Sustainability = Innovation + Implementation

Attended the 1st 2010 Sustainability Drinks event in Adelaide last night with 30 other bods sharing an interest in making the world a better place – one drink at a time.

As with previous events, the function was held at snappy Adelaide ‘tearoom – restaurant – martini bar’, Saldechin.

Despite the irony of drinking to sustainability, I did my bit by catching a tram to the do and was impressed with the integrity of the bods in attendance, a legacy of the values and principles of the event organisers, The Shaper Group.

Local eco-pioneer and Shaper Group executive Nick Palousis did the MC honours introducing Saldechin host <…>, and then Shaper Group CEO Dan Atkins to share the sustainability love.

Saldechin are pushing the “support our local producers” bandwagon, and from what I could see, (and heard), they are genuinely innovating with their support for local wine makers through a ‘co-operative’ cellar door, and local produce on the menu.

Dan gave an inspiring talk for a half an hour drawing on his international experience with innovation and sustainability, extending on an earlier conversation we were having on the role of leadership in reinforcing values that drive innovation, strengthen brands, leading to sustainability.

The general tone had definitely shifted from a pure eco/green ‘change or we’re doomed’ sentiment of a few years ago to one of, ‘change, or die’!

The conversation was very much around the role of innovation in sustainability, simply to keep a business alive, and eco/ green sustainability initiatives were very much identified as a given to provide and economic benefit and market edge.

As the pace which the US found US$800B to prop up the flawed financial system demonstrated, today’s drivers are money, and the fear of losing it.

Saving the planet and providing a better future for our children are personal values I hold very deeply, however they are impossible ideals if you do not have the drive and commitment of a society which has been conditioned for 50 years to CONSUME their way to the grave.

The other telling topic in the ‘change, or die’ conversation was Web 2.0.

Haven’t heard it called that for a while, living in the Digital Native Web 3.0 cocoon of my own digi-endevours.

But certainly from a sustainability point of view I saw the cross-over with innovation and operational implications of organisations embracing new social media tools and changing the internal dynamics of how they reach and connect with customers.

The real issue again comes back to leadership.

Do Australian companies, particularly South Australian companies in the context of this gathering, really have an appreciation of the competitive environment that they are up against on a global scale?

Do we, as inhabitants of “the lucky country” really have an appreciation of the scale of the devastation of the last 18 months, and the trigger for innovation that this devastation has created.

Let’s hope so.

The more ‘over the horizon’ thinking like that from Dan and his Shaper Group crew, the more likelihood we will have a few organisations holding their ground against the tsunami of innovation heading towards us from the North.

I’ll drink to that.

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