Tuesday, October 4, 2016

“Tell me, and I will Forget. Show me, and I may Remember. Involve me, and I will Understand.” -Chinese Proverb

Belief and trust is of growing importance in the world of business. Authenticity and transparency are key drivers in client development. Long gone are the days of nickel and diming, as well as developing client reliance on your services or maximizing profit through unethical economics. In an era of social purpose and social enterprise, transparency and activism have combined to create a business equation around fulfillment. Fulfillment happens through meaningful work, striving toward betterment for others, and true generosity. Taking this approach to business and to clients is driving industries to change how they do business; whether through corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, or ethical consumerism, decision-making based on ethical economics is here to stay.

A large part of this equation is comprised of trust; trusting a company, trusting your collaborators, trusting the supply chain, etc. But the question is: How to develop that trust? How to get your clients, collaborators, team mates, to see you are authentic and ultimately trustworthy?

Most of it revolves around actually being authentic…

Sounds like a conundrum right?

In a product-based company, most of this can be accomplished through transparency and third party validators. Either utilizing or even creating a validation process that certifies a product is made in an ethical fashion, (GoodWeave is a great example), or that a product is even recycled/destroyed in an ethical fashion, (ex: e-Stewards for the Electronics Recycling industry). Based in transparency and stringent documentation, third party validators bring credibility, trust, and authenticity to a product and therefore helping to bring those characteristics to a company manufacturing, producing, selling, or recycling a product.

Service based industries have a more difficult time….

Developing trust with other people who are paying for your time, paying for your service or opinion, entrusting their business with you can be difficult. We are human after all and our first response isn’t to always be trustful with others, especially when it comes to something as dear as our own business.

As an individual and a business owner, it is important to me to empower my clients and to educate them, not just on the services I provide, but how we do what we do; giving them the tools we use. I want them to fully understand our process, learning along the way, developing the trust needed so that they feel confident in executing after we are gone. This doesn’t mean they don’t return as clients, it means that they trust us even more with new projects, knowing we will take a special focus to teach them more along the new path. It also means that along the way, we develop a belief system founded on trust. We don’t just get them to believe by showing them, we develop trust by including them in our process, just like they include us in theirs.

Take Jean Francois Gravelet also known as “Charles Blondin,” for example.

A French tightrope walker who is best known for his numerous breathtaking tightrope walks above Niagara Falls. His most notable performances included crossing the tightrope with his eyes blindfolded, crossing on stilts and once he even had stopped halfway to cook and eat an omelet.

In one of his Niagara Falls exhibitions he decided to push a wheelbarrow over the tightrope, he performed it over the eyes of more than a thousand petrified individuals and like all the other previous treks, the wheelbarrow crossing was successful and greatly applauded.

After the feat, he told the crowd “I will cross again going to the other side, but this time I will carry a man on the wheelbarrow”. He then asks them, “Who among you believe I can do it?!!”
The crowd shouted and cheered affirmations.
They all believed in him.
Then Blondin said “Now, if you believe I can do it, who among you will volunteer to ride the wheelbarrow. Anyone please raise your hand?”
Everyone was silent; nobody among the thousands who believed raised their hand.
The difference between the crowd and the one who rides the wheelbarrow is the difference between belief and trust. Cheering with the crowd is believing, while riding in the wheelbarrow is trusting. 

It is also the man in the wheelbarrow who is included in the process…granted we try to get those individuals involved before we even attempt to tightrope walk with them, but the moral is still the same.

Inclusion is not just a token of diversity and acceptance, as how it is often portrayed to us; inclusion also builds trust, belief, and understanding among parties, business or otherwise. There is value in inclusion, value built around a process.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Diversity and Dialogue – Humanity's Guarantee for a Mutually Enriching and Sustainable Future.

 In 2002, a jointly held UNESCO and UNEP high-level Roundtable report proclaimed cultural diversity

“as a source of innovation, creativity and exchange—is humanity's guarantee for a mutually enriching and sustainable future.” 

This proclamation was made against the backdrop of the then perceived environmental issue: cultural diversity is linked to biodiversity, in a defense against modern developments and indigenous acculturation, leading to rapid decline of knowledge and relationship with their natural environments.

“It is within this background that Indigenous communities have been described as, at one and the same time, victims of environmental degradation and protectors of vulnerable ecosystems (UN 1991: Para. 23).”

In the last decade, others have explored this proclamation in the two other categorical contexts of sustainability, seeing it as

(1) a social justice issue: culturally diverse populations, and often lower incomed, are often at the frontlines of environmental degradations absorbing the impacts, and

(2) an economic bottomline issue: corporate diversity initiatives leading to increased economic performance and profitability. 

