12 Feb 2020

The New Rituals Of Business

Jim Prior writes in Forbes on why the brands should bring creativity and inventiveness to their entire experience.

Jim Prior, Global CEO

Nothing says “it’s over” more than the piles of discarded fir trees that line the streets on January 6. But with somewhere close to 40 million of them sold across the U.S. and U.K., their sudden uselessness is symbolic of more than just the end of festivity.

In these times, they are a symbol of profligacy and the lax attitudes towards sustainability that pervade society, despite the obvious environmental crisis ahead. Surely we are now smart enough to find a more ethically suitable carrier for our shiny baubles and fairy lights? Well, yes, we are. The problem here is not the lack of an alternative. Where we go wrong on Christmas trees is that we prioritize tradition over intelligent thought.

The origin of this tradition goes back to Renaissance-era Germany: it is a matter of folklore with no connection to higher-order faith. It is a purposeless ritual. And, as we enact it each year, literally millions of trees are felled, transported then irresponsibly destroyed. The Carbon Trust calculates that a two-meter tree disposed of in landfill has a carbon footprint of 16kg of CO2.

This problem of ritualistic behavior is no lonesome pine. It permeates business sectors everywhere–driving lazy decision-making and unhealthy practices at the expense of common sense. These practices may once have been necessary, or harmless (or, at least, not known to be harmful) but are now overdue for change.

The automotive industry is a good example of this. It’s obvious that firms need to stop making fossil-fuelled cars sooner rather than later, yet the rate of change in the industry seems slow, nonetheless.

First published in Forbes.