Climbing Higher

Yesterday I had the pleasure of chairing the Welsh Assembly Government’s launch of their new Sustainable Development Charter at the Hay Literary Festival, which was given a neat lift by Revel Guest‘s comment that it was the most important of the 500 or so events on at Hay this year.

Our discussions on Friday, and next week at our Hay on Earth workshops will be focused on defining the ‘Real 10’ goals that will be needed to step up to the opportunities of the future. What percentage of employees would I want engaged in understanding the need for radical change? How about 85%. What percentage of managers need to have carbon and ecological measures in their performance targets? 100%. How many businesses that get support from government will have to demonstrate capability to reduce carbon emissions dramatically? All.

There was a lovely article on nature on the BBC website this week, looking at the way ivy sticks itself to walls. An extract from the article is pasted below; my thoughts on how this might be relevant to making change are in italics.

First, the plant makes initial contact with the object it will climb. It’s important to know what ‘making contact’ actually means for the organisations or individuals that we’re trying to connect with. How we know that they’ve noticed?

This then triggers the second phase, when the plant’s roots change shape to fit the surface of the structure they will climb. Perhaps communication or information exchange consciously change once a relationship is established.

The roots alter their arrangement to increase their area of contact with the wall. More people are introduced by both parties to increase the width of the relationship so that it no longer depends on just a couple of people.

Small structures called root hairs grow out from the root, coming into contact with the climbing surface. Specific actions start to happen that make the relationship more permanent – more depth to the knowledge that connects both parties.

The plant then excretes a glue to anchor it to the substrate.Contracts…

Finally, the tiny root hairs fit into tiny cavities within the climbing surface. Filling our opportunities that lock the relationship solidly against disturbance.

There, they dry out, scrunching into a spiral-shape that locks the root hair into place. Physical structures such as working in each others’ office space, locks the relationship into place.

The ivy’s attachment is further strengthened by hook-like structures that grow on the tips of the root hairs. Personal relationships strengthen the business relationship