This week we had another great Sustainability event in Singapore - organised by Lufthansa Group. While the airline industry overall is struggling to curb carbon emissions, it is great to see that one important player is striving forward on their sustainability journey. Maybe the most prominent technology is AeroShark - a nature-inspired film that is reducing the friction and drag of a plane's fuselage.
The event brought together industry experts into different panels that discussed sustainability also beyond the airline industry. For a while now, I have been pondering about key words that describe sustainability journeys. During this event, I have put more thought into these descriptors which guide us on a solid path towards a better planet and society.
Honesty - past incidents of greenwashing have shown that solid reporting is essential in order to gather internal and external support for the ESG journey. We need to create more transparency and credibility, so that we can strengthen our reputation towards consumers, regulators and talents. Lufthansa has illustrated their effort and dedication to report on a long list of standards.
Frugality - frugality means the careful use of resources and this is strongly related to reducing our consumption of energy, raw materials and natural landscapes. Operational efficiency is not only a driver to reduce cost, in most cases these solutions also have a net positive effect on the environment. The AeroShark film, better transport routing and switching to more efficient drive trains are some great examples.
Courage - risk is a large driver in corporate decision making and often, this is holding back crucial investment decisions. Bold new strategies into an uncertain future requires courage - and we need environments that are enabling more risk taking. One great example was Jungheinrich where the board decided five years ago to fully embark on their sustainability journey; this courage has paid off very well for them.
Synergy - sustainability journeys demand stronger collaboration between the silos within an organisation and beyond their company borders. This collaboration is facilitated with common goals and a belief that together we can achieve more. It was also highlighted that academia and industry need to work much closer and share insights. Together we are stronger.
The journey towards a greener and fairer planet can be daunting. These four underlying principles can act as a guide towards more successful sustainability transformations. Which drivers do you suggest to add?
When talking about sustainability, there are a few important terms that come to my mind: honesty, courage, frugality, etc. Today, I want to talk about courage.
The former Unilever CEO Paul Polman shared a number of insights in this interview and I want to highlight two quotes which are well linked together:
Basically, we need to shift our mindset to "win-win" - currently we are stuck in win-loose. This new attitude means the planet wins, our global community wins, and we as companies win.
In order to achieve this, our operations and products need to become restorative, reparative and regenerative. This is what we as net positive leaders are required to do.
What is the biggest barrier? It is not technology, finances or capabilities. The biggest barrier is courage. What are Paul's suggestions?
Yes, this sounds huge; it is huge. Still, the best time to make your first step in this direction is today. One step at the time.
What is your first step?
Source: Former Unilever CEO Paul Polman Says Aiming for Sustainability Isn’t Good Enough—The Goal Is Much Higher, Harvard Business Review, November 2019
This week the EuroCham has organised a great event about "How to Transform Manufacturing to Meet Net Zero?" with a very vivid and insightful panel. One highlight I want to share is the answer to the question: what would you wish if you had a magic wand?
"If I had a magic wand, I would bring people back to value our planet! Create that feeling of appreciation for what we are receiving from Earth. I wish that people would see the value they are getting out of nature. It is time to pay back." Very powerful words and I can only strongly support this wish.
The event was linked with an introduction and visit of the production site of Asia Pacific Brewery, and the company is very strong with their impact related activities. The organisation is passionate about their 'brewing a better world' campaign and clearly working along the triple bottom line of planet-people-profits.
Let's continue to strengthen the awareness that sustainability is a huge business opportunity. We as individuals, as organisations and as societies can greatly benefit.
In my role as co-chairs of the SwissCham Climate Tech subcommittee, I had the honour to host a CSO Roundtable. We brought together industry leaders in Singapore to share their experience about how we can accelerate our sustainability journeys based on mindset shifts and organisational structures. With a new format that brought the panel very close to a small audience, all people in the room engaged in an open interaction on how organisations can work towards net zero targets.
Three major topics emerged:
Sustainability is admittedly a complex and multi-faceted topic; from small technical solutions to an ecosystem approach, on all levels the drive for sustainability adds complexity. The topic might be less daunting if we understand ESG as one single topic, instead of having separate approaches for E, S and G. And the major driving force is looking at it with a problem-solving lens. Looking at sustainability as the long-term business opportunity as in operational efficiency, market growth, and talent attraction.
