change sceptic to the White House.

But I am cheered by the 400 businesses who wrote to the President Elect and told him to keep on the low carbon trajectory. Don't forget the much repeated lament of anti-capitalist activists as to how much power the corporate world wields. Much as I'm a staunch democrat, if business has that power and uses it for good, I'm not going to complain. That's true Corporate Social Responsibility.

So I call on every corporation to create a vision of a sustainable future for their business eco-system and develop a strategy to deliver on it. Don't wait for politicians to lead; if you forge a sustainable path, they will follow (and, some at least will try to claim credit - just let them). Build the future you want to see.

 

Tags: ,

Posted by Gareth Kane no responses

Free monthly bulletin:

Learn how to help your business go green from the comfort of your desk..

View events

By Gareth Kane

Everything you need to know to integrate sustainability into the DNA of your business.

Submit button

By Gareth Kane

A highly accessible, practical guide to those who want to introduce sustainability into their business or organization quickly and effectively.

Submit button

By Gareth Kane

The smart way to engage effectively with employees

View events