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What Do People Want After #OccupyWallStreet?

Reform Wall Street or Repair the Tear in the Local Economy &  Social Fabric

By Lavinia Weissman


Boulder Co

On October 20th, I read Don Tapscott’s exceptional Huffington Post, Three Principles for a New Wall Street This is Tapscott’s view on what is needed  to repair the Wall Street.

 No one will argue, that Don Tapscott’s Huffington was an intelligent and educated view.

This editorial, sparked by the movement of #OccupyWallStreet, is a statement of meaning and power. Yet, I found it  confusing for  the ordinary person without wealth, working hard to survive the mess we are living with in American and what if anything that he proposed would impact the lives of so many torn now?

Don’s  opening remarks captured my attention:

To many it feels like just that. The financial services industry is in desperate need of reform. Many bankers have behaved as secretive corporate titans serving only their own interests, and insist the devastating consequences are not their fault. They are failing to fulfill their obligations to society — in some cases, even to shareholders — and a growing number of critics view the day-to-day behavior of the financial services industry as unacceptable. If the industry doesn’t initiate reform from within then it will eventually have more extreme reform imposed from outside.”


I completed reading this article and found myself as a woman with a lot to say that I have not see written that many women I know do see.

Not many men will speak from our view of  how the financial service industry has failed us.

My Synthesis of Tapscott’s Editorial

Don’s editorial it is written from a systemic overview and perspective that the solutions lie within a new formation of integrity and transparency on a global scale. Once again, a leader is pointing out the board room perspective for the big financial service companies and investment banks.

Don’s thesis is based on a financial system of a sizeable deposit mass, larger than the sum of a  local community can create.

This creates a senior debt managed as a corporate asset for a core group of economic decision makers and shareholders. The focus become how to leverage returns from aggregation and spiraling consumer banking fees.

Transparency as defined in this context shapes from an issue of checks and balances and compliance reports rather than a source of measurement for how a community and its residents sustain health and thrive from creating sustainable market value that serve a consumer need identified by a social network analysis drawn from people with local voice or exemplary pulse taking capabililty


The Tear in the American Social Fabric from a Woman’s View


The very fabric of our country is torn in many places on the map.

The places on the map are actually not cities, rural areas, counties, states or a very torn apart country served by a broken finance system and politics.  Occupy Wall as a movement by today, spread to 1039 local communities across 87 countries. 

The tear in the fabric of this country is the millions of broken hearts of people, who no matter what they do, cannot take care of themselves as we have been taught to do and in a way that defines us as Americans.  It translated into a Republican view of “the haves and have nots, “ in the late 1990’s post the failure of the Democratic Welfare Reform.

As a woman, I  represent so many who have not had their voices heard in bank, law or compliance; our interests for banking and funds becomes even more fundamental.

The tear in the fabric for women is often exceptionally extreme.  We are the ones that are often called on first to manage and resource a special needs or chronically ill child or challenged elder.  With the rise in chronic illness to 1 our of every 2 people in this country, we are also the first derailed from the economic system that sustains us, especially when we are sole provider for ourselves or children.

As Rachel Qulter reminds us of how she finds this hope through the Myelin Repair Foundation:

We continue to be discounted in the work place as people of value.

The women, i know personally have  completed graduate education with significant debt.  Many after school have been challenged to obtain jobs in this economy or opted for self-employment. They become more so than men, up until now, burdened with significant challenge to support home and family.

Around 2004, I was invited as a journalist to participate in a financial service conference for an alumnae group of women at a top 10 MBA program. I was told when offered the invitation, I could not reveal the discussion in any factual way that was launched with an speaker from Catalyst, a women’s research think tank on the status of women’s capacity to lead in corporate settings.

As a skilled pulse-taker, I observed a view that there was no permission to give public audience to. All but 1 of the female leaders who spoke or sat on panels, had a child or a family member chronically ill. One woman, of significant personal resource left her job after witnessing a significant breach of ethic in a financial security firm, that is in public view.

A few women spoke about battle with life threatening illness and the cost of that and the impact on them personally and how they change. A chairwoman in banking ( a hard position to obtain) offered a mea culpa and apology for the cost of her career choice to her daughters, her exhusband and herself.

For me, it has been years of waiting, networking and praying to build a network of women friends, who know this kind of experience like me.  The women from the university conference are women who primarily know personal wealth and “buy their support systems,” that most of my friends cannot.

For years I was an outsider in what I call fundamentalist spiritual support groups in economic communities of wealth, where often the teachers, the coaches and others spurned people who lived the circumstance I live has being stuck in a limiting beliefs or having brought their circumstance to their door.

Trust me when I say, no woman (and often husband) selects to give birth to an autistic children or a premature baby requiring neonatal care that can accelerate into the hundreds of thousands and bankrupt a family. No woman that I know wants to ignore her elderly parents with Alzheimer or Parkinson Disease and then has to face the question for how long? And how will I continue to support myself and cope with this?

This is now an all too  common examination for women and men.

