Interview with GCC Member: The Idea Hive
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In a conversation with Nancy Roberts, Co-Founder of The Idea Hive, I learned why this group of green MBAs approaches sustainability not as though it is a mountain to climb, but rather a way of life… LL: Tell me about the founding vision of The Idea Hive and how the company was started? NR: All [...]
In a conversation with Nancy Roberts, Co-Founder of The Idea Hive, I learned why this group of green MBAs approaches sustainability not as though it is a mountain to climb, but rather a way of life…
LL: Tell me about the founding vision of The Idea Hive and how the company was started?
NR: All the founding members of The Idea Hive met in the Green MBA program at Dominican University of California in San Rafael. We started out meeting to talk about how to incubate new green businesses and sustainable organizations, and gradually morphed into becoming a free-form consultancy, The Idea Hive.
LL: How did you come to Idea Hive and what is your background?
NR: I have 20+ years’ experience in marketing, communications and project management, mostly in the performing arts field. In 2006 I reached a turning point: I quit my job and went back to school to get a Green MBA. Since then, I have worked on many amazing projects centered around green and sustainable communication strategies. Every day is different and challenging, and that’s the way I like it.
LL: What kinds of consulting services does Idea Hive offer?
NR: The Idea Hive offers research, consulting and facilitation to businesses and organizations of all kinds. Our mission is to promote sustainability as a strategy for thriving organizations.
We champion long-term, whole-systems thinking and experiential learning. By combining sustainability practices with cutting-edge thinking, the Hive helps individuals and organizations flourish and realize the power of creative collaboration. I should stress that Hive members work with all different kinds of organizations; we are more of a loose confederation of consultants; we form different teams around projects and call on fellow Hive members to advise on and discuss our work.
LL: What advice do you have for other businesses in your industry who are trying to become greener?
NR: It’s important not to fall into the “solutions trap.” We often are drawn to what sounds like a simple solution; the complex challenges that we all face today will not have simple solutions, and some days it’s very hard to come to terms with that fact.
LL: Have you faced any obstacles in the process of trying to be a sustainable business? If so, how did you or how do you continue to overcome them?
NR: I think we find the balance of environmental and social responsibility the biggest challenge, mostly in terms of how to achieve a balanced personal and professional life while trying to launch a business, which requires a lot of time and effort. We are a virtual organization, which is great in terms of flexibility, but the lack of a physical hub presents communication challenges. We probably drive to meetings more than we should!
LL: Can you describe specifically your sustainable business practices?
NR: Our sustainability depends on technology that minimizes resource consumption, including virtual meetings.
LL: What does sustainability mean to you?
NR: Sustainability is a world view, a way of evaluating our actions. It is a concept that is inextricably linked with justice; environmental and social justice must be at the core of all sustainable actions. Sustainability is not a goal, or some mountain that one can scale. It’s a way of life that questions unquestioning consumption and other actions that are potentially harmful to planet and people.
LL: Are there any special events, offers, initiatives or services provided that you would want other Green Chamber members to know about?
NR: We hold periodic workshops and presentation around incorporating systems thinking tools to assist your organization or industry to engage with complex problems. More and more, we are seeing that enterprises need to refine their skills in risk management, stakeholder engagement and long-term thinking, and our techniques and experience can help with that.
LL: Why did you decide to join the Green Chamber and how has it impacted your business?
NR: The Green Chamber is a great convening organization for like minded organizations. We recognize the importance of speaking beyond the “choir”, but it’s also nice to have a “choir” organization that speaks directly to and for The Idea Hive and our long-term goals and concerns.
LL: Is there any other interesting aspect of your business that you would like to share?
NR: The Idea Hive is a non-traditional business. While we are an LLC, none of us focus solely on working as part of the Hive. We coalesce into teams according to the work that comes our way and to our strengths. We still meet regularly to both support the Hive and to challenge Hive members to stretch themselves and their goals.