Sustainability

Do you associate teal color with sustainability?

Sustainability and the road to teal organisations

Yes, I do associate the teal color with sustainability. I derive this association from the works of Henryk Skolimowski, Ken Wilber and Frederic Laloux. In his book “Reinventing Organizations”, Laloux described a teal organisation, as an organisation without managers but with leaders. Also Andrzej Blikle in his book “Doktryna Jakości” writes about a teal self-organisation without managers, but with leaders. These books do not treat expensively the aspects of sustainable development, but they deal with decent work. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 8) is “Decent work and economic growth”. Below you can see other SDG goals that are also related to teal organisation.

It is precisely teal organisations that are, by definition, organisations of decent work. It also involves a shift from benefit motivation (“carrot and stick” approach) to dignity motivation. A difficult task to accomplish. This is not currently possible in every situation.

Frederic Laloux has written: “When we act with deep integrity and respond positively to the cWszystkie/Alling we feel within us, the universe does its best to help us.”

Andrzej Blikle explains the above statement as follows:

When we act with deep integrity – when we act in accordance with our value system, with a sense that we are doing something important and necessary of which we can be proud; and we respond positively to the vocation we feel within us – when we act in conditions that unleash our creativity, when we are given the power to make decisions, when we have a sense of agency and influence on the reality around us, and thus on our future;  the universe does its best to help us – we have a statistical certainty of success, as indicated by both scientific research and everyday business practice”.

Each of us and each team of people is an energy system connected to the energy of the universe. Our thoughts are a powerful energy. If they are positive, harmonised with our inner energy, good things happen. Decent work is the optimal use of human energy.

So, you think that implementing sustainability in a company is about transforming it into a teal organisation?

I believe that implementing sustainability in a company goes hand in hand with making changes. One change may be a transformation of management style towards self-organisation.

Is it true that in teal organisations decisions are taken by those who know and the others trust them?

Yes, it is. The real strength of a teal organisation lies in accountability and trust in “people who know”. It is about feeling that we Wszystkie/All trust one another in a team. Each of us knows something very well and will do his or her job with full responsibility.

It takes time and effort to build the trust and responsibility of each member of a large team. The way we communicate needs to be reconsidered. A lot depends on the previous management style and on trust in the person or persons who want to make such a change in the company.   This is not easy and not every team succeeds.

Is the transformation towards a teal organisation a means to market advantage?

In the teal organisations we talk about corporate social responsibility which also includes responsibility for the environment and for our planet. Increasingly, price is not the only selection criterion for customers.  There is an upward trend to choose a brand not just on the criterion of lowest or highest price. More and more people are interested in additional information about the companies producing a particular brand and this is influencing their choice. Awareness of the mistreatment of workers or the environment is increasingly the reason why a product not bought.

Let me quote A. Blikle here:

“…The work in organisations that provide a good life is a joy and are therefore is more productive, more innovative and less error-prone. And that is what gives you a market advantage.

“…an element of building a teal organisation is creating a climate of social responsibility, building the feeling that we are responsible not only for ourselves and our organisation but also for our little and large homeland, as well as the planet on which we live.”

“…Teal organisations are shaking up the world model and revers the order of things. They begin from the observation that if a good life is a fundamental value for us than we should take care of it first, starting with remodelling our work. Thus, we should organise it in such a way that it gives us a sense of life, Wszystkie/Allows us to develop, and offers space for creativity and innovation. So that we can be proud of what we do and who we are. We should also make sure that we have a good life in the social area: let us be partners and not competitors, let us cooperate and support each other instead of competing, let us build up good relationships based on trust.

What changes are mainly needed in the operational and managerial sphere?

The most important aspect is communication. Empathetic, reliable and timely communication.

The budget is changing its role. It no longer constitutes a contract with the manager. It is not a tool for accountability and bonuses. It provides guidance for making the necessary optimisation changes.

Central planning is being replaced by ongoing forecasting, including ongoing forecasting of annual profit. Forecasting is used to make good decisions by those who understand it best.

