John’s job title, Better World marketing manager, brings a smile to his face everyday. He's obsessed with the idea that business can truly do good in the world and is very happy to be part of a company that believes the same.
October 13, 2011
Our 1953 promise to “be a good steward of the environment” put Herman Miller on a path toward helping Yellowstone Park. As the first national park, Yellowstone is often referred to as “America’s best idea.” A national treasure, it faces the complex challenge of balancing environmental preservation with public enjoyment.
Addressing this, Yellowstone Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation recently gathered fellow leaders in environmental advocacy—including Toyota, the University of Michigan, and National Park Service—to beginning thinking how to balance its objectives.
We were honored to join the discussion and help facilitate a session that began mapping a sustainable future in which Yellowstone remains as beautiful as it is today.
Better World, What's Up
May 19, 2011
Get your attention? I know it got mine.
That is the beauty of Pechakucha: 20 seconds per slide and only 20 slides is just 400 seconds to tell your story. Grab the audience’s attention early, move quickly, and be concise, and you will be successful.
Brian Malarkey, author of the “We spend 19% of our money on cars” quote, spent 400 seconds (6:40) making the case for a better approach to energy consumption. He feels that the future will require us to explore and support alternative transportation options, not just rely on cars.
Brian was among eight presenters who answered the question, “What does it mean to be a sustainable city?” as part of a themed Pechakucha (PK) event held in Herman Miller’s Houston showroom. From the built environment, to conserving the natural environment, to sustainability as a public-policy issue, everyone delivered a unique perspective on the theme
Sustainability is an important topic for Houston as it challenges itself to become a truly sustainable city. And for Herman Miller as well, as we move closer to our goal of zero waste by 2020.
Checkout Pechakucha’s website to find a PK near you, and for information on starting your own event.
Photo: Ian Johnston
April 22, 2011
At this year’s Fortune Brainstorm Green conference, some of the most recognized people influencing environmental sustainability took center stage with support provided by our Setu chairs. Bill McDonough and Sir Richard Branson, for example, were among the presenters. They said some wild things. Dave Steiner, CEO of Waste Management, predicted a future where his company will pay customers for their trash because he can extract so much value from it by repurposing, reusing, and recycling it. Or Sir Richard Branson announcing Virgin Oceanic, a super sub designed to take one person to the bottom of the world’s oceans as a way to further our understanding of this huge resource.
Another great—and practical—addition to this year’s conference came from AT&T. The company provided a charging station powered by wind and solar energy. This was a relief to many tweeters and bloggers who had the power they needed to make their posts accessible to everyone.
New this year, Herman Miller offered attendees a chance to nominate a 501c3 non-profit organization of their choice for the chance to win $25,000 worth of Herman Miller furniture. And today we’re pleased to announce Urban Prep Academies as the recipient.
Based in Chicago, Urban Prep operates a network of all-boys public schools including the country’s first charter high school for boys. Urban Prep’s mission is to provide a high-quality and comprehensive college-preparatory educational experience to young men that results in graduates succeeding in college.
Urban Prep Academies was selected at random from the entries submitted by conference delegates at our onsite mobile station. The new Herman Miller products will help Urban Prep Academies do its good works even better—and make a better world for all of us.
April 1, 2011
As the words “green” and “sustainability” become part of business vernacular, it shouldn’t be a surprise that hundreds, if not thousands, of conferences have emerged to discuss these topics. The conference we never miss is Fortune Brainstorm GREEN, held this year in Laguna Nigel, California, April 4-6.
Fortune, together with its program partners, The Nature Conservancy, NRDC, and the Environmental Defense Fund, gathers, as it describes, “the smartest people we know” in sustainability from business, government, and NGOs.
Since 2009, Herman Miller has been a major sponsor of this dynamic event. We enjoy contributing to it, but we feel that we gain even more through the rich conversations and relationships we build there.
We’ll be live tweeting from the conference, so follow us @hermanmiller for real-time updates. Or you can also follow @brainstormgreen or search for hashtag #FortuneGreen to get an inside look into all of the discussions happening during the conference.
And, though it’s too late to join the conference in person, you can virtually participate in some of the sessions via video stream.
March 14, 2011
Anxiety, nerves, and a 20-second shot clock. Sounds more like the final minutes of a closely fought basketball game, right? But it has more to do with collaboration than competition, and the only athletic feats on display are of exercising jaws and vocal chords, and, of course, that big muscle on top.