It  translates into a economic, emotional and spiritual issue at the root of challenge to women working in the institutional world. I believe from the perspective of a corporate financial service global firm is unlikely to ever be addressed. Yet when the firm causes harm, watch out, what is not reported in a compliance report is the harm to people who are dealing with the financial stress of chronic and life threatening illness.


What Does this Have to Do with Financial Service Industry?


My own struggle with Tapscotts’ editorial was the cry for more regulation or self-repair by a global industry that has not impacted harm of the “tear in the fabric.”

For years, I have not seen corporation or non-profit institution or government regulation or program repair or alter this tear to impact the health of people who live at the edge of the tear in our social fabric in local communities.

There is a lot of work ahead for all of us, not just the change agents like me.  Recently I received an email from a man, who has worked with me to alter my thinking, just as my spiritual support system that I draw on from women like me.

To me successful economic change reaches beyond the peer-to-peer arena that has pre-occupied much of the self-anointed leadership of the sustainability movement and has the potential to move sustainability practice into the hands of the masses – where it has always belonged.

As I welcome in more advice and shift the focus of my own work from the tradition of media and consulting to focus on repair of the social fabric through economic development, I have to thank a few remarkable people, who don’t want to be thanked for showing a new direction for me to guide my own spirit in these challenging times and construct a new view of myself and a view of my work that I can construct with others for more impact.

It requires imagination and a new style of conversation that generates change.

As my long time friend, Bill Shireman, President and CEO of the Future 500, another Huffington Poster  recently stated,

If we do not see the world as magical, then we are not awake!”

My response to Bill is,

Magic invites a new form of conversation that unites the practical nature of economic and business with a value that every person you know can sustain and if in the process of working with others, that person makes a real difference, I am happy to see them thrive.”

I am now putting to pen, speech, presentation and media what is in my imagination that can spark concrete local change to infrastructure for health to build repair and a new future for our children. I welcome you to join your magic and imagination with me.


Author’s bio: Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of

As a speaker, she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.

As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with. She has a private practice where she works with women to embrace the experience of chronic illness that challenges their livelihood and form of work.


Can Sustainability Sustain?

A New Wave and Format for Stakeholder Engagement

By Lavinia Weissman


Boston MA

Last week, I attended the web-located press room briefing by George Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. George presented an overview of the UNGC’s 2010 Annual Review. What I heard did not surprise me.

The conclusion in my opinion was not new news. Of the 6,000 Global Compact members surveyed, there is not sufficient global adoption of sustainable measures. The 6,000 UNGC members represent less than 8% of 80,000 companies that need to embed sustainability.

The additional summary points were not new news.

  • CEO awareness is high. Execution and implementation is low;
  • Beyond the corporate headquarter of the UNGC multinational members adoption is low in subsidiaries and the small to mid-size enterprises that comprise the “supply chain;”
  • The excuse for low adoption continues to be insufficient resources for implementation.

From my perspective this analysis perpetuates “embedded sustainability” as a practice of risk management or compliance and not innovation.

Yet the global citizen voice reflected by its leaders and ordinary people are asking for the “discovery” of “embedded sustainability” as a response to problems inherent to how economic decision makers from all sectors have led us into the resulting harm of global warming and poverty and the resulting harm impact on rising incidence of disease, unemployment and declining conditions of habitat and local economy.

What I have learned….

Inadequate resources imply not enough money and more importantly, not enough educated people to perform the jobs of sustainability.  My downsizing research across numerous Fortune 2000 companies consistently showed that when corporate leaders downsized, they were also unwilling to support the retooling and education of a workforce with out of date skills.

In a downsized culture, motivation becomes a practice of survival and protecting one’s job. It is only when a catastrophe occurs, e.g. the BP Oil Spill that the economic decision makers release resources to repair harm and then offer the public a view of the company will now adhere to compliance and regulation.

The culture of response to a “catastrophe” becomes a culture of accountability in response to liability and wrong-doing. The leadership drivers are shaped top-down and across a hierarchy of organization where people are told what to do and when they cannot do it, they blame the organization for lack of training and skill.

In contrast, virtual team and innovation research showed that when creativity and imagination are fostered extraordinary results are discovered through the learning of sound science and applying that science through the adoption of tools (technology) that invites high performance of teams and people across networks of expertise that learn to cooperate in service of building outcomes for sustainable value.

In a culture of innovation, high-performance brings investment rather than proof of concept because no matter the landscape of diversity (culture and expertise), the people anywhere within the network shaping sustainable value are aligned on building capacity for the purpose of producing sustainable value.

Within the picture is a dilemma…

Traditionally investors and economic decision makers want to hedge their bets and invest in something that has been historically proven sustainable value.  Yet the need to learn sustainable value is a response to a burst in society that has led to economic upheaval from how investors of any kind and motive (business, philanthropy and government).

To deliver sustainable value, investors have to learn a leadership value for recruiting and facilitating an organization of people that recognize failure is part of the cycle of building successful sustainable value and organize investments that prompt societal responses to what we have to address for global climate warming, poverty, disease, water and energy in a incubator of learning where there is less overall risk to one investor and the discovery of great impact for a even a network of competitors.

