Today I had the pleasure of delivering a David Suzuki at Work workshop at Read Jones Cristofferson Consulting Engineers. I facilitated the workshop as part of the Suzuki Ambassador program I have mentioned earlier.
RJC are a Canada-wide firm with main offices in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. A challenge when trying to build a green culture in a geographically distributed company is how to engage, collaborate and build connections between these offices. There are also differences in company wide objectives and regional/office interests. For example, in Toronto, the office is right on top of Union Station so very easy for commuting. In Vancouver, the office is on Broadway near Granville so a bit better, but not that convenient for the West Coast Express train. The prairie offices are further away from transit. These differences mean that country wide strategies need to be tailored to – and driven from – local needs.
Today we used a combination of technologies to bring the Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton offices together for the workshop. In Vancouver we had 10 people, 4 in Edmonton and another 3 in Calgary. We used a combination of tele-conference, web screen sharing with Adobe Connect and the new SAP collaborative decision-making tool 12sprints to brainstorm jointly and take notes.
During the parts of the session where we would normally break into groups and take notes on flip-chart paper with markers, we had each group focus on a particular area – reducing energy consumption, trimming waste, creating a healthy workplace and building a sustainable transportation plan – to brainstorm ideas. Each group was logged into the online 12sprints tool and we could see live as each group entered their ideas. This made it easy to do a review after the exercise, prioritize which ideas have the most value and assign action items to take the ideas forward. All of the notes remain available for use by RJC staff as they build out a company-wide sustainability strategy.
I’m really happy with the way this first “virtual” workshop went. Apart from some issues around not being able to hear all of the conversation through the conference phone, the feedback from the remote offices was great. People really liked collaborating with colleagues across the company, not just in their own office. Going forward, it will be interesting to add video to the collaboration mix.
There are lots of companies that have distributed locations across Canada – and across the world – like RJC and SAP. Combining the David Suzuki Toolkit with online collaboration tools will allow us to reach more people in more businesses across the country with less travel, reduced CO2 and even less flipchart paper to recycle!