Posted by steve on August 26, 2004
Sometime back IFTSP proposed sustainability circles and invited people to try and report back.
In these circles people from all walks of life come together to stimulate and help each other to act more sustainably.
Due to the summer vacations we have not had the opportunity to try them out. We still believe the might be a cool and interesting way of going about meeting the challenges our society faces. Click on the link below to go the the instructions.
Posted by steve on August 25, 2004
One of the challenges to sustainability is for European companies to retain production and job security in “old” Europe. Already tens of thousands of big-company manufacturing jobs are migrating to the ten new member states.
The question: how can we retain manufacturing in major EU companies when wages are lower and skills are more or less on par in new member states, Asia, the Far East?
Maybe part of the answer can be seen at BMW. A recent article in Newsweek (link) says that way back in 1950, facing a takeover from arch rival Daimler, workers opted for flexible workweeks.
Today, workers put in overtime as needed and take it out as time off when production slows. And it pays off. BMW’s profit margins are at the industry leading edge. Whilst rivals seek to locate in the east to take advantage of cheaper labour, BMW is opening a 1 Billion Euro plant in Leipzig.
IFTSP says yet again, simple social inventions like flexible working hours promote sustainability
Posted by steve on August 23, 2004
The techniques of Inventing for the Sustinable planet are adaptations of a method called “image Streaming” invented by Win Wenger (see link below).
Win Wenger, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the fields of creativity and creative method, accelerated learning, brain and mind development, and political economy.
‘From Image-Streaming on down — Win Wenger has been and is a massively influential character in the world of personal and professional development. His work, usually unattributed, has influenced the whole field of personal development. He’s cool!`
quote from Michael Breen, MBNLP.com
Posted by steve on August 21, 2004
Sustainability requires new, creative combinations. We believe one way to achieve this is to ask questions like; ”how can we set up a fairground which amuses children, has low environmental impact and provides a stimulus to adult exercise at the same time?” The fairy tail trail in Sörmland in Sweden demonstrates these principles on the parent-powered Ferris wheel. IFTSP takes its hat off to the manufacturers.
Posted by steve on August 18, 2004
Tapescript Visit to Centers of Well-being: supplementary questions
(For new readers see “Read this is you are new” link to the right)
Last time I was interrupted by the telephone. It has never happened before, and makes me realise how lucky I have been in that respect. This will take up where I left off. I think as well that I already know the answers, and will not be open for surprises, which makes the method less reliable.
The question: what is the business model around the set-up of a Centre of well-being. We have been asked to go back and penetrate.
I run along the walkway, I see other exits which could provide an access for regular visits to other “worlds”.
I slide down the escalator rail this time, can’t wait or walk down.
And end up by the fountain. I wonder which to do – go to the development office first or…..
I like to look around so I go to the regional products market.
I ask for the story about the regional goat cheese.
They give me a little folder explaining the cheese’s origin and local connections..
I also get a taste. nice.
“How does this work?” I ask, meaning the business model of course.
We rent the shop space, like all the others.
“Do you know who owns the building?”
“Yes it’s a building management company who owns the building.”
I go up to the next floor to find the office spaces for rent – company hotel – and ask about renting a desk.
And about how their business model works.
It seems they rent out offices, desks and support services. They themselves rent the space from the building owners, the centre developers.
They also work together with the local new company support organisation, so newly-started companies can get started quickly with a desk and office facilities.
One of the purposes of having the office space is to encourage people to come and work here temporarily, to attract good outside help, or to establish here.
“If we do not rent the spaces we do not earn anything. The local authority rent a couple of space for their own project staff or for their partners.” My interview object explains.
I ask about the company hotel’s opinion of the building owners, the centre development firm.
“They are good, go and talk to them – they are on the third floor.”
I go up to the third floor, the Centre Development office and ask for a chat.
A guy in a business suit comes out.
Hi, I say “I’m interested in the overall business model of the Centre and the area development.”
He replies; “It’s simple. The initial stages are probably the most interesting.”
“We went into partnership with the local authority. We ran the project to start the centre’s activities. Our job was to supply office facilities, increasing as the project grew. Adapting this building to the size it s now. It was projected from the beginning to this size. The local authority rents it as part of their project.”
“It is good business for you?” I ask.
“It is good business for the regional products sellers because they get marketed. All feet or visitors pass through this area so it generates business opportunities for them. The centre acts like a magnet. They also, because they have the brochures, explain how to visit the farms which offer tourism as well. The suppliers are helped by tourists, and they have web sales. It is an integrated concept.”
The regional development people are happy as they are in the centre. The same with the travel centre which is also central.