For example, on the numerous occasions of  investigating the projected harm of non-ionizing radiation, I have wondered what would happen if the companies that rely on non-ionizing radiation for defense, telecommunications and medical equipment would invest in an organization to investigate forms of reducing risk of impact on the “growing proof” that non-ionizing radiation is resulting in a rise in cancers, e.g. Leukemia and brain tumors?

Instead over the last two decades or more, we have seen a heated debate in the press between the scientific community, regulators and commercial lobbying groups.

What is interesting to me if I look at the perspective of what it will take to engage stakeholders in a world of early adoption is most likely to occur if a system of accelerated action research is organized into a collaboration that is strategic, purposeful and engaged by deliberate design.

In my studies of how that occurs that can lead to multicultural adoption, I have witnessed and studies for sometime the behavior, culture and outcomes delivered by 3 capacity building organizations unique to specific issues of sustainability:

  • from the get go gave exceptional performance in service of its mission to build a world free of chemical harm. Chemical Sec had a unique beginning in that the initial investors were through an investment fund created by other non-profits.

ChemSec engages corporate stakeholders in the exploration of substitutes for harmful chemicals and serves a bridge of advocacy for the citizen voice that has suffered harm from chemicals that needs to be substituted now.

ChemSec is an European organization that has been invited to present in the US and become a hub of learning for a , Stanford doctoral candidate in the Green Chemistry network established through an alliance between faculty at University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.

  • was founded in 1967 in the United States at a point in time, when non profits environmental groups refused any association with corporations out of what was defined a clear conflict of interest.

EDF’s mission is to find market-based solutions based on sound science built from unlikely partnerships and non-partisan policy. EDF’s best practice fellowship program resulted in 51 MBA students generated for EDF’s corporate partners, “$350 million in net operating savings over the projects’ lifetimes. 400,000 metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions. More than 650 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

In contrast, the Myelin Repair collaboration out of a combined investment of $80M formed for MS research  by Scott Johnson, Founder and President

1.   Identification of over 150 novel potential targets;

2.   Development of 24 new research tools for broad application to other neurological disease

3.   Filing two US patents and applied for 16 more;

4.   Publication of 50 peer review articles;

5.   The launch of broader collaboration with pharma companies;

6.   Extending this research base for benefit to 70 other disease categories.

What do these organizations share in common?

None of these 3 NGO’s are lost in the “muck and myre” of protest and conflict.  They are focused on purpose that as uniting principle through which people can form an agenda and guide themselves to learn to innovate change.

Perhaps one of the most costly uses of donations and grants has been to fuel conflict and protest.   As Jochen Kleef, founder and CEO of Ecopoint.Asia recently reflected to me in an email,

“The thought this brought to my mind is, where would we be today if Greenpeace would have engaged with the establishment and stakeholders rather than confronting them.  I am not questioning Greenpeace’s achievements or the results they have achieved, but I think there could have been so much more coming out of the last 30 years…”

About the time of formation of the 1987 Brundtland Commission,

Greenpeace shifted its focus from the peace movement and antinuclear protest to building this engagement of conflict. This enabled a pattern that the US continues to be locked into today,

1.   Many NGO’s see it their role to protest “corporate greed;

2.   The scientific community in most instances refuses to engage with corporations or accept financial support for fear that this can be perceived as conflict of interest;

3.   As a result , this pushes an expectation that change can only happen if government authors policies and regulation; hence pushing the notion that risk management and compliance is what leads change to protect the environment and people.

Moving Beyond this Trap…

None of the 3 organizations I described previously are trapped by that system of thought.

Today, Greenpeace is a global NGO headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands with offices in over 40 countries and 2.8Mno donors and foundations providing grants.

So while leading NGO Think tanks around the world point out challenges to building resources to shift adoption of sustainability across subsidiaries of multinationals and small and medium size enterprise; one has to wonder with the lost jobs, inability of so many to gain the right education to be employed and the impact of global warming and toxic exposures on a growing geography of people facing poverty complicated with chronic illness.

What would have happen if Greenpeace had shifted its focus from the peace movement and antinuclear protest to building engagement with corporations to adopt sustainable practices instead of perpetuating and reshaping the protest and campaign methodology of anti-war to the environment?

Would Marc Gunther be reporting as he did last week that the cost of natural disasters in 2010 grew to $130B?

Would the economic powers struggling with the global recession continue to avoid the real focus for economic development by investing in the education of its people who are unemployed or becoming of age to join the workforce and create a sustainable method of employment to replace the dying system of full employment based on one life-time job?

Will leaders of the sustainability movement regroup themselves to sustain sustainability by acting on science as we know it today?

Is this form of innovation the best practice to return balance to our global ecology?

Ultimately to sustain sustainability and be effective in creating a global system of health for the environment, economy, people and habitat —-politicians, business and NGO leaders can learn from ChemSec, EDF and Myelin Repair Foundation the most important lesson on how to align purpose to accelerate cooperation and collaboration that will result in embedding sustainability into all aspects of the global economy.


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

Launching an Action Research Lab to Impact Health

Warning: Living and Working in Most Countries is Bad for the Health of Most People!

