"If a person dreams, it is just a dream; but if many persons dream together, it is the beginning of something new " Brasilian proverb
Driving a community, an organisation or an ecosystem on the path of the ecological transition requires defining a vision, that represents the ecological aim or in other terms, the ecological belief and dream, to achieve at a determined term. The vision inspires people and because they share the same vision, they will follow and act to make the dream real.
The French government for instance states the vision of the ecological transition at the national level in its National Strategy of ecological transition towards sustainable development (2015-2020). This latter relies on an integrated 2020 Vision. This Vision determines the ambition to address environmental issues, as well as the path, the roadmap, and the actions to make this ambition concrete.
At the level of an organisation or an ecosystem, defining a vision of the ecological transition of the place and the community plays the same role as for a state: formulating the ambition or in other terms the ideal picture of the organisation in the future that will inspire people, and guide the actions and the itinerary. At Darwin Ecosystem, the general vision of the founders was to “create the sustainable city of the future and imagine a way to do business consistent with socio-ecological values” (source: http://www.green-economy.fr/darwin-ecosysteme-invente-ville-durable/; interview of Jean-Marc Gancille (2013 ; in French) https://soundcloud.com/bastide-brazza-blog/lorigine-de-lesp-ce). They wanted to demonstrate the capacity of “doing business, while contributing to more solidarity, consuming more responsible, cleaner and where people live better together », the Darwin Ecosystem becoming a demonstrator of viable alternatives to our current lifestyle in the workplace. The ecological transition is a core-value of this global vision of the Darwin Ecosystem.
About ecological transition in particular, the vision of being a zero waste ecosystem after 2015 was expressed by a team of pioneers in 2005.
“If you want to build a ship, do not just bring together men, wood and iron, but tell the men about the seas that the ship will sail up in the dream …” Antoine de St-Exupéry
What is the vision of the ecological transition for an organisation?
The vision of an organisation expresses its beliefs and its dreams. It is the picture of the ideal situation the organisation dreams of. The vision justifies why the organisation does what it does. The vision of the ecological transition for an organisation represents the ideal situation of an organisation regarding its contribution to the ecological transition. It focuses on the aims an organisation/ecosystem expects to achieve to tackle local and global environmental challenges.
In concrete terms, the vision of an organisation is a concise and precise statement that presents the way to project the organisation in the future, describing what the organisation is willing to become in the future and the targets it is willing to achieve. The vision must be stated in a few words (e.g. “becoming a zero waste working place by 2020”; “being a working place without environmental impacts by 2025”).
What is the role of the vision of the ecological transition?
The role of the vision is to:
- Determine the ambition to contribute and implement the ecological transition
- Define the aim(s) to be achieved that make this ambition concrete
- Inspire people, individuals, community and stakeholders to participate to achieving the determined objectives for the ecological transition
The Vision is key to determine actions, build the roadmap, fix priorities for action, and implement actions.
What contains the vision of the ecological transition for an organisation?
The vision consists in two formal components:
- A GOAL: it must be unexpected, delimited in the future (in 5-10-20 years), concrete, ambitious and attainable.
- “Becoming the first zero waste ecosystem/organisation in 2020”
- “Being an exemplary site implementing circular economy in 2025”
- “Consuming 100% renewable energy” and “producing renewable energy” by 2030
- “Being a no-carbon emission workplace for fighting climate change by 2030”
- “Becoming a no-plastic workplace by 2018”
- “Being recognize locally, nationally and internationally acknowledged as the most engaged and innovative working place in the field of ecological transition by 2025”
Nota Bene: The vision may concern environmental challenges as a global issue, or target one specific environmental issue (e.g. waste: “becoming the first zero waste ecosystem/organisation in 2020”)
- An active and inspiring description: the objective is to inspire people and to call for the community and stakeholders’ involvement and action.
Box 1 : The « Zero Waste Goal » by 2015, as expressed by the Pioneers of the Darwin Ecosystem in 2005
The vision of the ecological transition is imagined collectively and in a participative way, based on shared values and common beliefs. It is the outcome of a deep work that brings together values and expectations of a community in response of local and global environmental challenges.
How to build the vision of the ecological transition?
The terms of “sense” and “meaning” are at the core of the definition of the vision. The vision should integrate two key components:
- Being meaningful as a result of the integration of the sense and values of all the individuals of the community
- Being inspired by and inspiring for the person who holds it and for the people who will implement it.