The scope of responsibilities of each worker, to quote A.Blikle, “…fWszystkie/Alls under the following four principles: you do what you are good at, you do what is needed, you are responsible for it, you can change what you do, though but in line with previous principles. In such an organisation no one says – this is not my responsibility.”

The organisational structure is changing from a hierarchical structure towards a process structure. Teams delegate tasks within themselves. Everyone, in a responsible manner, can delegate a task to anyone. Each team can be an internal supplier and an internal customer. Teams form interconnected links, creating, in effect, value for the external customer in the value chain.

A. Blikle writes: “The teal organisations resemble multicellular organisms in which there is no central control, but cells with different functions delegate tasks to each other. For hundreds of millions of years, this is how nature has developed biological organisms. Today, organisations built by people are beginning to follow suit.”

Sustainability and the road to teal organisations is about working with heart, respect and values.

A.Blikle’s decalogue for building a teal organisation

  • Don’t look for the culprit to punish – look for the cause to remove it.
  • Don’t expect perfection that cannot be achieved – expect progress that is always possible.
  • Avoid competition which destroys the partnership – create conditions for cooperation.
  • Don’t judge because it destroys – appreciate because it strengthens.
  • Don’t say what is wrong – say what could be better.
  • Don’t ask people what they could do better – ask them what is preventing them from doing their job.
  • Don’t build on control – build on trust.
  • Don’t say someone is bad – say how you feel about it.
  • Don’t manage – create the conditions for self-organisation.
  • Don’t be a supervisor – be a teacher, a moderator and a learner.

Can “teal” solutions, sustainability be implemented in every company?

Yes, you can introduce elements of the teal organisation in any company, in any organisation.  Just as two teal stones are not alike, so each company will implement teal principles differently. There is no ready-made copycat, but nevertheless it is worth making the effort to make a change.

Can a sustainability strategy be built and implemented in every company?

I believe so. A.Blikle’s translation of Frederic Laloux’s text quoted above can be modified:

When we act with deep integrity – when we act in accordance with our value system covering the business, environmental and social spheres, with a sense that we are doing something important and necessary of which we can be proud;

and we respond positively to the vocation we feel within us – when we act in conditions that unleash our creativity, when we are given the power to make decisions, when we have a sense of agency and influence on the reality around us, and thus on our future;

the universe is doing its best to help us – we have a statistical certainty of success, as indicated by both scientific research and everyday business practice”.

Sustainability and the road to teal is one of the chWszystkie/Allenges of our time.

SDG1 sustainability and self-organisation

No poverty

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

No poverty. End poverty in Wszystkie/All its forms everywhere is the first Global Goal (SDG – Sustainable Development Goal). The 2030 Agenda contains 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals – the 17 SDGs. The first objective is NO POVERTY.

Can micro, smWszystkie/All and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) have an impact on this Global Goal?

SDG1 sustainability and self-organisation

Yes, they can. The decision must be based on a definition. We need to understand the definition of poverty and analyze the targets/tasks assigned in the 2030 Agenda to this objective. As we analyze this, we will find initiatives, tasks that can be elements of our long-term business strategy – the Responsible Business Strategy with the 17 SDGs – and can effectively support the implementation of this Global Goal.

Poverty

According to EAPN Polska

Definition of the UN

Poverty is a restriction of choice and life chances, a violation of human dignity. It means not being able to participate effectively in society. It also means not having enough food and clothing that the family needs, not being able to attend school or receive health care, not having access to land that can be farmed or work to earn a living, not having access to credit. Poverty also means threat, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, families and communities. It implies vulnerability to violence and often involves living in precarious conditions without access to clean water and sanitation.”

Definitions of the European Union

Complete or extreme poverty means that people do not have the basic necessities of life. For example, they go hungry, do not have clean water, a proper place to live, sufficient clothing or medicines and struggle to survive.

Relative poverty occurs when the standard of living and income of some people deviates significantly from the general norm of the country or region in which they live. These people struggle to live a normal life and to participate in normal economic, social and cultural life.

