An Olympian Task
Yesterday I was a guest speaker at a LloydsTSB event about sustainability and the 2012 Olympics. LloydsTSB are the official bank of the games, so they are promoting the business opportunities to their customers. We had 175-ish SMEs from the North East in the room – a real mix of manufacturing, construction and professional services.
I did a variation of my Three Secrets of Green Business presentation with a few elements of The Green Executive and some local case studies drawn from some of my client projects. It went down pretty well and I got some great feedback afterwards – I had to replenish my stock of business cards I was handing out so many.
For those who don’t know, the 2012 Olympics is intended to be ‘the greenest ever’. Although the scrapping of plans for a large iconic wind turbine has led to some cynicism, there has been a lot of work put into low carbon buildings and a CHP energy system to name but two areas. Suppliers are being required to demonstrate green credentials and rumour has it that one major brand was turned down as a sponsor for having insufficient commitment to the environment.
The last speaker was three times Olympic medalist and breaker of several world records in the javelin, Steve Backley. He did a great turn about success and how big a factor attitude and behaviour are as well as the hard grunt of routine training. It must have been really hard to set a new Olympic record, as Steve did in Sydney in 2000, and see it broken just a few minutes later, but he used it as an analogy of how you’ve got to keep stretching yourself – as Jan Železný who snatched the gold medal obviously did.
I’ve seen this in the corporate sustainability world as well – companies who thought of themselves as green pioneers are getting eclipsed all the time. Unlike an athlete whose body must eventually concede to the ravages of time and stress, companies can constantly reinvent themselves with new blood and new thinking. This ability to keep evolving to stay at the front of the pack – I’m thinking of General Electric’s Ecomagination programme or Marks & Spencer’s Plan A sustainability strategy – truly is an Olympian task.