When we look at the broad population in most organisation, the majority of front-line and middle management employees are full of ideas how we can do good; they have the insight, understand the barriers, and have the passion to find a solution. Unleashing this potential means that we need to create platforms that enable these people to become ambassadors, gather like-minded people around them, and develop autonomy in identifying solutions. It is as simple as removing the barriers of creating internal movements.
In this context, it has been mentioned that the senior- and top-management levels are often hindering these efforts, killing the energy by demanding short-term financial results. Here, efforts are necessary to convince our leaders to understand sustainability as a business opportunity. Focus on that future business reward and the money will flow automatically.
All three topics are major transformations - we are embarking on journeys that change people's minds, develop new cultures and aspire to bring more humanity in our ecosystem. The result can only be good!
What is your first step to action?
Yes, in the last months we have achieved a lot. The majority of companies have defined sustainability targets and they are concerned about creating their ESG report. Though, we also need to be honest with ourselves: this is only talk and we need action - a lot of action - to reach global success in turning around climate change!
“57% of CEOs identify unclear ROI and economic benefits as a leading challenge.”
Many companies have set ambitions net-zero targets which they want to reach in the next decades. And yes, many companies have scrambled together a team that is identifying opportunities to create impact. Is this enough? In my experience, if you want to reach ambitious energy saving targets, you need to mobilise the masses. And in the context of sustainability, your own employees are not enough; you need to engage your customers, suppliers, your community and a wide range of other stakeholders in your ecosystem. A daunting task.
One principle in change management: let's break down that overwhelming initiative in small, first steps - at the start, we want to create momentum. How can we achieve this? In our practice, we call this Vision-to-Action and the objective is to propagate the high-level, strategic targets into actions for everyone in the organisation. We are using the concept of objectives and key results (OKRs) in this process and ensure that on each level, we encourage a bottom-up approach to translate the higher level OKRs to their own specific scope. Building ownership and excitement.
For example on a regional management level, we can achieve alignment on the concrete results we want to achieve in the next three months while keeping an eye on the long-term vision and targets. And in parallel, we have organised large-scale workshops to enable the front-line employees to identify their contribution to the creating impact. This also creates a fabulous energy and drive.
How are you creating real, large-scale impact in your organisation?
Source: CEO Study: Own your impact, IBM, May 2022
Sustainability is on everyone's agenda and there is a clear focus on ESG reporting, regulatory compliance and buying carbon credits to offset. These all consume resources, create a green premium and drive cost up.
Sustainability journeys are a lot more than that! They open up new markets, they bring efficiency into your operations, they are driving productivity in your workforce. All it takes is look beyond the box described above and get inspired to do more.
Our Celemi Sustainability Simulation is the perfect environment to become aware of the business opportunity of your sustainability transformation. Understand the link between various Initiative and how they impact your business short- and long-term. And all with a playful, collaborative experience.
There are many reasons why companies are embarking on their sustainability journey. Some of you might know that I advocate focusing on the business opportunity of climate change actions - instead of the compliance perspective. Let's look at one part of that story: Attracting & Retaining Talents.
Recently I have encountered a set of companies that are primarily motivated to engage in Sustainability because they are able to cultivate a company culture that is motivating the employees to work at their best. They find meaning and fulfilment in working in an environment that goes beyond financial targets and cares about the ecosystem we are embedded in: our planet, our community, our peers, our families.
This in itself is convincing many leaders to put a strong focus on employee engagement - and on becoming an impact-focused company - because they know that this will lead to a strong positive impact on the company's performance. Though, not everyone has that conviction - allow me to give a more quantitative perspective. For this, I will base my calculations on a group of 100 people with an average salary of 5'000 USD.
"Two-thirds of people are more likely to work for a company which demonstrates strong and meaningful environmental policies", Wired UK | 02 2023
When people feel, their current company does not provide them the right environment anymore, they will leave and the company needs to hire a replacement. This has in fact a huge cost starting from cash-outs like recruitment, to productivity & training related losses, and to negative impacts due to knowledge and cultural losses. Different studies share different numbers though a number I like to work with is that the total cost of re-hiring amounts to about 86% of an annual salary. Let's assume an attrition rate of 10% and due to our Sustainability journey we can convince half of them to stay. This will amount to a rough benefit of 250'000 USD per year.
