SBN con­fer­ence

Sit­ting qui­etly in your seat lis­ten­ing to talk­ing heads isn’t on the agenda at this year’s Sus­tain­able Busi­ness Net­work’s con­fer­ence.

Element - - Contents - by He­len Twose

Col­lab­o­ra­tion to cre­ate prac­ti­cal solutions for busi­ness sus­tain­abil­ity is at the heart of the Project NZ #theBIGshift con­fer­ence, which in­tro­duces four ar­eas of fo­cus for The Big Shift, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s project aimed at boost­ing sus­tain­abil­ity.

Three sus­tain­able busi­ness vi­sion­ar­ies gave El­e­ment a heads up on where they will be lead­ing dis­cus­sions at the con­fer­ence.

Robb Donze, INZIDE Com­mer­cial

Robb Donze is an old hand at the sus­tain­able busi­ness game.

For nearly 20 years his com­pany, INZIDE Com­mer­cial, has been cre­at­ing syn­thetic car­pet tiles out of re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als – mainly old fish­ing nets – then tak­ing back the old tiles to be re­cy­cled into new floor­ing.

Donze says his in­ter­est was piqued by the Sus­tain­able Busi­ness Net­work’s new work stream fo­cussing on the cir­cu­lar econ­omy, which moves the fo­cus from waste man­age­ment to waste op­ti­mi­sa­tion.

He says what ap­pealed was how it sim­pli­fied the whole sus­tain­abil­ity dis­cus­sion.

“You don’t need to get into all the de­tail of the re­cy­cle con­tent and what-not, and what’s go­ing into a prod­uct as long as you make peo­ple re­spon­si­ble when they’re fin­ished with it. “All the clever stuff just doesn’t mat­ter then.” Donze says with the like­li­hood that scarcity of re­sources in the future will push up the price of raw ma­te­ri­als the cir­cu­lar econ­omy ap­proach is not ‘tree hug­ging’.

“It’s not do­ing this for al­tru­is­tic rea­sons be­cause we want to save the planet. That’s a side ben­e­fit.

“It’s good busi­ness.”

Rachel Taulelei, Yel­low Brick Road

De­spite the whim­si­cal brand name Rachel Taulelei is se­ri­ous about get­ting beau­ti­fully fresh fish on the plates of New Zealand restau­rant cus­tomers.

Yel­low Brick Road be­gan out of Taulelei’s de­sire to en­sure fish reached restau­rant kitchens in peak con­di­tion by sourc­ing her prod­ucts from fish­er­man – both big and small op­er­a­tors – who took care and at­ten­tion with all as­pects of their op­er­a­tions.

What fires Taulelei up are the ideas of sus­tain­abil­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity around oceanic re­sources and that del­i­cate bal­ance between con­ser­va­tion and com­merce.

“We are this great sea­far­ing na­tion and we have been do­ing this [fish­ing] since the be­gin­ning of time.

“In­creas­ingly we’re iden­ti­fied as be­ing world lead­ers in this space and I would like to have a dis­cus­sion around the au­then­tic­ity of that mes­sage.”

She says it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to put a fin­ger on a def­i­ni­tion of sus­tain­abil­ity, but she takes the quota man­age­ment as a start­ing point and lay­ers it with prod­uct trace­abil­ity and au­then­tic­ity.

“I don’t think, quite frankly, that busi­ness is any clearer on this sub­ject than con­sumers are and con­sumers look to busi­nesses for their lead.”

Vivien Maid­aborn, Loomio

When Vivien Maid­aborn co-founded an on­line col­lab­o­ra­tive de­ci­sion mak­ing soft­ware tool spun out of the Oc­cupy move­ment she could al­ready see an ap­pli­ca­tion be­yond its ac­tivist roots.

Cre­ated us­ing open-source code by young peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­enced the best and worst of large group de­ci­sion­mak­ing, Loomio is now used by up to 28,000 peo­ple in 75 coun­tries around the world to ag­i­tate for change.

“Over half the dis­cus­sions on Loomio aren’t in English,” says Maid­aborn. Maid­aborn knew it could be taken fur­ther. “I always saw the op­por­tu­nity for trans­form­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion cul­tural life.”

In­creas­ingly busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions are tap­ping into Loomio to cre­ate more en­gage­ment and col­lab­o­ra­tion among staff with­out adding to the cost of do­ing busi­ness, says Maid­aborn.

As well as con­nect­ing teams in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions Loomio can also give a voice to those who would nor­mally be marginalised or are too shy to con­trib­ute, she says.

Maid­aborn says she will re­veal what Loomio has taught her about col­lab­o­ra­tion and open man­age­ment for sus­tain­able busi­nesses fo­cussed on embed­ding so­cial val­ues into busi­ness.

Clock­wise from top left: Robb Donze, Rachel Taulelei,

Vivien Maid­aborn

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