Thursday, August 26, 2004

Sustainability Circles

Sometime back IFTSP proposed sustainability circles and invited people to try and report back.
In these circles people from all walks of life come together to stimulate and help each other to act more sustainably.
Due to the summer vacations we have not had the opportunity to try them out. We still believe the might be a cool and interesting way of going about meeting the challenges our society faces. Click on the link below to go the the instructions.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

BMW profits from flexible workforce solution

One of the challenges to sustainability is for European companies to retain production and job security in “old” Europe. Already tens of thousands of big-company manufacturing jobs are migrating to the ten new member states.
The question: how can we retain manufacturing in major EU companies when wages are lower and skills are more or less on par in new member states, Asia, the Far East?
Maybe part of the answer can be seen at BMW. A recent article in Newsweek (link) says that way back in 1950, facing a takeover from arch rival Daimler, workers opted for flexible workweeks.
Today, workers put in overtime as needed and take it out as time off when production slows. And it pays off. BMW’s profit margins are at the industry leading edge. Whilst rivals seek to locate in the east to take advantage of cheaper labour, BMW is opening a 1 Billion Euro plant in Leipzig.

IFTSP says yet again, simple social inventions like flexible working hours promote sustainability

Monday, August 23, 2004

Origin of IFTSP techniques

The techniques of Inventing for the Sustinable planet are adaptations of a method called "image Streaming" invented by Win Wenger (see link below).

Win Wenger, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the fields of creativity and creative method, accelerated learning, brain and mind development, and political economy.

'From Image-Streaming on down — Win Wenger has been and is a massively influential character in the world of personal and professional development. His work, usually unattributed, has influenced the whole field of personal development. He's cool!`
quote from Michael Breen,

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Parent powered Ferris wheel example of sustainability thinking

Sustainability requires new, creative combinations. We believe one way to achieve this is to ask questions like; ”how can we set up a fairground which amuses children, has low environmental impact and provides a stimulus to adult exercise at the same time?” The fairy tail trail in Sörmland in Sweden demonstrates these principles on the parent-powered Ferris wheel. IFTSP takes its hat off to the manufacturers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Supplementary Questions Business Model: Centres of Well-being

Tapescript Visit to Centers of Well-being: supplementary questions
(For new readers see "Read this is you are new" link to the right)
Last time I was interrupted by the telephone. It has never happened before, and makes me realise how lucky I have been in that respect. This will take up where I left off. I think as well that I already know the answers, and will not be open for surprises, which makes the method less reliable.

The question: what is the business model around the set-up of a Centre of well-being. We have been asked to go back and penetrate.

I run along the walkway, I see other exits which could provide an access for regular visits to other “worlds”.

I slide down the escalator rail this time, can’t wait or walk down.
And end up by the fountain. I wonder which to do - go to the development office first or…..
I like to look around so I go to the regional products market.
I ask for the story about the regional goat cheese.
They give me a little folder explaining the cheese’s origin and local connections..
I also get a taste. nice.
“How does this work?” I ask, meaning the business model of course.
We rent the shop space, like all the others.
“Do you know who owns the building?”
“Yes it’s a building management company who owns the building.”
I go up to the next floor to find the office spaces for rent – company hotel - and ask about renting a desk.
And about how their business model works.

It seems they rent out offices, desks and support services. They themselves rent the space from the building owners, the centre developers.
They also work together with the local new company support organisation, so newly-started companies can get started quickly with a desk and office facilities.

One of the purposes of having the office space is to encourage people to come and work here temporarily, to attract good outside help, or to establish here.
“If we do not rent the spaces we do not earn anything. The local authority rent a couple of space for their own project staff or for their partners.” My interview object explains.

I ask about the company hotel’s opinion of the building owners, the centre development firm.
“They are good, go and talk to them - they are on the third floor.”

I go up to the third floor, the Centre Development office and ask for a chat.

A guy in a business suit comes out.
Hi, I say “I’m interested in the overall business model of the Centre and the area development.”

