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Stories About Storytelling

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SAP to Offer Free Online Course, “Sustainability and Business Innovation”
SAP to Offer Free Online Course, “Sustainability and Business Innovation”

PRESS RELEASE - SAP embarked on a more sustainable business strategy five years ago. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot of lessons from customers, thought leaders and employees alike. To share those lessons with you, we’ve built a free, online course — commonly referred to as Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. This MOOC, Sustainability and Business Innovation, will help you understand how to craft, implement and execute a more sustainable corporate strategy.

How O2's Think Big Program Has Delivered £3.8 Million in Business Benefits
How O2's Think Big Program Has Delivered £3.8 Million in Business Benefits

ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE - Last year, I posted a blog on 2degrees about the Think Big program, and how we have helped people from across our business (Telefonica UK, O2 and partners) to get involved with Think Big, directly delivering sustainability benefits.

Storytelling and Data: Using Two Sides of the Brain Is Better Than One
Storytelling and Data: Using Two Sides of the Brain Is Better Than One

MARKETING AND COMMS - In nine earlier parts of this series, we discussed 19 pitfalls in the sustainable business metrics field. (Find the first 7 articles here and the last two here.)

How Can You Transform a Toxic Brand Into One That Is Loved More Than Before?
How Can You Transform a Toxic Brand Into One That Is Loved More Than Before?

MARKETING AND COMMS - It was a Sunday of June 1999. I was strolling in a forest of Luxembourg with my children. When the phone rang, I saw a number from the office and fumbled. One my colleagues talked about a small crisis, and asked if I could get to the Coca-Cola office for a talk. I was over two hours away from Brussels. I assumed the “crisis” to be the petty worry of an overanxious manager, and considered myself lucky to have an escape.

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Businesses Cannot Be Successful If the Society Around Them Fails
Businesses Cannot Be Successful If the Society Around Them Fails

MARKETING AND COMMS - Once upon a time, the ‘S’ word — sustainability — was about as relevant to business as a fork in a sugar bowl. At best, a box to be ticked; at worst, seen as a serious impediment to the pursuit of profit.But the world is changing. Look at the business news and you’ll see the global heads of big businesses uttering that ‘S’ word with increasing frequency.

How Can a Business Succeed by Giving Back More Than It Takes?
How Can a Business Succeed by Giving Back More Than It Takes?

WASTE NOT - It is becoming increasingly clear that the traditional view of business existing purely to maximise profit for shareholders is not so much wrong as built for another time. Businesses have been slowly moving towards a model that recognises the impact they have on society and the environment, putting increasing amounts of budget and resources towards mitigating that impact. But just minimising the amount of environmental damage a business does is no longer enough.Nor is it sufficient to rely predominantly on CSR to create a good impression. Information is becoming ever more accessible, which means that businesses are subject to greater levels of scrutiny than ever before.

Messaging Sustainability: From Boring to Cool
Messaging Sustainability: From Boring to Cool

MARKETING AND COMMS - There, we said it. Sustainability, that thing we all want — that we speak about ad nauseum — it’s dusty, dull, boring. What seems fundamental to the human spirit is that we all seek advancement, progress and growth. We went from the Ice Age to the Stone Age to the Space Age and changed our world drastically along the way. Don't Be Preachy Today, technology and the web have increased connection and made communication easier and faster. We might be addicted to it, but technology is almost always perceived as progress. Progress is action; it is exciting. While we may have moments of nostalgia for the past, we all almost universally want to sign up to the great wild unknown of the future.

Upskilling for Post Growth Futures, Together
Upskilling for Post Growth Futures, Together

COLLABORATION - When I was seven, I was given an Apple Macintosh in the hope that Mavis Beacon would teach me how to touch type. It was an unreasonable expectation, for I was actually more interested in escaping to the fantasy lands of Dungeons and Dragons and Lode Runner. Yet, these games had a lasting, unexpected impact on my thirst for learning. In playing Dungeons and Dragons, I remember being particularly excited each time my archetypal characters would gain ‘experience points’ that enabled them to upgrade their abilities.

Divine Obsolescence, Sustainability & the Silent 'S' in Business Transformation
Divine Obsolescence, Sustainability & the Silent 'S' in Business Transformation

LEADERSHIP - Mention to a sustainability person that their career trajectory should be hurtling them towards some form of divine obsolescence and the reactions are, suffice to say, mixed.The idea of them passing through some blissful reinvention to rise phoenix-like, only stronger and wiser, in some new primary function at the heart of the business doesn’t always ring everyone’s career bell.The fact that they should wish to render their current position and the status they derive from it obsolete — a planned professional obsolescence — seems confusing to some, demeaning to others and otherwise simply, quietly terrifying to those who have been on the 'S' mission for so long.

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Sustainability as an Emergent Property: What Can We Learn from the Super-Organisms?
Sustainability as an Emergent Property: What Can We Learn from the Super-Organisms?

COLLABORATION - In the ongoing drive to create and communicate about sustainability in the emerging economy, it can be useful to conceive of sustainability not as a quantifiable end goal, but as an emergent property. An emergent property arises when individual components or actions, combined together, collectively generate a higher-level aggregate experience. Think democracy. Or plague. Or community. One does not "do" sustainability anymore than one "does" community. One co-creates community through all of the little deeds — hosting the potluck, planning the carpool, sharing the tool shed. Like community, sustainability — or any emergent property — arises out of the contributions made and conditions created in service of a shared reality.