By Lavinia Weissman


Boston MA

I believe if I surveyed people I know and respect, the survey would conclude that incremental change has never been a sufficient response to all we know that is harmful to the global economy right now.. I also believe for that my quality social network would represent some remarkable insights into what is next. Within my network there are 3 streams of thought in order of least impact.

  1. People who want change but are skeptical that accelerated change is possible.
  2. People who have authored the thought leadership for accelerated change.
  3. Leaders, who know how to build and lead into practice practical scale projects that are a foundation for accelerated change.

The accelerated change  we are looking for has stopped denying the acceleration of harm and its consequence that people are living with around the world that needs a response and recognizes the significant cash investment that is required to find a response to the harm that is far greater than fixing the harm.

These are people who understand that in the United States our systems of economy that assure an system of living ecology are broken beyond fixing. They include how we assure

  • Accessibility to quality education;
  • Access to an employment track  that sustains any person able to work competently with livable wage;
  • Resources for health (not health care) that can be adopted into how people live and work;
  • a response and resources for health to half the population of the United States that now lives with a chronic illness, so these people can live in health and sustain;
  • Replacement of broken infrastructures leaking environmental toxins and chemicals that prevent people and regions to replace community and regional infrastructure that impacts our use of energy and assures sustainable housing and networks of communication that assure impacts of health.

Ultimately, the building and discovery of this kind of change that is of societal scale based on a value for health for people, planet, environment and economy is fundamental to how we build capacity for an ecological system that assures life and health within the realm of science, technology and humanity that shapes our eco-systems to thrive or destruct.

In recent months, I have been quietly reflecting on how to construct a list of people to invite to a meeting sometime in the next six months who understand and are acting on this agenda to accelerate a change that impacts through a combination of their efforts over 1B people living in a global economy.

It is my intention that the first group of leaders that I convene through a personal invitation will join this community (30-50 people in size) to form a portal of opportunity that builds a new way of how the United States relates to a global economy while building a system of relationship that returns health to its local communities.

Government is the least prepared to do this and it has to be a hub  of leadership that draws across every sector participating to build a new global economy that sustains and measures health for people, earth, environment and economy.

That thinking has been validated by the Rockefeller and Skoll Foundations. But now in the US, there is a reality of government shut down and daily monitoring of government in chaos @ Huffington Post. Americans now believe it is not either the Republicans or Democrats fault. The chaos is due to both in creating an ineffective government.

The 2012 Presidential election and campaign cost is already proejcted at $2b. If we stopped spending the billions of dollars in media, advertising and corporate lobbying of government officials, we would have significant cash resources  to create a system of education.

Two Billion would more than adequately fund in my opinion education for people on  how to live  ecologically that assures a respect for living on the basis of “doing no harm,” and operating out of values that teach everyone the impacts, good and bad, on our communities, people and culture that help all of us sustain.

When I first started thinking about how to write this article, I wanted to learn how to write something that would stir people’s thinking as a call to action rather than build another causal campaign. I sought inspiration from other media and people I respect.

I reviewed a few web-broadcasts.  One was  organized by Aman Singh, @vaultcsr, Reimagining CSR as an Engine of Innovation, Profitability and Purpose. Immediately after watching this broadcast, I went thought the new broadcasts promoted by the  Skoll World Forum of Social Entrepreneuership.

What was contained in all the broadcasts and articles was of value without question. What was  not made clear is how these events would influence others to carry out real time accelerated change.

By real-time accelerated I change, I mean change that will produce a tangible shift in the  global economy to sustain people by building capacity for people to solve the problems that are not being solved, e.g. the lack of jobs for the workforce, resources for people who are ill and assurance of access to the education of systemic scale that builds an infrastructure that educates people to live in health and do no harm to their health, the health of others, the environment, earth and economy.

Could any of these events influence more rapid constructive response to the harm now alive in Haiti, the Gulf Region and Japan?

Beyond Skoll and Vault’s broadcasts, I found qne reread 2 articles describing recent personal trauma to Joe Sibilia and his mother in Springfield MA. These episodes while far less dramatic than Katrina and the BP Oil Spill  reflected  to me ultimately the worst effects of a bad global/country  recession   on a local community of no fame and how it works to survive without any real glamor.

The commentary, story and thoughts in both these reports are a demonstration to me of why the harm of a few is having such negative impact on so many.

Joe was a keynote speak at the 2011 Intertek Ethical Sourcing Forum, where he received news that his mom had been attacked in her home in Springfield MA where Joe and all his family lives and which is where he chose to establish headquarters for  In this community, Joe described

– the scene of both attacks – was the area in western Massachusetts where CSRwire is based. “There are 1,200 young men between the ages of 17 and 24 that all share these characteristics,” he started, “they are convicted felons, they’ve never held a job, never graduated from high school, they don’t have a GED and they have no male role-models.”

Events like these alter a person’s perspective. Shortly after Joe was informed of the attack on his mom, Joe altered his hour long keynote and gave this  5 minute brief keynote captured by  Emily Drew, a journalist with @ CSRWire talkback.