He replies; “It’s simple. The initial stages are probably the most interesting.”

“We went into partnership with the local authority. We ran the project to start the centre’s activities. Our job was to supply office facilities, increasing as the project grew. Adapting this building to the size it s now. It was projected from the beginning to this size. The local authority rents it as part of their project.”

“It is good business for you?” I ask.
“It is good business for the regional products sellers because they get marketed. All feet or visitors pass through this area so it generates business opportunities for them. The centre acts like a magnet. They also, because they have the brochures, explain how to visit the farms which offer tourism as well. The suppliers are helped by tourists, and they have web sales. It is an integrated concept.”

The regional development people are happy as they are in the centre. The same with the travel centre which is also central.
The taxis have to pay a fee, but they have a contract and are partly subsidized so they make money.
As far as the advertising space is concerned we do not know how effective it is but it is important as part of the local profile communication.

The Bank is rather small and does a lot of its work through Internet and the other places - there are not that many visitors that come through it physically.

That is,..they rent the space, along with the development centre.

I ask them about marketing: “ We do not market the centre it is marketed by the Bank we administer the centre. We could have worked on the mix, and had advisors involved. We make our money by renting facilities.”

I leave to go down to the development centre.

“I need to ask about marketing” I say to the director as he appears.

I gather there is no reason why local authorities should run a tourist service, but you can increase business activity visitors increase.

The centre has thought of charging a fee, or simply footing the cost out of taxpayer’s money.
“We prefer an income to spend on marketing,” he says, “it is more transparent that way.”

Providers pay a fee to be in the bank, which makes and distributes the brochures, map and book, keep them updated, run the web and take care of bookings.

The fee system finances transport to some extent.

The more successful people are the more they pay. That is the way it works.
That is the advantage of the booking system.
There is a pay per booking charge, so the more you book, the higher the total fee to the Bank.

He bank can produce statistics for the travel planning based on the booking system
Pay as you go is better.

“How do you encourage individuals to put courses on?” I ask.
“They register the courses in the system.”
“And how do you know if they turn up.” I reply.

“You do not know until they have registered, but the Bank takes telephone and internet bookings.
And you charge as you go, if no-one turns up to the course it costs nothing.”

“What about wages etc? Many of these people have regular jobs perhaps,” I wonder.

“We have a company in a company solution. We pay the person wages as temporarily employed.
If they are employed with us we pay them minus our fee, our booking fees and taxes.
If they have a company they send up a bill for their services.
It lowers the barriers to entry to encourage people to try new things.”

The tourism development office part of the development office offers training in how to connect tourism and training and how to run courses etc.
It also conducts market surveys.

They offer more courses than they have customers for, so hey offer a wide choice which they can develop as they gain more experience in what customers need.

“How do you ensure the success of the business model?” I ask still unsure of how this would make money.

“Costs for project will pay back in three years.”

“Break even in two and then the hand-over which is not yet decided “

They could continue running the development centre from Tourist office fees or find and other model.

The bank is profitable and was almost from the beginning.
In working together with local companies they share the risk.

The Director says: ”The building facilities management firms were very helpful.”

I thank the Director for his time and run up the escalator to return to the departure area.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Characteristics of sustainability: reflections

A friend writes:

I live across from a park, and just in front of my house the municipality planted a bunch of new plants. The plants were small and people were walking across the plants in order to get to the park instead of using the designated entry points. This of course damaged the plants feeding into the spiral of walking through the plants, damaging the plants, getting into the park at points other than the designated ones.....

Now, one might think that people do not care and that was my first thought. But my wife bought a yellow tape and put it across the place where people were getting into the park and the people stopped going through it!

Now the tape is not a physical obstacle nor an enforceable one. Maybe people are not paying attention, maybe they only need to be reminded, that the fate of the little plants was in their hands and that they could save them by just taking three more steps.

This example confirms that:
- Existing technology is sufficient
- Sustainable development is actually very simple
- It requires a new attitude to combining and multi-use
- Most people have no problem understanding it

and that indeed working to bring these issues to the forefront of our minds is a necessary activity.

