Monday, October 20, 2008

Many hands

At its heart, the move from Green to True Blue is a shift from focusing on the planet in the abstract to focusing on people in the particular. Sometimes we need the power of governments to make changes, but most of the time change that sticks demands that we get real and get personal.

The main trouble with large organizations is just that, they are large and they act large. There’s nothing wrong with scale (and a lot right with it) but if you can’t leverage that scale, it’s deadweight. The metaphor of the speed boat and the ocean liner sums it up. The speed boat may not carry as many people to its destination, but it gets there faster, is more willing to try a different route and can easily change direction. By the time the liner changes course it has already stopped to take on ice. You can see this with governments as they bicker about change and end up with so many goals that the idea of focus is a distant memory. An extraordinary result of the current financial crisis has been usually tectonically slow governments like the UK’s, responding with speed. The familiar management idea of having to have a ‘burning platform’ to effect change has been proved right yet again. Get people emotionally and personally involved, and stuff happens fast. Get them enmeshed in rationalizing their conclusions, and get ready for years of talk.

The Blue revolution has to be market-led, enterprise-driven and people-powered. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. The big challenge is to stop obsessing over everything that’s to be done and start concentrating on what we can do. Until we get passion and commitment from individuals, nothing can change long term. If we can change the conversation, we can change the way of the world. My guess is that if we all did something simple like turning off the lights when we left a room, the energy savings would be significant and the boost to a personal sense of control would be incalculable.