“Shifting Mindsets: Sustainability has Five Ps
(Written by Warren Te Brugge)
This is a recently released definition of sustainability:
“Sustainability is an honest attempt to create positive social, environmental, and economic impacts through transparent organizational and sustainable performance.”
Among people engaged in the sustainability movement in its many variations, most talk about ‘People, Planet, Profit’—the ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainable enterprises. At a recent conference, though, a person I respect added two more words: Passion and Purpose.
These are vital and powerful additions to the worn triple bottom line metaphor: When there is no passion and when work is not undertaken with an inspiring purpose, strategy often fades from active consideration as mitigating or ‘normal’ business factors intrude. The original intent is diluted when actions don’t follow leaving financial considerations to reemerge as the only imperatives.
Broadly speaking, then, sustainability is about shifting mindsets: How can we evolve social norms inside organizations to think about sustainability proactively and embed sustainable perspectives in day-to-day decision-making? For many in third world economies, sustainability is simply about creating a life that is acceptable as a community and even a nation. What can we learn from this perspective?
In a Washington Post article today, “Giving is Personal. Make it Political,” the writer expresses the surprising strength of the status quo: What is reasonable and acceptable is still being defined by a small group remote from where this ‘normality’ will be established—rather than being defined by local members of affected communities, based on their real current needs and cultural beliefs. Creating change is about changing the mindset of the global population: Real, lasting progress on sustainability needs to be part of who we are as a global society—not the exception of individual choice and expression.
Shifting mindsets requires more than rational arguments: Minds are changed when people and communities see a vision of a better life—Purpose—and are inspired to pursue it—Passion.
Five Ps sustainability balances people, planet and profit, while also engaging communities—political or corporate—to see their day-to-day work in a broader context, and energizing them to pursue the grand vision. Leaders cannot impose their own values on their communities. Instead, they must engage and cultivate the values of the culture that already exists. (And that’s a significant part of Manzimvula’s approach.)
What do you think?”