Offices are known targets of jokes and criticism (why do you think Dilbert, Office Space, and The Office are so funny? They resonate with our experiences of pointless reports, unnecessary overwork, and oddball colleagues).
So most people think: if you want something to be different, you have to leave an office job and become a free agent or go start your own organization. There’s no way you can update an existing bureaucratic behemoth to be more nimble, to adjust to the knowledge economy, to be anything other than Dilbert in real life.
Similarly, many people would also say that you should just build a new house if you want to cut your Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to zero - reworking the one you already live in just won’t work.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we need to totally eliminate global GHG emissions by 2070 to keep global warming below 2 degrees (which is the point where they think any additional increase in temperature will have catastrophic impact).
Shortly after my husband, Andy, and I were married, we were on a walk and saw a flier for solar power in DC. It had an ROI that made Andy stop in his tracks. As a professional in the energy business, Andy was incredulous. But he did the research and learned that the flier was right. We were soon shopping for solar panels.
Since then we have made dozens of energy-related improvements to our home: new insulation and more efficient light bulbs, solar panels, solar hot-water, and a Ground Source Heat Pump with 180-foot-deep boreholes in our tiny DC yard. Lately we are making sure even our two cars don’t emit any GHGs (we run one vehicle on biodiesel and another electric vehicle on ‘sun-drops’).
As a result of all these investments, our house produces more energy than it consumes over the course of a year. That makes our house “net-zero” for energy and, by extension, carbon emissions. Though there are other net zero homes out there, most - if not all - are new homes. Ours is over 80 years old.
Andy’s motivation is to show people that you don’t have to build a new super energy efficient [and expensive] home to reduce or even eliminate your carbon emissions. Since most people don’t have the resources to buy or build a brand new house, from a global perspective, we have to look at existing infrastructure to make a serious dent in our GHG emissions.
I won’t kid you that it was cheap (but over ⅓ of our cost was refunded by the DC and Federal governments), or easy (we were the general contractor for the project, which was almost another job; plus many, many hours have been spent on a “wild gas chase” trying to find biodiesel). But it has been fun, has given us a goal to work towards together, and all of our systems have at least a 20 year life expectancy. We no longer have any gas or electric bills (which, combined with the Renewable Energy Credits we are able to sell, mean that we will have paid back our investment in about 10-15 years, and will have many years after that without utility bills). Not to mention, this is our way to personally invest in the fight against climate change.
So what does all of that have to do with MatchPace?
There are so many organizations who have fantastic missions but suck up way too much of their team’s energy on time-wasting tasks and projects. They have great intentions, but are still locked in an industrial age mindset that says you have to be present all the time to participate and be productive. We have workplaces that believe you have to put in hours to show you care and you can never be “off.” That leaves too many pointless meetings and not enough autonomy for employees.
These things are creativity killers. They sap your energy and commitment and don’t actually contribute to the overall mission of your organization.
Just as our house project demonstrates that you don’t need to go build a new house to eliminate your GHG emissions, I believe that you don’t need to go start another organization to create a workplace that is more in touch with the way we work today. You can retrofit your existing organization to be focused on outcomes instead of hours clocked, to accomplish your mission more effectively, to keep your most talented teammates driving towards results.
If you are an existing organization, we believe you can change. And we want to help you be more productive so you accomplish your goals more effectively, retain better employees, and change the world.
Let’s cut out pointless reports and meetings and unnecessary overwork. (But maybe we should still keep a few of our oddball colleagues around!)
Earth Day Cleanup, April 2017 - Knox Crew