—Systemic change begins with personal transformation—

484: John Sargent, part 2: Fun Transforming MacMillan, a Big 5 Publisher

2021-07-08

Everyone treat changing corporate culture like a horror show, but John did it. How? Through making it fun. The way most people talk about it, only dictators can change cultures, I'll trust his experience over their speculation. This episode begins with his reviewing some of how he implemented that change. My biggest takeaway was his focus on people before technology, what they want, and what makes them tick. The result is their engaged participation. He also shares the result of his commitment. As usual with experienced leaders, if things don't go perfectly, they don't pretend. They share what didn't work too, I believe from experience finding that exposing vulnerabilities doesn't make them weak. It connects people. If you want to change yourself and your organization, you'll learn from John how to achieve more by having fun, listening, and caring over analyzing forever, coercion, and such.

441: John Sargent, part 1: The CEO who reduced a Big Five publisher’s footprint

2021-02-24

I learned of John's work through his statement at Macmillan's Sustainability page while researching Ray Anderson: In 2009, after reading Ray Anderson’s “Confessions of a Radical Industrialist,” I decided it was Macmillan’s responsibility to lessen our impact on the earth, and in particular, to lower our carbon emissions. We created a senior position in the company and spent well over a year measuring our carbon footprint. We then set ourselves the daunting goal of reducing our scope one, two, and “major” three carbon emissions by 65%, and we gave ourselves a decade to get it done. Over the course of the last nine years, we have made sustainability a major component of all our decisions at the company. In 2010 we instituted a carbon offset program to supplement our efforts. Over the last nine years, we have lowered our carbon emissions by roughly 50%, and with our offsets, we have been carbon neutral globally for the last two years. Getting here has not been easy. We have initiated lots of projects. We have often failed, but we have been relentless in our efforts. We always tried to make good common sense decisions along the way, keeping a balanced approach. In the end, we will not reach our goal of a 65% reduction, but we have been relentless in our approach and it has become a matter of great pride in our company. The completion of our ten-year plan leaves us again at the starting line. Climate change is now a burning issue (as I write this the Amazon rainforest is literally burning). We must rededicate ourselves to the cause, and willingly sacrifice when called upon. There is a lot to do, and I’m looking forward to getting after it. I often lament the lack of what I call leadership in the area of sustainability. What I call management, plenty, which I'm glad to see. That's things like measuring, facts, figures, seeking compliance. By leadership I mean stories, images, working on the system not just in it. It looked like John was leading so I brought him to share. I believe I found a role model and leader in business.

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