Are we holding the plans the right way up?

This has been a week for checking that what we are doing will achieve our goals and deciding what to do if it doesn't.  In December, our Governing Board asked us this question, and we have been assembling the evidence and ideas to answer it. The input isn't just internal and programme related.  For example, on Monday I went to a book launch.  The book in question "Cradle to Cradle" by Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough achieved a certain amount of interest in it first edition when the US version was printed on plastic.  The reception was held at the Institute of Materials, Mining and Minerals but hosted by the Green Alliance.   I had read the earlier version, but more importantly seen Michael Braungart talk, so I was intrigued to attend.  The meeting was a wonderful mixture of people - government officials, green lobbyists and a significant portion of business people.  This latter group was not unexpected.  Michael is, above all, a consummate communicator, he makes his message clear and accessible and he has been a consistent proselytiser for a long time now.  If there is a problem, it is that his message is disarmingly simple - that doing less of bad things is not the same as doing good things - but hellishly difficult to implement.  The problem is that the book (as a means of communication) is inherently linear, and the problem is dendritic.  A discussion with Michael is usually an exploration of those branches.  He has collected a set of stories with which he can usually answer most objections of difficulty.  He is part of a worldwide chain of sustainability advocates who work within the system to persuade people that radical change is both possible and desirable.  I left the meeting slightly light-headed - and that wasn't because the wine had been served quite freely and the crisps had been inadequate to balance its "food value".  Much still to think about.

Tuesday was an executive management team meeting where we discussed the main question of the week.  The effect of the economic situation on those we support is difficult to gauge.  For every company that is considering whether it can afford its commitment to the programme we fund, there are those that see sharing the risk with us as a rationale for continuing to invest in the innovation that will power them out of the other side.  As a result, our discussions were long and not conclusive - we got more actions to answer questions!

On Wednesday, I got a chance to sit down with the people who have started in our organisation this year.  We firmly believe that a proper induction process is important and everyone gets to meet the new people and explain their part in delivering our goals.  One problem I encounter is that there never seems to be enough time to tell people what I do, find out what they do, find out about their background (in case it is relevant outside their specific role) and so I inevitably run over - much to the frustration of my Assistant, who has carefully set up my day!!  J

Thursday was anther external day - and in London.  The first meeting was with the UK Water Industry Research organisation.  We have been following the work of the Cave Review of Competition and Innovation in Water Markets since its inception.   Our Innovation Platforms are based on supporting the business response to the enactment of Government policy, so we are working with the Review Team to make sure we can support anything that provide UK businesses with a new market opportunity.  The next meeting was with the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  Many of our programmes are in support of businesses that see opportunities in the Energy Generation and Energy Conservation markets, so we will be working with DECC a lot.  They are a new Government Department and it is important for them to understand what we do - and what drives us to do these things - so this was a bit like a first date!   Next up was a discussion with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.  We have been working with them (and others) over the last few months to define how we could support businesses that sell products and services into the food supply chain.  This was kicked off by the Government paper Food Matters, but it has taken some time to define exactly what is there to drive the market and so provide the springboard for our activity.  We are getting close!  The final meeting of the day was with Professor Brian Collins, who is the Chief Scientific Advisor to both the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.  The main purpose of the meeting was to explore the impact on our joint programmes of some of the announcements that no-one seemed to notice in the day's news (i.e. the rest of the press release about Heathrow!!).

Friday was the meeting with our Governing Board that all this had been focused on.  We presented our ideas, they asked questions, made comments, encouraged us to go further and generally polished up the whole package.  By the time I got on the train home, I was tired but looking forward to the future with relish. 


Last updated on Friday 24 February 2012 at 10:36

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