The taxis have to pay a fee, but they have a contract and are partly subsidized so they make money.
As far as the advertising space is concerned we do not know how effective it is but it is important as part of the local profile communication.
The Bank is rather small and does a lot of its work through Internet and the other places – there are not that many visitors that come through it physically.
That is,..they rent the space, along with the development centre.
I ask them about marketing: “ We do not market the centre it is marketed by the Bank we administer the centre. We could have worked on the mix, and had advisors involved. We make our money by renting facilities.”
I leave to go down to the development centre.
“I need to ask about marketing” I say to the director as he appears.
I gather there is no reason why local authorities should run a tourist service, but you can increase business activity visitors increase.
The centre has thought of charging a fee, or simply footing the cost out of taxpayer’s money.
“We prefer an income to spend on marketing,” he says, “it is more transparent that way.”
Providers pay a fee to be in the bank, which makes and distributes the brochures, map and book, keep them updated, run the web and take care of bookings.
The fee system finances transport to some extent.
The more successful people are the more they pay. That is the way it works.
That is the advantage of the booking system.
There is a pay per booking charge, so the more you book, the higher the total fee to the Bank.
He bank can produce statistics for the travel planning based on the booking system
Pay as you go is better.
“How do you encourage individuals to put courses on?” I ask.
“They register the courses in the system.”
“And how do you know if they turn up.” I reply.
“You do not know until they have registered, but the Bank takes telephone and internet bookings.
And you charge as you go, if no-one turns up to the course it costs nothing.”
“What about wages etc? Many of these people have regular jobs perhaps,” I wonder.
“We have a company in a company solution. We pay the person wages as temporarily employed.
If they are employed with us we pay them minus our fee, our booking fees and taxes.
If they have a company they send up a bill for their services.
It lowers the barriers to entry to encourage people to try new things.”
The tourism development office part of the development office offers training in how to connect tourism and training and how to run courses etc.
It also conducts market surveys.
They offer more courses than they have customers for, so hey offer a wide choice which they can develop as they gain more experience in what customers need.
“How do you ensure the success of the business model?” I ask still unsure of how this would make money.
“Costs for project will pay back in three years.”
“Break even in two and then the hand-over which is not yet decided “
They could continue running the development centre from Tourist office fees or find and other model.
The bank is profitable and was almost from the beginning.
In working together with local companies they share the risk.
The Director says: ”The building facilities management firms were very helpful.”
I thank the Director for his time and run up the escalator to return to the departure area.
END OF TAPESCRIPT VISIT WITH QUESTIONS ON BUSINESS MODEL
Posted by steve on August 16, 2004
A friend writes:
I live across from a park, and just in front of my house the municipality planted a bunch of new plants. The plants were small and people were walking across the plants in order to get to the park instead of using the designated entry points. This of course damaged the plants feeding into the spiral of walking through the plants, damaging the plants, getting into the park at points other than the designated ones…..
Now, one might think that people do not care and that was my first thought. But my wife bought a yellow tape and put it across the place where people were getting into the park and the people stopped going through it!
Now the tape is not a physical obstacle nor an enforceable one. Maybe people are not paying attention, maybe they only need to be reminded, that the fate of the little plants was in their hands and that they could save them by just taking three more steps.
This example confirms that:
- Existing technology is sufficient
- Sustainable development is actually very simple
- It requires a new attitude to combining and multi-use
- Most people have no problem understanding it
and that indeed working to bring these issues to the forefront of our minds is a necessary activity.
So please make a start by involving your friends in
INVENTING FOR THE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
Posted by steve on August 8, 2004
IFTSP has been asked to penetrate the residual questions that came up during verifications. These are detailed above, covering transport, business model etc. The visualisation of Centres of Well-being is described in the earlier blogg. Follow the link below.
Tapescript: visit to Centres of Well-Being with Questions
I am standing in the departure lounge. The lift is as it was before. I push “go there” I jump on the moving pavement. Windows on either side, the one on the right says “PORENA” on the left “Under Construction:”
I like the idea of walking over the ground to allow nature a continuum for spread of wild animals, seeds etc.
I arrive at the escalator, descend, go round the fountain and straight into the development office. Eying the green sofa from last time I ring the bell on the desk and ask to speak to the development officer, who comes out with a friendly “Hi, Sit Down”.
“I am interested in how transport works, and how large is the area?”
The Director explains it is 30 km in radius, as a semi-circle, but the centre of a circle is possible too.
The development officer’s suggestion is to go and try something instead of asking questions so off I go.
I step into the “BANK” or tourist office.
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to get away from it all, to quietness.”
A brochure rack offers up a selection of retreats.
One is a castle surrounded by water.