So please make a start by involving your friends in


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Answering questions about Centres of Well-Being

IFTSP has been asked to penetrate the residual questions that came up during verifications. These are detailed above, covering transport, business model etc. The visualisation of Centres of Well-being is described in the earlier blogg. Follow the link below.

Tapescript: visit to Centres of Well-Being with Questions

I am standing in the departure lounge. The lift is as it was before. I push “go there” I jump on the moving pavement. Windows on either side, the one on the right says “PORENA” on the left “Under Construction:”

I like the idea of walking over the ground to allow nature a continuum for spread of wild animals, seeds etc.

I arrive at the escalator, descend, go round the fountain and straight into the development office. Eying the green sofa from last time I ring the bell on the desk and ask to speak to the development officer, who comes out with a friendly “Hi, Sit Down”.

“I am interested in how transport works, and how large is the area?”

The Director explains it is 30 km in radius, as a semi-circle, but the centre of a circle is possible too.

The development officer’s suggestion is to go and try something instead of asking questions so off I go.

I step into the “BANK” or tourist office.

“What do you want to do?”

“I want to get away from it all, to quietness.”

A brochure rack offers up a selection of retreats.

One is a castle surrounded by water.

Another with a name like “Festi”, another decorated with white rose-petals.

I choose the one with roses; they have a boating pond, meditation rooms, quiet gardens, paths in the forest. No mobile phones are allowed. They have a library and television room How to get there: taxi.

I go out to the taxi- rank and ask the fare. The taxi driver explains that fares are subsidised and it is SEK 50 (not quite £4 pounds).

I ask the taxi-driver to explain how to get around in the area.

“With mobile phones and 30Km radius there is no problem.”

The cabs are subsided, the money coming from a reduction in the bus service, and there is a cab-sharing scheme. Cabs are required to wait 10 minutes as a condition of the subsidy (unless the passenger does not want to share).

I leave the taxi-rank and go past the exhibition tunnel. It presents a prehistoric park, how do I get there then - taxi?

I go past the map, which is presented in the courtyard with the fountain, to look at it again. I try to verify the size on the map. It does seem to cover a semi-circle of 30km radius.

These nodes or intersections interest me. Retreats are away from the nodes, but connected to the path system. For concerts etc, special transport is put on.

For courses, etc?

I see that all transport goes through the central area. They use mini-busses on different routes. These run in time with courses and bring you back to the central area. If you are staying a long way away from the event you want to attend you go back to the centre and take the bus out to where you are staying.

So, that seems to be the answer. During the high season at least, a combination of taxis and scheduled mini-busses all going from the central area serve well-being seeker’s needs. It has to be centralised to work, of course.

There is a printed guide to accompany the map. The deliverables are the map, the guide and the brochures – all available on the Internet as well. On the back of the map there is advertising for various activities.

My personal trainer turns up; “How’s it going? Any Questions?”

I ask him about getting around.

“Cycling is good. Good exercise. You can rent bikes from the central transport area, rainwear as well. The idea is to tempt you away from the busses and taxis.”

Yeah but can I cycle 30 km I am thinking.

“If you cycle fast 30km takes an hour,” he says.

Not me…. I think but say instead,” Does a company run the personal trainer system? “

“We are first certified by the local authority and rent places there. The health centre is multi- use and used for rehabilitation as well.”

Back at the development Centre: “I thought you’d be back!” says the Director.

“Let me check this with you. All transport is centred around one point, walking, cycling, taxi and mini- bus are used.“

“That’s right.”

“What about accommodation?”

“ If it is not a retreat, a lot is in the central area. If you want to tour around you stay here. If you have a car, you can go to one of the hotels outside. Then there is the left luggage system. All hotels will hold you luggage for you as you go away for a few days.”

“How did you persuade the Taxi companies to go along with this?” I wonder.

“It was easy, subsidy and licence to use the centre the contract was awarded on the condition they provided a certain level of service, plus the sharing.

