Working in sustainability for over eight years we have found that mimicking natural cycles is a tough act for corporations to follow. It seems Mother Nature has had the time and biota to make perfectly sustainable systems abound, where there is zero waste and nothing truly toxic. Yet when we try to apply these cyclical models to corporations we find so little common ground many corporations have been tempted to give up in disgust in our early meetings.
Early on we try to find the “mycelium” within corporations to begin the path to true sustainability. Mycelium is the white fungal fiber infiltrating the top stratums of soils worldwide. They perform the critical function of taking waste and not only converting it to new resources but actively mapping these new resources to key plants (i.e. - corporations) in their area. In his very interesting book, “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Save the World”, Paul Stamets mentions a Stanford University experiment using a shaded fir tree. By simulating forest conditions of 30% shade, they discovered that the mycelium fed nutrients to the shaded tree equalling the 30% sunlight deprivation. This transfer required less than 48 hours. These mycelium networks make Six Sigma black belts look slow and inept!
So when we start a project we look for those people who are already acting like mycelium. These people are trimming waste and recycling and eliminating toxic by-products. These are people that understand that end waste should naturally roll back into the feed stream for new products. Making endings become beginnings is a natural cycle but it is very hard to do in a linear corporate world. Finding, building and propagating the mycelium of sustainability is a way to begin curving those lines into sustainable cycles. Now to support these critical networks you need 24/7 training systems, user confidentiality (so as to grill more sacred cows) a Rosetta Stone, and legislation to protect sustainable enterprises but these are topics for future blog posts. B2B4ME – focusing on true sustainability.
posted 2/01/12, Mark Walker, B2B4ME Head Coach