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I’m obsessed by questions and curious by heart

It’s my belief that we should not be looking for answers, but asking if there are better questions we can ask. Then see what wisdom follows.

I see it all too often with organisations who become stuck. They’re asking the same questions they’ve always asked and getting the same answers but no one is noticing the correlation.

If covid and climate collapse, teaches us anything, it’s that the future will have way more uncertainty than anyone in this lifetime has experienced. There won’t be tried and tested models and processes to follow. We will literally be creating them for the first time as we face the future.

We will need to get real good at asking better questions.

Having recently attended the annual summit of the Better Business Network, over in Manchester, and feeling stirred by the debate, presentations and conversations, Im sharing with you ten questions that popped for me, that I think we should be asking if we want to grow our business in an eco-friendly way. They’ve certainly got my cogs turning and if they do yours too, why not drop me a note and we’ll have a brew and share thoughts or even better questions.

  1. How might you share out power and authority more broadly and deeply in your business?
    • There was much discussion about holocratic structures, ‘a system of self-management where leadership roles are not subject to a traditional hierarchy of command‘ Think of it like devolution. Empowering power where power can do most good. Top down and hierarchical approaches are on the way out and engaged empowered collaborative workforces are coming in. Another question could be, ‘How flat can you really make your org structure?’
  2. How much love does your business need?
    • As Mark Shayler said, in his talk, ‘You can’t make money on a dead planet’, “Kindness is now a competitive advantage”. I’d go one further and say LOVE is a super competitive advantage. How we can put love back into business? What would love do now?
  3. What would Mother Earth do?
    • In every panel discussion we had a representative surrogating for the PLANET. Speaking on its behalf, making sure it had a voice. Many organisations are now moving to have Earth on their boards eg Faith in Nature, part of their shareholder meetings, crikey even owning the business (Patagonia I’m looking at you). So when we’re making big questions about the growth or health of our businesses, why not ask what Mother Earth would do before deciding?
  4. How big is big enough?
    • Degrowth at an economic level is coming in the next twenty years. We cannot sustain the technological development that would be needed to support the speed of economic growth which is predicted at current trends. A paradigm for sure. We need to chase wellbeing over GDP.
  5. Can I recycle, reuse, fix (sustainably), prolong it’s life or reduce the volume I need?
    • Waste and the energy (and violence in some cases) required to produce certain products that do not fit into the question above, is a pointless use of all our resources. If it’s not life affirming, and I can’t say yes to the above should I really still be investing money in designing and selling it?
  6. How many benefits can we generate from this business ?
    • What if your business’s sole purpose was to create as many benefits to as many people as possible? What if its sole purpose was purpose not value? What if profits followed more easily than chasing value? What if your people loved working at your organisation even more? A fascinating workshop on applying doughnut economics to business left me pondering this question for many hours. How many benefits can Frankly generate and who needs it the most?
  7. What’s the most radical idea you could launch around your employee experience?
    • Your people are your custodians and caretakers of your brand. Treat them well and they will in turn treat your brand with respect. There are so many radical ideas in this space; 4 day week, 24 hour flexible working, holocratic org structures, work anywhere, profit share for all, employee owned, inclusive representative boards, accumulate extra holidays through exceptional performance, wellbeing days, nature days, protest days… the list goes on. Perhaps the most important audience for this question is your people. A business whose leaders are trying to create all the solutions without any consultation from the very people those solutions are there to serve, will flop. Employee engagement should be at the heart of every eco-friendly organisation.
  8. What’s the mission your organisation serves?
    • There was a lot to talk about being purpose driven organisation and how it has a direct correlation with profits (Patagonia and Ticket Tailor to name two). Being clear what you stand for as an organisation, the potential of your organisation to do good, provides a clear hook to align, clarify and achieve momentum. Take Hiut Denim as an example. Their mission, to give 400 people their jobs back (exactly how many jobs in Cardigan Wales were lost when the last UK based denim factory was shipped off shore to China).
    • What mission does your organisation serve?
  9. How do I make myself attractive for investors?
    • It may not be your ultimate goal, but I was reassured to hear that the bigger investment firms around the globe are actively pursuing and prioritising their investment into businesses and organisations already doing the right thing by planet and sustainability. So if this interests you, perhaps have a go at answering the other questions in this list.
  10. Who is invisible in your organisation?
    • Another cracking panel about young leaders and what they wanted from work. It got me reflecting they are not the only segment to feel over looked, hello ageism, gender, menopause, disability, race, sexuality, poverty. If we’re going to truly become innovative and tackle problems we’ve never tackled before we’ll need outside in and inside out thinking. Diversity of ideas needs diversity of thinkers. So who is invisible or not even represented in your organisation or industry ?

There were so many questions buzzing around my head after the conference.

Also, How do you nurture rather than develop? Inspire rather than motivate? Take inspiration from nature and use biomimicry to design your business? How use your resistance to change to become a catalyst for even bigger transformation? What’s the seasonal rhythm unique to your organisation? When is a rest season and when do you do your best work? What needs grieving and letting go? What does spirited leadership look like?

Maybe you have an even better one? I’d love to hear it… drop me a note