Act 1, Scene 1: Incremental Is Not Enough

StretchAgendaAnything that looks like an erupting spiral galaxy in a pressure cooker looks good to me.

As I’m exploring pastures and projects new I’m determined to better share the projects, ideas, people and successes that inspire and challenge me, so here’s a perfect start…

If to the cosmic cooking imagery you then add a thoughtfully written dramatisation to creatively engage a wider audience (you know the mainstream one we excitedly think we already do – but don’t) to promote a new take on capitalism, you’ve got my attention, and quite probably a few others who need to step up for the first time too.

Behind the image is the ethos of the Breakthrough Capitalism model of John Elkington and colleagues at Volans. This week saw the launch of the #StretchAgenda, the play to change the board room world, and maybe it will.

Incremental isn’t enough, we have to take what progress we can eke each day but somebody needs to push at the top with the big ideas. Check out the definitions quoted to whet your appetites…

Capitalism is … the future, but needs a reboot. Whether privately or state owned, capitalism must be constrained by political, regulatory and institutional factors to create the consistent social value required to ensure its long term license to operate and innovate. The focus is expanding to embrace financial, physical, human, intellectual, natural and social forms of capital.

Breakthrough Capitalism is … an emerging pathway to a world that works well for all people and all species. Our focus is on new forms of capitalism with potential to drive both financial and non-financial value, value that is increasingly Clean, Conscious, Inclusive, Responsible, Regenerative and Sustainable.

Will it change the game?

Click here to go straight to the #StretchAgenda play.

breakthrough-challengeI’d also heartily recommended checking out John’s book with Jochen Zeitz, The Breakthrough Challenge (2014)

Invest In Community Solar Energy

Liverpool Community RenewablesWhere to start?? There is so much happening right now, and this is me prioritising as I type. Sometimes you just have to do the doing before the planning! There is much more to share and explore soon but first off the mark there is this…

The short version:

I’m looking for anybody wanting invest £100 (or more, much more, they can cope with bigger!) into a Liverpool based community renewables social enterprise that is about to cause a few solar waves.

Click here for more information and the Pioneering Share Offer prospectus.

The slightly longer version:

Liverpool Community Renewables Ltd is edging closer to reaching it’s initial funding target of £80,000 and I’ve offered to help them reach that goal, raise awareness of the project, recruit an army of supporters, advise on navigating future waters and generally shouting about a great non-profit targeting an tapped opportunity.

LCR aims to push solar installations across the north west of England, beginning in Liverpool – the birth place of many world renowned social projects, to accelerate a more sustainable future for all whilst alleviating energy poverty where it is needed most.

Next on the shopping list after the share offer are businesses with a big roof or anybody with spare land to house as many PV panels as we can muster.

Entirely comprehensive version: (including business plan) and prospectus:

Ok, I’ll save the detailed details for those genuinely interested, but there are plenty of those over at www.lcr.coop.

Please share this post with your friends, enemies, neighbours, networks and taxi drivers to find the financial support to help this worthy cause make its impact felt.

You should also Follow LCR via Twitter @LcrCoop and Like them over on Facebook too!

GSBA2015

And the winners of the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards 2015 are…

GSBA2015

Not all awards are created equal.

To some they are great opportunity to shine a spotlight on success, whilst others see only over indulgent attempts at PR and spin. I’ve always been a supporter of those receiving the credit they deserve for often swimming against the mainstream tide and pushing CSR and sustainability, and awards can be an effectively vehicle for spreading the word.

There is also an ever-growing number of awards of countless variations on criteria and the knack is rapidly becoming finding the most relevant awards to your project. It’s worth taking the time to do thorough research. Some awards have more credibility than others, and the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards are up there near the top.

This week I had the honour of joining Solitaire Townsend, Sally Uren, John Elkington and David Doughty to share our insight as judges for this year’s Guardian Sustainable Business Awards. It was our job to combine notes on the entries into the Consultancy of the Year and Communicating Sustainability categories.

I obviously can’t give anything away until the big announcements on the 29th April. What I am probably allowed to let you in on is that The Crystal is an amazing place to visit, John enjoyed the fish for lunch, David D may (or may not) have been a fan of The Archers, Solitaire enjoys chairing hyper-efficient groups, thus Sally was able to leave ahead of schedule, and I really enjoyed the return trip across the Thames on the Emirates Cable Car with my extra time. Thanks Solitaire!

Today (Friday 13th March) is also the final day to cast your votes for the Sustainable Business Leader and Unsung Hero. Click here to nominate your choice for recognition.

I’ve judged many awards and thought I’d offer a few probably obvious suggestions for those wanting to get a better bang for their awards application buck.

1. Be in it to win it.

If you’re proud of your innovation / success / idea, shout it from every rooftop you can find. Don’t allow potential naysayers to stop you. It is a great reward for those involved and hopefully exploited to help scale impact. There is evidence stating even critics see you in a better light, regardless of their voiced concerns.

