Embrace Friction


This article is an excerpt from the Fast Company article published on October 27, 2017, entitled, “How a Broken Heart Helped Amy Wambach Find Her Passion” written by Diana Budds.

“As the chief sustainability officer at Nike, Hannah Jones is rethinking how the athletic brand produces its products.

At Nike, Jones has been working to make the brand’s supply chain more sustainable, from materials to labor. One of her recent achievements is Flyleather, a new composite material made from recycled leather. Shoes made from Flyleather are four times stronger than traditional leather sneakers, and reduce the carbon footprint by 80% and water consumption by 90%.

“The way I think about disrupting the status quo is it’s a huge reframe and innovation conversation,” Jones says. “We’re about making the impossible possible and the possible the new normal.”

Early in her life, Jones received inspiring words of advice from a mentor. He told her that at some point she would have to decide for herself if she would be more effective shouting at the system from the outside or working from the inside to change it. Nike wasn’t always interested in progressive manufacturing values and famously came under fire for using sweatshop labor–a problem that still persists today. But by reframing the conversation, Jones has been able to make change happen–slowly, but surely.

“So much of this starts by reframing,” Jones says. “When we thought about sustainability [in the past], it was framed as something counter to luxury or counter to business success. If it was sustainable, it was more expensive or less good. The reframe happened in the company when we stopped seeing sustainability and labor rights as a risk and a burden but as an innovation opportunity. That’s a powerful reframe . . . Every friction is an innovation or growth opportunity.” In the past, activism was thought of as a threat to the bottom line, but Jones says not adopting stronger values and ethics is more of a threat for 21st-century businesses.

“[My 14-year-old daughter’s generation] sees the world through a different lens,” Jones says. “They see a world of injustice and a world that’s severely injured. There’s an emergent wave of activism we haven’t seen in years. This generation is hyper-focused on values and are activists. They expect brands to redefine ‘premium’ to include sustainability, to include fighting for equality, to include gender fluidity. Embracing belonging is the way to go.

This article is an excerpt from the Fast Company article published on October 27, 2017 entitled, “How a Broken Heart Helped Amy Wambach Find Her Passion” written by Diana Budds.


Image courtesy of Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Cindy Gilbert / Former Director

Cindy is founder and director of Alula Consulting which specializes in innovative online and sustainability education projects for educational institutions, non-profits, and corporations. Recent clients include The Lemelson Foundation, VentureWell, Green Building Research Institute, University of Montana, PBS, Silverback Films, and more. Cindy has taught numerous courses and workshops, around the world and online, in the fields of biology, sustainability and biomimicry.

Cindy was the founding director of MCAD’s Sustainable Design program for 7.5 years which is home to the fully online, multidisciplinary MA in Sustainable Design (MASD) that is the first of its kind in the world. In this role, she fostered a culture of awareness and creativity through sustainable, innovative and collaborative design. Before MCAD, she served for nearly four years as the founding director of university education at the Biomimicry Institute where she developed and managed all higher education programs, including the professional certification program, annual education summits, affiliate and fellows programs, and design challenges. Cindy is based in Montana. Please contact her through LinkedIn.