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Androids Herd Electric Sheep
Androids Herd Electric Sheep

Australia’s rural communities face a range of increasingly complex issues that decision makers and the communities, themselves, must confront if they are to maintain the sustainability of these cities and towns. Take the greater introduction of robots and farming automation.

As David wrote recently in Indvstrvs magazine, the use of these will be profound, increasing farm efficiency and productivity; but, the impacts on employment will also be significant…

 

Androids Herd Electric Sheep

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Managing Stakeholder Outrage
Managing Stakeholder Outrage in Age of Distrust

Time and again, organisations are being caught unwittingly like spooked deer in the proverbial headlights of increasingly sophisticated and cynical stakeholders. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As David wrote recently in Indvstrvs magazine, a more strategic, collaborative approach to good community relations can be taken that is kind to the bottom line…

Managing Stakeholder Outrage in Age of Distrust

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5.4 Earths Needed if the World Lived Like Australia
5.4 Earths Needed if the World Lived Liked Australia

EcoWatch is reporting that the annual resource budget has been used up at its quickest rate ever and that humanity will hit Earth Overshoot Day five days earlier than last year.

I’ve posted previously about the doomsday clock being stuck at three minutes to midnight and how that was met with minimal attention by the media, here in Australia.  (What was frightening about that was a colleague telling me that it got no attention in the US).  And I’ve posted about the need for stories of hope in the face of news like this that is complex – and downright scary.

It’s only too easy to revert to our hectic lives, and deal with these issues (or not) on our own – all at a time when we need to collaborate more.  At a time when we need to hear those positive stories.

So what are yours? Where are you seeing efforts to tackle the systemic? Because I could sure do with hearing more.

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Sustainability and the Need for Stories of Hope
Sustainability and the Need for Stories of Hope

It’s vital to find hope where there seems to be only hopelessness.

For those with the passion to “save the world”, each day seems to be inundated with more stories of water security issues in somewhere like Africa, climate change leading to summers getting longer (and fiercer) here in Sydney, inequality issues and lack of understanding with respect to indigenous peoples or refugees, lack of political support…need I go on?

Hopelessness seems to abound.  Can you connect with me when I note that those stories can sometimes make it hard to keep remaining positive, even when it’s vital to act?

And, I put my hand up to having written or shared stories that conveyed my own hopelessness at times. Here’s a good example of that! For those who wish to act, Richard Eckersley characterises those pushing for real change as “Apocalyptic Activism”, a now or never need to engage with the most important issues.  Here, individuals and communities are actively seeking solutions to immediate and long-term problems.  Interestingly, Eckersley refers to this as containing a mix of fear and hope.

I realised that while there are plenty of stories conveying fear, there are few stories of hope for an exciting, sustainable, future. Just where is the abundance of good news stories highlighting that inroads can be made?

Here’s Some Hope….

So, I thought I would share a personal “biggie” that I read about some time ago.  It has given me hope.

Harden Tibbs observes that, in order to grapple with an industrial growth trajectory that is rapidly approaching systemic limits and possible collapse, we not only need green, eco-efficient technology, but also a significant shift in cultural values.

Now, the shift in technology is feasible as advancements in technology continue to grow, it seems, exponentially.  We don’t need any fundamental breakthroughs.

But, it is only natural to get pessimistic when it comes to a transformation in what society values. On face value, short-term thinking, vested interests, consumerism etc don’t seem to have slowed their momentum.  Hear me out….

However, here’s the thing (drum roll, please):  Tibbs has been observing this necessary shift in what is valued.

Increasing development in the western world is changing social values on a grand scale.  Tibbs observes that social research over the past 30 years is confirming this; indeed, Tibbs and other academics have identified three definable sub-cultures; namely:

  • “Traditionalists”, those who hate change and dislike a world full of complexity. Hence, they see things in black and white;
  • “Modernists”, those who focus on what succeeds – irrespective of side effects. They want to make money and value technological progress; and
  • “Cultural Creatives”, probably like you. They like to think in holistic terms, are concerned about future generations and the planet, and see humanity as one people.  In a nut shell, they are concerned with issues like climate change, the refugee crisis, peace, inequality, diversity…

Now the big news is that Tibbs and others are seeing a cultural tipping point occurring where the cultural creatives are becoming the largest of the three groups in terms of numbers.  The challenge is, therefore, coordinating such a group into action as the traditionalists push back.  (Have you noticed in many countries just how conservative things have become?).

