Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Implementing a social networking strategy to drive effective green technology and sustainability – a practical guide, part 9

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on April 30, 2010

This is my ninth installment in a still developing practical guide to building, managing and leading a Green technology and sustainability movement that is social network and community-based. I have touched on a number of issues involving building and maintaining group focus on mission and vision, and I have looked into functional issues such as fundraising (and Part 2) and marketing for Green. I have also at least started a discussion on issues related to Green leadership and to negotiations and lobbying in this context.

This posting connects into all of these areas of involvement and it deals with a growing and very troubling problem that we all face, both here in the United States and more globally in our larger collective world community. I will focus here in my comments, though, on how this plays out here in the United States and leave it to others, if they wish, to share thoughts on this as it applies elsewhere in the world.

We live in a very divisive and divided world with way too many of us getting all of our news and opinions from “red meat” extremists who simply push their preconceived agendas and biases on television, radio and the Internet. Yes, a great many of these voices spread their dialog-denying intolerance from the Right but in all fairness the Right does not hold a monopoly on that.

I recently found myself citing Henry Clay and his role as the Great Compromiser in the US Congress, in working with people of diverging opinion and priorities to find common ground on contentious issues (see posting 7 in this guide). The very words “compromise” and even “dialog” have become suspect and are all too often viewed as indicating loss of focus on some “one true path.”

I have also recently posted a piece on leadership in times of change and uncertainty and I admit that I had this posting in mind as I wrote that. In that posting I even cited this one in anticipation of my writing it with:

• “I have been posting a practical guide to developing and leading a social network and goals-oriented community based Green and sustainability initiative and my next posting in that, scheduled for day after tomorrow will deal specifically with a set of issues that demand balanced leadership and vision that can deal with uncertainty and stress.”

That is what I see as the next essential element needing coverage in any truly practical guide to social organizing and in support of any real-world mission and vision. And any such goal will be controversial to some, and that means any such goal will face rigid denial and confrontation. We live in a civil society that has lost track for way too many as to what the term civil, as in civil behavior and civilization even means. Conflict and diatribe, and negative stereotype labeling can come from those who have a direct vested interest in maintaining their personal economic status quo, and it can and will come from those whose rigidly held and expressed ideology prevents them from even seeing modest potential value in those who may disagree with them on anything.

We have seen this from the Right on healthcare reform and a range of other issues here in the United States and yes, I acknowledge that the Left has not always deported itself well either. This can, does and will happen in the arena of environmentalism and sustainability too, as controversy over issues like global warming have shown, and any leadership of any Green technology and sustainability initiative has to be prepared for this too.

This calls for a strong, closely connected sense of community and a strong deeply felt sense of mission and vision, and these values have to imbue the general membership and the supporting goals-oriented community as a whole – it cannot be sufficient that the organization’s leaders talk this talk if they do not follow through in their own actions, and their actions have to include both setting a personal example, and educating and mentoring others. And growth and strength of organization and effort translates directly into a visibility that can attract the wrath of those who would disagree, for personal vested interests and for reason of rigid ideology as well. Having a thick skin helps, as does a willingness to endure and persevere.

I wrote and posted Leadership in Balance – managing vision in the face of detail with the prospect of writing this in mind, and I find myself thinking back to that posting as I write this, and to the steady drumbeat of intolerance that I see from some of our news channels and hear of as coming from some of our more vocal pundits and commentators – and from the growing political movements they fuel and incite. That source of resistance to change and to finding common ground for creating effective change notwithstanding, we still face grave and growing needs for more effective Green and sustainability solutions to a great many growing problems.

And I come back to why I have been putting this guidebook in a section of this blog on Social Networking and Business. First, any Green and sustainability initiative of any scope or scale is going to have tremendous impact on business and economic systems, and second, any effective approach to formulating, developing and enacting effective change is going to require buy-in and support from significant, committed social networks and communities. And there will always be voices, and even loud and strident voices who say “we can’t afford this now,” and “you still yet have to prove to my satisfaction that real change may even be needed” – just consider the problems of enacting viable, effective long term solutions to global warming as an example and for a healthcare example to show this is not just an environmental issue consider the tobacco lobby.

There are important issues here that we need to work on as a society, and that we need to resolve with long term sustaining solutions and that are not easy issues to work on. Finding common ground and building coalitions and developing wider bases of support and agreement are all crucial to making this work as are your organizational marketing and fundraising, and initiatives that would go on more strictly within your organizations in building and maintaining them.

I am sure I will be adding more to this series and to this guidebook but I will probably hold off on adding a next installment for now. I wanted to finish this group of postings for now at least with some thoughts on both the overwhelming need for effective change and on some of the challenges facing any who would seek to enact such change. In that, we face problems and issues of sufficient importance that we really need to find paths forward to successfully addressing them.

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  1. […] labeled my ninth installment in my practical guide to implementing Green and sustainability as “meeting the challenge” when I added a link to it to my Social Networking and Business […]

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