Playing the Infinite Game, together: resources and tips from Davanti’s sustainability journey so far
04th August 2021
Author Anita Hedges
Towards the start of this year, dentsu NZ CEO Rob Harvey and I talked about how we (dentsu NZ and Davanti) set out to formalise our sustainability journey, starting with the formation of our Sustainability Council. (Championing a commitment to meaningful progress – for the planet)
Six months on – and six months into a journey that’s really only just begun – I thought I would mark the milestone by sharing a bit of a progress report, along with some resources and tips I’ve found useful and informative from the journey so far, in the hope that there’s some useful material and food for thought (and action) here for any business or individual looking to do more, or to understand what they can do, to work and live more sustainably.
Our six-month status report
I’m sure this is true for most of us… Sometimes – or a lot of the time – everything is so busy, and there are so many things going on, that it can feel like important things – like our focus on sustainability initiatives – are happening slowly, or their progress is constantly at the mercy of other important things.
It’s been useful, and encouraging, to take stock and make a list of what we’ve achieved so far – because seeing evidence of progress provides reassurance of progress and creates momentum to keep going and do more. As I said, we’re just getting started and there is a LOT on our to-do list. And while it’s great to be able to put ticks in boxes, everything we’re doing is a work in progress – our work will never be done. And the more we do, and the more we get involved, the more we see just how much more there is for us all to do.
Our Sustainability Council is comprised of a group of 12 members of our teams from dentsu New Zealand and Davanti. I’d like to thank them all personally. It’s amazing to see the power of a connected team and the difference that we can make through our efforts, even in just a small space of time, and with just one meeting a month to corral our activities, thoughts and plans in and amongst everybody’s busy schedules!. Thank you to Andrew Bittle, Clementina de Ruiter, Hannah Owen, Holly Porter, James Morgan, Jo Herring, Joseph Hoskin, Lauren Dean, Nicole Ellis, Nikki Rodrigues and Richard Pook. And a thank you in particular, too, to Rob Harvey, for being an incredible champion and spearhead for our sustainability journey. Having executive sponsorship – and support and leadership right from the top – is one of the most important success factors, and the council and I feel very privileged to have Rob and the wider executive team’s support as we move forward.
So, on our report card at the six-month mark:
- Becoming part of the Sustainable Business Network (New Zealand’s most connected and connecting business sustainability organisation, focused on enabling systemic change in the areas of climate, waste and water) has been absolutely invaluable as a source of knowledge and best practice – available through events, training and webinars – and also for its incredible network of dedicated and passionate people. I cannot recommend SBN membership, resources and training enough to anyone who is looking to start or advance their sustainability journey. A great place to start is to check out their wealth of free tools and resources here.
- I feel hugely privileged personally to have been given the opportunity to take part in the SBN’s Leadership in Sustainable Business course and am immensely grateful for the tools, confidence and sustainable leadership skills the course has equipped me with, not to mention the opportunity to work alongside and get to know a group of likeminded people all on the same journey. It was truly inspiring to see so many leaders representing companies investing in the cause and stepping up to make a difference. The next course runs in Auckland from mid-September to mid-November – if you’re looking to lead sustainable change in your organisation, I highly recommend it.
- Amongst SBN’s many resources is the new Climate Action Toolbox, launched earlier this year. It’s a free, easy-to-use online self-assessment tool that shows you how to reduce emissions, and it’s a great way to either get started or to see what else your organisation could be doing to reduce your carbon footprint. Our council has been working through the toolkit. You can learn more about the Climate Action Toolbox by watching this introductory webinar.
- Throughout our sustainability journey so far, we’ve created a Salesforce Sustainability Cloud proof of concept for our own business so we can realise the benefits of actively monitoring our carbon footprint first-hand. This allows us to analyse insights on our own Social Impact data and make proactive changes as we go. We have also earned our accreditation on this journey and are a Salesforce Accredited partner for implementing Sustainability Cloud. We are very excited about evolving our proof of concept and looking forward to testing out the new features that are on the Salesforce roadmap and helping others that want to support their sustainability journey with Sustainability Cloud.
- In analysing this data we discovered we were consuming more energy outside of business hours than we needed to, and getting this insight has led us to implement some controls, like lighting sensors and air conditioning timers.
- Two months ago, we signed up to Meridian Energy’s Certified Renewable Energy plan, which means that, going forward, all of the energy consumed by our offices in New Zealand will be certified as 100% renewable, which means that as a business we will have zero Scope 2 emissions for our carbon footprint. (As an aside, dentsu has set a global goal to be a net-zero emissions business by 2030, but here in New Zealand we are setting ourselves a more aggressive timeframe!)
As a council, other initiatives that we have implemented are:
- Rubbish and recycling signage and education for the business, for example hosting lunch and learns with sustainability expert guest speakers (yesterday we held a recycling lunch and learn with Wellington City Council)
- Battery recycling stations in our three offices
- Promoting the use of reusable coffee cups
- Promoting and participating in Plastic Free July
- Getting involved in the Aotearoa Cycle Challenge (see below for my photographic evidence!)
- Reviewing our office snack purchasing and reducing excess waste from packaging
- Implementing Uber for Business for Davanti (dentsu was already on the bus – or in the Uber, as it were…) so we can better track and report on our taxi use
Resources and tips
Through my travels in our sustainability journey so far, I’ve discovered a whole lot of really useful and thought-provoking resources. Here are just a few of them.
A whole new way of looking at economics with the planet in mind. This thought-provoking TED Talk from, Kate Raworth, creator of the ‘Doughnut Economics’ concept, is essential watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BHOflzxPjI
Playing the Infinite Game
As part of the SBN leadership course, we were fortunate to have Niki Harré come and talk to us about her book Infinite Game – How to live well together. Niki likens the ‘Infinite Game’ (the concept also popularised by Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite Game) to a game of beach cricket where the object of the game is not to win but to partake communally and continuously.
Niki issues this challenge: Imagine if life was a game, an infinite game in which we continually changed the rules to keep our deepest values in play and ensure that everyone could take part. What kind of player would you be?
It’s an interesting and useful question to keep coming back to and I find the beach cricket analogy a useful one when thinking about how we bring the people in our organisations together and keep the “game” going.
You can hear Niki interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on RNZ’s Nine to Noon Here. (She’s also the author of Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet.)
Another guest speaker on the SBN course was Barry Coates, founder of Mindful Money. If you’ve ever wondered about how to invest your money more ethically, for example through KiwiSaver, Mindful Money is a great place to start.
CoGo is a free New Zealand designed and developed real-time carbon footprint tracker app, which is a great tool for helping you understand and reduce your individual and household carbon footprint and support sustainable businesses at the same time. (Also – great to see CoGo take out the Innovation Gold award in the 2021 Wellington Gold Awards last week.)
As Niki Harré shows through her Infinite Game (and beach cricket) analogy, we’re all in this together, on one planet, and the more we join together to make change, the more powerful the change will be.
If you’d like to chat about your sustainability journey or find out more about anything covered above, I’d love to chat and share notes! Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.