Talk Boutique is excited to welcome Marianne Lefever to our speaker roster. Marianne is an Innovation and Sustainability Strategist and Design Thinker with nearly 10 years of experience in climate mitigation and sustainable city design.
One-on-One With Marianne
I was watching a documentary the other day about how so many cities want to become carbon neutral. They’ve set ambitious goals but at the same time are voting against the solar fields and wind farms that would make this possible. All the interviewed inhabitants agreed it was a good idea and a necessary one too. They just didn’t want to see the impact of it change their immediate surroundings. Wind turbines disrupting their ocean view or solar fields messing with “a beautiful” rural landscape, those were not the prices they were willing to pay.
I think that illustrates pretty nicely what is slowing us down in embracing ‘unreasonable innovation’. We like the idea of it and on an intellectual level we know we need it, but we don’t feel the urgency to change our own environment and behaviour. We’ve been so comfortable for so long that we’ve gotten overly attached to our state-as-is. We don’t want to give that up as we don’t feel the need for it yet and we often reason that whatever change will come, it will be for the worse. Unfortunately, our courage and capability for unreasonable innovation, for profound change doesn’t come from a place of comfort. It comes from a place of urgency and distress. So yes, we do have the capability to embrace unreasonable innovation but things will probably have to get worse before we will be able to unlock that power.
What book have you read lately that you would recommend and why?
I’m currently finishing ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Harari. I really love it! Although I definitely don’t agree with all of his statements, I always appreciate a book that makes me look critically at my own worldview and my own thinking. This one definitely challenges you to look at humanity and our current state in a different perspective. It reminded me yet again how important it is to look at ourselves through the lens of history. As a futurist, we are often so focused on looking forward that we sometimes forget the importance of also looking back. It just provides a much richer perspective to assess what the future might hold. And you have to give credit to someone who attempts to analyse the full history of humankind in one go. That’s no easy challenge!
What do you think are the benefits associated with companies bringing in Speakers such as yourself?
A client of mine recently described it very nicely. She was working for a very well established organization that had been inward looking for too long and were on the verge of being disrupted. She said: “We urgently need a neck shot of innovation but we can’t administer it ourselves.” They needed someone with a fresh perspective to come in and shake their thinking, stir things up a little. And that’s one of the biggest benefits of bringing in an outside speaker, I think.
What’s the most important business or other discovery you’ve made in the past year?
I recently worked with a company that had a very nice tagline but no real purpose to their work. They had been thriving for quite some years and never saw the need to really build it into their business. Things were going great! Now they found themselves in the middle of a merger. And if there is one thing mergers bring, it’s messiness, ambiguity and uncertainty. And all of a sudden, that carefully constructed pyramid started to crumble. Because in times of uncertainty, there was no real glue holding it all together. People started to wonder pretty fast “What’s the point of all this? What am I doing here?”. They started to leave the company by the dozens.
I had always known purpose is important for organizations. Frederic Laloux describes it very nicely in his book “reinventing organizations” and Daniel Pink calls it one the three big motivators so I shouldn’t have been surprised. But seeing the impact of lacking an actual purpose with my own eyes, just made me realize how important it is. And that a good tagline or a great CSR won’t cut it when times get rough. The purpose needs to be felt in every corner of the organization. It should be your lighthouse for decision making, especially in hard times.
What is your challenge or focus for this year?
This year I want to explore more in-depth how some of the trends we see emerge in different domains might help us to build healthy, safe and sustainable cities and communities. How could the principle of self-governing organizations be applied to communities or urban governance? How might ubiquitous connectivity enable a healthy and sustainable community beyond savings on utilities? When loneliness is one of the main health threads in cities, how might local food production support a more connected and inclusive community? These are just some examples of how I want to explore interesting crossovers between industry trends and see what broader purpose they could serve for our communities.
Marianne Lefever is an innovation strategist with nearly 10 years of experience in climate mitigation and sustainable city design. She founded Reshape Innovation, an innovation facilitation company that is on a mission to spread real change and innovation in organizations and actively contribute to a new world.
Working in the innovation space on a daily basis, she experienced firsthand how big the gap is between where we want to be and what we’re doing to get there. Trying to close this gap, she searches for signs of unreasonable innovation and explores how she can use it in her work to help her clients change their perspective and act.
Marianne has a background in architecture and renewable energy and is a strong visual thinker. She has experience working as a structural engineer, a Management Executive at a real estate developer specialized in sustainable city design, and she manages the Building & Sites team at a renewable energy consultancy agency.
Interested in having Marianne speak at your next event? Contact us today and we can help!
We think you may also be interested in learning about our speakers, Sonny Kohli and Paul Nadeau. Sonny co-founded Cloud DX to create a fully autonomous ‘digital doctor’ called Vitaliti. Paul is a former hostage negotiator, professional interrogator and decorated International Peacekeeper.