This coming week, I’m going to devote this blog to a series of stories about people who, working inside their companies, helped make them more sustainable. The series will be called The Power of One, but that’s a misnomer–making change happen inside companies is, above all, a matter of collaborating well.
Justin Yuen, who is the founder and president of a company called FMYI, has thought a great deal about collaboration and sustainability. He worked on sustainability programs for Nike in the early 2000s. His company creates online collaboration software — think of a private corporate social network — that helps people work together. Most recently, working with colleagues at FMYI, he started a blog/website called Change Agents Unite to share stories and news about people making change.
“We’re all about empowering people to make a difference,” Justin told me, when we met recently in Washington. FMYI — the initials stand for For MY Innovation — is based in Portland, Oregon, where Justin lives, but it’s a virtual company, with employees in Orlando and New Orleans, and it uses its own software to run the company.
Justin, who is 36, started FMYI in 2004, thinking that social networking would be most valuable for spreading ideas about sustainability–his personal passion–through companies like Nike that have people working all over the world.
It hasn’t worked out exactly that way. One of his early partners was a former TV talk show producer, and the software turned out to be very popular in the TV and film production business. “TV is very fast-paced and intense,” Justin says. “Our software cuts down on confusion and helps people work faster.” FMYI’s customers in the media industry include HBO, Fox, Disney, Martha Stewart and Sony; other companies that have used the platform include Target, Office Depot and The North Face. Hyatt Hotels is one company that uses FMYI to promote sustainability goals, by bringing together “green teams” in its 250 properties. Besides that, in any company, the FMYI software helps eliminate paper usage, shipping costs and travel.
Internally, FMYI is seriously about being green. It was named one of the city of Portland’s “climate champions” for its sustainability practices, which include buying renewable energy credits for the clients that use its platform. It offers telecommuting and mass transit passes for employees. And all of its employees get training from The Natural Step and the Northwest Earth Institute, nonprofits that provides sustainability training to businesses and communities.
The Change Agents Unite project has begun with a contest inviting users to nominate teams of people from business, nonprofits, schools or government who are making a difference. Agora Partnerships, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs start businesses in low-income communities is an early nominee. Another is the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, which trains students in sustainability. You can read about others here.