Leigh Baker and Ian Hopkinson talk about Balance 3

Leigh Baker is an author, blogger, business analyst and many other things. She’s really written a book – it’s not just a skill she’s thrown on her Linked-in profile! Leigh is a thought leader in regenerative thinking and sustainability and her brand Balance 3 seeks to inspire agents of change.


Ian: Ian Hopkinson here again with Leigh Baker once again, author, blogger, business analyst and many many other things. How are you today?

Leigh: I’m well thank you.

Ian: I suppose you’re as well as the last time I asked you which was a little while ago.

Leigh: Yes not so very long ago.

Ian: We’ve got Leigh’s book here the “Deep Green Profit” sitting up here and you may have seen it in some of the other videos. She actually really is an author she doesn’t just say that, there is actually stuff in  this book.

Leigh: There’s even cartoons.

Ian: Yes that’s right. She’s not one of those people who puts author on their LinkedIn page who doesn’t actually write. So tell us about Leigh Baker and what is Balance 3?

Leigh: Balance 3 is set up to really start to accelerate a shift that’s been happening and it’s way presumptuous for me to say accelerate in a big way because the shifts happening anyway, but I want to do that little bit that I can about it. The shift that is happening is a fundamental shift in how western industry used to think about the environment, how it’s starting to think differently and just how rapidly that is going to shift how products are made and services are delivered.

Ian: That’s really been a focus for a long hasn’t there on just churning this stuff out.

Leigh: Yeah…

Ian: …And having no thought to it.

Leigh: There’s the whole mentality that the 19th and 20th century is product based, it’s a one way system. For the 19th and the 21st century it seemed to work and towards the end of the 20th century we started to get more and more messages that maybe it’s not working, maybe we’re having unintended consequences that are dangerous and damaging.

Ian: Yeah we’re making all this stuff and when it breaks where do we put it? …Oh in the earth okay great.

Leigh: Yes we burn it or we bury it or we throw it in the river or the ocean.

Ian: That’s right.

Leigh: It might’ve worked but when… I forget the numbers exactly… but when Henry Ford bought out the next eration of the production line it was something like two billion people on the planet.

Ian: Yeah right.

Leigh: But we’re looking at a different number now and the rules have to change.

Ian: Absolutely.

Leigh: We’ve now come to terms with the fact that’s it’s probably finite. We haven’t made a lot of progress yet about finding another planet that we can use that’s easily convenient

Ian: If we could only put some of this stuff up on Mars and self combust and sort itself out.

Leigh: We could get into a whole long chat about climate change, whether it’s true and whether it’s not, but to me that is actually a whole discussion that is past it’s use-by date because some really smart scientists and entrepreneurs and philosophers got worried about this stuff back in the 70’s and 80’s and they started designing solutions and did the research. They’ve done the implementation testing and there is a new wave of technology coming that means whether it’s true or not isn’t going to matter that much because the technologies that are emerging are under all sorts of names from biomimicry to dustrial ecology and more than tecnhologies, whole new ways of thinking about systems and thinking about what business is for and how to do it differently. They’re so different and so productive that as they scale up their are a whole lot of challenges that we have at the moment that are going to go the way of vinyl records or CD’s and stereos now. Once upon a time when you had the world’s best stereo the speaker cabinet was four foot tall and I’m showing my age  because i’m even speaking in feet which is not common in Australia.

Ian: That’s alright.

Leigh: Now we have iPod’s which clunk into little docking stations and we don’t have CD’s or vinyl at all.

Ian: No that’s right.

Leigh: It’s actually one of the fundamental transitions of the coming revolution is that we don’t have products. Music has stopped being a product that you buy in a little package and it’s become a service and that’s going to be fundamental.

Ian: Yeah absolutely.

Leigh: See you don’t need to worry about whether climate change is true or not.

Ian: Climate change is just a bit of a distraction really. It just seems like it’s something that people are getting hung up on and it’s bigger than that you know.

Leigh: It’s one of a dozen emerging potential disasters. I looked at people and species and their extinction…

Ian: This is it it’s one aspect of a much larger picture.

Leigh: We can get all serious or we can push the panic button and talk about how horrible it’s going to be, who’s going to suffer, or we can talk about solutions.

Ian: Correct yeah.

Leigh: We can talk about the technologies that are already in practise the innovations that are on the way and the name of localisation under the name of biomimicry, under the name of the sharing economy.

Ian: Yeah absolutely. Now I wouldn’t mind breaking down some of the terms because one of those that you’ve mentioned a couple of times is biomimicry. Just to give people an idea if they haven’t caught on, this is the study of nature’s processes or how nature works and learn from that and mimicking that is where the word biomimicry comes from. What other terms are there that we should probably explain a little bit because there is a little bit of a language barrier with people who are new to this?

Leigh: This is language that’s going to become increasingly common and it’s going to move into ordinary language over the next ten years. So biomimicry is design your products like nature, design your processes like nature, room temperature, ordinary pressure. We don’t need the heat and poison there are new ways to do it. Another term to be watching out for it cradle to cradle…

Ian: Yeah good one.

