Competition can put Spice into Sustainability
When I was younger and musing on what future family life might hold, I would never have guessed I’d have three sporty kids. The eldest isn’t into ball sports but can run, cycle or swim much better/further than I could at the same age, middle child plays rugby for a local club twice a week and the youngest is a dead keen footballer and turns out for a club as well as his school. It’s a far cry from me dragging my feet on the way to compulsory PE at school.
It’s half term here in NE England, seemingly a week behind the rest of the country, so I’m mixing up parenting and working. The rugby player plays on the wing and, while he’s faster than most of the rest of his team over 50m, I spent this morning encouraging him to work on his 10-20m acceleration to get away from the opposition defence. Problem is, he won’t go flat out unless he has someone else, ie me, to run against. Nothing like humiliating his poor Dad to get him going.
We are competitive beasts. Regular readers know I believe that Sustainability is fundamentally about psychology and that we should use psychology to drive change. If your organisation has a competitive culture, use it. One of the most powerful tactics NGOs can deploy is league tables of the best performing businesses in a sector. Having personally witnessed the effect of the sadly short-lived UK’s Most Sustainable City league table (and been part of the winning team two out of the four times it ran), I can vouch for the galvanising effect a league table can have.
So, if you boardroom wants to beat other businesses in the sector, talk about what competitors are doing. Run competitions between departments to, say, cut carbon or waste. Give out prizes for the best Sustainability. Use gamification to compare the mileage achieved by different drivers. Whatever you can do, get those competitive juices running.
Meanwhile, I’ll be walking off the lactic acid from this morning’s sprinting. All in a good cause!