But rarely do pundits and academics see the dialogue as a completed circular one. Most are set on seeing this linearly and discretely—contextually independent. Within these independent categorical contexts of sustainability and dialogue, professionals and mangers often take one of two different approaches to sustainability: (1) that organizations have an obligation to do something progressive to address the challenges, or (2) that organizations have the opportunity to change internally and improve to maximize value creation. Not surprisingly, most for-profit organizations took the second path and have developed a body of knowledge around what we refer to today as corporate social responsibility—in a dimensional limit of Me, Me, Me!

But if our Constitutional state is a permissive one, which implies a certain sense of social obligation from private entities, and if corporations are to be treated equally as individuals before the law under the protections of afforded rights, then, not only do the corporations have opportunities to make internal performance improvements within the context of sustainability, but they also have the obligation to facilitate a reciprocal relationship between diversity and dialogue in their communities, marketplaces, and the greater communities in which they thrive to foster sustainable developments for others.

Cultural diversity is a dynamic process and for the corporate sector, it is a entrepreneurial and innovative process. It is not a stagnate deposit of cultural relics to distil best practices. It is an emerging global economic identity still discovering adolescence in the age of We, of Us.

It is in a sense a “reciprocal” relationship (between diversity and dialogue in sustainability), and the “causal link that binds them cannot be severed without jeopardising development’s sustainability.” 

The key to this reciprocal relationship and dialogue is in the investigation of things and in the knowledge exchange—a “continuously flowing and unifying dialogue open to each and every expression of identity.” In the Us context, only in this act of learning and applying can we find cultural diversity really translates to value for sustainability.

“Cultural diversity is more than the fact of cultural difference. It is a value which recognizes that differences in human societies are parts of systems and relationships. Cultural diversity is the value through which differences are mutually related and reciprocally supportive.” 

But the end objective remains an active and communal transition towards positively empowered sustainability.

Something to sit on so to speak.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Process Innovation and Sustainability

The European Union Official Journal stated in 2006 that promoting research, development and innovation “(R&D&I)” is an important objective to its common interest. Research and Development (R&D) has long been a familiar notion in the market process, but Innovation in particular is a recent phenomenon taking on new meanings.

These days, Innovation is often cited to bridge between scientific discoveries and development of services or products with market success. On one end is the field of diverse knowledge, ranging from the precise motions of a sloth to the possibilities of harnessing anti-matter, put together by clever people who see ways to combine discoveries into a unique pattern resulting in useful products and services; on the other end is the market place of consumers buying up whatever it is that they need or want to perpetuate their beautiful lives. In between is this bridge—Innovation, a long and arduous journey starting from creating market ideas, refining the ideas based on market research, raising capital, getting to market, competing and establishing a new value proposition (or improve on an existing value proposition) to the consumers, and then surviving the consumer trends.

A man can get lost on this bridge. It's a big bridge, and neither end has calm waters. Research dollars are ever shrinking driven by market demands that make no sense. The market place continues to be influenced by the media frenzy for narcissistic attentions. Sharks swarm in both ends and currents are unpredictable. Let's face it, Innovation is no vacation. Take health care for example, once a profession that is purposed to heal the wounded and cure the sick, now reduced to a model of innovation for shareholder value, prolonging diseases, or worse creating new ones. To help mitigate our vulnerabilities when sick or injured, policy makers put regulations in place. But the pharma regulatory environment does little to actually incentivize new and improved cures. Instead, it is focused on fierce competitions, development silos, and contributes more to indirect costs on layers of bureaucratic fat making drugs more expensive and less accessible.

So it is a good thing that we are starting to pay attention to the Innovation process, if our goal is to figure out market improvements towards sustainable goals. In all of our current market madness, there is opportunity to improve our existing market infrastructure and the innovation process to change market and human conditions for the better. In fact, talking Process and Innovation in a single context is putting capitalism to the test and incorporating proper balanced social and environmental mechanisms to strive for sustainable outcomes. Here's our common ground: that we are all after the same thing—a better way of getting science to market with a sense of responsible market choices driving forward R&D and impacting our societies for the sustainable better future, together.

Innovation in this sense is all about process improvement, isn't it? In fact, almost every sovereign nation recognizes this for its people. China for example, is in its New Normal of slower economy (down from the double digits to around 5-6%) hoping to achieve some sort of maturity and deliberation in its new market. It is focused on intellectual capital, service based economy, and Innovation. Here at home, the United States is also seeing a new wave of incubators and accelerators and business, college, and private sector alliances to jump start our local economies focused on Innovation. Worldwide, we are seeing alternative funding mechanisms (e.g., crowdfunding, digital currency, etc) and more transactions driven by the new possibilities of technologies and collaborative efforts to bridge R&D with Innovation. A 2006 EU official journal article defines Innovation as “a process connecting knowledge and technology” exploiting market opportunities for new or improved products and services. Like the EU, other parts of the global community recognizes the importance of a process based approach taking on not just economic bottom lines, but also taking on environmental issues, and social justice issues, to Innovate. In this context, risk is a significant factor to consider when identifying market opportunities. Opportunities not just found in the global climate changes that risk the entire earth's ecosystem, but also in the global social changes that risk the stabilities of global economic and governance developments. If we fail to recognize these risks, we would not identify the opportunities where Process Innovation can make an impact to clean the air and water, eliminate global poverty, and deliver sensible health care solutions. But to recognize those risks means we have to put Research, Development, and Innovation together in a context of sustainable developments (focused on environmental, social, and economic risk mitigations).