Get the best out of People
I have mentioned above that a meaningful work environment will spark motivation and as an end result lead to higher productivity. How does that translate into numbers? Let's assume that we can motivate about a third of our workforce; and these people will be able to spend 25 minutes a day more focused and productive - I think a very conservative improvement. This will amount to a rough benefit of 99'000 USD per year.
Adding these two numbers together means that starting a meaningful sustainability journey can create a benefit of 350'000 USD per year for a group of 100 people; this is about 2% of the salary costs. I agree that most of these benefits will not directly appear in your profit & loss sheet - still this might convince you to start focusing on attracting and retaining your talents in your organisation.
This was only one of the three buckets how we can turn sustainability into a business opportunity. Next time we will look at operational efficiency and market opportunities.
It is Friday and here is a less serious post. The other day I bumped into this little accessory which I immediately adopted. Now, it has a fixed place at my bag and for me it represents Climate Tech.
Climate - because it is assembled totally from recycled (up-cycled?) material.
Tech - simply because it looks like a robot.
What do you want to name it?
This has been in the works for months! And we are excited to launch our new service packages - Sustainability x Change Management.
Reducing our climate impact might be the biggest, global endeavour of this century. We as a company decided that we want to contribute our expertise: change management. We are excited to drive the people side of doing business. And this means we can accelerate your sustainability journey with our expertise, our passion, and our methods.
At the heart of our business, we strongly believe that sustainability is a huge business opportunity. Your sustainability journey might start with compliance to regulations and to market demands. We are helping companies to turn this around. Understanding the possibilities to retain & attract talent, to improve your operational efficiencies, and to tap into new markets.
How are we facilitating the change in your sustainability journey? We are focusing on three key elements.
The Sustainability Week Asia is over and it has been filled with great presentations, discussions, conversations and questions! And one underlying thread was very apparent:
This all is so daunting. And this is dangerous. We humans tend to fall into paralysis under such circumstances. Big changes are triggering fight, flight and freeze. Let's avoid that.
While keeping the Sustainability vision in our mind, let's start with small steps; with a pilot, with one product category, with one location. We will see results and we can learn and celebrate. With this we develop more motivation and more people joining the movement. In no time, the results will get bigger, more numerous. Change management is here to accelerate the journey.
We need to start and act now.
During the Sustainability Week Asia in Singapore, on stage and in the hallways, there was one strong agreement among speakers and participants. Most companies are still in the game because of compliance - in order to keep their 'license to operate'. They are pushed by regulators, clients and the markets to provide their sustainability reports and commit to token targets.
If we want to turn the tide on climate change, we all need to go beyond that and understand one important thing:
Sustainability is one huge business opportunity!
The opportunities fall typically into three buckets: attracting & retaining talents, operational cost efficiency and exploring new markets. And all of them have a strong impact on profit. Once we realise this, the sustainability movement will be unstoppable!
How can we create this awareness? As a change management practitioner, there are a few simple insights:
Today was Day one of the Sustainability Week Asia here in Singapore. The first session, Tony Fernandes. And he mentioned something which is close to my heart:
"In sustainability, companies need to push first their internal marketing!"
This, in my experience, means that we need to make the new vision tangible for employees, so that they can relate. And it also means that we need to translate strategic KPIs into targets for the people in the front-line. Translating the vision into action.
I have been glad I was able to be involved in large-scale programs where we have achieved that wide-spread engagement. It takes some effort to create this momentum. And then, the movement is building up and delivering excitement, motivation and then strong business results.
Don't keep your initiatives in a closet; let's create these movements.
A new year often comes with new goals and new dreams - yes, we do have that habit of creating new year's resolutions; who is following a healthy January? From a change management perspective, the problem with these resolutions is that they are often forgotten by February. Why is that? They aim at a change that is too big and doesn't fit into our daily routines.
Let's look at creating new habits that last, make you happy, and have a positive impact on our planet!
Reduce Meat - Establish a veggie day, for example Tuesdays. This means one day enjoying the meat-free options on the menu; for the entire day! That is yummy, healthy and has a huge impact on our carbon emissions.
Public Transport - Commute to work with metro and bus. With a bit of planning you can easily ditch the traffic jams, reduce the stress of driving and stop the hassle with taxi-ing. As a result, you connect more and are able to slow-down a bit.
Ditch Fast Fashion - buy clothes of higher quality and wear them longer. This will also allow you to save money on clothing; plus, you can give your clothes a second chance on second-hand clothes markets. Quality clothing simply feels better and we can avoid huge rubbish piles.
