Month: June 2009

TrailblazerBF’s raison d’etre

Our raison d’etre


Trailblazer Business Futures, TrailblazerBF, exists to help people and organisations to ‘navigate’ the journey towards sustainability; by liberating the creativity that will enable integrated continual improvement.

Our mission is predicated on two tenets

  • that our future is resource constrained
  • that humans are creative and enterprising

These two tenets will ensure that as we transition into our resource constrained future, some organisations will disappear and be replaced, and others, with exceptional strategic leadership and management, can survive and grow.

The task is simple, if not easy to accomplish, and again can by reduced to two key questions

  • Is our business model relevant to such a future?
  • Does our leadership and management, enable the liberation of the creativity required to continually reduce the resource intensity of the goods and services we produce, consume and dispose of.

This will be the most massive effort of  ‘quality improvement’ the world has seen and we want to enter into a dialogue with those who see themselves as possible stakeholders and potential partners.

Join us here by commenting on posts, following us on Twitter at or emailing



Sustainability and the ‘energy gap’

The article below, echoes my article of 2005, ‘Sustainability and the Energy Gap’ where I predict that a ‘perfect storm’ of factors will ensure that the western economies will end up with with a lower quality of life than an equitable distribution of resources would allow.

This is simply because will will not recognise the immutability of the One Planet Equation.

Read Article sustainability-and-the-energy-gap2005


Green Shoots, an Alternative View

Kurt Cobb

……………..That’s what my green shoots are telling me. Let me repeat it again: We may be nearing the point where the existing capital stock including the public infrastructure has grown so large and our resources, both financial and physical, have become so tight that we can no longer both maintain and expand the capital stock simultaneously. This does not necessarily lead to a dramatic collapse so much as a grinding decline in productive capacity. Over time the economy has more and more difficulty extracting basic resources from the Earth, manufacturing objects from those resources, and transporting those objects to markets, all while maintaining the buildings related to these activities……….

See complete article at

 See also

On our failure to understand steady growth

As a species we are blind to the concept of steady growth but it happens all around us. Look in your bank account and you should see that the interest is paid on the balance in your account, which has grown (unless it’s mine) by the interest paid. Watch vegetables growing and nothing seems to happen for ages, then suddenly they take off.

This is steady or ‘exponential’ growth.

Take a chessboard and put a post-it note on the first square, two on the second, four on the third and keep doubling up. If you do it steadily then the time to each doubling is 70 divided by the rate%. at 7% per annum, the doubling time is ten years.

Two mind boggling outcomes arise.

1. We find our pile of post-it notes is around 6mm high on the 7th square(64) and on the 64th square? – well if you climbed to the top and shone a torch down, the light would take 48 minutes to reach the ground, you would be 6 times further from the Earth than the Sun is!

2. If you count the post-it notes on any number of squares, their sum will always be less than those on the next square!

Now, if these were barrels of oil, you will be able to say that you will use more of them in the next doubling period than you have in all the doubling periods that have gone before.

Oil was first commercially exploited in 1859 and we are now about half way round the chessboard, having used a trillion barrels, with around, it is generally agreed, a trillion left.

At the present rate of growth of oil use, we are going to try to use them all in the next doubling period, around thirty years!

There are of course, myriad reasons why this not possible. That’s why we have to keep ahead of the oil curve.


A ‘Single Conversation’, GARS or SARG?

The Homes and Communities Agency intend having a single conversation with with all the actors in Housing and renewal, which is fantastic you might say.

However, they are basing that conversation on Growth, Affordability, Renewal and Sustainability GARS, but is this a meaningful conversation?

Any meaningful converstion must be based on SARG, Sustainability etc.

To move forward we must move forward on a journey of continual improvement towards sustainability, only this route is affordable, creates renewal and offers the possibility of growth at reduced resource intensity.

The Learning and Skills Council have already tried the the GARS approach, which has led to a complete shambles as identified on the BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme.


A Single conversation

By engaging local authorities in a ‘single conversation’ on all aspects of housing and regeneration, we aim to connect local ambition with national targets.

The Single Conversation is the HCA’s most important business process – it is the way in which we agree and secure delivery at the local level in support of our national objectives. By working in an open and transparent way with local authorities and others we aim to become local government’s best delivery partner, enabling us to secure more and reach better outcomes for each place…………

Summing the resource intensity of society

The concept of the Resource Intensity of a Society is powerful but lacks the focus to enable the learning that will lead to its continual reduction.

Dividing it up into sectors seems a good idea but could lead to continuation of our reductionist approach to problem solving, but the broad categories appear to be

The Resource Intensity of

  • The Built Environment
  • Governance
  • Security
  • Mobility
  • Fulfilment
  • Knowledge
  • Failure Demand

It is clear from this list that they all overlap, which highlights the need to take a systems based view of process learning and improvement.

This adds another question into the equation, is it the resource intensity of knowledge, or the resource intensity of learning that is crucial?

