A few pivotal things have happened over the last week.
It all started when I was talking with one of the City of Hamilton’s staff. He asked me what REfficient’s “big hairy audacious goal” (BHAG) was. The term was made popular in the book “Built to Last” and refers to the long term inspirational (and almost impossible) vision that companies set as a guide. We had realized early on that we wanted to create the “world’s sustainable marketplace”, but we’ve also evolved a lot since then. I realized I hadn’t thought about our BHAG recently. The conversation planted a seed.
Then I heard Frank O’Dea, Founder of Second Cup, speak at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce convention here in Hamilton. Frank was alcoholic and homeless during his youth in Toronto, and turned his life around through what he realized were three simple things.
Hope, vision, action.
Truth be told, I had to fight back tears at one point because his story resonated profoundly with me… Amongst the ups and the downs, always remember to hold onto your hope, hold onto your vision and take action aligned with that. Look how Frank’s story turned out in the end.
Then there was my book club this week with my beloved group of women leaders who meet bimonthly. Our book this month was “Switch – How to Change Things When Change is Hard.” The book detailed several examples of how change, which was once thought impossible, was ushered in over time through some simple steps. One story in particular resonated with me – how a quickly-deteriorating cash-strapped Brazilian railway company turned their situation around in three years with four simple rules for all to employees to live by. Big change became doable.
My final pivotal point this week happened while working on the assessment for B Corp certification. Frankly, I had no idea what a B Corp was until just a few weeks when I talked with the team at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. B Corps are companies with a social or environmental mission. Ultimately the aim is to change the way that business is done long term, using the power of business to create public good.
The assessment asked questions about whether we publicly disclose our goals. While the About page on our website has described our vision of creating the world’s sustainable marketplace for some time, I started to think about a goal that was centred around a number… a big number. A BHAG number.
As we are about to launch a series of new features and functionality this fall, it got me thinking – why not publicly declare that number? Because it is a number, it is also measurable and therefore seems more real.
Ironically, it is my own personal fear of “what if I fail?” that has prevented me from talking openly about this goal before. It is my vulnerability of what others will think of me – and more importantly what I will think of myself – if things do not turn out as intended that has held me back.
Yet greatness requires risk. In this case, the risk is worth it for the environment, our communities, small businesses, and large businesses alike. So here we go.
Our goal is to divert one billion pounds from landfill. By 2017.
We call it “REbilllion”. Besides the fact that we aim to “RE” a billion pounds of weight, I love the term because it’s a play on the word “rebellion”. With the state of the world today, we know we need a rebellion for the sake of the earth.
The REfficient community has diverted more than a million pounds from landfill so far and so one billion pounds in five years seems like a bit of a stretch. However, that’s just what a BHAG is all about.
It is indeed a huge goal – and wouldn’t it be cool if it actually happened? The impact could be monumental in so many ways. Yet as the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” No matter what, we are setting ourselves up to do something great.
Now it is about action.
Taking action through a series of new launches
We know that to accomplish our vision, we have to be anchored in action. Behind the scenes, we have been working hard building new technology to drive our business. Internally we call it our Version 2 platform.
You will start to notice some small changes to REfficient.com, such as our REference Center which has videos, tip sheets and blogs pertaining to surplus assets. Over the fall we will start to launch brand new functionality so that it is easier and faster for companies to buy, sell and recycle product. We will break everything down into small, simple steps that people can take to save money and divert waste from landfill. We will launch the changes in waves and get our customers’ feedback.
To get updates on the new launches and the progress of REbillion, you can sign up for our Mailing List.
We are thoroughly excited about the changes ahead. We believe they will create a path for our community to ultimately achieve REbillion. After all, achieving such a big goal will be an effort by the community and for the community.