I like to explore areas of business risk and this led me to attend a fascinating talk about the circular economy a couple of weeks ago.
If you are the type of business that is merrily doing what it has always done and in denial that environmental changes have any relevance to your business, think again. Adopting the principles of a circular economy is something we all have to take responsibility to implement, ideally in our work and at home.
What is the circular economy?
Its aim is to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from those resources whilst in they are in use and then recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.
This is a transition well away from the traditional industrial model of taking raw material, making something and then disposing of the discarded excess from manufacturing and the end product after its use. This is referred to as a take-make-waste model.
The Ellen Macarthur Foundation describes the circular economy as being underpinned by 3 principles which are the foundation of a new system.
(1) Design out waste and pollution
(2) Keep products and materials in use
(3) Regenerate natural systems
Understanding more about this area, really got me fired up and given that my husband ‘works in recycling’, I found myself texting him about what I had learned and I rang him at the earliest opportunity.
Much to my shame, I discovered that day that my husband is pretty damn knowledgeable about this area. He has been working with some of the largest brands to support their strategy of ensuring what they manufacture is being returned to them for regenerating into new products. I believed that we talked a lot about work and our respective expertise at home, but this was clearly not the case when it came to the depth of conversation. We made assumptions.
What this highlights to me is how we have so much expertise around us, including in our own family and friendship circles yet we don’t ask the right questions to elicit and understand what others know. I have written numerous blogs about the importance of leveraging expertise from small businesses in particular, yet even I had failed to recognise the expertise under my own nose that can support what I do, until now.
How much do we know about the work that our own friends and family do? What opportunities could be available if we talked more about our own area of expertise and current challenges?
Another example of this I have observed is when we fail to ask our team members about the expertise they acquired in previous roles that they are no longer using in their work with us. It is always good practice to ask if they have skills and expertise which are being under-utilised in their current role, to explore whether there is something we could be applying in our business activity.
What more can we do to have an appreciation and understanding of the expertise under our nose? What could this mean for supporting our business or community in a partnership? It’s time to get more curious, ask more questions and access more expertise.