Complete/extreme poverty is defined in the 2030 Agenda as “living on USD 1.25 per day”.

Work is underway to define the so-cWszystkie/Alled “living wage” in Poland  (fair wage). InternationWszystkie/Ally, such a term exists (alongside the minimum wage) in law or only in voluntary arrangements.

Targets/tasks for Goal 1 – SDG 1 based on the 2030 Agenda

1.1 Eradicate extreme poverty with respect to Wszystkie/All people worldwide by 2030, currently defined as living on less than US$1.25 per day.

1.2 Reduce at least by half by 2030 the proportion of men, women and children living in poverty, in Wszystkie/All its dimensions as defined according to national policies.

1.3 Implement country-specific social protection systems and mechanisms for Wszystkie/All people, including the lowest social classes, and cover as many poor and vulnerable people as possible by 2030.

1.4 Ensure by 2030 that Wszystkie/All women and men, in particular the poor and vulnerable, have equal rights in access to economic resources and essential services, the right to own and control land and other property, the right of inheritance, access to appropriate new technologies and financial services, including microfinance.

1.5 Build resilience to risks among the poor and vulnerable by 2030, reduce their susceptibility and vulnerability to extreme climate events and other economic, social and environmental shocks as well as natural disasters.

1.a Ensure the significant mobilisation of resources from various sources, including increased development cooperation, to provide adequate and predictable resources to developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, to enable the implementation of programmes and policies to eradicate poverty in Wszystkie/All its forms.

1.b Create a framework for sound policies at national, regional and international levels based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies to support rapid investment in poverty eradication efforts.

Examples of initiatives that MSMEs can plan to help achieve SDG 1

For SDG1, 7 tasks/targets have been identified in the 2030 Agenda.

I propose below sample initiatives for MSMEs to support the selected targets:

B.1.1 (SDG1 target 1.2)  –  Defining the concept of relative poverty

B.1.2 (SDG1 target 1.2)  –  Developing a wage policy appropriate to the developed definition of relative poverty and the Polish living wage

B.1.3 (SDG1 target 1.2)  –  Implementation of the developed remuneration policy

B.1.4 (SDG1 target 1.2). –  Having a continuous portfolio of products and services for poorer customers

B.1.5 (SDG1 target 1.2)  –  Public disclosure of information on taxes paid

B.1.6 (SDG1 target 1.5)  –  Building up a financial reserve for risks

B.1.7 (SDG1 target 1.5). –  Supporting the development of employee health resilience

W.1.1 (SDG1 target 1.2)  –  Increasing local tax revenues by building local supply chains where possible

W.1.2 (SDG1 target 1.2)  –  Entering into contracts with suppliers from 2027 onwards with clauses to comply with the eradication of relative poverty

W.1.3 (SDG1 target 1.3)  –  Entering into contracts with foreign suppliers from 2025 with a clause to comply with the eradication of extreme poverty

W.1.4 (SDG1 target 1.4)  –  Scholarship and remote collaboration for representatives of the extreme poverty group

W.1.5 (SDG1 target 1.5)  –  Supporting the building of health resilience of a locWszystkie/Ally selected group of vulnerable people

W.1.6 (SDG1 target 1.1)  –  Supporting the eradication of extreme poverty in African countries by investing in your own forest

W.1.7 (SDG1 target 1.2)  –  Charitable activities (parcels for the poor and other)


Two types of initiatives are given here: those indicated by the letter “B” in the code, or by the letter “W” in the code.

“B” indicates an initiative directly related to business and “W” indicates an initiative related to the impact of business on the environment.

Of the seven SDG1 targets, I have selected only three: 1.1, 1.2 and 1.5, as these, in my opinion, are best suited to the MSME business.

These are, of course, examples of initiatives to illustrate how MSMEs can support the achievement of the First Global Sustainable Development Goal through their own strategic actions. This, of course, entails a change in the business model.