Mosaic and Mark Ruffalo Make New Year's Resolution to 'Put Solar on It'
Mosaic and Mark Ruffalo Make New Year's Resolution to 'Put Solar on It'

MARKETING AND COMMS - Mosaic, the first U.S. company to crowdsource investments for solar projects, is kicking off 2014 with a New Year’s Resolution campaign to “Put Solar on It.” The campaign invites anyone to pledge to put solar on a local home, school, place of worship, business or other property on PutSolarOnIt.com. Throughout 2014, Mosaic says it will provide people with the tools and network they need to make their pledge a reality.Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo is leading the campaign with his pledge to put solar on his children’s school, Stephen Gaynor Elementary, in Manhattan.

How Your Brand Can Counter the Cynics This Christmas
How Your Brand Can Counter the Cynics This Christmas

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - Cynicism about the social role of brands soars at Christmas. Back in the 1950s, singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer riffed on various carols: Hark the Herald Tribune sings, Advertising wondrous things. God rest ye merry, merchants, May you make the Yuletide pay. Angels we have heard on high Tell us to go out and buy!Could brands add something to Christmas beyond gifts and greed? Cultural rituals are all about community: We share food, read stories or sing songs to reinforce shared understandings of our history and the values we share as a society. How can brands help people to get to the heart of the community spirit?

What Mandela's Life Story, Another Mixed-Bag UN Conference, & the GNP Critique Offer Your Business
What Mandela's Life Story, Another Mixed-Bag UN Conference, & the GNP Critique Offer Your Business

NEW METRICS - In eight earlier parts of this series, we discussed 18 pitfalls in the sustainable business metrics field. (Find the first 7 articles here and the last one here.)Two recent events — the passing of Nelson Mandela and the COP talks in Warsaw — and the re-occurrence of a familiar critique about GNP accounting give us new insights on the place of metrics in making change, and potential lessons for sustainable business.

Scientists Think Santa's Carbon Footprint Should Earn Him Some Coal in His Stocking
Scientists Think Santa's Carbon Footprint Should Earn Him Some Coal in His Stocking

MARKETING AND COMMS - In an interesting yet ‘bah humbug’ kind of study, a group of scientists at the University of Leeds' School of Earth & Environment got together and calculated that Santa's carbon footprint from delivering Christmas gifts to the UK alone could be as high as 9 tons per stocking — 25 permits more than the average Brit emits in a year. As part of the University's work with Yorkshire-based sustainability charity the United Bank of Carbon (UBC), the academics set out to highlight the possible environmental damage caused not only by Santa's sleigh and eight reindeer but the manufacturing of the presents themselves.

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Catch Him If You Can: Leonardo DiCaprio Launches Formula E Racing Team
Catch Him If You Can: Leonardo DiCaprio Launches Formula E Racing Team

Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has co-founded a racing team with Gildo Pallanca Pastor, president of Venturi Automobiles, a manufacturer of high-performance electric vehicles (EVs), to participate in the new FIA Formula E, the first international championship for all-electric cars starting in 2014.“The future of our planet depends on our ability to adopt cleaner and energy-efficient vehicles,” DiCaprio said. “Venturi Grand Prix showed a decidedly visionary approach by deciding to create a stable, environment-friendly race and I am proud to participate in this effort.”

The Tricentennial of Sustainability Management
The Tricentennial of Sustainability Management

LEADERSHIP - As 2013 comes rapidly to a close, it is worth noting, I think, that this was arguably the three hundredth anniversary of sustainability management, the formal discipline, as we know it. Indeed, the concept of sustainability management in commerce first appeared in 1713 in a book written by Hans Carl von Carlowitz (Sylvicultura Oeconomica, 1713), a Saxon tax accountant and mining administrator who more or less invented the practice of sustainable forestry.

Vitality! How Life Makes the Best of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics
Vitality! How Life Makes the Best of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

NEW METRICS - “There is no wealth but life.”John RuskinThe magic of lifeThere is much we do not know about how life works to transform the basics of matter and energy into complex materials and massively diverse interdependent systems.Despite many miraculous advances in science and technology, our manufacturing and production is often shamed by the scale, simplicity and systemic safety of life.Arthur C Clarke’s famous quote — “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” — applies just as much to the wondrous technology of life as it does to as yet only imagined technology of a myriad science fictions.

Sustainable Business in Asia: 'Like a Flamingo Among Chickens'
Sustainable Business in Asia: 'Like a Flamingo Among Chickens'

“Like a flamingo among chickens” is the cool version of “a crane among chickens” from the Chinese expression: hè lì jī qún 鶴立雞群; an appropriate description of sustainable business practices in the Asia region. It states the practices as pioneering but necessary.

greenApes Helping Companies Reward Employees, Consumers Alike for Sustainable Lifestyle Choices
greenApes Helping Companies Reward Employees, Consumers Alike for Sustainable Lifestyle Choices

ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE - Buying organic tomatoes may not be a big deal. They taste better and they’re better for both your health and the planet; enough reasons to justify paying a price premium. No wonder organic food is leading the growth of sustainable consumption.But it isn’t always that easy to make the more sustainable lifestyle choice. You may have found yourself feeling bad for using your car instead of public transportation. While staring at an organic cotton T-shirt, you may have wondered if you should buy it or go for the cheaper standard cotton version a couple racks away. It's often an uncomfortable struggle between collective and private benefits: the planet versus your wallet.

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Scrappy Start-Ups Finding New Options for Crowdfunding
Scrappy Start-Ups Finding New Options for Crowdfunding

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - Ryan Kushner and his wife, Amanda Ravenhill, launched their non-profit start-up, Hero Hatchery, whose mission is to “wake society up to the imminent threat of climate change, and illuminate the possibility it holds as a call to reinvent current unhealthy systems,” in October. They hope to raise $30,000 for the world’s first crowdfunded fellowship to support a climate-change activist who will bring out the climate change hero in us all and work to ensure climate change maintains its relevancy in the cultural zeitgeist.

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