No Single-Use Plastic - bring your own water bottle and stop visiting restaurants that serve single-use plates and cutlery. And yes, that probably also includes your take-away and food delivery. Having a meal at the restaurant and cooking are great ways to connect and energise.
Reduce shipping - switch to options that reduce transporting things around unnecessarily. Do we need strawberries from France? Do we need to order that dress in 3 sizes and send two of them back? One surprising suggestion is canned fish; they don't require a cool-chain for transport, plus it is more nutritious - I didn't know that.
Ask for green energy and electrification - ask wherever you can for an option that doesn't rely on burning fossil fuels. This can be your electricity at home, the transport options (push your local community to invest in electric buses), your stove and heating systems, etc.
These small steps are easy to embed in your daily life. Explore the links below for more ideas and details. And in my experience, you will soon see that you will go beyond these initial changes, you will feel more energetic and content. And you will become an ambassador for sustainability in larger contexts.
This is indeed a fantastic journey ahead - enjoy!
16 Ideas for Greener Living, Bloomberg, Dec 2022
Forget New Year’s Resolutions, Here Are 5 Green Resolutions for Anytime of the Year, Green is the New Black, Jan 2023
Single-use plastic cutlery and plates to be banned in England, BBC, Jan 2023
The New Year is coming! The year of 2023. And when we are reading the news, we hear about a number of dark clouds: armed conflicts, recessions, political unrest, food scarcity. And one of the biggest clouds - environmental destruction; and this is also one of the biggest star!
I have been saying this to a number of friends: sustainability and climate technology might bring an economic upturn in 2023, despite a negative, general outlook. While companies might be careful with spending and investments in most categories, they will not be able to afford to cut corners when it comes to their sustainability efforts. Significant change around sustainability is coming up for a broad number of companies and industries.
On the one hand, many companies will be asked to provide sustainability reports and pay environmental taxes. Though, this is only one perspective. Companies will quickly realise, they will have the competitive edge when they focus on sustainability. Here are some examples:
Another report from Pressetext highlights that green tech is trending significantly across various applications. Listed are
"I am scared and I'm angry that the previous generation created this mess" - for me this statement of John Doerr's daughter has a significant meaning. Not only because she was only 15 years old when she said it; also because it was expressed in 2006! Now, almost 20 years later, it feels like we haven't changed enough. What are we waiting for? Let's get started with stopping greenhouse emissions, creating highly efficient solutions, and restoring our nature!
Speed & Scale, John Doerr, 2021
Rückblick 22: "Grüne Technik" wird zum Trend, Pressetext, December 2022
Not so long ago, I was called by my friends "Mr Gadget". And still today, I am looking at the latest laptops and mobile phones - I really would love to buy them. They seem to be so much better than what I am using today! Really?
Here some interesting figures from the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum:
So, the big question is: is your current electronic device still useful? Can you repair it? When you must replace it, can you buy a second hand device (many people try it once and then sell it)? These are important questions to ask. Not only for gadgets.
Here is what you can do:
So, I am still happily using my three year old laptop and four year old smartphone - they are actually great devices!
Source: 5.3 billion discarded smartphones this year are 120x higher than international space stationwww.designboom.com/technology/5-3-billion-discarded-smartphones-this-year-10-14-2022/
Inspirational speeches, heart-warming performances and great conversations on our table and across the room! This was this years EuroCham Sustainability Awards Gala.
As with any change, climate action seems to be daunting. Though every small step counts. Let's get inspired; let's inspire others with our stories!
Thank you, SwissCham Singapore, for your support and engagement. Looking forward to more and deeper collaboration in the New Year!
Find here the official summary from SwissCham:
Today I was invited to participate in the Greentech Festival and it is always refreshing to see that the sustainability topic is promoted from various angles via a diverse group of people. For me, it was also a time to catch-up with friends and engage in many insightful discussions. One theme popped up which I want to share here. We need to be more honest. Especially when it comes to sustainability and our impact on the planet. And, we need to be honest with understanding and with respect.
And in this phrase, we can also bring the Asian and the European culture together and combine the best of the two worlds. The factful honesty which is often assigned as an European quality. And the tactful expression of thoughts which can be observed in many Asian cultures. Let's bring these together. Let's be honest that we are still far away from where we should be in terms of sustainability.
Let's be respectful and encouraging that we have started with the first important steps.
