Turning into a Sustainability / CSR skeptic with all that marketing mumbo jumbo

I have to say that I am becoming more of a Sustainability / CSR skeptic each day now. Not that I do not believe in the ultimate goal for Sustainability or responsible business practice. In this I believe even more then ever before.

What I am becoming very skeptical about the whole overflow of Sustainability / CSR related news and comms these days. I call it Sustainability / CSR mumbo jumbo (phrase).mumbo-jumbo

A sign of the times with more marketing people involved?

What are the reasons? Well, one aspect could be that there are more and more marketing professionals involved in the sustainability profession then ever before. As we all know marketing people are excellent communicators. But ultimately they listen to the businesses that pay their bills. And this can be seen by all the different mumbo jumbo news items. I want to hear about relevant Sustainability / CSR news and not the latest marketing campaign to gain as many clicks as possible on a Sustainability report for example. The list is endless and I know from many people in the field that the daily frustrations of an overflow of irrelevant Sustainability / CSR news these days leads them to place the news into their junk folder and forget about them. This is a problem as the relevant Sustainability / CSR that does exist is being forgot about too.

Where does that leave me as a stakeholder?

We all have a choice what we want to be influenced by if we stay sceptical about the Sustainability / CSR news we come across.

To start of I would look for the following signs of quality in a Sustainability / CSR news item:

  1. Is the headline too grand to be true?
  2. Is this original content or content that has been duplicated from another site?
  3. Where did the article originally get published?
  4. Who wrote the article? A company or an individual?
  5. Are there any comments possible? Or is it simply a site pushing content out?
  6. Does that website publish on a regular basis or is it publishing all news items all at once?

I hope this is of help to anyone reading this and all feedback is appreciated. I am a big critic when it comes to irrelevant Sustainability / CSR news so watch this space for more on the topic.

Picture Credit: Mumbo Jumbo

Sustainability, CSR or SD? A word about terminology

If you know a bit about Sustainability and have read about the topic somewhat you will know terminology is a tricky topic when it comes to Sustainability.

There are so many options to choose from when we talk about Sustainability terms. Ever since I started to work in this field I decided to draw a very strict line with regards to Sustainability terminology. The reason is straight forward. I do not want to go around mixing up terms when I feel they are fitting better for what I want to say. Especially when you write about Sustainability this helps a lot.words

I prefer to use the term Sustainability primarily these days. To me Sustainability is the goal we all (business and society) need to aspire to in my view. To reach total sustainability is impossible but as a goal and aspiration it fits in my view.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The other term I have been using ever since I started to write about Sustainability is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR is a part of this goal of reaching Sustainability in my view. CSR might sound a bit out of fashion these days but it still has a meaning for me. CSR for me means that businesses around the globe have a responsibility and duty to conduct their business in a responsible business manner. This includes all levels of the organisation.

Sustainable Development (SD)
Sustainable Development (SD) is a term that has to be mentioned when we talk about Sustainability. For me SD is the term that has the lowest importance for me at the moment and in a way it always had that third spot it terms of terminology. Why? Simple. For me SD is was the starting point for the whole Sustainability movement back when the Brundtland report was published in 1987. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are giving the SD a new lease of life in term of significance from what I can see at the moment. But the SDG’s are also steering SD away from its original meaning. I might be wrong but the 17 SD Goals are great aspirations but are very broadly set in my view. I am unsure about the impact they will have over the next years for Sustainability best practice. But the SDG’s are a topic for another post.

To sum up
This is what I think of Sustainability terminology at the moment. Sustainability is the end goal /aspiration, CSR defines the role of business in the field of Sustainability and Sustainable development is standing a bit outside of this at the moment. Maybe the SDG’s will change that somewhat. I sure hope this is the case

This might be a bit abstract for now but I would love to hear what your views are on these terminology puzzles. Are we making just too much of a fuss about this and just get on with it?

Picture Credit: kalyan02

Where is the Sustainability engagement these days?

I have been away for the Sustainability business field for about 3 years now and a lot has changed during that time. I will report on more changes over the next months in further blog posts. But today I wanted to highlight the most significant change I have noticed.

