Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saving the World from Mediocre Coffee?

People like coffee.  I like coffee.  Good coffee is sublime.  Bad coffee is, well, terrible.  What is mediocre coffee like, and what is saving the world from it like?  I decided to find out.

I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago.  No big deal, right?  It was entitled "Saving the World from Mediocre Coffee" from the London Business School.   The immediate conclusion I drew is that there is no shortage of smart, energetic, and driven people that unite around a problem and solve it.  The reverence with which the participants talked about their "Project Marlow", a global project to automate the cafe experience in the UK and abroad could be admirable...but...I did not feel that way.  Something about it stuck with me, something at its core that I found lacking and/or completely disconnected from "the world".

I felt like the whole thing was misdirected.  Do we really need to save the world from mediocre coffee?  I know I enjoy a good cup daily, and, despite efforts to buy fairtrade/organic/direct trade, there's no doubt I'm impacting the planet with my coffee habit.  Though, I still thought, really?

As I pondered, I determined that what bothered me was the use of the phrase, "saving the world", which, this team is NOT doing.  The proper term might be "saving the target consumer from a mediocre cup of coffee" (though, from a catch-phrase perspective it does not ring out well), and it just so happens that there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of these targets - but please, not the world.  After all, this is a business, and businesses thrive on offering valuable solutions customers want to meet those customers' needs, right?  I suppose they could be saving the world from a mediocre cup of coffee, if they were integrating environmental and social metrics into their project, but I do not recall hearing any of that.

Words are important, and when an organization tosses around "saving/changing the world/planet" what does it really mean?  As a society, what might we decide is truly important to save the world from?  Famine? War? Climate Change? Disease?  Is it up to us to call bulls___ when phrases like this are thrown about?

So, who really is saving the world?  Anyone?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What's Working for a BCorp Like?

I started thinking about this a few days ago.  I felt as though I was having a particularly bad day, things weren't going as I'd hoped, road blocks appeared where they were not expected, I was working remotely and feeling disconnected which can easily lead to all kinds of downward-spiraling thoughts.  I paused...and thought about what I was doing and how I was thinking...and then re-framed my internal conversation - "wait", I thought, "I'm working in the renewable energy industry (solar to be exact), in a state with a progressive energy policy (Vermont), in a new job that I found by seeking out an organization that aligned with my vision for what businesses can be, AND it's a Certified BCorp!  How cool is that!"

Working at a BCorp is a lot like working at any other company, you have good days and bad days, days you feel energized and ready to take on the world and days that you'd rather never started.  You have positive and negative interactions with colleagues.  You have challenges and stress and happiness and sadness and everything in between.  But for me, when I paused and thought deeply about what I was obsessing about, what roadblocks had been thrown in my way, I realized that I was part of an organization with a mission I believed in and a structure that seeks to do the right thing in relation to governance, employees, the community, and the environment.  I really could sleep at night knowing that the work I did supported, in a tangible way, making good things happen in the world.

When I look at things that way, whatever obstacles and challenges that rear up seem to fade away rather quickly.

So, thank you Suncommon, for being a certified BCorp.

More to come...