Now, you may feel cynical about what I’ve written; but for me, it provides hope.  The numbers of those who truly care seems to be larger than many of us (well, at least me) may have realised.  The greater the numbers, the greater the potential for transformational and positive change to be realised.

What are your stories of hope?  I’m sure that I’m not the only one who wants to hear these, big or small.

 

Eckersley, R. 2004.  “What’s wrong with the official future?” In G. Hassan, ed., After Blair: Politics After the New Labour Decade. London, Lawrence and Wishart.

Tibbs, H., 2011, Changing cultural values and the transition to sustainability, Journal of Futures Studies, March edition.

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Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller, Our Complex Problems & Getting “Unstuck”

Okay, unlike the norm, Ben Stiller only gets a cameo in this story. In fact, the link is pretty tenuous but I hope that you see it for the key point I’m trying to make….

For me, 2016 got off to a bit of a rude shock, to say the least, with the announcement that the impact of mankind has now got to the very point of being so extreme that we have probably pushed Earth into a new geological epoch. The evidence for this ranges from the well-known through to the rarely considered and includes:

  • Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution;
  • Based on current trends, the ocean is expected to contain 1 tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight);
  • We are now on course for the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals – only this one could see 75 % of species extinct over the next few hundred years based on current rates of extinction; and
  • Traces of isotopes have been left in the planet’s mid latitudes due to the proliferation of nuclear weapon tests in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

And to give it further perspective, soon after that news came out, the annual Doomsday Clock announcement was made. Now, if you missed it, the Doomsday Clock conveys how close we are to destroying our civilisation by using the imagery of a clock stuck at midnight (implying the lights are being turned off and they ain’t coming back on).

In 2015, the group of eminent scientists behind the Clock determined that it should be set at three minutes to midnight. That is:

unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”

At present, the clock is to remain at three minutes to midnight.

In terms of creating a sense of urgency, I would have thought that it can’t get any bigger than that! For me, having worked in sustainability / sustainable development for twenty years, it once again got me really thinking about what legacy we are leaving behind us. And how can a greater sense of urgency be created.

Improving Awareness…and Action

Which brings me to raising awareness of these wicked challenges.

When I saw the announcement about the Doomsday Clock getting airtime on TV one morning – while I can’t be sure of this – I reckon it got far less time than a segment on Ben Stiller appearing in my home city of Sydney to promote his latest movie.

“Oh, how funny is it!” seemed to be the collective view. And Ben was interviewed and showed himself to be a very nice guy.

I’m sure he is – and his movies are a lot of fun. But, the temporary entertainment that his movie brings gained so much more consideration over coming days than the Anthropocene and Doomsday Clock got collectively.

Hence, even when we actually know what we’re doing – and we can see the consequences – so many within the media are still caught up in old habits and old ways of thinking. But is the media solely to blame? Aren’t they just showing what the majority want?

If so, why is that? Why do we only want to focus on the superficial?

Well, Daniel Goleman believes that we suffer a vast, shared blind spot.

Our brains have been exceptional when it comes to “fight or flight’. But, with the slow emergence of threats that are complex, less palpable and coming at us in some indefinite future, our built-in perceptual alarms seem to be useless. Evolution just hasn’t had to deal with these before.

So, as the clock ticks, how do you think we can give society the jolt required to get people seeing that the old ways of thinking are flawed or even to see the opportunities for calling on a different way of thinking? How do we interest mainstream media? How do we interest social media to have discuss such topics in a respectful and constructive manner?

Certainly, there is scope for the use of improved narratives (the case to tackle climate change has a poor narrative, for example, in comparison to the narrative of fear initiated by climate sceptics). And art can also be a great way to appeal to people with more than just facts.

Should I just be raising awareness by taking a selfie in a bikini and putting it on Instagram? J.   Anyway, over to you…..

 

Bulletin of the atomic scientists. Thebulletin.org

Goleman, D. (20010). Ecological intelligence. Penguin books.

Vaughan, A. (2016). Human impact has pushed Earth into the Anthropocene, scientists say. Guardian 8th January, 2016. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/07/human-impact-has-pushed-earth-into-the-anthropocene-scientists-say

WEF (2016). The new plastics economy: Rethinking the future of plastics. World Economic Forum.