Same system for the busses, awarding contracts. It was difficult to work out routes. They had to keep a spare mini-bus in case we had a load of people waiting.

That was the reason we had the transport co-ordinator office down there, to gather knowledge about routes and generally sort things out.”

“Why 30 km?”

Because activities are centralised, it had to be small enough to be managed from one place, small enough to have its own character, but large enough to be able to offer a full selection of well-being promoting activities and services.

(Tape session interrupted)

Friday, August 06, 2004

Questions about the invention "Centres of Wellbeing"

Questions for verification and further investigation: Centre of well-being

1) How big should the area be? It seems to me it should be the size you can get on a map and how big is that? At the same time it should be big enough to be able to offer enough variety.
2) How would this WORK exactly. I am a visitor, I come to the area. I stay at the hotel in the central part. How do I get to these retreats, places offering exercise, schools taken over for adult courses? If I walk what about my luggage? If I take the car it seems it is an economic barrier and not open to all?
3) Business model … who pays whom for what in terms of marketing, booking services etc. What is public sector financed and what is private (and voluntary?)

Click the link below to come to the description of what a Centre could look like.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Reflections: The Centre of Well-being

I am actually surprised by the simplicity of the solution – basing everything around a map! And simplicity is also a necessity.
The other thing is that there is no new technology in this. Like many others involved in making a sustainable future we see that existing technology is sufficient.
I am also struck by the repeated theme “what do you want to do?”, it could almost be a cornerstone of the marketing for the area. Your wellbeing …what do you want to do?
The other strong association coming out of this is how important the local authority is. Without a set up project being run centrally I cannot see it working

I was personally struck by how I as a visitor was “pulled in”. By arranging the information around “what do you want to do” instead of “what is there” and by having a personal trainer just available to chat to without it costing … I realised I myself would like a program like this and have never ever thought about it before.
( I wonder if you could use the visualising techniques to meet your own personal trainer! That would be the cheapest….)
End of Relflections, the Centre of Well-Being

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Setting up a Centre of Well-Being

Centre of well-being Tapescript part three
Setting up.

I ask the personal trainer to explain how the centre got to be where it is today.

“You need to talk to the development office,” he says and carts me off through the doors opposite the open market.

“I would like to know how all this came about,” I say as we are introduced to people in the office. We sit down on green sofas in reception.

“We started by inviting individuals, organisations, groups and companies in to participate in the scheme. They put themselves on the map. Each of them made their own brochures and put them in the Bank. Our role was to set this centre up, setting the map system up.”

“And marketing?” I ask
“We do a basic amount of marketing by marketing the Centre and the area together. The idea is that all participants market the Centre and the Centre markets all participants.”

The Centre insisted on doing the colour coding system ourselves, and they are still developing it. The shops then took on the colour system.

The initial project set the building up. The Centre owners act as landlords and administrators.

Thinking about the human side of setting up I ask;”were there any seminars?”

“We ran a lot of seminars and workshops to get people on board and involved.”

“What about finance?” I ask.

“We were locally financed by the government. You cannot expect people to finance this themselves, the initiative and initial financing has to come from a central place.”

“What about creating standards of service?”

“We ask every “scheme participant” to state the standards their operation will reach. If they do not keep these standards they will not be marketed by us. Once you get it right it is very simple, once you know what you are doing.”

“What were your main problems in setting this up?”

“The main challenge was convincing people to join the scheme and that the opportunities were real. We went round showing the map from the beginning. We showed what we had and what as needed. Then we got all potential scheme participants together and told them what we wanted in terms of nodes or intersections.”

“We wanted someone to provide accommodation, a few to look after the trails on a voluntary basis etc.”

“We went around to these areas, ran workshops locally. Then we said to people “what courses can you run using the schools” we will market it.”

“The hardest thing was getting people to believe that it would really give them any income. Once it started it was no problem.”

“Because we took the lead, came with the concept from the beginning, and because we started the centre and were clear about what we wanted it was easier for participants to see where they fitted in.”

