Nobody does it better
I’m in Scherpenzeel in the middle of the Netherlands for one particular reason: it’s the base of Interface’s European operations and the location for the company’s Mission Zero Sustainability Ambassadors Summit. I’m doing a piece of work for Interface Europe on employee engagement, so I’m here on a watching brief to get a better understanding of how Interface gets it so right.
In particular, I am really intrigued as to how the Ambassador programme is the only green champion programme I have come across which really delivers. Most sustainability champion networks crumble into poorly-attended whinging shops, to the extent that I never recommend clients set one up and, if they already have, I usually challenge them as to why they did. The Ambassador programme is clearly different and my undercover mission is to work out why.
The summit kicked off last night with a fabulous gala dinner (above) and a couple of things really jumped out at me:
1. Leadership: Interface founder and Mission Zero instigator Ray Anderson may have been dead for 4 years, but his spirit clearly lives on. Rob Boogaard, CEO of Interface Europe, gave a really powerful speech, leaving no doubt that he sees Mission Zero and Interface’s business strategy as pretty much one and the same.
2. No half measures: you don’t become a Mission Zero Ambassador just because you were the only one from your office to turn up to a lunchtime meeting. No, at Interface you have to go through a multi-layer training programme and have to deliver an assignment before you achieve that status. And I mean status – it’s more like earning a belt in a martial art than joining a bunch of volunteers.
3. Restless ambition: the vibe at the dinner was “well done, we’re very proud of you, what are you going to do next?” Laurels were certainly not being sat on.
The word that came to mind as we boarded the bus back to our hotel was authenticity. These guys say what they mean and mean what they say. It’s for real.