Needless to say, today’s business buzzword begins with the big ‘G’ for Green. Organizations at every level are concerned, or at least showing concern, about the impact of business activities on society and the environment. I say great! It’s about time we start looking at the big picture and not individual bits and pieces.
In K-12 classrooms we have witnessed an increasing awareness about global warming. In several of our workshops, the students themselves have proposed green business concepts. It’s up to us as educators to take advantage of this yearning and challenge them to help us solve perhaps the most complex problems humanity has ever faced. One way we are doing this is by combining green terminology into our youth entrepreneurship courses, or green e-ship as we like to call it. Here is a simplified outline of what we offer them.
A Green Journey: To start, we like to stress the importance of balance in any entrepreneurial venture. Research about the learning characteristics of Generation Y students demonstrates a growing concern for work-life balance. So we strongly emphasize the need for a positive outlook on life, having fun in business, and extending these attitudes to green business practices.
Green is Better: Leaders who incorporate green thinking into their organizations can have an advantage over competitors that don’t. Green teams can be more powerful than traditional groups; but it is not easy communicating a green proposition for group support. We provide leadership building exercises that raise self-esteem, while showing respect towards others and the planet. These Green Leaders can and want to make the world a better place.
Sustainability: Another magical word today, beside green, is sustainability. We challenge youth to look ‘outside the forest’ and design new business models that simultaneously account for business, social and ecological factors. These models need to view return on investment in financial, social and ecological terms. This is definitely a challenge, but today’s youth are more than up to the task.
Green Innovations: A good idea is not necessarily a good business opportunity. Similarly, a green idea is not necessarily a sustainable business opportunity. We like to take students through the entire innovation process and demonstrate how green thinking can be incorporated into every aspect of business and product cycles. Many students are creative by nature; they just need a ‘playing field’ to let their ideas run.
Cultivating Green: Finally, green business planning has its peculiarities. While the process incorporates many of the elements of a traditional approach, green business plans go a couple steps further and into the realms of social and ecological ‘capital.’ This is the climax of the course as instructors are rewarded by students who ‘talk and walk’ green.
This is as much a learning experience for us as for the students. We know we have a long way to go and are running as fast as we can to promote green e-ship to our students–and today’s youth move at cyber speeds.