Sibilia said his team chose to base CSRwire in this troubled community because they want to be a part of the solution. He implied ethical sourcing – the theme of the conference – was part of a larger cultural shift, where people are becoming more aware of how their own social and economic choices affect those beyond the transactions:

“In the future you’ll decide who you do business with based on their values, where they operate, what they do, how they think, what they believe, if they can be trusted, whether they really do what they say they’re doing. And you will create a new economy based on ethical business practices. And then you won’t have to worry about getting hit by a car or having your mother attacked. The wealth will be a bit more distributed and society will be a better place for us to live in. I really can’t emphasize enough that the work you’re doing is so inspiring to me.”

At the time of Joe’s keynote, I was  in Western MA to visit with a long time colleague, who has always had my respect; David Surrenda, the new CEO of Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

David and I had a brief conversation where I got a clear understanding of his current mission as a global educator and leader.  I took a tour of the facility at Kripalu. In organizing my plan and budget, I wanted to evaluate Kripalu as a potential location for the meeting I plan to produce related to this article.

Following my meeting with David, I spent the weekend at Kripalu and found it a good place to just quietly reflect on what I want and how to organize my strategy for launching a professional leadership group committed to accelerating change.

I am still reflecting on the conversation I had with David, unrelated to my facility tour.  David gave me a context for thinking that aligned with my passionate belief that health is far more than health care and sustainability will not integrate into our eco-economy until society and the communities it contains define what that means drawing on views from every sector and locally applied to culture and local economy.

David Surrenda’s fearlessness and history as a CEO, NGO Exec. Director, Consultant and Educator inspired me. I needed that kind of refueling. I had become very tired of having to always self-sustain and am working hard to change that.

While there are many people giving thought to what i think about, the world pace and form of working has become isolating and I know as many do that real time accelerated change cannot be achieved if people do not learn how to convene in learning groups that apply their learning.

The meeting I have in mind is about creating a portal gateway to a global community of people who convene, learn and apply.  I believe Kripalu Yoga and Health Retreat Center is an extraordinary place to convene the people who integrate the thought leadership for application in local communities influenced by global economies.

Let me know what you think about how to build an action research lab for accelerated change? How do you fit? What needs would have to be addressed to synthesize an energy of impact that embeds sustainability into the culture and impacts change of societal scale?  Can you show yourself to be a person who can contribute value to this kind of conversation?  Why?


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

The Tug of War between Capital Expenditures and Care

by Lavinia Weissman


Boston, MA

Yesterday, I had a delightful lunch with someone to work on our business plan for a launch of a new capacity building organization that combines all our talent.  There will be more on this through many many posts to come.

What made our conversation shaped with ease is a value we share – both of us have an understanding of how so much of what is implied by a need for “care,” in this complex world is the implications of  the rapid spreading harm that we are now learning about in Japan.

The Earthquake, e.g. Haiti and Katrina was a natural disaster. The BP Oil Spill was a man made disaster to health of the environment, earth, economy and people.

Now Japan is a combination of all of that a natural disaster complicated by man made harm; radiation exposure.  This harm is beyond an immediate danger, this harm like the BP Oil Spill will lead to generations of modified human genetics and natural mutations that lead to a rise in chronic systemic and neurological illnesses, cancer and more.

This will change the health of the entire region through which toxins of any kind blow into the wind.  It will challenge health of environment, people, earth and economy.

It moves the world into a state of uncertainty and building a response to  a need for care we cannot define let alone imagine and view an accelerated response. The March 16, 2011 column In Good Company: @vaultcsr’s blog – The Japan Crisis: What is the Role of Business in Disaster Response? tells the story of a Japanese man rumbling through the piles in search of people he employed out of care; care and respect for those who serves his business and clients.

Claire Mumford, CEO of the International Business Leaders Forum, gives this example in the context of examining business role in disaster response? This is a value that I believe was the original focus in many ways of CSR Frontier Leaders, e.g. Ben and Jerry, Jeffrey Hollender and Anita Roddick.

It is a value I hold dear.

Yet there is another value even more critical at this time. This value relates  to how we regard  health for the world and all beings who reside on earth. It is my belief we need to reshape how we think of capital expenditures that related to developing science and equipment to counteract global warming.

We need to formulate a new system of thought that values raising the resources we need to respond to a disaster or simply the accelerated response we need now to the harm that has been building for years.

Implied in this view is the need to foster a change through cooperation between competitors. Eric Lowitt and I, recently

shared a conversation in which he described his plan for   BOOK 2 . Book 2 is leveraged from Eric’s first book, The Future of Value. share an understanding of how the cost of research and science to generate new drugs, cures, accelerated response to harm of natural resources has become an obstacle t0 change for sustainable value.

We are both interested in building  a new forum or education and all that implies. The mission of this forum is to insure the accelerated action research  of to accelerate sustainable change.

It is my belief that the Japanese business man searching through the piles for people he cares about is a metaphor for the kind of attention we need to give to what so many want to deny because of the rising cost of investigation to generate research into applied learning for systemic impact.

Reader what do you think? Do you believe we need to give the same care and attention to how we organize capital expenditures as much as we do to people in the first stage of response to a disaster whether natural or man made?