“The threshold for getting involved was low as well, which contributed to the scheme’s success.”

“To get started you made your own brochure according to our standards of what the contents should be. The food had to be regional and healthy.”

I thank everyone, they thank me for coming and I leave, back past the fountain to the departure lounge.

End of Centre of Well-being tapescript part three

Personal trainer at Well-Being Centre

Centre of well-being tapescript part two
Personal Trainer

I page my personal trainer.

When he turns up I ask the big question: “So how is this all related? You have all these activities and you have the file with your profile in it. We have the map and the routes .
Where does the personal trainer fit in?”

He smiles; “I relate it to what you want to do. I can help you put the profile together with all the activities. Come with me - we can do it”.

We sit in what looks like a café but I get the idea coffee is not encouraged.

We go through the profile.

“You have to work with measurable factors –or at least we say it is better to work with measurables. You cannot lose a lot of weight in a week, but you can establish eating and exercise habits that will help you do that.”

“We say the best exercise is walking and the whole region’s health plan is based on walking.”

“If you wanted to lose weight you would have to do high intensity walking, 10 km a day. Walk fast. You can work out how to walk in a circle from the map.”

All tracks work in a circular way.
The secret to this is the map, the classification, the centring of activities, that you have to go to activities, so they are specialised. And it is based on what you want to do. If you are serious you can be given a program you can carry on later.

“And if I just want to relax?” I ask.

“There are plenty of places to do that - they are classified as retreats.”

And it all starts at the centre here with good connections via airport, motorway and train.

My last question to the trainer: “what have I forgotten to pick up?”

“Simplicity my friend. You have to understand the simplicity it has to be so simple to work properly. Complexity creates stress - it all has to be easy and simple, nice, human good service.”

End of tapescript Centre of well-being part two

Monday, August 02, 2004

Centres of Well-Being

Assignment to IFTSP

IFTSP continues to develop. We are now taking on assignments. IFTSP has received an assignment to describe what a “Well-being Location” would look like. The area offers wide range of activities inviting and enticing wellbeing in terms of food, exercise, recreation, relaxation, cultural interest etc so that visitors come away refreshed, having improved physical and mental condition with knowledge & stimulus to continue.

Tapescript Centres of well-being part one.

The lift has a bamboo trellis over it supporting plants with large green leaves. Over the top a sign says “wellbeing”. I go up to the green lift doors and push the button on the left saying “go there”.

It looks more like a walkway, a long corridor on some kind of moving flat walkway. I get on it and travel along it. It looks like an airport with different exits along each side. I want the last exit, I know.

The walkway ends with an escalator going down into an indoor courtyard with a fountain in the centre. I look up at the glass roof, and see the courtyard is circular, with balconies extending around the second floor.

I see a machine with “I speak your weight” on it I get the impression I am in a station of some kind (remember the “I speak your weight from Porena?).
On my left I see an indoor market. They are selling healthy food, regional products. The people serving are wearing folk-dress, and offering free tasting of regional food products.

Seen that. On the right of this is an office that looks like a ticket office – no, it is a Bank – the health Bank!. I take a queue number

“How can I help you?” The clerk asks as my turn comes up.

“I’m trying to find out about this area, how it promotes well-being.”

To my left I see brochure racks with all kinds of offerings.

“It depends what you want to do,” he replies.

“I want to do? Well I want to lose weight.”

He points me to the lose weight section. The section offers masses of different ways to lose weight at different centres; health farms, gyms or other ways. The telephone numbers are in the brochures so I can ring and book.

That’s simple.

“What about improve my general physique?”
There is a section for that too!

I ask the guy on the desk: “I suppose I need a personal trainer.”

“Yes Sir, personal trainers and advisers are available,” he replies.

“Can you get me one?”

He phones and a personal trainer walks in!
“Could you advise me in the best way to er…. actually I need someone to guide me through how all this works.”

“What do you want to know?” my personal trainer-appearing-from-nowhere replies.