The resource intensity of failure demand also cuts across all sectors and looked at crudely, is the waste we generate carrying out our essential processes and the ones that aren’t essential,

Of  ‘not doing the right thing, right, every time’


Leadership, Followship and Twitter

I have just been speaking to a friend who is part of an important sustainability initiative in Australia, The Natural Edge Project, about using Twitter to post information – and his comment was that he was ‘too busy’, and he probably is.

But the old adage says “if you want something done, ask someone who is too busy”. The best of the ‘Change Agents’ in the world are always ‘too busy’ but they still need to put their thoughts ‘out there’ on as many platforms as they can, Twitter included.

Another thought arises from this, and that is the issue of ‘Leadership’ and ‘Followship’, and the truth is we are all both as illustrated in the piece below from 1991.

Being of more ‘mature’ years, I might be forgiven for seeing Twitter as a new fangled thing and a passing fad, and it might be, but it has the power to enable both leadership and followship and in the process, hopefully allow the cream of the ideas that will continually reduce the Resource Intensity of Society, RIoS, to rise to the top of the bottle.

Those ideas that will show us how to balance the ‘One Planet Equation’



Follow the Leader

Tom Gray, 1st Thorsby Troop, Alta.
The Leader, May 1991

As I strolled past a city intersection, I stopped to watch five men. One was looking at a blueprint, three were leaning on shovels, and one was down in a hole digging. It turned out that the man with the blueprint was a district supervisor. Leaning on the shovels were an area supervisor, a site supervisor, and a job foreman. And the man in the hole? He was “just a laborer”.

A school registration form asked the question: “Is your child a leader or a follower?” A few days after filling out the form, one mother received this note from the teacher:   

“Dear Mrs. Smith;

Congratulations on having the only follower in a class of 28 leaders!” These anecdotes reflect our bureaucratic society, where we have “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”. We all know and understand sayings like this. A bureaucracy is top heavy; it has too many “leaders” and too few workers………

Coming Full Circle

I expect you’ve noticed it already. It is no coincidence that the qualities of a good follower overlap those of a good leader. From the description, it becomes clear that a good follower is able to assume leadership when necessary.

Followship, like leadership, is a role each of us must assume from time to time. There is an ebb and flow. We ale sometimes section or group leaders, but we must still follow the bylaw, policies and procedures of Scouts Canada and the limits set by our conscience or religious beliefs.

By training young people to be effective followers, we are training them to be effective leaders. By training them to accept God’s love, to be self-reliant, to cooperate and trust, to care for themselves, each other, and their world, we are training them to be good followers.

In the final analysis, the only person one can truly lead is oneself. Let us train our young people to follow well.

See post at


See also

Can small changes save your business, and the planet?

 The well thought out article below by Andrew Winston is saying in slightly different semantics what this Blog is trying to say, that we have to take a holistic and systemic view of organisations and societies to continually reduce the losses in processes, that is, to improve their quality.

This has to recognise that the One Planet Equation is driving change, we just steadfastly refuse to acknowledge it.

Humans are creative and ingenious and, assuming no doomsday,  some societies and organizations will survive, and many will be created in our transition to a low carbon future, one we have no option but to enter, either by design or negligence.

Business models must be predicated on this reality, and they must be able to show how the enterprise can continually reduce the ‘resource intensity of society’ in the way it creates, uses and disposes of goods and services.

We must be effective by doing the right thing, then efficient, by doing it right every time.

The sting in the tail is that the least ‘resource intensive’ process it the one that doesn’t exist, and those organizations that do not deliver continual reduction in resource intensity will cease to exist, either in their present incarnation or by destructive innovation to ‘keep ahead of the  oil curve’


Can Small Changes Save Your Business, and the Planet?

3:17 PM Friday June 12, 2009

Tags:Change management, Green business, Innovation

At a recent executive education program on sustainability, I spoke about the many tactical ways to reduce environmental impacts and save money quickly in areas such as facilities, fleet, IT, telework, and waste (these are the main topics in a free special report I put out recently on green cost cutting). To fit the current economic climate, my focus was specifically on short-term, quick wins. After I finished my talk, an interesting challenge came from one of the program faculty: Given the scale of environmental challenges we face, shouldn’t we be talking more about systematic, disruptive changes in how we do business?………………

………………….When I talk about the incredible value in getting lean, of course I’m channeling Amory Lovins(and many other efficiency proponents). The big idea here is that there are not only low-hanging fruit, but fruit on the ground. Many companies that have aggressively pursued efficiency have found vast amounts of money waiting to be picked up, even if the large-scale savings result from adding up many small changes. For example, Wal-Mart improved the fuel efficiency of its entire fleet by over 25% in just a few years with a range of efforts — from new tires to aerodynamic improvements such as side ‘wind skirts’ to a larger investment in new auxiliary power systems that eliminate idling. (Note that all the improvements paid back in at most two years, the company’s internal hurdle rate for investments.)

full article at