The Eco-Advantage Mindset…it’s all in your minds!!
Let me start by telling you a story…
In 1963, Oregon teen Dick Fosbury was a good high jumper on his high school track team, but he was nowhere near ready to compete on an international level. Five years later, Fosbury emerged as world’s best high jumper!!!
For decades, high jumpers had jumped over the bar using basically one method: run at it face forward, kick one leg over and then the other. Thousands of coaches were teaching millions of kids, the “proper” way to jump, working to perfect what Fosbury would show as sub-optimal method. Instead of using this traditional “straddle” or “scissor” approach, Fosbury saw a new way to clear the bar. As he approached the hurdle, he turned his back to it, arched over and kept his legs together. This simple innovation changed the sport of high jumping forever.
Fosbury won the gold medal in 1968 Olympics Games, breaking both U.S. and Olympic records. In four short years, by the 1972 games, twenty-four of forty Olympic high-jumpers had adopted his style. All but two medalists since 1968 have used what is now called the Fosbury Flop.
The potential to remake the sport was always there. After all the mechanics of Fosbury’s jump were easy to grasp. But only an innovative thinker, a future engineer saw the possibility for transformation. As Fosbury told Sports Illustrated, “I’ve never tried to be a nonconformist.i just find different solutions. I’m a problem solver. That’s what engineers do.”
End of my story………..Gotcha clues????
You are absolutely right…there’s a Dick Fosbury hiding in each of us.
Everybody talks about out-of-the-box thinking and paradigm shifts, but it’s discouraging how rarely we witness real, discontinuous change. Fosbury had found an instant ‘competitive advantage’ from looking at an old problem in a new way….
Similarly in the corporate world, a handful of new companies are developing news ways of approaching a thorny problem: How do we grow and prosper while decreasing pollution and conserving natural resources.
A foundation for Eco-Advantage can be built by reframing how everyone in the company looks at environmental issues. For these companies, environmental thinking is not always the final word on strategy, but it is always a consideration.
A new mindset if absolutely critical to manage eco-risks, drive innovation and turn environmental pressures into competitive advantage. Companies need to use an environmental lens to change the way they think and sharpen their business strategies. After a while these companies don’t have to focus consciously on finding an alternative perspective. Environmental thinking becomes intrinsic to how they do business. Deeply embedded, the Eco-Advantage Mindset arises naturally at every opportunity.
Some basic rules to get you there:
- Look at the forest, not the trees: Companies should think broadly about: (a) the time frames involved in investment and strategy decisions, (b) the full range of potential pay offs from those investments, including hard-to-measure intangible gains, and (c) possibilities for adding value across the full chain of production.
- Start at the top: Every company should have a commitment to environmental thinking at the very top of the organization.
- Adopt the Apollo 13 principle – “No is not an option” : In leading organisations, management provides bold environmental goals and seemingly impossible tasks- and refuses to accept failure.
- Recognize that feelings are facts: Top performers know that what NGOs, employees, customers, communities and other stakeholders feel about a company’s environmental performance and reputation can be much more important than reality.
- Do the right thing: Choices made should be based on core values, including caring for the environment, even when it might not pay off in the short run.