Many years ago, I listened to Thomas Friedman when he has talking about his famous book “The world is flat, hot, and crowded.” He referred to humanity’s ignorance and pseudo actions as a “green party”, giving all sustainability initiatives a nice label. Today we call it “greenwashing.” Companies publish shiny sustainability reports, give amazing speeches about the “life-changing” projects they are running, and some even turn their logos green, just to demonstrate how caring they are. This will not solve the climate crisis.
Then there is another feeble attempt: the Carbon tax. Seems like an indulgent approach, paying your way out of your sins, polluting the world. It seems quite reasonable, however, as we know from economics, tax is not a guarantee of equality. As the income and wealth gap widens, so will the gap among companies. This will not solve the climate crisis.
Greenwashing has become commonplace, unfortunately. Global agencies help global companies to create amazing messaging and fake realities. It becomes difficult to distinguish between what’s real and what’s made up. From consumer goods to banking, from airlines to fashion, from automotive to energy. Many industries are not aware (or they simply don’t care) about the severity of the issue. This will not solve the climate crisis.
Cruel truths that we ignore
In the last few months, state officials took action against many companies who were falsifying their reports or statements. Banks were the focus of these actions in the US, Germany, and in some other countries. We must make the public aware of what’s real, what’s necessary, and what’s fake.
Then there is another breed of people entirely. The most famous and recent example cropped up in London in May 2022. HSBC Asset Management’s Stuart Kirk gave a controversial speech at the Financial Times Moral Money event. “Who cares if Miami is six meters under water in one hundred years? Amsterdam has been six meters under water for ages.”
It sounds harsh and inhumane, but there is a decent amount of truth in what he says. After huge pressure from many different stakeholders, HSBC suspended Stuart Kirk and his future is unclear. Will talking like that help us to understand the brutal truth about climate change, its risks, and all the false activities going on? Probably not, but it raises a different kind of awareness. In that sense, ambiguity and diverse opinions will foster the conversations about this existential topic. This will not solve the climate crisis.
Then, of course, there is Greta Thunberg. In August 2018 she started demonstrating for the climate and triggered a global movement, called “Fridays for Future.” She became Time’s Person of the Year in 2019. She spoke in Davos, she talked on the TED stage, she shook the world at the UN conference, and continues to raise awareness and inspire millions.
She has her own style. Some like it, many don’t (“Don’t just scream or cry”). Demonstrating on the streets is good, eating a little less meat makes sense, traveling a bit more consciously will contribute, but still following fashion trends, organizing on social media, and enjoying the highest standard of living in the developed world is just hypocrisy. This will not solve the climate crisis.
Business people in action
There are many other people, aware of the science, experienced enough to balance their emotions, who suggest practical and reasonable actions. Bill Gates, like him or not, is one of the most influential people on the planet, being very scientific, very specific, and also having enough power and capital to do something about it. Breakthrough Energy Ventures is an investment fund focused on supporting ideas to help us to get to net zero and beyond.
Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for one of the very first globally published documentaries “An Inconvenient Truth.” Since then, he has become one of the most important policy advocates, among the architects of the Paris Climate Agreement at COP26 in 2015.
Then there are many scientists and activists, globally recognized, deeply involved in the subject matter, with very broad world views and influential suggestions. Probably the most important one is Jeffrey Sachs. Another important thinker for sure is Jeremy Rifkin. Amory Lovins is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute. James Lovelock is the creator of the Gaia theory. Johan Rockström is yet another rock star scientist, among many others.
Their work will solve climate change. This can’t be a revolution. It must be an evolution. We can’t go from brown to green in one step. There are many shades of brown, ranging from the very dark to the super-light. And there are many shades of green, ranging from the fake bright green to the more honest (and achievable) dark green.
Here at Digitopia, we have a few key statements we strongly believe in. The biggest picture statement says: “Enterprise transformation is business evolution.” Since the dawn of the corporation, especially with the Industrial Revolution, companies have always adapted to change or been rendered obsolete over time. Like in nature, an implicit selection process decides between winners and losers, who will rise and who will fall. So, not the strongest, the fastest, the brightest or the biggest, but those who best adapt to change survive.
Another important statement goes like this: “Transformation is a journey.” This implies that it will take some time to go from where you are to where you want to be. Moreover, the target is usually steadily moving and, most of the time, it’s hiding somewhere. This is about strategy, about a vision, about your roadmap. If you have those, you walk this journey rather consciously, and can control if you progress or not. If you don’t have those, you are just wandering around, like Alice in Wonderland. Maturity measurement, be it digital maturity or sustainability maturity, answers most of your questions around your current state and your desirable future state.
Then there is another very important notion: “Transformation is a team sport.” The quality department can’t ensure the quality of all your products and services. The PMO can’t instill project management capabilities into every single member of the project teams. In the same vein, the IT department or digital guys can’t transform your business on their own, it requires the involvement of almost everybody. Equally, in sustainability it’s not possible that a small select group will clean up all the pollution of your factories and reach net zero just by publishing reports. Ronaldo alone will never win a game. It takes the whole team to win the championship. Transformation requires an orchestrator, superstars, the bench, and most importantly, the belief and the motivation to achieve extraordinary performance.
And finally: “Transformation is inevitable.” We are not just advertising digital or sustainability because they are cool. No, they are actually very hard to achieve, but you don’t have another choice. You can’t turn your back on digital or sustainability. You have to embrace their superpowers, benefit from these capabilities, turn them into gold, and survive natural selection, to make the world a better place.
We are super passionate about your success. Measuring and benchmarking your maturity, guiding your priorities, defining your roadmap to success, will help you accelerate your journey and maximize your impact. Feel free to get in touch.