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“Heroic” Leadership: Volkswagen, 7-Eleven and Failing Sustainability

I put my head in my hands, sighed and shook it.

Having received a magazine from a professionals’ association, I’d leafed through it until I came to something that interested me: a “Leaders versus Managers” article.  But it wasn’t anything new.

It’s the one that interviews a few people on what those two roles constitute.  Leaders are always viewed as inspiring and strong people who have the charisma to pull people along to deliver the vision that they have developed.  And imposed.

A crisis of few leaders

It could be argued that sustainability and community wellbeing have faltered due to a scarcity of leaders.  Indeed, leadership has been identified as a huge problem in Australia, full-stop.  The Karpin Report Revisited (Samson, 2011), for example, highlighted the dire shortage of leaders that Australia has and the significant problems that this presents.

In the case of sustainable development, I believe that a lack of leaders has resulted in too much followership.  Rather than develop programs tailored to the distinctive social and environmental opportunities and challenges individual enterprises or even communities face, too many programs are simply copying what others are doing – irrespective of how relevant the copied programs are.

The end result has been a lack of engagement by senior staff to resolve these opportunities and challenges and a subsequent lack of a genuine contribution.  Too often, it’s been a superficial farce.

A crisis, now, of the wrong type of leadership

But for me, the challenge is more complex than that.  And therefore, so much more concerning.

I had shaken my head because of the adverse flow-on effect this creates.  Of relevance to social and environmental challenges was the observation in Samson (2011) that, for leaders – the select few – the current “interest in issues of ethics and corporate social responsibility will be short-lived”.

While a superficial interest in CSR unfortunately didn’t really surprise me, the lack of interest in ethics freaked me out.  But, then the crisis of an absence of leadership, ethical in its focus, is playing out globally with the Volkswagen (VW) scandal, where emissions were intentionally understated for its cars on a significant scale in order to “comply” with stringent regulations in the US.

Perhaps one reason for this is that culturally, VW leaders placed the utmost importance purely on providing value to shareholders, believing that economic or financial sustainability are somehow isolated from environmental and social issues.  And consequently, the reputation of this organisation will take a hammering.

Locally, the convenience store giant, 7-Eleven, has been exposed for its systemic exploitation of wages for those at the bottom of the organisation – the service staff.

Therefore, encouraging the retention of power in the hands of a select few creates significant risk for an enterprise and the wider community through poorly informed decision making.

I also shook my head because the heroic leader concept utterly fails when it comes to the wicked social and environmental problems that enterprises and communities face.  The concept just won’t work because whilst these problems truly impact on enterprises, we’re not talking about business as usual; we cannot, as Raiso and Lundstom (2015) note, treat the world as if it is just a machine whose intricacies can be easily solved.

We are talking about highly complex problems (and opportunities), which by nature have many different views on what the problem is and therefore, how they should be solved.  Hence, leadership needs to be adaptive and the hero is not the be-all end-all for these situations.

Mark Paterson from Currie Communications discussed the need for collaborative approaches to be taken to wicked problems.  Teamwork alone, he notes, is not enough to solve wicked problems.  Collaboration and the resulting creativity will take you further.

I completely agree with Mark.  Collaboration helps overcome the biases we all bring to an issue and, by helping us to gain a greater understanding of the context we face, different perspectives help us obtain far more innovative solutions – as I’ve been finding with many diverse communities and enterprises I’ve been working with across the East Coast.

VW could do with a collaborative approach right now if they have any chance of turning their reputation around.  If they want to be seen now and into the future as being genuinely committed to improving the wicked problem of city air quality, they certainly cannot remain in their own cynical bubble.  They need to be working with say international air quality NGOs or public sector organisations, who are tackling the same problems – but from different mindsets.

Because, perhaps paradoxically in the eyes of VW executives, I believe that they must rely on truly partnering with such organisations if they are to regain their reputation and make a contribution; it will not come from working alone.  And the same goes for 7-Eleven.

However, this challenges the heroic leader; it means not only being adaptive, but also humble enough to share power with collaborating organisations.  And that isn’t easy for many to accept.

As was the case with the magazine from the professionals’ association, it will be hard to shift the narrative away from the need for the few, strong leaders to valuing the many.

