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On Leadership and
Understanding the Future

DAVID SUZUKI IS AN ICON. As a world-renowned academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist he helps us grasp the necessity of achieving environmental change before it is too late.

At a recent speech in Toronto at a Teknion related event he demonstrated his power of perspective. “In my lifetime the population of the planet has more than tripled. When you plot technology and consumption, in the past 150 years everything is going straight up. In the last pencil width of time…we have become a geological force. We used to talk about acts of nature, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, having major geological impact, but now humans themselves are a geological force.” He continues on the possibility of change. “Because the human brain invented the idea of a future we are the only animal that realizes we can affect the future by what we do today. Calling on our knowledge and experience we can deliberately choose today to dream of a future in which we can avoid the dangers and exploit the possibilities.”

“We’ve become what we behold. First we shape our tools, and then our tools shape us.”

- Marshall Mcluhan

Suzuki is also co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF), an organization that works with government, business and individuals to conserve the environment. In this context, Teknion and DSF have had a positive association for several years now. This relationship has involved both the provision of furniture for DSF’s offices in Toronto and Vancouver, as well discussions on broader issues of social and environmental responsibility. Peter Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation expands, “Our relationship started way before furniture. We absolutely need to work with like minded organizations across all sectors who think the same way.” Peter describes his original contact with Teknion, “We started by sharing knowledge and experiences, this is how progress starts, with great conversations.”

The Foundation understands good leadership and progress are dependent on an understanding of the future and its possibilities. Peter references how Teknion conducted, at considerable cost, emissions testing years before its competitors. But, the investment paid off in the long run. It resulted in cost savings, increased employee motivation and customer loyalty. Peter reinforces, “Not only is sustainability the right thing to do to address the big challenges of our time, it also saves money, brings instant recognition with consumers and acts a powerful motivation for staff. Environmental responsibility and a successful business are not mutually exclusive.”

Perspective Gained: As long as we can imagine the future and its possibilities, we can be optimistic about our ability to affect environmental change through the actions we take today.

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