“I want to know what it looks like and how it works.”

The centre here houses a regional products indoor market, we have this office which we call the bank (as in information bank). ( I invest my time and energy in this bank I guess?)

In the centre all originates from the fountain (“Symbolic” I mutter).

“How about for people who need spoon-feeding.” I ask ..not meaning myself of course.

He takes me to the gym. He straps an electronic device on my wrist and I get on a treadmill.

I start walking, He turns up the pace until I walk at a speed where I am nearly out of breath. I keep going. Then I sit down.

All the time the trainer works with the computer. A print-out arrives for us to go through together.

He explains the print out shows my basic status compared to average, high, and low. It has measured pulse, cardio-vascular capability etc.

I do another exercise where I have to hold myself up on my elbows to check stability. Next a device scans me to check muscle status and tone.

A nurse comes up and pricks my finger for a blood analysis. There are all kinds of tests people can do on you, like measure stress levels.

It is all based on what you want to do. You can’t just go in here it seems. You must want to do something.

I ask to be shown around the rest of it, but the trainer gives me a pager to page him when I need him, otherwise he tells me to walk around on my own.

I put my print-out profile in my rucksack.

On my left is a corridor of culture. There are exhibits and advertising for aquariums and other places of interest. Further down there is a hire care office as well.

OK I think I get the idea. On to the next section. Back at the fountain I am pleased to see there are still areas left to explore.

I go up the stairs to the second floor. These are temporary office spaces you can rent if you want to be here and get away but still be able to work.

Back on the ground floor I muse over not seeing anything that has surprised me. I always take it as a warning sign that the exercise is not giving enough insights.

Everything starting from a building is a bit surprising, architecturally.

Now if I want to walk, to ramble…?

I see a TOTAL WALKING MAP In front of me!

It looks like a road map, but shows paths. They are differently colour-coded.

The red one is the hardest and wildest, requiring overnight camping.
The blue one is like ….. … easy mountain biking.
The orange one I am not sure.
The yellow one is like a Sunday afternoon stroll.

At intersections are places to stay rather like inns, with numbers to phone to book or you just turn up.

The map in front of me is an incredible network of paths. I see you can buy the map has everything on it.

It has about distances, and fat – burning. The burn fat map…. I said that, it is not written anywhere.

Next to the map is a sports shop. You can buy walking boots, the boots are colour coded related to the colour of the trail. A very clever retail concept!!!!

I was wondering if there was anything about interests. I think somehow you can connect this to your interests but how does that work?

There are different events at each intersection of the paths. Each intersection houses different events. Some are free some are not. Buy the tickets or not .. just turn up. And off you go.

So you can walk between events or walk to enjoy the countryside.

The events are repeated so instead of the event going to the people, the people go to the event like a theatre or cinema, it has a regular program.

This area has a cinema in the woods – a cool idea.

The activities are linked to the walking paths, which are linked to “nodes” which I presume are villages or hotels or similar.

The whole thing reminds me of a map of a ski-resort. What is good about it is you just need the map to be able to get the most out of the region!

The care-hire people will rent you a car. I ask the member of staff how this car rental office is special as it is in the “well-being region”:

“We do nothing special here we do not do in other places, sir.”

You can use the car to get around if you like. There are car parks at each node so you can tackle the car to a canoe centre etc.

But what bout interests. Suppose I want to do say learn more about making music on my computer.

They do have summer courses. These are concentrated in different parts of the area depending on subject.

Each course is only available in one place. They usually take the summer –closed schools and rent a classroom. Every school is open during the summer with courses for tourists and others. It is all done on a one-day at a time rolling scheme timetable.

Say a course is three days. You can stay and do the three days in a row, or do day one and return later for day two and later still for day three.

End of tapescript Centres of well –being part one

Journey comment
I still want to know how all this is connected to the stuff I did at the gym. Watch this space. Moreover, I want to know how they managed to set this all up. I have the answers they are coming soon. Keep coming back!
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