Leigh: We’re used to the old thinking of the 20th century was mine it make it use it dump it. Now it’s all about design for remanufacture. Cradle to cradle means manufacturing with no raw material. How’s that for a competitive advantage! There’s an amazing story of one of the early sustainability entrepreneurs who was in the commercial carpet business and he started from waste reduction programs but they’ve moved on so far from that and are now harvesting used fishing nets from tropical oceans to turn those nylon fishing nets into carpet. Cradle to cradle. Once we’ve dug it up lets use it and keep using it. It reduces the need to dig it up.

Ian: Exactly and like we were talking about earlier this stuff is such the essence of our future. You know where we need to go because we’ve gone to that bleeding edge where we’ve messed things up so badly that we can’t ignore it anymore.

Leigh: But we don’t need to have that argument. This is one of the conversations I have again and again. I come from outside ‘traditional sustainability’ because as a business analyst my background was in supply chain systems, so I’ve worked in factories. I’ve worked in warehouses and i’ve seen the huge potential for improvement once we get out of one way thinking. So we don’t have to have the won’t it be terrible. You know if you want to play won’t it be terrible let’s play won’t it be terrible if you miss out on the next industrial revolution. It will be terrible if you’re a vinyl record manufacturer. Yeah let’s play that won’t it be terrible.

Ian: It will be terrible if we keep just saying won’t it be terrible and not obviously focus on solutions like you said.

Leigh: That brings us to two market places that I want to combine. One is entrepreneurs who think sustainability is boring and compliance and reporting because I was to go *knock knock* dou you want another perspective? But the other market is surprisingly a lot of people who have traditional sustainability jobs and don’t know that’s how new it is. They also don’t know that there’s been yet another revolution that’s going on which is in our understanding of how human beings work, how human systems work and how human systems get changed. It comes from a variety of areas from marketing to psychology to neurobiology to philosophy but we now know a whole lot more than we knew even twenty years ago about how to engage people in the business of change.

Ian: Crucial.

Leigh: So those who feel the need to act in this space may still be trapped in 20th century thinking and may still be trapped in working hard.

Ian: Yes that’s right rather than smarter.

Leigh: My greatest goal is to create sustainability entrepreneurs but not sustainability regenerative business entrepreneurs from two different sources. One was entrepreneurs who didn’t know it was an opportunity and the other was sustainability practitioners whom have been taught how to be entrepreneurs. What an entrepreneur is ultimately someone who turns an idea into an ongoing practice.

Ian: Yes that’s right.

Leigh: On a  fundamental level all humans are entrepreneurs. So that’s what Balance 3 is about getting new ideas and learning how to make them happen and learning how to do it from a point of view of thriving so we don’t do it through suffering we do it through fun.

Ian: Well said. I like this term that i’ve heard you use a few times – change agents. Essentially these agents of change are going to be these enlightened entrepreneurs and these sustainability practitioners as you mentioned who are learning to be entrepreneurs is that right?

Leigh: Yeah and I should also say that the real leading edge entrepreneurs have been doing this stuff since the middle of the 90’s. So what the change agents are truly in the business of  is taking that entrepreneurial practice and taking it out to the next level of understanding an adoption. So they don’t actually have to invent anything.

Ian: No and that’s one thing I find compelling about the Dell example that we’ve mentioned before because basically what they’re doing is delivering what they’ve always delivered in a more sustainable way. So to get cradle to cradle certification or a computer. To me is unbelievable and just makes so much sense and you think why haven’t we done this before.

Leigh: That’s one of the emerging mind shifts, that’s probably you called almost call it at the core of regenerative revolution is actually design to do good. When we thought things were infinite we could afford a little bit of poison, a little bit of waste. The new shift is exactly what the great time management thinker Steven Cutting talked about, begin with the end in mind. If we need to increase buyer diversity, if we need to build community and generate on going wealth in that community then lets use… Jim Collins i’m quoting “let’s use the magic of the and and design to do that”. So do more good and it becomes a whole different ball game.

Ian: Brilliant thanks Leigh it’s always stimulating. I want people out there to understand this stuff the way that i’m beginning to understand it because i’m pretty excited about it.

Leigh: You don’t have to be a scientist!

Ian: No no you don’t.

Leigh: You don’t have to be able to do the maths you get that shift in thinking.

Ian: Yeah that’s it it’s a shift in thinking and it’s integrating this into our daily lives that knowing that the possibility. I keep coming back to it but I think it’s amazing how Dell has done what they’ve done because I think that’s a high profile example that will cut through and it will get people’s attention and most will think well if that won’t then what will.

Leigh: The examples are everywhere. What’s been happening as we’ve had a series of conversations is that i’ve actually re-tuned your perceptual system to look for these examples and you’re going to see them everywhere.

Ian: Yeah that’s right.

Leigh: You just happen to have an IT bias which is what you’re seeing.

Ian: Yeah that’s right plus obviously in here we’re always trying to do things not necessarily the way that everyone else does them we’re trying to innovate, we’re always looking for opportunities for things to be sustainable in here so i’m obviously very open to that. Anyway we could talk all day about this clearly. Thank you once again Leigh and we’ll see you all very soon and we’ll have Leigh back on the program for sure. If you have any questions for Leigh  can they email you?

Leigh: We talked about Balance 3 and obviously i’m Australian, so it’s balance3.com.au and contact is there.

Ian: So contact is through the website. Thanks very much for listening we’ll see you all again very soon.



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