Generating 50 Great Ideas
The Clean50 Summit is an annual event for inspiration, connection, and recognition. It is a day of creative problem-solving followed by a night of networking and celebration, with good food and magnificent views.
At the 2011 Summit, we had over 50 attendees, including Clean50 honourees, key members of their teams, our advisory board, and ourselves. Attendees were divided into cross-pollinated working groups in order to promote new connections across disciplines, industries, and interest groups, and foster relationships that may lead to future collaboration or mutual assistance.
In the morning, the working groups, facilitated by experienced thought leaders, were given the opportunity to tackle specific issues and produce ideas that might resolve those issues. Through two afternoon sessions and cross-group communication, these ideas were refined and considered, with the objective of generating 50 Great Ideas by evening. In the end, we had over 300 ideas, the top 50 of which have been listed in the link at the left.
The Summit closed with a networking session, photographs, and then dinner, at which honourees were recognized.
Several of our honourees’ corporate employers helped to enable greater attendance by team members from NGOs, educational institutions, and smaller organizations. Our thanks to the Royal Bank of Canada and Hewlett-Packard.
Photography from the event and the top 50 Great Ideas can be seen through links at the left.
HOW DID THE SUMMIT GO?
Michael Jantzi, CEO, Sustainalytics:
“I get invited to a lot of these types of events and generally they’re all the same – panel discussions with talking heads at the front of the room. This one looked a little different so I made room for it amidst a crowded calendar. And I’m glad I did. Congratulations to Delta Management for bringing together a much broader spectrum of interests than usual – we might all have been in the same campground, but at least we were not all from the same tent – and for creating the space for meaningful discussions between participants. An excellent day.”
Antony Marcil, Former CEO, Forest Stewardship Council:
“Getting all these exceptional people together and working through these discussions was incredibly valuable. The format allowed us to debate a wide range of solutions. We then voted for those we felt were most important to publicize, promote and implement.”
Lloyd A. Bryant, Vice President & General Manager, Imaging and Printing Group and Environmental Programs, Hewlett-Packard:
“I have participated in a lot of these events and the Clean50 session was one of the best. What’s critical now is converting the many great ideas that came out of this to measurable action. I am convinced that tapping into the collective passion of the Clean50 to drive change and action will make a big difference. HP is certainly committed to doing our part to support this great initiative.”
Karen Clarke-Whistler, CEO (Chief Environment Officer), TD Bank Group:
“This was a terrific experience – I want to stay involved and see where these ideas go – there was some great stuff generated here today – some great people and some great ideas came out.”
Interim Report on the
2011 Clean50 Summit
In a world-wide first ever event of its kind, on September 28th, 25 of Canada’s Clean50 Honourees, 5 Clean50 Advisors, and another 24 sustainability experts sent in their stead by those honourees unable to personally attend the Clean50 Summit all descended on Toronto’s waterfront from homes across Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Quebec and Ontario, were all represented.
Those in attendance included at least one person and usually three from every one of the 16 distinct groups identified in the Clean16, and ran the gamut from farmers to financiers, oilmen to clean tech entrepreneurs, educators to students, sustainability consultants and NGOs to manufacturers and even a politician.
OBJECTIVES and SUMMIT ACTIVITIES
There were two key objectives for the day: First, to allow these exceptional contributors to Canada’s sustainable future to meet one another, and second, to try to produce 50 Great Ideas. The Summit was, by both these two measures, a complete success.
While many of the Clean50 Honourees knew a few of their fellow honourees when they arrived to take the RCYC Launch over to the Toronto Island, for the most part that meant the finance folks knew the finance folks and the industry folks knew themselves and the NGOs knew a few people from different areas. But, other than the Delta Management team who had vetted them, no one knew more than 20% of the people in the room.
In fact, UNESCO’s Chuck Hopkins, who flies about 400,000 miles a year (in coach!) attending sustainability focused events around the world, stated that to his knowledge, the Clean50 Summit was the first event in the world to bring so many diverse groups of people together for a working session. How cool is that!
HOW THE DAY WORKED
Delta orchestrated the meetings to cover 7 different problems, each with about 8 people in working groups. The topics remained the same, but the groups shuffled 3 times in all, so that virtually everyone present worked with at least 20 different people through the course of the day, people each contributed to 3 different topics, and each topic benefited from at least 24 different experts through the course of the day.
