Feedback from the Low Carbon Innovation Exchange
As promised, some notes from last week’s Low Carbon Innovation Network. Numbers were slightly depleted due to the Tube strike which brought central London to a standstill.
I facilitated two sessions:
1. Long-term Environmental Strategy
In this session we had a food wholesaler, a recycling company, an energy monitoring system company and 2 consultants (including myself). It was very clear that companies were getting started by identifying and exploiting ‘quick wins’, but were struggling to convert this momentum into a long term strategy.
The most interesting point from this was that the maximum time frame that participarts were working to a 2 year timeframe – so anything over this was regarded as “long-term”. This was reflected in the tendency for the conversation to drift into operational issues rather than strategy.
2. Empowering Staff to Take Action
We had 3 council officers, 3 from industry and 3 consultants including myself and an organisational psychologist. The latter worried me a bit as I was an engineer talking about her area of expertise, but she agreed with the vast majority of what I put forward.
Many of the participants had done the basics – setting up committees, appointing green champions and running awareness events. We discussed ways of making this fun for people – quizzes, clothes swaps and green away days were some of the examples given.
When I asked whether anyone had witnessed a manager showing leadership in this area there was embarrassed silence until one of the consultants recounted a business she knew where the directors had built an ethical business from scratch, recruiting only people who would be committed to those values and behaving in a low carbon manner always.
No-one had really tried getting their staff to generate solutions (I distributed the Terra Infirma brainstorming tool to help those who wanted to try).
As always I really enjoyed the sessions and I’m always trying to stretch the people who come along out of their comfort zone. But I’m getting frustrated that while participants think they are really making progress, they’re not really breaking through to making a real difference to the way they operate.