Another with a name like “Festi”, another decorated with white rose-petals.
I choose the one with roses; they have a boating pond, meditation rooms, quiet gardens, paths in the forest. No mobile phones are allowed. They have a library and television room How to get there: taxi.
I go out to the taxi- rank and ask the fare. The taxi driver explains that fares are subsidised and it is SEK 50 (not quite £4 pounds).
I ask the taxi-driver to explain how to get around in the area.
“With mobile phones and 30Km radius there is no problem.”
The cabs are subsided, the money coming from a reduction in the bus service, and there is a cab-sharing scheme. Cabs are required to wait 10 minutes as a condition of the subsidy (unless the passenger does not want to share).
I leave the taxi-rank and go past the exhibition tunnel. It presents a prehistoric park, how do I get there then - taxi?
I go past the map, which is presented in the courtyard with the fountain, to look at it again. I try to verify the size on the map. It does seem to cover a semi-circle of 30km radius.
These nodes or intersections interest me. Retreats are away from the nodes, but connected to the path system. For concerts etc, special transport is put on.
For courses, etc?
I see that all transport goes through the central area. They use mini-busses on different routes. These run in time with courses and bring you back to the central area. If you are staying a long way away from the event you want to attend you go back to the centre and take the bus out to where you are staying.
So, that seems to be the answer. During the high season at least, a combination of taxis and scheduled mini-busses all going from the central area serve well-being seeker’s needs. It has to be centralised to work, of course.
There is a printed guide to accompany the map. The deliverables are the map, the guide and the brochures – all available on the Internet as well. On the back of the map there is advertising for various activities.
My personal trainer turns up; “How’s it going? Any Questions?”
I ask him about getting around.
“Cycling is good. Good exercise. You can rent bikes from the central transport area, rainwear as well. The idea is to tempt you away from the busses and taxis.”
Yeah but can I cycle 30 km I am thinking.
“If you cycle fast 30km takes an hour,” he says.
Not me…. I think but say instead,” Does a company run the personal trainer system? “
“We are first certified by the local authority and rent places there. The health centre is multi- use and used for rehabilitation as well.”
Back at the development Centre: “I thought you’d be back!” says the Director.
“Let me check this with you. All transport is centred around one point, walking, cycling, taxi and mini- bus are used.“
“What about accommodation?”
“ If it is not a retreat, a lot is in the central area. If you want to tour around you stay here. If you have a car, you can go to one of the hotels outside. Then there is the left luggage system. All hotels will hold you luggage for you as you go away for a few days.”
“How did you persuade the Taxi companies to go along with this?” I wonder.
“It was easy, subsidy and licence to use the centre the contract was awarded on the condition they provided a certain level of service, plus the sharing.
Same system for the busses, awarding contracts. It was difficult to work out routes. They had to keep a spare mini-bus in case we had a load of people waiting.
That was the reason we had the transport co-ordinator office down there, to gather knowledge about routes and generally sort things out.”
“Why 30 km?”
Because activities are centralised, it had to be small enough to be managed from one place, small enough to have its own character, but large enough to be able to offer a full selection of well-being promoting activities and services.
(Tape session interrupted)
Posted by steve on August 6, 2004
Questions for verification and further investigation: Centre of well-being
1) How big should the area be? It seems to me it should be the size you can get on a map and how big is that? At the same time it should be big enough to be able to offer enough variety.
2) How would this WORK exactly. I am a visitor, I come to the area. I stay at the hotel in the central part. How do I get to these retreats, places offering exercise, schools taken over for adult courses? If I walk what about my luggage? If I take the car it seems it is an economic barrier and not open to all?
3) Business model … who pays whom for what in terms of marketing, booking services etc. What is public sector financed and what is private (and voluntary?)
Click the link below to come to the description of what a Centre could look like.
Posted by steve on August 4, 2004
I am actually surprised by the simplicity of the solution – basing everything around a map! And simplicity is also a necessity.
The other thing is that there is no new technology in this. Like many others involved in making a sustainable future we see that existing technology is sufficient.
I am also struck by the repeated theme “what do you want to do?”, it could almost be a cornerstone of the marketing for the area. Your wellbeing …what do you want to do?
The other strong association coming out of this is how important the local authority is. Without a set up project being run centrally I cannot see it working
I was personally struck by how I as a visitor was “pulled in”. By arranging the information around “what do you want to do” instead of “what is there” and by having a personal trainer just available to chat to without it costing … I realised I myself would like a program like this and have never ever thought about it before.
( I wonder if you could use the visualising techniques to meet your own personal trainer! That would be the cheapest….)
End of Relflections, the Centre of Well-Being