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

GE and the Three Models of Sustainability Venturing

by Eric Lowitt


Boston, MA

GE announced the next phase of its $200 million Smart Grid Challenge at last week’s 2011 CES. This phase, focused on crowdsourcing “ideas for harnessing and managing energy at home,” is the latest in a line of entrepreneurial efforts used by market leading companies to accelerate their sustainability efforts.

In fact, since the beginning of 2010, GE and several other companies turned to the venture playbook to connect capital and know-how with ideas to further pursue sustainability.

While sustainability venturing is en vogue, the tactic isn’t right for every company. My review of companies with sustainability venturing efforts underway — GE, Nike, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone, 3M, GM, and Virgin among them — suggests two large steps must be completed before venturing can be effective.

First these companies made powerful connections between sustainability and corporate and competitive strategies. Specifically, they’ve adopted the view that sustainability is a means to grow, not solely a source of new risks to be managed.

Second these companies adjusted business processes to improve their processes’ environmental and social impacts. These adjustments have been very well covered elsewhere.

The completion of these steps increases the likelihood that venturing efforts will pay off. The next step is to be precise about the goals of your sustainability venturing plans. Are you looking for ideas to grow into new businesses?

Are you looking to fund potentially disruptive sustainability innovations in your value chain? Or are you seeking access to start-ups that could provide a range of benefits for your company?

These three options have led to the creation of three sustainability venturing structures.

  • Crowdsourcers engage the open public to provide ideas to solve a particular challenge and ultimately lead to business growth. 
  • Amplifiers are developing networks of venture capital firms, value chain partners, public sector partners, and even competitors to bring about systemic change in an environmental or social issue.
  • Investors place an investment in either an incubator or similar firm that funds start-ups in a sustainability related market.

Crowdsourcers. These companies look to the open public to help solve a particular challenge.

The best ideas are provided with a modest to significant level of funding. Perhaps the most prevalent example is the GE Smart Grid Challenge. GE sees the development of a smart grid — a network that delivers electricity using digital technology — as a massive growth opportunity.

The company has long been lauded for its ability to scale great ideas into successful businesses. By partnering with four preeminent venture capital firms to bring its Smart Grid Challenge to life, GE is turning to the open public to provide ideas to accelerate the development and adoption of a smart grid that the company can then scale.

Amplifiers. These companies have internal captive funds focused on sustainability. Nike and Marks and Spencer are examples of companies in this category.

Nike’s Sustainable Business and Innovation (SB&I) function created an “Innovation Lab,” called the SB&I Lab, to identify and fund disruptive technologies that can provide sustainability solutions.

The SB&I Lab works with a range of partners to increase the impact of its investments. Similarly Marks & Spencer launched a 5-year, £50 million fund, called the Plan A Innovation Fund, to bring sustainability solutions to life. Like Nike’s SB&I Lab, the Plan A Innovation Fund develops partnerships to maximize their investments’ sustainability impact.

Investors. These companies invest in start-ups focused on bringing new sustainability solutions to market. At least two methods for these investments have emerged. The first method is an investment in a sustainability focused incubator. In January 2010 3M New Ventures invested in Germany based MAMA Sustainable Incubation AG.

MAMA, which opened in early 2010, invests in “green entrepreneurs” to bring innovations to market. The second method is the establishment of a branded investment firm. Associated with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, Virgin Green Fund is a private equity firm “investing growth capital in the renewable energy and resource efficiency sectors in North America and Europe.”

As companies transition from internally focused sustainability initiatives to investments that can bring about systemic change, sustainability venturing efforts are likely to become more prevalent. Companies will increase the likelihood of success by choosing the right structure for their sustainability venture efforts.


Author’s Bio
Eric Lowitt is a sustainability consultant, author, and speaker. This article is adopted from his forthcoming book, The Future of Value, to be published by Wiley in September 2011. As the research director for, Eric works with Lavinia Weissman on the publishing direction for this publication.
Publication note:
This excerpt was originally published by the author at, January 10, 2011.

When Women Chose to Make a Difference to the Treatment of Childhood Brain Tumors

Post 3 of this series – Capacity Building for Health

Most patients of life threatening illness, whether they live or die, dream for a future when the cure is found!

As I completed the series on the Sanofi-Aventis acquisition of Genzyme, after I completed my analysis of whether or not this was a “hostile take over,” and “On what basis was Genzyme being financially valued?”  I asked the question, “What about the patient?”

This  story-capture demonstrated to me one more time, that  the patient driver for most is best described as ” learning to live without a cure and hoping that there is a possible cure.”

Most patients diagnosed with a life threatening illness, join advocacy movements promising a cure. Overtime they vest their family and friends in these advocacy movements of fund raising and building awareness for the “cure.”

When Scott Johnson, President of the Myelin Foundation was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (first diagnosed 150 years ago) at Age 20, he recognized there was a greater need to reorganize scientific research by organizing the end in mind and used this as an organizing principle.

Scott created a non-profit accelerator, The Myelin Repair Foundation with the primary purpose to build a collaboration of people to think holistically; and search for a treatment or a cure, which requires a very different focus than investment in small research project permits.  The gap between the small studies and an a holistic approach is described as “the valley of death.”

