Our opportunities to change things can come from unexpected directions. A new CEO who wants to shake things up. A sudden upsurge of public enthusiasm for naked shampoo bars or reusable cups. A cost-cutting drive.
How can you make the most of these changes from elsewhere, and surf them expertly to get things moving in a sustainable direction?
Surfing a wave of change
Proposals for energy efficiency measures may be judged on their return on investment – a rise in the price of energy may mean that something which was rejected six months ago is suddenly back on the agenda. Or consider what happens when organisations are merging. Having a common new initiative like a mental health network or a community volunteering scheme may be a very helpful way of building a new sense of organisational pride and team work, as well as having environmental or social benefits. When the mergers team are looking for something to gel people together, the sustainability change-maker can offer them a solution.
Notice what else is attracting attention and making waves. Sometimes it will be a sustainability issue - like single-use plastics or modern slavery. Sometimes it will be only distantly related - Brexit, or the arrival or a new CEO. Get traction for your sustainability action by harnessing the energy that’s already on the move.
David Bent describes working with a partner organisation, whose CEO had been looking for a cause célèbre,
“O2 had been spun off from a larger, long-established player. Ronan Dunne, the CEO was looking for the next challenge, as part of ongoing brand and cultural repositioning. He wanted to light a fire in the belly of the staff, to keep renewing and rejuvenating things. He heard another CEO talking about how sustainability was motivating and profitable, and he put those two things together. He saw the possibility of aligning purpose – doing good – with profitability at just the time he was looking for something new.”
What’s changing where you are?
What are the changes underway where you are, which are getting all the attention and traction?
How can you surf that wave of change, to advance the sustainability agenda?
Change Management for Sustainable Development
Surfing a wave of change is one of five change strategies explored in my book Change Management for Sustainable Development, published by IEMA. David’s quote comes from there too. Find out more here.
Making the Path by Walking
This post was first published in my Making the Path by Walking newsletter, October 2018. Scroll down to the footer to subscribe.