Tex Gunning
President - Unilever

on his decision to place the nutritional needs of children in the developing world at the heart of Unilever’s business mission:
 
"I have no choice. I don’t want to live a life creating an illusion of meaningfulness while deep in my heart I know that every five seconds there is a child dying. None of us can pretend anymore."

Shai Aghassi
CEO - Better Place

pioneering the infrastructure to enable a mass transition to sustainably powered electric vehicles:
 
"We need to get answers to fundamental problems. We need lights without heat. Cars without tail pipes. Cement without CO2. And we need to not create the illusion that a partial solution will solve a big problem."

Wangari Maathai
Parliamentarian, environmentalist, activitist

accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for The Green Belt Movement, the grassroots initiative that changed the life of the people of Kenya:
 
"In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now."

Tulsi Tanti
CEO - Suzlon

the world’s fourth largest wind turbine maker:
 
"Yes, green business is good business. But it’s not just about making money or saving money any more for me. It’s about being responsible. I just want to do what I can to fix the problem."

Muhammad Yunus
Founder - Grameen Bank

"Soon a good part of business genius, creativity and innovation will devote itself to this new goal of social good. A whole new stock market will thrive in the financial capitals of the world, motivated by this new incentive."

culturework

organisation renewal
...with attitude

An outrageous goal with courageous leadership can change the world

In 1994, Ray Anderson experienced an epiphany having read Paul Hawken’s groundbreaking book The Ecology of Commerce. Anderson, the founder and CEO of Interface, the world’s largest carpet tile manufacturer described the moment as “a spear in the chest”. He had no idea his hugely successful business could be so environmentally destructive.

What if Interface were to become the first industrial company in the world to achieve sustainability, he thought. How would his 3000 employees respond? What would be the effect on the market? On customers?

Employees were stunned when Anderson challenged them to lead their company to what at the time was ‘a mystical place no one really knew anything about’ and they certainly had no idea how to go about it. Today, fifteen years on, this oil intensive business has been transformed, emissions are down by 90% and Interface is 60% of the way towards achieving their big goal of zero impact on the environment by 2020.

The inspiring mission galvanised Interface employees. The ‘higher’ purpose infused their work with meaning, team spirit surged and they became more focussed. One of them, Glen Thomas, wrote a poem which became a song and was taken up by a French publisher, translated into many languages and made available for corporate events worldwide. Small acts can make a difference!

As for the market, Ray Anderson says the business case is clear. His costs are down, growth is up and profits have doubled. Their well-publicised mission has inspired imitators in the business world and customers everywhere. “No amount of slick advertising at any cost could have created the goodwill in the marketplace that this effort has created,” says Anderson. “You’re talking authenticity at its very best.”

At dya we care about the world we live in. We care about the world future generations will inherit. We see the extraordinary shaping power of organisations and believe this power could be used to shape a different world.

A few - like Interface - are doing great things, but isn’t it time that all institutions and organisations in every walk of life, took a good hard look at their contribution to the future state of the world?

In our work with groups and organisations we have seen the energising effect of articulating a bold vision. Ray Anderson puts it this way: “You unleash the creativity of a company when you hold up a vision that is so outrageous it takes the breath away. Our ambitious vision at Interface has taken us to places we would never have dreamed of.”

It is entirely possible for institutions and organisations in every sphere of life to adopt an outrageous goal that connects their work with any one of the many environmental or societal challenges that face us today, thereby helping to create a world in which work serves life and workplaces become actually what they are potentially: cradles of cultural renewal and progressive change. To have life-centred work, instead of our current work-centred life.

Is there any fair and just reason why this should not be so?

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