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Become a Change-Maker Brand: Part 4

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

Stephen Hawking.

Adaptability is the simple secret of survival.

Jessica Hagedorn

True innovation does not exist without sharing. If you do not open up and share, it is not innovative because innovation is something that changes, it is a living thing.

Georgia Haddad Nicolau is the Director of the Procomum Institute in Sao Paolo and a leader in the citizen innovation movement. She is one of 200 change-makers worldwide that I have interviewed for my forthcoming book, Generation Share. Published by Policy Press for Global Sharing Week 2019 (June 16th-22nd). Co-created with Sophie Sheinwald through the stories of change-makers worldwide, Generation Share demonstrates how the Sharing Economy is saving lives and changing the way we think, live and do business.

Previously in my blog, I have detailed the 6 character traits that make up the Anatomy of a Change-Maker. Over the next four weeks, I’ll be looking at how these character traits can be applied to businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes in order to become what I call ‘Change-Maker Brands.’ From being a Sharer to the trait of bravery, from adaptability to putting love at the heart of our business decisions; from positivity to being future-conscious, I’ll show how these change-maker characteristics can not only transform your organisation, but are vital for business survival. Previously, I wrote about the first characteristic: SHARE, last week I discussed the second trait BRAVE and today, I’m talking about the importance of being able to ADAPT.

Become a Change-Maker Brand: ADAPT.

ADAPT: We live in a world of abundance and sharing is about creating access, so we can use what’s there in an efficient way. Peerby allows consumers to borrow from others nearby. I founded it in 2009 after my house burned down. In 24 hours, I lost my home, my belongings, my job (the car that came with my job) and my relationship ended. I had nothing, I was terrified. I had always been independent and thought I didn’t need help. I discovered, people love to help if you are willing to show your vulnerability. That changed my perspective. I had always enjoyed building software and wanted to create a company, that would influence how we live. I decided to do this with consumer goods because, the stuff we consume is the biggest contributor to our environmental footprint.

When Daan Wedderpohl, lost his home, his job and his relationship, his life changed overnight. But rather than despair, he used the experience to inform and adapt his life to one without ownership. The result was Peerby, the most successful goods-sharing platform in the world.

The biggest challenge, that we have is the ‘invisible forces’ that exist that push us towards consuming in a certain way. It is easy to waste and expensive to repair. They make it harder to create a circular, efficient model that rather than taking resources from the planet, offers access to idle resources that exist. Like many Sharing platforms, enabling people to go beyond consumerism and share, has been challenging, but we are finding ways to nudge people into new behaviour. It’s frustrating that we are creating social and environmental value, but this value is not counted by society. If I was able to monetize all the value we create, I would have a billion dollars.

Daan recognizes that as a business, not only is Peerby’s business model created out of an adapted view of waste and ownership, but that the business itself has to nudge people into adopting and adapting this new relationship with goods.

The best way to think of a city is like the largest warehouse in the world. There are all these unused products in our homes, a bigger supply than all the commercial supply combined, everything we need is available. Owning is finite and sharing is infinite, but people in cities are isolated from each other, making it harder to share. The biggest direct result of Peerby, is that people are amazed at how trustworthy and loving people actually are. I have become a very optimistic pessimist. If we deal with resource scarcity through sharing and reduce our carbon emissions, we can solve the grave challenges that we face over the next 40-50 years.

As Jessica Hagedorn says, Adaptability is the simple secret of survival. So, to become a change-maker brand, businesses need to ADAPT.

To help your company take the third step to becoming a Change-Maker Brand by being adaptable, here’s my:

Change-Maker Checklist Number 3,

  1. What are the key changes happening in your industry and how are you or can you adapt as a business?

  2. What changes could you make to your business to benefit people and planet?

  3. How are you / could you change lives?

  4. How are you leading change?

  5. How could your customers help adapt your products and services?

  6. Could you deliver your products as services?

Miquel Lacasta and Javi Creus created Kubik, the world’s first co-working space in Barcelona, in 1994. They embrace adaptability.

Miquel: Our ethos is that we need to experiment to see how change happens and what role we play in the change to benefit ourselves, our community and our cities.

Javi: “We created an ecosystem and when the species becomes too big it has to leave to grow. Sometimes, success means leaving.”

Change-maker businesses are those who are able to see change as an opportunity to create better, more unique products and services that create more value for people and planet.

Natalia Iliadi is a change-maker with Stagones, a rural collective of eco-architects, who live and work on Mount Pyxaria on the island of Evia in Greece. The group participate in what they call an ‘exchange economy’, working with nature, recycling materials, skill swapping and empowering the local community through the structures they help to build. The Stagones approach embodies the spirit of adaptability, understanding that success depends on it.

We build using natural materials as a collective. We work together in a very organic way. It's not about making balls of mud and straw with other people; it's about working together towards a common goal, sharing a journey with joint aspirations. This is what creates strong bonds between us. It’s an agile process and is hard to distinguish the design stage from the building stage, we experiment as we create. Natural materials, are malleable, so if you make a mistake, you can redo it, unlike concrete. You don’t need to sit by yourself in an office and spend hours trying to solve problems that you have not yet encountered. Trying to project the needs of a person, is what people do in an architect’s office. We bring the team and the client on location, to develop and adapt the design together in a hands on way, it’s truly collaborative.

The ability for businesses to adapt both now and in the future, is key to survival. In the last ten years we’ve witnessed the death of corporate behemoths ousted by new, innovative, tech enabled platforms, who offer people an efficient, affordable yet unique experience that is social and planet-friendly to boot. RIP Kodak, HMV and Blockbuster. They couldn’t adapt and didn’t survive to tell the tale.

As educator Jessie Potter said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

For Daan Wedderpohl and the change-makers in Generation Share, adapting their business models is not only necessary for the survival of their businesses but is fundamental to world change.

I want everyone in the world to share. The ultimate goal is that consumer goods will never be designed for one person, but for a community and if goods can be passed from person to person, then the manufacturers will have to create a business model where instead of manufacturing products to become obsolete, they will make things for sustainability, reparability and reuse.

Generation Share will be published by Policy Press in June 2019 for Global Sharing Week. You can now pre-order your copy here.

If you are a business who wants to become a change-maker brand email me or join the conversation on Twitter #CHANGE! @benitamatofska

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