To leap and accelerate beyond the valley of death requires a steep investment in research for a cure which is likely to cost $1B. The Myelin Repair Foundation offres that is this video. in which summarizes how the foundation organized to conduct research and raise an investment of $80M how to accelerate in 7 years time toward this goal. The site also provides updates from Scott.

These audio and test reports provide a complete summary of how moving  Scott led an organization into a format of  accelerated collaboration for the to assure that funds raised for research were directed to defining the best possible treatments and potential cure.

So what does it mean when two women decide to take on a goal of improving care and finding a cure for children and their families looking to heal and recover from childhood brain tumors?

Companies, e.g. Dow Chemical, non-governmental organizations e.g. AAUW and the UN Gender Equality Program, have made this year a year to accelerate the agenda to insure women can move ahead and have greater impact with regard to science and hence in my view sustainability.

Elaine Cohen offered a recent report on how more women fix-its will not work. Within the report, Elaine described that  the challenge of moving beyond superficial EAP (employee assistance programs) and mother friendly programs as superficial and not really getting to the heart of the matter as to how women can successfully accelerate their careers and contributions.

I have always ascertained since working years ago as health care program manager and clinical management leader, that the glass ceiling is not addressing an issue of societal scale that harm health, e.g.  sleep deprivation, chemical and environmental exposures.

This has led to a surge in the US since 9/11 that has resulted in 1 out of 3 people being diagnosed with a chronic or life threatening illness.  With the Presidents Report on Cancer, issued in 2010, Nicholas Kristoff wrote

The report blames weak laws, lax enforcement and fragmented authority, as well as the existing regulatory presumption that chemicals are safe unless strong evidence emerges to the contrary.

Any intelligent woman knows that this also implies a great impact on a woman’s capacity to deliver a child in perfect health and serve the role of family caregiver to children and elders, whether health or ill.  There are other complications that have resulted in a growing occurrence of children with birth defects and cancer.

In the early 1990’s, my writing began to address the question of the societal impact of women accelerated entrance into the workforce and the growing reliance on two income households.  I then asked the question what implications did this have on caregiving.  By the late 90’s,  Peter Arno, Albert Einstein Medical Researcher has measured a niche of unpaid care giving to represent $306M annually in unpaid wages.

Early in the 2000’s, the Collaboration for Health and Environment was formed and assessed the cost of disease (chronic illness) for the 100M Americans afflicted with diseases, e.g. Parkinson Disease, MS, Infertility, birth defects, developmental disabilities, cancer and autism exceeds $325B per year in the chaotic array of systems of health care delivery and lost productivity.

All these websites and publications mentioned serve to validate the level of complexity, I suggested in in Post 1 of this series, Capacity Building for Health. Review of these articles provide an introductory understanding of what  any patient and family is now having to navigate when someone is being diagnosed or treated for illness.

In this context,  Christina and I began to identify a list of tasks to include as part of devising a strategy of how to create a global community that accelerates access and treatment and a cure for children who have cancerous brain tumors.   The words “examine” and “include” give a clear idea of how we postured our conversation in which we were intent to learn how to translate into the best possible practice.

This is a different behavior than what the tradition of organization behavior has been based on the core group economic decision making practices of commercial business, government agencies and non-governmental advocacy groups that drive prescriptive practices and decision making process based on return of investment specific to ta sector.

Commercial interests are looking for a high rate of return on cash investment, government agencies are driven by the expense of serving a bureaucracy and employment system not based on merit or saving the tax payers money by eliminating jobs and looking to the market for alternative solutions to develop.

The tradition of non-governmental organizations has been to protest business as greedy and the cause of problems, which is true and not true and view government as not authoring the right forms of legislation that take a long time to author and pass while corporations invest in a tradition of lobbying for profit.

Christina and I began our conversation listing out some ideas about how to convene a global community in support of a country culture specific initiative

First, we  brainstormed a list of who to talk to; our shared list involved speaking to a local scientist; inventor in Brazil to understand the issues and cost of building equipment from scratch or purchasing abroad.

We both understood the implications of the size of investment to build equipment to provide proton beam radiation therapy and why that implied that the equipment in this early stage of treatment discovery was estimated to cost $350M.   With 28 installations around the world, was it possible to develop this equipment now to be more efficient and lower in cost?

Next on our list was a need to  identify a community of patients and their parents who have been through this kind of treatment and establishing need. What is are the implications for children, who go through this treatment and what really has to be defined for ongoing followup both for the care and development of the child and continued research into the practice for continuous improvement?

We will most likely follow this by identifying participation from credentialed clinicians who represent a series of institutions that shape the entire care-giving landscape for a child suffering from a brain tumor, including the people who teach these children at school.

By the end of our conversation, we mapped out a plan for speculation and who to involve and agreed to a time for our next conversation.  If you represent a country of care and any of these groups mentioned, and want to join in our project, please be in touch with me.

We know we can impact care for children if we form this as an activity to learn how to form future value for the most precious citizen of any sustainable economy, a child.