2. Read and then answer the bloody question!

Don’t just use a box to elaborate eloquently on your wonderous initiative. Answer the question as specifically as possible. Assume the judges know nothing about your project and give details and data, not politician-like overly narrative responses to fill the word count and answer the bloody question. Rant done. Apologies offered if required. Judges really appreciate brevity!

3. Read the rules

It’s not rocket science people. Do your homework. Hit deadlines. Don’t go over maximum word counts. Don’t include extra attachments or links if not allowed. At best they’ll be ignored. At worst you’ll be disqualified.

4. Be honest with yourself.

Not every project is worthy of winning an award. Entering awards does require a certain amount of time to enter successfully. If your project doesn’t really tick the boxes asked save your time until you do have something special to compete with.

5. Ask for help

Build relationships with those conducting the award. It’s not against the rules to ask questions about the process or maybe even what has worked in the past. If you’re really stuck or enthusiastic, you can always ask me too.

6. Don’t ask for help

External advice is a double-edged sword. Outsiders maybe an option for writing award applications but they won’t know (or be as passionate about) your project as much as you do. Often naivety will be overlooked if the main details are there, and passion does win favour.

7. Plan beyond winning

Your amazing project has won? Yay! So what? That lovely new ornament needs to be more than a dust trap. Communicate through all your own channels, including sales, customer service, marketing, HR, everybody, just make sure you leverage all added value to justify the allocation of resources consumed through applying.

8. Learn from the ride

Your amazing project hasn’t won? Boo! Don’t cry. Just because you didn’t get to take home the dust trap doesn’t mean you came away with nothing. What did you learn from the process or the winners? Who did you met on this journey? How will you win next time?

Don’t forget to keep an eye on #GSBA2015 via Twitter and the Guardian Sustainable Business pages for awards updates.

food

Make Your CSR Report Taste Better

foodIt’s been far too long since my last post, and I finally give in and refuse to promise to write more regularly.

Whenever my best intentions to share the amazing projects and work, that I’m bombarded by daily raise their heads, so does a new opportunity for me to add value somewhere ‘important’ and screw that balance between being a great dad to my son, passionately pushing business in a better directions and an accelerating transition to triathlon geek. I like doing, failing and learning, and proud to fail repetitively!

I digress. Which is pure me. I am a creatively chaotic soul, increasingly comfortable with this understanding and I hope you will too!

And yes, there is a point coming soon. I am seeking a commercially orientated favour, but I probably have more social capital built up than most and surely one or two asks is allowed?

The point….

I would appreciate any feedback, and sharing (please!!! – all shared love will be reciprocated when noticed) of the big project we’ve been building since I headed over to CSRwire for 3BL Media. Yesterday we officially launched an innovative CSR / Sustainability Reporting service into the wild. It definitely pushes companies into a more considered frame of mind, communication and engagement, and could even be pushing many businesses further than they admit aiming for. We like encouraging progress and asking the industry to move forward!

I’ve believed in the power of non-financial reporting as an internal process for progress as much as it is a communication tool for many years, yet always wondered why so many allocate tens of thousands in investment in the data collection and creation of a document to then dump as a .pdf on a website few visit.

The whole ethos of this new product aims to get companies communicating their success, learning and future challenges, over weeks and months not 24 hours. It should be about focusing on separate topics, taking the time to more effectively share different messages to different audiences using different channels, but most importantly over longer periods. One off announcements often get lost in today’s hyper-saturated social media world. Maximise that isolated asset!

A good CSR / sustainability report is a narrative and data menu for stakeholders to selectively delve deeper into a five-course meal if they so wish, but don’t force people to rush their meals.

Please check out our big announcement here.

What do you think? Leave me any notes about your thoughts either here, or via @davidcoethica or @CSRwire.

Thanks folks.

Help Required For A New Home

Which wayHave you ever felt strangely at home somewhere you’ve never been to before? It happens to me whenever I visit the US for some reason. I can never explain it, it just does. I suppose I should have expected a similar feeling coming when I agreed to embark on my latest journey, with almost old friends.

As of October 1st I’ve been the new Director of CSRwire for 3BL Media. I’m guessing you’ve probably heard of at least one of those two companies if you’re reading this blog and travel any distance across the online responsible business universe.

A handful of the Founders of 3BL Media had worked for CSRwire before leaving a few years ago to set up 3BL Media with their own vision for the then only emerging social media explosion. Two companies with a similar ancestry borne out of the outdated broadcast press release industry headed off in parallel paths.

I’ve been close to 3BL for a long time with my own path crossing theirs very early on as an upcoming consultancy trying to eek out a reputation with a meagre budget, much to share and dabbling with the new toy called Twitter. There’s even a couple of videos of me to be found as one of the 3BL TV videobloggers along side Christine Arena, Fabian Pattberg, Chris Jarvis and Elaine Cohen – time for a reunion guys (don’t forget those lovely party glasses Elaine)!