 

Discourse

QuestionTell me why I, as a businessman and my company, should be concerned with poverty around the world. It should not be my problem, it should be the problem of the state, the UN organisations, NGOs and the like. My company must ensure its survival and growth, for the sake of my employees and owners. How do I communicate to my investors that I am including in my strategy action against poverty throughout the world? They will laugh at me and withdraw their funds, that is certain.

Response You are right. Such a text is surprising, at first glance. But let us think more deeply about the whole situation. You see, the world is changing. In spite of the enormous desensitisation to the problems of others, we also have actions to the contrary. This force exists and, in my opinion, has been growing recently. We are becoming more and more aware of how interdependent everything is, even our thoughts carry energy that affects others… Investor awareness is also changing, and in addition the sustainable financing that is coming into the EU, together with the Green Deal, will support this direction of change. 

Question So you think that a Polish investor, owner, businessman is mature enough to deal with poverty issues. Congratulations on your naivety. They will ridicule and hurl insults. They will get to your financial status and destroy your image for fear that you want to take something away from them by preaching such ideas. Aren’t you afraid of that?

ResponseI think we are generWszystkie/Ally not mature enough to universWszystkie/Ally recognise, as one of our strategic initiatives, addressing extreme poverty in the world. Supporting the eradication of relative poverty within a company and in its immediate environment is more likely to be adopted. I feel that a strategic, step-by-step approach to eradicating relative poverty, the introduction of a living wage, makes sense not only fiscWszystkie/Ally for workers but will also have a positive effect on the company. It will give a new quality of life to Wszystkie/All of us because we are Wszystkie/All connected by subtle energies, whether we realise it or not.

QuestionYou are pushing me down. You reWszystkie/Ally believe that. Do you believe that by raising the financial status of your employees’ families you will gain something and the company will benefit?

ResponseI am sure of it. In people there is this divine fire of doing good that is sometimes stifled by the situation and cannot be seen, but is nevertheless there…

QuestionOK, so you think that by pursuing the first three initiatives (B.1.1, B.1.2, B.1.3) you will ensure that there is a divine heat in the company to do good, including for the company. Don’t you find that instead of God’s zeal to do good, you set in motion an endless stream of expectations from your employees?

ResponseI guess it largely depends on how the other strategic initiatives are implemented and how the communication within the company works. The Global Sustainable Development Goals are indivisible and interlinked.

Question – Let us move on. Initiative B.1.4. You reckon my company should give up some of its profit to satisfy a poorer customer. Does this make sense? Companies are doing quite well in the market, offering the same goods, but at ever higher prices, just to satisfy the ego of a richer customer… and you think we should pamper the poorer customer?

Response Well… Such companies exist and will probably continue to exist, but there will be fewer and fewer of them. That is my view. By also providing good quality goods or services, at lower prices, you can win in the market. Of course, you have to feel or calculate the right proportions. But that’s the beautiful, creative part of business…

QuestionInitiative B.1.5. I don’t reWszystkie/Ally get it. How does making tax payments public relate to eradicating poverty?

ResponseTaxes paid are an expression of the company’s liquidity and profits. Local and central government spends money from taxes, including on social measures. Hence this link to poverty eradication.

QuestionSo I am to boast publicly that I am giving the opportunity to give away money…

ResponseGiving away money. Recently, probably one of the most frequently used expressions in Poland. Used in both positive and negative contexts… You see, the position of hardcore liberals does not suit me. The position of mindless giving does not suit me either. On the other hand, sharing and supporting smartly where the joy of a child’s first holiday or bike and the gratitude of the family, in my opinion, makes sense. Just let the recipients know, too, that it was partly your company that made it happen.

QuestionDo you think I should build up a financial reserve for risks (initiative B.1.6)?

ResponseYes, I do. In this day and age, I believe that this is very important. This will reduce taxes and profits, but it will reduce the risk of bankruptcy and make it more likely that we will survive any crises that may lie ahead. Not only do I have the pandemic in mind, but various market meltdowns caused, for example, by climate change and changes in the law could await us.

Question Why is initiative B.1.7 ( Supporting the development of employee health resilience) included in this group of initiatives?