Between working with all the different people during the day, sitting at lunch with yet another fresh group, the pre-dinner cocktail hour, and then eating dinner in yet a 5th combination, attendees certainly exceeded their expectations from a networking perspective.
With the expert help of Diane Kilcoyne, Frances Edmonds, Chuck Hopkins and Tima Bansal, the meeting plan came together in such a way as to provide for ideas to be produced en-masse in the initial brainstorm session, then for a second group with fresh eyes to add, review and refine, and finally for the third group to tackle each topic to refine and then rank the ideas for impact and difficulty.
All in all, a massive number of ideas were generated, passionately debated, and their impact assessed. The ideas were then posted around the venue, and all participants provided with stickers that they were encouraged to use to “vote” for the ideas they felt most worthy. Each participant was given 1 star, and 10 smiley faces with which to make their selections: Smiley faces were awarded to “good ideas” and each participant was allowed to vote for a single idea that they felt was “The Best”. In a strong show of diversity, ideas from virtually each one of the seven discussion groups got a mix of stars and smiley faces – a testament to the content produced. Overall, a consensus on the best ideas was arrived at, and when counted, the top ranked ideas totaled 52! Objective 2 was also met!
Over drinks and then a remarkable dinner prepared by gifted RCYC Chef Jonathan, that included sustainably farmed and incredibly tender and tasty beef from Atlantic Beef in PEI, followed by some of Clean50 Honouree Ted Zettel’s Organic Meadows’ delicious ice cream, the discussion continued – particularly at the table where we put the traditional and renewable energy folks all together, representing four different provinces, and where the merits of solar, wind and hydro were debated quite loudly and passionately, to the amusement of nearby tables.
In between, and with only a few short speeches, 50 awards were handed out, to much-deserved applause.
And then, some 12-13 hours after they had arrived, the Clean50 sailed back to the city, with many new friends, warm memories of the day, a recognition of the brilliance of many of their peers, and a determination to take the combined ideas forward. All in all, a massive success, but with work still to be done.
Our thanks to the Clean50 Summit attendees. They were remarkable in their passion for the cause, and thus overcame shyness and reserve to all contribute and really engage. As the day went on, and people got increasingly excited by what was happening, people stopped responding to Blackberries – or stepped outside to do so and then hurried back to get back into the discussion.
Our volunteer facilitators were remarkable: in addition to the four meeting planners (Diane Kilcoyne, Frances Edmonds, Chuck Hopkins and Tima Bansal), Advisors Celesa Horvath, Henry Vehovec, Velma McColl, and Celine Bak acted as SMEs or facilitators or both through the day, together with honourees Antony Marcil, Chad Park and Ross Keating, press ganged volunteers Hadley Archer, Tom Ewart, , Lisa Horvat, and Delta’s Kevin Dunal. Combined, our facilitators and subject matter experts guidance was incredibly valuable in getting us through our ambitious schedule on-time and on target.
Further thanks to our intern Jennifer Forkes, and volunteers Cindy Vergera and Mark Conte, without whose assistance the event would never have succeeded, and to the RCYC staff for fabulous food and seamless service.
SO… NOW WHAT??
The group as a whole felt that while many tremendous ideas had surfaced, the value of the day could only be measured by taking the ideas forward and identifying next steps for them that actually changed something. Otherwise, the message we received loud and clear was “this was a great day – but if we drop the ball now, it will just become another missed opportunity”. Delta is determined that the opportunity for such a well qualified group to provide some thought leadership should not be squandered – so we are working with our honourees to get the ideas to the next stage and eventual implementation.
Through November, a number of the Clean50 Honourees are continuing to engage online and via conference call and web-meetings to further refine all the ideas deemed worthy, and then work together to get them implemented or promoted.
The Clean50 website will continue to evolve to reflect the content produced.
We feel that a number of the ideas will be worthy of taking to various levels of government and lobbying for their adoption, and it is our hope, that with the combined weight of the leading 50 Canadian sustainability experts, that those ideas will be heard and help form policy at all three levels of Government. We will post the results here and ask visitors to the Clean50 site to endorse them and send emails to their members of Federal and Provincial parliaments, as well as City Hall, and ask our politicians to act.
Other ideas will be posted for corporations, big and small, to consider and to adopt. We hope that we can build out not only the ideas, but also provide useful links to help companies across Canada and the world adopt them.
And finally, there are ideas for individuals to consider, adopt, adapt, and act upon that will be posted.