Both 3BL’s and my own paths have run in parallel, and occasionally crossed for a project or two along the way.

I always wanted to engage more with CSRwire than I ever did. It was always a go to place for news and original content. I’m just one of those loyal types that had friendships and allegiances with 3BL and felt uncomfortable supporting the opposition, but I could never stay completely away because they were producing great pieces with great leaders.

Anyway, enough of the trip down memory lane and me  sharing my childlike enthusiasm about a new role. I am after something. That most valuable of somethings. Your time. Not much, but a very precious couple of minutes to me.

We’re at the start of the process of integrating CSRwire into the bigger 3BL Media group and we wanted to explore this window of opportunity to engage with as many within our communities as possible to help us build a plan to accelerate into 2015.

I would appreciate more than you could imagine, just 5 minutes of your valuable time to let us know via this SurveyMonkey link what you thought was strong about CSRwire and how we build on those strengths. If you’ve never heard of CSRwire before, that’s fine, you have now, and your input would be just a valuable but you might want a quick tour of the website or @CSRwire Twitter feed first.

I’m also jumping on a plane to the US soon to catch up with the team at 3BL HQ and then onto the BSR Conference (#BSR14) in New York next Tuesday to Thursday (4 – 6 Nov). It’s my first public event in the new role and I’d love to catch up with any readers (or anybody you think I should meet) that are around the event or the city next week! Give me a shout if you fancy grabbing a coffee (I’ll be relying on caffeine by then)!

CSRwire will also be announcing a big focus on all things Sustainable Finance (#SRI, #ESG, #ImpInv) during November for anybody interested in those themes. You’ll be able to submit your own articles or media for consideration. I’ll update this page with the link when it arrives.

More news from the new fun will follow…

 

Could Weakness Become Your Opportunity?

A lesson in the art of vulnerability, or how to click with your ‘date’ using Corporate Social Responsibility.

 

One of those socially invisible bleached out pachyderms insists that companies should constantly defend a cloak of presented perfectionism. As the corporate communications functions of businesses tentatively emerge, like the first struggling amphibians out of the water from the control and broadcast mentality, we are seeing fascinating case studies and pockets of enlightenment.

Does anybody believe businesses are perfect? Does anybody think they even come close, ever? The countless surveys and reports on reputation and brand perception suggest Continue reading

Is Social Good Overtaking Cats?

Climate Summit_HubFor the first time in quite a while I’ve noticed a distinct lack of cute / comedy cat posts (albeit somewhat distorted by buckets of ice water) and a stronger impression of more purpose based flashes in the social media world.

My gut, if backed up by more than a little professional insight into the data, feeling is that we may at long last be turning a social good communications corner. The activist world had too long preached at its audience to save the whale / panda / water / energy / planet to only see early plateauing of resulting engagement. Those who get it, got it pretty quick, but the wider mainstream world nodded, smiled and apathetically carried on regardless.

One latest indicator of the turning tide is the latest collaboration between Upworthy, Unilever’s Project Sunlight and the United Nations Climate Summit. In a space where such apathy has held fast, with nearly 10 million engagements – and yes, the ‘so what’ will need to be assessed – the reach is impressive. The campaign aims to ‘raise awareness and inspire action that prompts global leaders to adopt a more ambitious and urgent approach to addressing climate change’ is laudable indeed and I for one will be keeping a close eye on the story as it unfolds.

“With more than 100 heads of state and government joining leaders from business and civil society at the UN Climate Summit, we want to help them understand how much support there is for ambitious leadership and action on climate change,” said Dan Thomas, head of communications for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team. “Through partnerships with innovative and mission-driven companies like Upworthy, we are constantly seeking to engage new audiences in our mission.” – And about time too.

I appreciate the ethos behind Upworthy, even if I’m not 100% convinced with their format’s efficacy over time, but if very little else it demonstrates both the reception of, and the need for better storytelling, boldness and yes, even playing those mainstream marketing emotional tricks to more diversely convey social good messages.

From the latest press release – The Upworthy community is one of the most engaged on the Web. The average Upworthy post generates 35,000 social actions (shares, likes, comments), which is 39 times more than an average post from the Web’s top 25 publishers. One third of Upworthy’s audience is now outside the U.S., in countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, and South Africa.

With such important challenges edging ever nearer we need those who know to maybe ask more for forgiveness rather than permission in getting their knowledge to the masses.

I’d also like to say a thank you to whomever made the bolder decisions (especially on budget) than usual to explore this collaboration. My optimism is mildly rejuvenated.

Check out this link to find out what all the fuss is about. It’s a no cat zone I promise.

PS – No real cats were harmed during the creation of this blog post, but countless links, images and videos were ignored or deleted.