Three sources of meaning must be considered and integrated:
- The individual meaning held by the founders and the managers of the organisation/ ecosystem
- The individual meaning held by the members of the community, the users and contributors of the place/organisation
- The collective meaning of both the community and the organisation. The vision may rely on the values of the community.
It could also be relevant to integrate the meaning and expectations of the stakeholders (including *local partners*) of the organisation/ecosystem.
Box 2 : About the Darwin Ecosystem story: The co-creation and enrolment of a small community at the starting of the project
Three main phases must be followed to state the vision:
Phase 1: The Inspirational step => Inspiring the community of users / stakeholders of the organisation/ecosystem:
When preparing a collective work on the definition of a vision (gathering for instance the founders, users of the workplace, and other stakeholders), it is relevant to increase the awareness of both the community and individuals regarding:
- The environmental challenges at local, regional and global level,
- Existing initiatives that participate to the ecological transition, and
- The power of individuals and communities to engage the ecological transition at their level. This step is called the “Inspirational step”.
– Visit exemplary sites that participate to the ecological transition, for instance the Darwin Ecosystem, the Thinkfarm in Berlin
– Read newspapers articles that present exemplary initiatives
– Watch video and websites about coworking places that are engaged in the ecological transition: Darwin Ecosystem,
– Watch video to increase self-confidence and one’s capacity to make one’s dream real
e.g. video “You are Handsome, make your dreams real”
Phase 2: The Dream step => Defining the vision
Defining the vision will be the outcome of a collective work and a progressive approach. The starting point of the work is the local and global environmental challenges. The outcome (i.e. future vision) will answer to the question “how my organisation/ecosystem will tackle one or several environmental challenges in the future the best way?”.
The vision of the ecological transition of the organisation/ ecosystem must bring a response to environmental challenges, while being coherent with the values of the community and the other dimensions of the dynamic of coworking places (e.g. *participatory governance*, *local partnership*…).
When defining the vision, six characteristics must be considered to ensure a powerful future vision:
Imaginable: the vision conveys a clear picture of what the future situation will look like. It uses compelling imagery of the response given to tackle environmental challenges.
Desirable: It appeals to the interests of stakeholders regarding environmental challenges and the dynamics of the organisation/ecosystem
Feasible: It contains realistic and attainable goals that stakeholders believe can be achieved.
Focused: It provides guidance in decision-making and in action-planning
Flexible: It allows both individual and collective initiatives and alternative responses in light of changing conditions.
Communicable: It is easy to communicate and can be explained by using one sentence
Phase 3: The “Dream speech” step => Storytelling the vision
Storytelling is the ability to share a vision and create a compelling vision of the future. It is the ability to create a narrative to convey some message or meaning and paint a picture of a better situation. Storytelling uses words and images and transports the listener from one existing situation to another ideal situation.
“I have a dream” – Martin Luther King:
“How Great Leaders Inspire Action” – Simon Sinek (TedX)
Tool 1: Picture of the vision of the ecological transition in the future (Step 1)
Tool 2: Questionnaire to define the vision (Step 2)
Tool 3: Article of a national newspaper in the future (Step 2)
Tool 4: Effective storytelling techniques to communicate a vision (Step 3)
- What is a vision of the ecological transition for an organisation/an ecosystem?
- a) a picture of an ideal future relative to the reduction of environmental impacts
- b) an aim to achieve in the future
- c) a goal and an active and inspiring description
- d) all
- What was the vision of ecological transition the pioneers of the Darwin ecosystem expressed in 2005?
- a) no carbon emission by 2015
- b) no zero waste by 2015
- c) autonomous in organic agriculture by 2015
- Why is important to state a vision for an organisation/an ecosystem?
- To determine the ambition to contribute and implement the ecological transition
- To define the aim(s) to be achieved that make this ambition concrete
- To inspire people, individuals, community and stakeholders to participate to achieving the determined objectives for the ecological transition
- What could target a vision of the ecological transition for an organisation/an ecosystem?
- the reduction of all environmental impacts of the organisation
- the reduction of one specific environmental impact of the organisation
- the increase of the contribution of the organisation to a better environment
Answer: d) all these options are possible
- Should the vision be stated by?
- a) the leaders of the project
- b) the leaders of the project and the community of users
- c) the leaders of the project, the community of users and other stakeholders (e.g; local partners)
- How many steps must be followed to state a vision of the ecological transition?
Answer: c): The “inspirational step”, the “dream step