Finally, improving leadership to meet these challenges may be a wicked problem in its own right but, in the meantime, enterprises could encourage collaboration and shared leadership by:

  • Collaborative leadership styles being seen to start from the top;
  • Reducing hierarchical structures;
  • Training and mentoring staff in good collaboration; and
  • Using systems and processes like KPIs, performance agreements and reviews to signal the value to an enterprise’s staff of sharing leadership.

But then again, these ideas are coming from one, biased perspective….

Samson, D. (2011). Karpin Report Revisited: Leadership and Management Challenges in Australia.  Innovation and Business Skills Australia.

Raiso, H. and Lundstom, N. (2015).  Real leaders embracing the paradigm of complexity.  Emergence: Complexity and Organization.  Vol. 17 (2).  pp. 1-5

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Why Sustainability Programs Continue to Give Their Organisations Indigestion

I put my hand up!  I have been guilty of creating a CSR program that was eaten by an enterprise’s culture.  And I still shudder about it, years later.

Oh the horrors!

But, boy I had been so proud of what I had led and how I had engaged key leaders.

There had been no intention to jump into solution mode as many do; nor had too much been taken on as many also do.  Nope, I had spent ages engaging middle to senior managers, involving them in developing a program that was not only appropriate to what the enterprise did, but would also provide enough freedom to pull people along, to get them involved rather than push them to act.

The only problem was that I had ignored the immense power of corporate culture.  Because giving people freedom to develop their own ideas, as guided by that CSR program’s strategic intent, was absolute change management suicide in a culture that could be described in the following diagram as being a hierarchy culture.  Instead, a CSR program, if it was to be successful in that particular culture, required a more detailed prescription of what should be done.

CSR_program_graph

Figure.  Competing values framework. Cameron, K.S. and Quinn, R.E. (2006).
Diagnosing and changing organisational culture: Based on the competing values framework.  Addison-Wesley Inc.

While I appreciate that there are many models of organisational culture, this is such a lovely way to introduce the challenges that many find.  And many people who see this diagram when I show it to them seem to be able to point to their own enterprise’s culture incredibly quickly.  Ha, in fact, I see many hierarchy cultures.  Many old style cultures battling to remain contemporary.

As I note in my whitepaper about why many sustainability / CSR programs fail, organisational culture is a key consideration.

There are so many passionate managers within sustainability / CSR roles who are working in cultures that just don’t value the external environment.  Those organisations kind of understand on a rational level that community and environmental issues are getting a lot of airplay.  They certainly get the need to comply with say, environmental protection and conservation legislation because they value rules.  However, being more proactive as required in sustainability / CSR programs is almost abhorrent to them.

Or perhaps these companies genuinely think that their efforts aren’t as superficial as they are because they don’t value external issues.  They feel like they have indeed gone the extra yard.  Subsequently, the efforts of many fantastic sustainability / CSR managers aren’t creating genuine positive change because their initiatives are struggling as they go up against some deeply held beliefs and perhaps, fears – like enterprises whose narrative for existence still revolves solely around providing shareholder value.

Interestingly, this is also one reason, I believe, why many enterprises create outrage and cynicism within communities that they interact with.  They don’t really place much importance on issues external to the enterprises other than the market.

Just look at the banks.  They are, understandably, portrayed in many conferences as being genuine champions of sustainability.  And yet!  And yet, a large section of staff at some banks are causing community outrage at present for their dodgy financial planning advice, ruining the lives of many customers and the banks are trying to weasel out of owning the problem.  No matter how much effort has been put into their sustainability programs, I suspect that the deeply held beliefs underpinning why those banks exist is that shareholder value far outweighs providing value to stakeholders and the community.

Similarly, many energy and mining companies have been celebrated for their efforts on, for example, the employment of Aborigines and staff and community safety.  And yet, it is widely known that many actively undertook a significant media campaign against the mining tax and a price on pollution.  When there was a potential impact to these enterprises, it’s been alleged that they fought solely for themselves as opposed to the greater good.

My point is not that the sustainability efforts of banks, energy and mining companies or any other company aren’t well meaning; rather that enterprises cannot really shift towards being sustainable and advancing genuine contributions to social and environmental causes when these deeply held beliefs are not considered with respect to the best way to deliver the strategy.

And that is why collective impact or partnership programs will find it hard to get somewhere; for example, making the shift from a hierarchy culture to an adhocracy just ain’t gonna happen “just like that” because the deeply held beliefs – whatever they are – will always bite back and try to maintain the status quo.

