Alan Froggatt, Climate-X Collaborative & Programme Lead

As an investor, entrepreneur, futurist and business thinker I’ve spent more than three decades working with individuals and key teams to develop themselves, organisations and projects to make a difference. My passion for human development and potential started at 16 went I started training in hypnosis. I became New Zealand's youngest qualified psychotherapist at 26, and after a successful private practice I left to create Genratec, New Zealand's first full-time leadership coaching business in 1996. For over two decades I’ve trained, supervised and developed coaches, leaders, business owners and professionals from around the world.

Rod Snodgrass from the Climate Leaders Coalition contacted me late last year. Top leaders and companies made a commitment to New Zealand and the environment by signing the Climate Leaders Coalition agreement. I’ve been involved with Rod in Startup Weekends and he talked to me about the hopes and dreams of the Coalition. He tasked me with organising something similar to come up with ideas to help tackle the climate change issue.

I had several meetings with a steering committee that included Simon Moutter from Spark, Abbie Reynolds from the Sustainable Business Council, Andrew Pirie, Spark’s Corporate Relations Manager and Karl Check from Vector. We didn't want to organise just another event. We agreed we needed to think bigger. We needed to mobilise a larger collaborative using pan-corporate resources from different organisations to accomplish something special. That’s been harder than we anticipated. It’s been ten times harder than I thought it would but this is an issue which needs the effort from all of us. Thats non negotiable. Thats what it's going to take.

I designed a number of roles to give people ways to participate like positions of a sports team. One of the roles was a CLC Ambassador, who would take responsibility within each organisation to spread the word and recruit members and participants for the event. The Chief Executives and CEOs involved in the CLC are very enthusiastic, many get it, but they were saying yes on behalf of people who have many existing and different priorities.

People are busy. I get that. And this is the first event of its kind in New Zealand so it’s unproven. That was always going to be the challenge, that what it take to lead. That meant we had to do close the hard yards to get the number of participants and mentors we needed to make it work. It’s similar to the challenge climate change campaigners have faced in the last 20 years. It’s a lack of responsiveness and urgency.

It’s one thing signing an agreement, it’s another committing time and resources and another to act. I want to strongly invite organisations and individuals to get on the court and make a difference. There are plenty of people sitting on their hands in the stands. They don’t have any impact on what happens on the court. Play the game. Get involved.

What motivated you to get involved in Climate-X?

The first and most obvious reason is it’s such a foundational issue. This is the biggest crisis the world has ever faced. The second reason is that crises create some really transformative opportunities for human beings to up-shift. We’re called to do things differently, to challenge and break down existing structures. If you study history you can see tipping points where whole civilisations or eras crumbled or rose. We are in one of those times.

We’re all aware that the way we currently do things – in so many areas, not just climate change – is not working. We’re talking about the environment, commercial, social issues, the rise of nationalism, and the 1 per cent problem where there is a small number of people and corporations exercising wealth and power out balance with the collective concerns.

So this moment in time is an opportunity for us to come together as a collective to change things, to navigate a critical transition. I’ve got an 11-year-old son. I want him to be able to live and thrive with the world he grows up in and I want that to be the best world it can be.

This is one of the defining moments of our time, and maybe the last one.

What’s your role as a mentor?

As the lead mentor, my job is to figure out what skills and talents the mentors have and how to best deploy them to work with the different teams and individuals. I know the mentors will hone in on the best ideas and over the course of a couple days the best ideas always come to the fore. It's giving every team the best chance to compete by getting the best of our amazing mentors.

As a facilitator, my job is to make sure the participants get the most out of the process. When human beings are given a chance to contribute, they are capable of pretty fantastic things. You see this every time there is a crisis. Think about the Christchurch earthquake for example. People rally around and get switched on to do extraordinary things.

Most people undersell their abilities but my role as a facilitator is to draw out the intelligence and the ideas and skills they might not know they have. It’s about the people and the energy they bring to the process. When that is released they think and participate differently. It’s about how they really participate, how they sell their ideas, how they relate to their team and build relationships with other people who can help them realise their ideas.

What we’re doing is providing people with a way to build value. To recover the ingenuity and intelligence of each person rather than relying on views of value as solely commercial. This event is staffed by volunteers. The people participating in the Climate-X Sprint have given up their own time to work long hours to do their bit to tackle this crisis. When people commit to that level, something special happens. That’s the value we are starting to harness.

What are you hoping for at the end of the three days?

This is the first Climate-X Sprint so we need to prove the process works to others. I want the participants to be inspired enough to go back to their organisation and tell everyone they work with what a group of individuals who give a damn got done in three days. That they should send more of their team to the next event. I want them to be inspired to help change the thinking around sustainability and climate change within their own workplace.

I know some of the ideas and talent has the potential to make a difference. It all starts somewhere. And for the ideas that don't get there, I hope the people involved come up with a new idea and go again. When you attend an event like this, you can’t unknow what you’ve learned. You can’t help but be moved and inspired.

Most of all, I hope the participants feel committed to making a difference. That’s why all of us are here. Because we give a damn.

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