Process Innovation and Sustainability are therefore one of the same thing. The former is the infrastructure and the latter its substantive content to a path forward. This is a game where we the players can change the way we play for the better. Innovation is not about the cliché game changers.

Innovation is about the people who would want to change the game – ready players.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Leading The E-Waste Industry (Cincinnati Health Care Driving the Sustainability Change)

E-waste is discarded electronics – the latest and greatest of technology just a few years into their life cycle doomed by the newest upgrades. Our narcissistic need for trendy gadgets has increased the demand and reliance on raw materials, rare earth and precious metals. But our material supply is limited and much of the electronics currently in circulation are not being recycled. The depletion of natural resources itself is bad enough, but the vast amount of e-waste in landfills is also polluting at their worst.

In 2014, one study estimated 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste was generated – “an amount that would fill 1.15 million 18-wheel trucks. Lined up, those trucks would stretch from New York to Tokyo and back.” E-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste in the United States. Globally, the volume of e-waste was expected to rise by 33% between 2012 and 2017. The problem is amplified by illegal dumping into developing countries like China, India, and African countries. E-waste buyers in those places are often unregulated despite stringent laws in place. They extract commodities from e-waste using the most horrendous methods. Their people pay the price with their health and safety, but the world suffers from their poor environmental and social practices.

Enter the responsible e-waste recyclers. Domestic players who process e-waste locally and creating jobs, putting value back into commerce. But the US e-waste industry is no rose garden either. A recent HuffPost article pointed out that industry workers in the U.S. have been documented to have “taken home” contaminants (e.g., lead) to cause health problems in children exposed to the contaminant particles. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does require e-waste recycling facilities to provide protective clothing and respirators to their employees. But the lack of proper training among other things have attributed to detectable health effects. Or, the current protective standards are not sufficient and we need to improve those and reflect the changes in our policies and regulations.

The HuffPost article named a Cincinnati resident impacted by this “take-home” contaminant problem. Cincinnati Children's Hospital made the medical discovery. There are other e-waste recyclers in Cincinnati who are part of the responsible business community and are more than happy to hear medical data is now available to help improve our standards and hold accountable our performances. This may very well effect policy changes and put Cincinnati on the map for being the e-waste expert. Cincinnati's health care industry also can lead the world in medical research on this topic, further strengthening Cincinnati's credentials.

Remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Did you know Americans dump over $60 million in gold/silver every year in just cell phones. For every 1 million cell phones, 35,274 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered. 

One estimated the value of e-waste to be worth $52 billion in 2014.

Sunday, January 31, 2016



Cincinnati Recycles (the “Campaign”) is a data driven social change campaign to increase recycling participation, waste diversion, and improving the recycling service infrastructure to Cincinnati city residents.

The Campaign spent the past 18 months in different Cincinnati neighborhoods engaging individuals about their recycling habits, barriers, and what we can do to make recycling easier for them. The Campaign follows a process based approach and focuses on serving the needs of our audience. It establishes baselines to measure impacts on social change. Our previous reported analyses and improvement recommendations are available on request under Creative Commons Share-Alike license.

We are looking for motivated individuals with canvassing experiences and leadership skills to help us in our 2016 campaigns. 

The campaigns are seasonal. Ideal candidates should be familiar with basic process improvement methods, have a background in psychology, marketing, or other related fields. Previous experiences in similar capacities are considered.

Job Responsibilities:
  • Manage a team of individuals and door-to-door canvassing activities 
  • nstruct, demonstrate, observe, and motivate team using program methodology 
  • Work closing with team members to improve efficient and effectiveness 
  • Canvass-in-field and manage training when needed 
  • Manage paper work and data collection for every shift Perform other tasks as assigned 

This is a temporary/seasonal employment on contracted basis. Pay depends on experience and is negotiable. Campaign pays a living wage above minimum wage standards to all our canvassers.

  • Strong communication and motivational skills, work ethic, and desire to better the community are essential. 
  • Candidates must be able to work within a diverse team, have proven leadership ability, and excellent time management skills. 
  • Organizational skills and the ability to take initiative are also good qualifications. 
  • Previous successful field or canvassing experience is a requirement for this position. 
  • Candidate must have own transportation and valid driver’s license and may be required to submit background screening and employability verifications. 
If interested, please submit resume and a cover letter to info@brainbox.ninja.