Is the Sustainability business field overflowing with insignificant information and dominated by individuals and organisations that are simply putting out information and do not encourage engagement like they did several years ago?4773742888_d057e55789_z

Let’s take a step back. I am away on business all of this week. I am fortunate to work with very friendly and competent people that know what they are doing. But generally business is a tough environment and you as a leader of a business need to be competitive to hold your ground to pay everyone’s wages and to make a reasonable profit at the end of the year.

The success has two general rules. Firstly you need a great product / service and a market you identified as the place for your product / service to sell. Secondly you need the right people that help you make this happen. These people make up the business and are the cornerstone of your success or failure. This is even more the case when working in the Sustainability field in my experience.

Why is the Sustainability field so special?
Simple. Business is all about making your effort worthwhile for the individuals involved. Under normal circumstances. But the foundation of the sustainability business sector is based on the wish and need to “make the world a better place”. Sustainability is such a personal issue for many people working this field that profit is not always the top priority. This was the case when I left the Sustainability field for a couple of years.

After reengaging with people in the sustainability field over the past months I have to conclude that there is one key learning for me.
Sustainability as a marketing tool is bigger than ever before
Now I feel that there are more organisations / individuals around that have chosen to be focusing on the marketing message of sustainability rather than our common goal of promoting responsible business practice leading towards a more sustainable future for us all.

This is a very negative trend in my view. There is so much talking and praising going on all the time that progress is hardly recognizable.

Here is an example:
Twitter was always a hub for great sustainability and CSR connections and sharing of blogs, news and other related resources. Now I believe it is purely used a communication platform to push out communication and marketing messages about sustainability. Even if you try to be genuine and helpful, all of the marketing noise is making it impossible to get enough people engaged enough to create meaningful progress.

And other social media channels are not different. Facebook is dead in terms of Sustainability engagement from what I have seen. Instagram is the symbol of the quick marketing push. Oh well I could go on but will not…..

LinkedIn looked promising but is now also getting overloaded with people pushing out the marketing messages like there is no tomorrow. Not a good development in my view.

Where is the engagement?
So where is the engagement going on these days? Are there any closed networks that I am unaware of now? Have I missed the boat on those?
Enough from me now. I would be very interested in any feedback everyone. Either comment or message on Twitter. Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree here but I have the feeling I am not unfortunately.

Picture Credit: wfryer

The Fortune Change the World list – my view

I am back from holiday and had a closer look at the Fortune 2016 Change the World List I did a quick blog post about last week.

Well I intended to take a closer look to be honest. But once I spend a minute on the website and looked for more details I quickly realized that are none. Very irritating I have to say.

Where is the real content of this list? Yes there is this methodology. But not much really. Click the image to see it in detail.

Forbes Change the world list method

Too me this is very strange. Why publish a fancy list with all sorts of social media engagement with not much to offer?

I do not want to sound overly negative but I expected a bit more depth to be frank. And I am just looking for meaningful content that I can use to write about. But this is not it!

If you have a better idea about this list please let me know. All feedback appreciated.

Merger Tesla With SolarCity and why it can be a revolution

You might think of Elon Musk what you like but one thing is clear. He mixes up the automotive and solar businesses like never before.

I recently read this article about the merger of Solarcity and Tesla in the US.: Why Elon Musk’s Plan To Merge Tesla With SolarCity Will Probably Work. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has come under huge pressure to explain himself about why this is good for Tesla.

solar matrixMy key learning from this article really is simple but also powerful:

If we want to change the world we need to be team players but at the same time also try and be different in the way we think of the now and the future.

And just imagine what Elon Musk is trying to achieve here: With the merger of Solarcity and Tesla he can actually change the whole way we use solar energy for us as consumers – if he is successful with this merger that is.

If he is not Tesla/ Solarcity will go bust. But that is a risk he is willing to take it seems.

Can this merger be the initiation of a revolution in the solar and related markets? 

100% yes. I am living in Europe and will not directly be affected by this merger as it is a US only merger. But if it all works out we will most likely see more mergers like this to create a whole new customer base for the solar and home appliances market. And who knows maybe other sustainability related products will have similar cross-functional mergers in the future. It would definitely help to reignite the global Sustainability discussion.

So thank you Elon musk for stirring up the Automotive and Solar market. In my view we need more people like you to change the world for the better!

Picture Credit: clearlyambiguous