We all want work to be meaningful, for it to reflect who we are and contribute to our purpose in the world. Often people go about their daily work without thinking of how their actions could make a positive effect. Work becomes a drag. Problems ensue.

Small ideas have the ability to make a significant different. An example is how Saatchi & Saatchi S worked with Walmart to inspire positive behavioral change on a mass scale. Walmart recognised that there was an opportunity to spark a sustainable revolution that could improve the health and wellbeing of their staff. They wanted to wake their people up to the opportunities at work. The focus was to get people to make better choices for themselves and their community through Personal Sustainability Projects (PSP). You can read about it in more detail in a paper published in the Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Waking up at Work: Sustainability as a Catalyst for Organizational Change by Cynthia Scott, Presidio Graduate School, USA, and Andrew Bryson, Saatchi & Saatchi S, USA and now with us in Singapore.

The point is that you don’t need grand ideas to trigger action. The magic of PSP is that it’s not a top-down instruction dispatched by some droll corporate office. It’s a simple proposition that encourages people to voluntarily make a change. Even if it’s just one simple act. Like turning the tap off when you brush your teeth.

Three years on, over half a million people have created a PSP. It started small and rolled on like an avalanche, collecting people who saw what was going on and inspiring them to join in. The results were fantastic:

  • A collective 1.36 million kg of plastic was recycled.
  • 83,000kg in weight was lost from healthy living choices.
  • Nearly 20,000 people quit smoking.
  • A used-tyre recycling programme was established.
  • Wildlife areas were cleaned up.

Two companies. One simple idea.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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