A week ago today Bruce, Simon and I attended a course, put on by The Natural Step, that was shaped to introduce organizations to a framework in moving businesses to a more sustainable model. It was a two-day course which took place in Chinatown in Toronto at the Center for Social Innovation, a multipurpose space for business and leisure use. The space was gorgeous; it had a living wall, roof top garden, kitchen area, event space and rooms for personal work as well as offices for individual organizations. The space fit perfectly with what the Natural Step preaches and was a great setting for the two days.
Day one was a little overwhelming because we were filled with so much knowledge. New terms, the framework, ideas, personalities in the room, there was a lot going on. That being said, I never felt more passionate about this project then after day one, because it really hit me on how important sustainability is for our future. We were asked to introduce ourselves to the room and why we were there and I was the youngest and only student in the room. It was intimidating to really express how I felt about our project and my reasons why this was important because I was nervous that the others wouldn’t understand the project right away and think it was significant that I be there. By the end of the course I was confident and shared my beliefs openly with everyone. I told them my objective is to show students and my peers why it is important to learn about sustainability and a sustainable future because we will be going out into the industry soon and starting our careers. In the hospitality industry especially food and beverage, we need to be changing the ways things are done because if we have no knowledge as to why this is important and why we need to lead a sustainable personal and professional life, then we are in rough shape.
The Natural Step course has now set our team up in moving forward with the project. Following their ABCD model for change and strategic planning which expresses awareness, baseline analysis, compelling vision, and down to action, we are identifying our goals and what next steps will be to reach our final end goal which is PJ’s in a sustainable restaurant model and a leader in the industry. The course has taught us not only the fundamentals of how the framework works but why it needs to be done. It helped that we applied all that we learned in the two days to a case study that was focused on a fictional resort. The resort had a golf course, spa, restaurant and hotel on site that we applied and made useful changes to that in turn applied to what our project is trying to achieve. We were exposed to new ideas that we had never talked about before. It gave me a sense of urgency to change everything and I wanted to see results now, but if I learned anything from the course it is that one can’t jump right to action which is one of the challenges of change management of course.
Overall I have a new perspective on how I look at this project and my passion has grown much more since those days. I know that we are still a business in an industry that has been doing what it’s doing since it started and won’t die anytime soon but I know how important it is to change how we run this industry and it needs to start now so the future can be much greener for everyone involved.