CSR_program_graph_red_arrow

The need to pull other levers

Back to my own story that still makes me cringe where change was never going to be transformational in that environment.  A culture like that valued stability.  So, the best I could have hoped for was incremental change.

Having read the culture, I needed to pull a series of levers concurrently to facilitate success.  I needed to think about calling on the control systems that were so valued, internally, and ensure that the means by which the particular goals were to be achieved was incorporated into countless procedures.  I needed to ensure that, as appropriate to that culture, people received whatever training was required, particularly for middle managers who can be considered to be “gatekeepers to success”.  Those managers should also have had CSR responsibilities embedded in their performance agreements, as hard as that would have been.

And I needed to ensure that senior leaders saw this program solely as a strategic risk management initiative rather than be in place to transform reputation or even performance.

So, to paraphrase Peter Drucker, culture really did eat that CSR program for breakfast.

Through understanding your enterprise’s culture and pulling levers like leadership styles displayed, training and engaging people, and systems, hopefully you can avoid your enterprise’s culture eating your program for breakfast, even if it only gives you some indigestion.

What levers are you pulling to overcome your enterprise’s deep beliefs?

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Liveable Cities Conference

Really enjoyed presenting recently on “Improving resilience: Learning from Rural Communities” at the 8th Making Cities Liveable Conference, Melbourne.

So many inspiring stories @ http://healthycities.com.au!

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The Examined Life: Ethics Guide AGSM Graduates and Business Leaders

Article by AGSM

“Ethical leadership starts with us – all of us,” says Anton Hermann (GradDipMgmt ’12), joint winner of the inaugural Professor Wanbil Lee Prize for Ethical Leaders in Business.

Anton and David Ross (MBA Exec ’10) have been recognised for entrepreneurship, ​innovation, leadership and business ethics demonstrated in their work practice.

This new prize has been established by Professor Wanbil Lee, an international specialist in the area of Information Systems with experience across government, business and academia.

There is increased societal pressure on business to behave ethically and responsibly, and Anton and David are apt role models in our AGSM community.

For Anton, studying at the AGSM meant getting out of his comfort zone while drilling deeper into the f​ield of organisational dynamics. The MBA Executive was for David the catalyst to start his own management consulting business.

“I never thought I’d do this and go out on my own,” says David.

“It’s given me the chance to work in some of the poorest communities in Australia, in the thick of such complex issues as crime prevention and economic development, and mediating between communities and coal seam gas companies. My career couldn’t be more rewarding.”

At Minter Ellison, Anton enjoys working at the intersection of business and community.  He advises non-profit organisations on a range of legal issues and is responsible for the direction and delivery of the firm’s corporate responsibility program.

“We measure our performance in a range of different ways but ultimately the look of satisfaction on the face of a client and the face of one of our volunteers simply can’t be measured,” Anton says.

What does ethical leadership mean?

​​​​​​Ant​on Hermann 

Director, Pro Bono & Community Investment, Minter Ellison ​​​

At the AGSM I was struck by an ancient quote from Aristotle: “We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.”  I see this as a challenge to be self-critical and to accept that none of us is inherently ethical or virtuous.  We are all faced with decisions every day.  We are judged on how we respond to those choices and challenges and it is quite empowering to consider that our own actions can be the source of good outcomes.

David Ross

Founder and Director, Phoenix Strateg​ic Management 

Leadership for me no longer entails some strong heroic-like figure setting the direction for a company and expecting staff – and external stakeholders – to follow.  In the work I do, helping enterprises and communities transform their reputation and performance, that old philosophy just doesn’t cut it anymore.

As things change, good leadership requires leaders to take more of a collaborative approach to their opportunities and challenges, underpinned by a greater understanding of themselves, their context (rather than going straight into ‘solution’ mode) and a desire to create shared value. 

In a similar vein, ethical leadership means being considerate in our decision making and thinking about our values and how my actions impact on others.  Key to this is the challenge of appreciating that ethics are contextual and are influenced by the values of stakeholders.

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What’s your story: Why every sustainability program needs a narrative

While it is great that many enterprises have decided to take on a myriad of initiatives and actions within their sustainability or CSR programs, have they truly clarified what the outcomes are?  And if not, is that a problem?

