Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rule #5 Change Is a Math Formula

Sorry for the long stretch between blogs! I've been traveling non-stop since my last posting--and if it weren't for a piece on the front page of today's New York Times on zero-waste, I would have waited until I got back to Santa Fe on Friday to weigh in with a report of an amazing month-plus of travel!
What did the Times report?
Here's the key paragraph about a news story describing the rise of the zero-waste movement, a movement that is replacing old-fashioned recycling with an even more ambitious approach that eliminates waste. The Times' Leslie Kaufman writes, "Though born of idealism, the zero-waste philosophy is now propelled by sobering realities, like the growing difficulty of securing permits for new landfills and an awareness that organic decay in landfills releases methane that helps warm the earth's atmosphere."
Change is a math formula! Change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change. When it comes to the corporate costs of doing business and the social costs of dealing with waste, economic pragmatism is forcing real change. It is cheaper and more reasonable to eliminate waste than to pay the rising costs of burying it or even of trying to recycle it.
Here's the thing: most innovators want to focus on coming up with cool ideas that make risk look more attractive because the new solutions are so appealing.
But it turns out that it's ultimately more effective to drive up the cost of the status quo--if you want to be a change agent, learn how to make the real economics of existing systems become more transparent! Showcase the real costs of doing business the way we've done business for years! When the cost of the status quo goes up, the risk of change looks a lot more attractive!

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