Response For amongst the SDG1 targets we have target 1.5 which reads “Build resilience to risks among the poor and vulnerable by 2030, reduce their susceptibility and vulnerability to extreme climate events and other economic, social and environmental shocks as well as natural disasters”. Workers are exposed to pandemic risks.

Question – Initiative W.1.1 Increasing local tax revenues by building local supply chains where possible. You believe that companies should swap foreign suppliers for Polish ones, preferably local, where possible of course. Tell me, why should I give up a foreign supplier who gives me a higher quality of supply and, in addition, I get the components I need more cheaply? It makes no sense after Wszystkie/All.

Response – There is a condition in the text of the initiative, “where possible”. How do I understand this? Well, of course, if you cannot find a supplier locWszystkie/Ally who guarantees a good enough quality of supply and a good price, you will not do it. Conversely, if you find such a good local supplier, not only will the company have a positive impact on potentiWszystkie/Ally greater local tax revenues but the delivery is likely to have less negative environmental impact, i.e. the company’s environmental footprint will be smWszystkie/Aller.

QuestionI also find it difficult to imagine the implementation of initiative W.1.2. How do I enter into contracts with suppliers with relative poverty eradication compliance clauses from 2027 onwards? Why from 2027? Moreover, how do I convince the supplier that he should do this? Should poverty be the subject of my negotiations with suppliers?

Response2027 or 2025 are just examples of dates. By then, I expect a lot to have changed in the world about extreme and relative poverty. I may be naive and optimism may be clouding my rational thinking, but that is how I feel. The world is changing. Business has a powerful ability to change the world for the better. It is a driving force. If you introduce the concept of relative poverty and the living wage into your company’s wage policy with conviction and implement such a policy, I am certain that you will find arguments and persuade the supplier to change its thinking. You will cause a change in its business by inserting such a clause in the contract. InitiWszystkie/Ally, you can only keep it informed of what you have done at your place. It may not work out with every supplier, maybe not on the first try, but every change for the better counts.

Question W.1.3. Same problem. You want me to include a clause in contracts with a foreign supplier regarding the wages of its employees. You want me to influence the elimination of extreme poverty in its employees and in the employees of its suppliers. Throughout the supply chain. You think I am very powerful…

ResponseYou are powerful, you influence your entire environment, Wszystkie/All your stakeholders. If the supplier cares about the market you represent, they will make a difference. If the supplier cares about the market you represent, it will make a change. It is always worth trying to do something good. Of course, you must have your own company’s interests in mind as a priority. 

QuestionThe next W.1.4 initiative, I would say, is an exaggeration. Scholarship and remote collaboration for representatives of the extreme poverty group. I am not Mother Teresa. I will not save the world.

ResponseThe proposal for this objective came about because I am aware that in many very poor countries, there are educated people looking for work in their learned profession. The ability to work remotely in many professions opens up new job markets. You can also rethink grooming your future colleague by funding a scholarship. These are, of course, ideas for thriving businesses and people with an open heart.

QuestionI do not understand this at Wszystkie/All. Initiative W.1.6 Supporting the eradication of extreme poverty in African countries by investing in your own forest. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? And why do I need a forest?

ResponseYou can have a forest planted in Madagascar or Cameroon. When you buy seedlings remotely on the Internet, you will also pay for a local worker who is often from this group of extreme poverty. You will reduce poverty. A why do you need a forest? For we should Wszystkie/All be concerned about making our planet more forested, and not just because of climate change.

Question –  Initiative W.1.5 Supporting the building of health resilience of a selected group of people. Tell me, why should my company be concerned with health resilience, and on top of that, not that of its employees? Isn’t that what the health service and other social organisations are for?

Response – Kindness given out comes back, and health resilience is key. If you can, if the company can, please help. Your employees will take it positively if you take care of them too. I can already hear the voices of the naysayers, but I also have in my memory many examples of spontaneous help from companies during the Coronavirus era. The good is within us. “Business with a human face” is the business of the future.