Well, without a clear and compelling narrative describing our sustainability strategy, how can we engage stakeholders with respect to what we are trying to achieve when quite possibly we don’t know what the end goal is, ourselves? And in a world where it is difficult to grab the attention and commitment of stakeholders, both internally and externally, you need to do more than flick them a dull plan.

AS I noted recently in my whitepaper on why sustainability programs often fail, you need a narrative, one that can be fleshed out by leaders to create a story.  I’ve been won over by the need to engage people with more than facts; a story – specific to an enterprise and its opportunities, challenges and the environment in which it finds itself – one that connects with people’s emotive sides.

What’s in a narrative? For me, a well-crafted narrative sets boundaries regarding:

  • The scope of the program (the WHAT)
  • The key activities (the HOW); and
  • Possibly, the key stakeholders to engage or work with (the WHO).

But most importantly, where I think narratives for sustainability programs could be especially potent is when they encapsulate just what is the fundamental objective that you are trying to achieve.  The WHY.

Just as many companies are successful by connecting their strategic direction with a compelling purpose, so too sustainability programs should fulfil their huge potential to engage stakeholders and provide clarity with the use of a great narrative that explains the WHY.  Just why are we doing this?

Have you ever thought about your own, personal, WHY, or your narrative?  That get’s people thinking (that can get people thinking about changing jobs or careers).

Anyone who has visited my website will have seen that Phoenix “exists to support transformational change that benefits enterprises, communities and the environment”.  That is my WHY; that is what keeps me going – to support transformational change in the reputation and performance of enterprises as a consequence of facilitating them to strategically advance transformational contributions to social and environmental issues within communities.  And I work towards this WHY through the services I offer.

What could they look like?

Here is a very different example to get you thinking.  It’s from a community proactively dealing with interconnected, wicked problems such as high unemployment, high truancy, poor reputation and crime:

By connecting our community, we will reduce the impacts of drugs and alcohol, mental health issues, domestic violence and other violent crimes on our community.  Sustaining a long-term mindset, we will facilitate this by involving and educating disadvantaged families, transforming school attendance, and enabling and partnering with those who wish to make a difference in embedding positive behaviours throughout our community.

Just think about it, it’s quite confronting; it humbles many of us when we think our enterprise has real challenges with figuring out how to tackle issues!  Well, this narrative for a truly wicked problem still contains the WHO, WHAT, HOW and WHY.  Does your enterprise have in place such a statement for its sustainability strategy so that you know what it strives to do?

For many, that question might be met with an awkward pause however, awkward or not, it needs to be raised.

The value of a narrative

Creating a narrative obviously helps with engaging stakeholders because it summarises the directions of a strategy / plan / report into just a few compelling lines.  While people may not remember a narrative word-for-word, generally they can remember the “gist” of the direction.  How many plans has your enterprise had where you can remember what they are trying to achieve?

But a narrative helps with so much more.

Crafting a narrative can engage stakeholders because the best narratives take a participatory approach to their development.  It isn’t just one team that develops the ideas on their own; influential stakeholders are also involved, which in turn, raises the potential to engage them when it comes to delivery of the narrative.

Importantly, it forces enterprises to think strategically.  I believe that is a huge problem with many sustainability programs – that they have been created with little rhyme or reason to them.  Instead, the development of a narrative helps enterprises focus on what is important, relevant and where it can get the biggest bang for its buck – internally and externally i.e. on issues of materiality.

Similarly, thinking about the why – a program’s  fundamental objective – really forces enterprises to think about why do they have a sustainability program in the first place.  Just what is trying to be achieved?  What are the outcomes sought?  DO we have this program to help improve performance?  Or to innovate new business models?

And finally, thinking strategically forces enterprises to consider tradeoffs.  That is, by crafting a narrative, enterprises soon come to a point where they realise that they will never have enough resources – time, people or money – to do all that they want to do.  They can never be enough to all causes.  Accordingly, they need to think about where they can advance a genuine contribution efficiently and effectively and therefore, if some of the initiatives or actions are really necessary.

But wait! There’s more!

For a recent sustainable development project, I built on the use of a narrative to engage and educate stakeholders on what the strategic direction would be (in this instance, the narrative described above) by calling on a top graphic designer, Tone Bullen from Smorgasbord (http://smorg.com.au), to draw the narrative:

narrative

I am finding that people really connect with these drawings because the narrative becomes more than words or facts; it becomes visual – and they end up appealing to people emotionally about “what could be”.

And isn’t that what we want?

 

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