Last Wednesday, the Climate Tech Subcommittee event was all about Carbon Tracing & Offsetting. We as co-chairs of the subcommittee feel that this is an important topic which needs a solid conversation. We wish we achieved that last week.
We started off with an insightful keynote by Karina Cady with three key messages below. Reach out to us to receive the slides which are kindly provided by the Fuller Academy.
The panellists also agreed that a net-zero strategy starts with the reduction of energy consumption and waste and only as a supplement, we add carbon offsetting to our strategy. A final key insight was that if we start now with carbon reduction and offsetting, it is an asset in our balance sheet; if we wait it will very soon become a liability. Feel free to connect and reach out to the four speakers for more information.
Learn more about the Climate Tech Subcommittee of the SwissCham and follow SwissCham on LinkedIn to receive news about our latest events! Looking forward to talking to you soon.
Carbon Capture is in everybody's mind and ears. From new technologies capturing CO2 from the atmosphere (Climeworks) to crazy markets for carbon credits, solutions to offset our carbon footprint are in high demand. Corporates and governments need to comply with their ambitious net-zero sustainability targets!
Though, how effective are these carbon off-setting projects? What are the best ways to create transparency and build trust? How do carbon offsetting fit into a wider net-zero strategy that aim at the decarbonisation of our planet? Let's initiate the change!
Join us at our event organised by SwissCham Sub-committee Climate Tech on Wednesday, 9 November at 6 PM, where they will be discussing the ins and outs of Carbon Tracing & Offsetting with our panel of experts from SGS Testing & Control Services, Nandina Partners, IHH Healthcare and Carbon Impact Capital. The panel will be followed by an apéro to network for all participants.
To get this out at the start: this is a book review. A review of a climate-fiction book called 'The Ministry for the Future'. And there are two things I think about this book: a) it is a must read for everyone!; b) the the book is very disturbing, at least the first half; towards the end it turns out to be revealing and exciting. Let me explain why and how.
There seems to be no denial: we are heading into a climate crisis and we already observe many disasters across the globe, across all the continents. Are we doing enough today?
While Ministry for the Future is fictional, it is very well researched (and has great story telling). And if one point is clear in the book, we need to make drastic changes. Today, we are using a number of legacy technologies - for example in transport, food production, and energy generation - which are obviously bad solutions for the environment and human health. There is no way around - we need to stop them! We need to find a way to manage this change.
One element that made me feel frustrated is that many exciting, obvious solutions simply don't work. While some less obvious solutions, surprisingly, might work. This means we need to become more creative and experiment with a lot of different approaches to find the solutions to our key issues.
Some of the solutions described in the book are around slowing down our lives. What if transport takes double or triple the time? How can we consume half of the energy we are using today? Is this so difficult? Or can we simply take these new realities into our planning? This means we need to shift our focus to long-term goals; this also means to consider our future generations.
Happiness comes from the relationships in our lives - and not from money. This leads to another stream of solutions which includes the creation of communities and new ways to connect with people. This also leads to new ways how we can allow everyone in the society to benefit and make a living from reversing climate change. And with that, reducing the wealth gap.
Ok, what does that look like in practice? So, here comes one spoiler of the book... Jet air planes are emitting a great amount of carbon dioxide and are known for their negative impact on the climate - we need to stop them. And how? What about airships?! Floating vehicles that generate electricity via the exposure to the sun and wind. They can stay in the air almost unlimited and are energy self-sufficient. They might only travel 200 km/h which is still fast enough to reach many destinations in a day or two. And as a benefit, you will have less jet lag, enjoy a more comfortable journey, can explore the nature around you, and connect with other passengers. How does that sound to you?
As with any book, you need to create your own opinion. And I am very curious to hear from you what do you get out of Ministry for the Future?
Sources: The Ministry for the Future
At the end of last year, I have decided to follow my interest and take a deeper look at Climate Tech. I started this out of three simple beliefs: climate change is an essential global topic; creating business opportunities will accelerate the solutions; change management practitioners can enable to achieve impact.
Today, I am proud that the announcement went out that we have launched a SwissCham Climate Tech Subcommittee! Together with Regula Schegg, Marco Preisig and Jérémy Lovey, we have launched this community with the goals to
We are looking forward to organising a series of workshops and networking events. In small working groups we will collaborate on concrete projects. In larger groups we will network and share case studies.
What makes you excited about Climate Tech?
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Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.