SB’14 from Two Perspectives
Anne Johnson is a Principal and co-lead of the RRS Global Corporate Sustainability service sector. Anne brings over 20 years of multi-disciplinary experience in management consulting, environmental engineering, hydrology, and applied life cycle thinking.
Hunt Briggs is a Consultant with RRS. Hunt brings a rich and diverse background working with companies in areas that include corporate strategy, industrial ecology, energy management, finance and policy.
And now their perspectives on SB’14…
What was the most impressive idea you heard at SB’14?
Anne: My favorite innovation was from Lyf shoes (http://lyfshoes.com/). The presentation by Aly Khalifa was Redesigning with a New Paradigm: Radical Integration of Material Sustainability, Job Creation and Customer Service.
It is a total design, manufacturing, marketing, and custom retail concept that occurs in-store. It is a shoe that is designed by the customer, constructed in-shop with preformed elements and a take back incentive to recover the materials at the end of their useful life – really very cool.
Hunt: One of the ideas I like came from by Andrew Winston, author of The Big Pivot (http://andrewwinston.com/books/). His message was that we need to move away from setting short-sighted goals as businesses and avoid the urge to postpone action on sustainable practices until we have all the data available. In short, we don’t need to have the ROI calculated for every decision that makes good social or environmental sense.
What exhibit at SB’14 most impressed you?
Anne: Best exhibit by far was Coke’s solar powered Ekocenter (http://coca-colacompany.com/ekocenter). It is this great concept to bring clean water, mobile phone charging, TV, and a woman-powered enterprise zone to rural villages in under-served areas of the world. The selection of products in the Ekocenter is determined by members of the village. There is a veranda addition to the Ekocenter that can be used as a cafe, education center, theater, or whatever the village needs.
Hunt: As a big fan of creative means to incentivize consumer-facing reverse logistics, I really enjoyed seeing the ecoATM (http://outerwall.com/brands/ecoatm). It’s a reverse vending machine that can scan your cell phone, appraise the device immediately, and pay cash on the spot. It’s a brilliant machine from Outerwall, which also operates Redbox and Coinstar.
What topic was creating buzz at SB’14?
Anne: Best comment was from the Head of Global Product Innovation, Paul Dillinger, from Levi Strauss. He said, “I don’t know a lot of things, but as a designer, I know I am responsible for designing this mess.” He went on to talk about redesigning with the whole life cycle in mind and the leading question, “What if I promise to design without making a mess?” He went through an impressive record of Levi’s efforts to reduce not only their impacts, but bringing that consciousness to their consumers. He concluded with a statement about mustard, “I don’t think of it as a stain, just the memory of a really good day at the ballpark.” It was an inspired presentation about designing durable products and the incredibly thoughtful and creative ways Levi’s is driving sustainability into the textile industry and into jeans.
Hunt: Social entrepreneurship was front and center at the Activation Hub. Target hosted the Innovation Open that displayed social entrepreneurs pitching venture ideas. This was a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to catch the attention of major companies that have an interest in changing the status quo through innovation. One example was FoodLoop (http://foodloop.org/), a German startup that has developed a mobile application to efficiently connect consumers with marked-down retail food items that are nearing expiration dates, all in an effort to minimize food waste.
What did you think of SB’14?