A human narrative on sustainability

Copy of christophe 1

Meet Christophe Fauconnier, the CEO and co-founder of Innate Motion, a unique marketing agency that helps companies craft purpose brands and shared value strategies. In 2014, Christophe and I wrote a book together, Activists Dare to Care. To celebrate the second edition which was released as a hard copy in 2015, I interviewed him. Here’s what he said about sustainability, leadership and change.

Sustainability as a dynamic, moving target

Many people talk about a sustainability as something quite technical. In that way, it is not something that engages people emotionally. What I miss in such conversations  is the human narrative. The dynamic is much more personal, rather than institutional. Institutions like government, NGOs and companies have a role to play, but much more in the background. It’s the people organizing and delivering change themselves, supported by the powerful feedback loops and diagnostics offered by smart-phones and online platforms. Also, we need to keep in mind that a sustainable future is a moving target, which makes it even more people for people to be ready for change.

Every generation needs its own narrative for change

The millennial generation has a strong sense of purpose – and they expect their brands to be and do more. They have a much stronger sense of personal accountability, supported by the transparency of social media. They realize that everything is interlinked and that we need change at the institutional and the individual level.

ActivistDareToCare_04052015_FrontCoverBottom up movements as drivers of change

As a business humanizer, I help companies uncover relevant human narratives, of which sustainability is a key one. Societal issues cannot be solved in the boardroom; they need to be solved with and for the people closest to the problem. What people in business teams can do is to build on bottom-up movements; to give people tools to make them more effective, for example tools to connect with others and to create feedback loops.

Building movements  is exactly what activists do: they excel at having a point of action, beyond a point of view. My activist nature stems from growing up in South Africa during the apartheid regime. I developed distrust in institutional dogmas and became a big believer in people driving change in a much more organic, adaptive way.  Marketers have much to learn from activists as the focus progresses from benefit branding, through lifestyle branding to purpose branding.

Good leaders know how to get out of the way

Change towards a more sustainable future requires leaders that know how to get out of the way. Today, it is essential for leaders to connect the dots and narratives – and make use of where people naturally want to go. They need to believe in people and empower them to contribute. Good leaders keep listening and are receptive to ideas from others – no more big egos that assume they know it all. But they do need to be very strong and stand for the group and what the group values.

Shared value through innovative partnerships

My next area of focus is all about more innovative partnerships. There is tremendous contribution capacity in people, but we need to find a way to unlock that capacity and take away the barriers that prevent people from working together. Through partnerships, we can include more people in the narrative. I will continue to help companies create experiences that enable co-creation for transformation. Companies that figure out how to do that will thrive and create a better world at the same time.


For more information about what marketers can learn from activists, get yourself a copy of our book Activists Dare to Care.  For more information on Christophe’s work at Innate Motion, follow @innatemotion on Twitter or check out www.in8motion.com.


Written by Marjolein Baghuis (@mbaghuis)

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