We are currently exploring even more ways to “Walk our Talk” within the organization. A meeting last Tuesday was devoted to looking at the assets (experience and expertise) that we already have within the institution in terms of sustainability practices, both individual and institution-wide, and what we would like to know more about.

Starting any new initiative in a very busy, dynamic environment demands not only an eye on content, but also on process. At the end of our meeting to further develop some of the priority areas (identified as travel and transport policy/CO2 emissions, local interaction, and administration/workplace effectiveness), we asked ourselves the question and had a lively brainstorming session:

When you have seen new initiatives be successful and have impact in this institution, what were some of the things that made them work? What were some of the features of this success?

The people attending came up with many excellent examples of what has made various initiatives work, here are some of the things that were shared:

– There was a “buzz” – people talked;
– There was strong communication and teamwork;
– There was clearly coordinated teamwork across the regions, programmes, strategies, and so on;
– There were dedicated resources: a person responsible and financial resources;
– Senior management championed the activity along with involved staff;
– Targetted services were a part of the activity and they were client-oriented;
– There was personal commitment and clearly defined responsibility;
– There were clear goals and the activity reported on the progress it was making;
– People saw a personal benefit (and it felt good!);
– Everyone involved spoke the same language – there was consistency of message;
– There was collective engagment and people were convinced about the activity;
– All the main parties were involved in the design;
– There was the power of volunteers with a common passion.

Each of these items came with an example of an initiative and a good story, from someone who was involved. I personally find this a really helpful list of keys to success for activities within a complex institution. These work within our organization; they probably would also work in other institutions. It is a good learning exercise for anyone – when you have participated in an activity that really worked, what were some of the things that happened that made it a success?

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