On my first day in the classroom teaching high school math many years ago, I looked around at the dazed faces in my 7:00 AM class, and I had an epiphany: if I try to teach these guys math straight up, they won’t learn a single thing. But if I make the class into a stand up comedy routine, and slide in some math along the way, at least they’ll learn SOMEthing. And that’s what I did. (Some of those students are out there today, struggling in low paying jobs due to lack of math background…)
Along the same lines, I was in my office recently, opening the mail. I pulled out an 80 page tome that was the Sustainabilty Report from a major corporation. I flipped through a couple of pages filled with hideously detailed charts and overwhelming details, and I tossed the report in the trash. When it landed, I thought: “Hey, wait a minute. I’M THE GUY who’s going to read these reports, if anyone is. This is my field, I’m obsessed with sustainability in corporations. And I’m not reading these things. And therefore, almost nobody is.” It was just like the math classroom: the choice was: do you want to deliver a little bit of crucial info, or NONE AT ALL?
So at Aspen Skiing Company, I decided to completely redesign our bi-annual sustainability report, cutting out almost all the text, using twitter as a model, and only talking about what’s critically important. In addition, we commissioned a great photographer to take edgy, fun, hyper real, color washed photos, making the report an art piece as much as a corporate report. The crux of the the report can be summed up by this line: “Did we cut CO2 and move the policy needle, or not?” If not, we are failing.
Here it is, see what you think [PDF].