If you want to watch two women accelerate  potential for contribution,  watch Christina and myself as we work. It is clear to me that I want to create a global inclusive project outside the boundaries of tradition institutions, where we can factor in our personal need for self-care as we convene with others to shape a project into practical steps of achievement for milestones that build into lasting social impact.

If women know they can care for themselves and hence their families (elders, loved ones and children) that is a very excellent beginning to welcoming their investment in accelerating change in the world and impacting cultures of work, native origin and country.

This project is one of the best ways to examine how women work, adapt to an illness of their child and oversee as caregiver all aspects of the child’s life influenced by the disease, treatment and possible cure.

This certainly makes for a mix in recognizing a wonderful new pattern of work through which women can succed and be respected.  This pattern will honor  women as leaders, collaborators and the way they respect their own diversity  and that of others for the greatest good. Don’t you think?


Lavinia Weissman


Building Future Value for in the Treatment of Children with Brain Tumors

Post 2 of this series – Capacity Building for Health

I always enjoy looking at pictures of healthy young children when they are smiling and displaying a very vibrant high energy. Pictures like this picture of Alex Barnes, age 5. Pictures like this convey the story of a health, high energy and happy child.  But a year earlier, Alex was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

By February 2009, Alex achieved a very unique status as “the first child in Britain cured of a brain tumor.”. He was cured by a revolutionary treatment called Proton Radiation Therapy.  To obtain this treatment, Alex and his family had to travel to a specialty center that provides this treatment in Florida from Britain, where the Barnes family live.  There is was no treatment center in Britain at that time.

To set up a facility to carry out Proton Radiation Therapy is excessively expensive.  The estimated cost of some equipment cost alone is $350M.

Alex’s treatment took six weeks to complete.  Proton radiation when aimed at the tumor, unlike non-ionizing radiation, stays within the boundary of the mass the radiation is aimed at and remains contained there.  Hence this reduces the side effects and harm that accompanies radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatments.

Side effects of radiation treatment from the shot-gun aim approach that does not contain the radiation within the targeted tumor is more harmful to children than adults.   When this treatment is given to a child it is during the period of time of brain development where the radiation can result in harm and injury to the child’s brain functioning for life.

Compare this picture of Alex a year before he was treated. Nothing stopped him from having a health year of growth for a 5 year old.

The total cost of Alex treatment in the US over six weeks  cost  $163K.  The treatment was done in Florida on an outpatient basis so the famiily could stay in a hospitable setting and enjoy themselves in the Florida area as if they were on a vacation.  Alex had a complete recovery and a opportunity for a full and healthy life was returned to him.

With the memory of being lost and dealing with the horror that your child might die, when the doctor announces to the family and child that the child is now cured, the usual response from children and their parents is, “We don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through.”

If the family, like the Barnes family discover a treatment that is not easily available is when a child and his family often turn into evangelical health advocates.  In Part 1 to this series, I told the story of how Betsy Mullen, Breast Cancer Survivor and Scott Johnson, MS Patient turned their passion for the discovery of a cure for their disease for the benefit of others into remarkable fund-raising activities for research.

The Barnes family became advocates to have a facility built in England. As of April 2009, there were 29 facilities available in the US,Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, including England.

There is another benefit to this treatment for a child,  who is cured. The emphasis on followup care can be more holistic and foccused on prevention through education and coaching of the child/family to teach the child to select health eating habits, exercise and the right amount of sleep.

The harm caused by the old form of non-ionizing radiation usually results in treatment of chronic symptoms and illness that follow cancer treatment. Many children post-cancer treatment encounter an increased sensitivity to chemicals and environmental toxins and a high risk of autoimmune disorder  which in adult years can translate and grow into complications of a variety of diseases cause by inflammation like multiple sclerosis, arthritis or early onset of adult dementia. Who knows?

So why shouldn’t Alex mother return from the US to the UK and want to immediately create a Proton Radiation Therapy Center in the UK and organize with others all that this entail?

As of April 2010 there were 29 proton therapy centers in Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and USA.  The typical model in the US is to locate the treatment in a hospital medical center on an outpatient basis.  Australia’s first installation is being built as a stand alone operation.

While the technology has been available for the past 30 years, it was only 8 years ago that the first treatment center in the United States was set up at the Mass General Hospital in Boston. Mass General has a history of partnering with medical device and equipment companies to launch new technologies into practice.  The treatment and its availability is not well known.

Is this a model that can build future value for sustainable health?   When I talk to health professionals, they immediately think about how a hospital has to be involved and professional associations of peers who are trained in oncology.  But 2 nights ago, I was talking to global advisor, Christina Carvahlo Pinto.

I sent Christina an update email on the magazine and construction of a the portal  for the Sustainable Market Leader sector, prior to our call. As part of that email, I also shared with Christina my intention to build a new global model of health based on this treatment technology that will bring sustainable value to people and be a model of how to build a sustainable health eco-economy.

Christina read my notes with excitement. Christina immediately went to Google to find out what was happening in Brazil regarding this treatment.  When we talked, we had the most exceptional conversation, unlike any conversation I have had with any health professional ever.  Check in for Part 3 on Monday, March 7, 2011 — when you can hear the result of a conversation between two women with practical imagination and intent to act.


Lavinia Weissman