I’m describing the 17th edition of Pecha Kucha night at Martyrs’ in Chicago. I shared stories about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and Herman Miller’s environmental commitment, all with the idea that if you do stick to your beliefs, even in the face of doubt, good things will happen. I joined nine other presenters speaking to a sold-out house of about 400 people.
Pecha Kucha, which roughly translates to “chit-chat” in Japanese, refers to gatherings in over 390 cities around the world where creative types, activists, entrepreneurs, designers, and just about anyone else can share their “passion not portfolio” with an engaged audience. The format limits all presentations to 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, with the slides running on auto-advance.
This lack of control over the slides keeps the presentations brief, the speakers on track (or not), and contributes to a collective sense of “you can do it” emanating from the audience to the presenter as they roll through their presentation. This fight against the clock is part of the fun for the audience and the anxiety/excitement for the speaker.
You should be sharing what’s important to you at a local Pecha Kucha event. Check out the Pecha Kucha website to find one near you.
Photo credit: Visualized Concepts
November 17, 2010
Every year, we put together our Better World report to let you know how we’re building a better world around you through environmental advocacy, inclusiveness and diversity, health and well-being, and community service. Are we perfect and do we always reach our goals? Of course not. Building a better world is not so much a goal as an everyday way of life.
Here are some highlights from the past fiscal year:
• Herman Miller employees logged 13,640 volunteer hours, exceeding the goal of 10,000.
Inclusiveness & Diversity:
• “Corporation of the Year” by Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council.
Health & Well-being
• 3rd consecutive year on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
• Surpassed overall footprint reduction goal with 91% overall reduction.
• 100% green electrical energy usage worldwide.
If you have any questions or comments about the report, please feel free to share them with us here.
November 15, 2010
We’re happy to add MBDC Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Silver certification to the list of “eco-creds” for the new, non-FR, U.S.-produced SAYL work chair. Combined with its GREENGUARD certification and the process of eco-dematerialization that was at the heart of Yves Béhar’s design, SAYL can proudly add “good to the environment” to its other attributes, including good looks, ergonomics, and great price point.
November 2, 2010
I recently returned from Ann Arbor where University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business hosted the 18th Annual Net Impact Conference. Net Impact is a global organization with over 20,000 MBA students and professionals who believe that businesses can help build a better world.
Herman Miller has been involved with this conference for the past five years. Our executives have led keynote speeches and employees have participated in panel discussions and managed our presence at the expo and career fair.
This year we decided to participate in a new way. Before and during the event, we used Twitter to ask conference attendees the following questions:
What does a better world look like to you?
Share with us some companies, organizations, or individuals who you think are helping build a better world.
Replies were sent to @HermanMiller, in 140 characters or less, with hashtags #NI10 and #betterworld. And if those who answered the questions stopped by our booth at the expo, we gave them a bag made from excess material gathered at our seating production facility.
The bags were a hit and we learned a lot from this experiment. Most importantly, it was a fun and new way to tap into the energy of this dynamic conference.
Design, Products, What's Up
October 12, 2010
Last week our new SAYL chairs made their public debut at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Designed by Yves Béhar for Herman Miller, this chair has been in the works for the past few years.
Béhar described this chair as one of his toughest design challenges because a chair “leaves nothing to hide.” And judging by the looks of the crowd, they’re glad he didn’t hide a thing.
Béhar and SAYL will make a few more stops in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco before they head to Germany for Orgatec.
You can follow #SAYL, #liveunframed, and @yvesbehar on Twitter for real-time updates about the chair and its launch events.
October 8, 2010
The Better World by Design conference recently brought together more than 1,000 future designers, engineers, architects, and artists to share how design and the design process can contribute to building a better world.
Sponsored by Herman Miller and organized by students from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, the event included a wide spectrum of topics. However, “the power of many” emerged as the major theme.
One speaker even stated that her job is not to design things, but to build “containers for collaboration.” She suggested that greater collaboration between people, disciplines, industries, organizations, and companies will be needed to help build a better world.
The “containers for collaboration” theme continued into one evening’s event at The Box Office. The Box Office is an office structure built from 32 shipping containers. It also “contains” several Herman Miller products.
There also were interactive sessions, including a one-hour design challenge presented by Core77 and a design lab demonstration of new bio-based materials.
I was impressed by the level of speakers and participation from those connected to a variety of interests, companies, and professions. This event helps me believe we are making strides toward building that better world.
Read what others thought about the conference on Twitter: hashtag #bxd10.