What’s your idea?

Footsie will help larger businesses develop a carbon-reduction strategy through a game experience of pledges and prediction markets.

It’s a collaborative tool which will engage all staff in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating change strategies — all with a few minutes of engagement a week.

Staff will create and sign up to pledges such as “Switch off the TV equipment at night”, see their current and future impact, and bet on their ultimate success or failure to take hold in the organisation.

Feedback on progress will shape a live strategy document showing executives and participants the challenges and unexpected opportunities in reducing the corporate carbon footprint.

What is the social need or challenge your idea could address?

Many businesses are seizing the moral imperative to reduce their carbon footprint, and while the general advice on how to do this is straightforward, applying this to your organisation is often not.

Large organisations face particular challenges in translating general principles into specific strategies, as the complexity of multiple departments, floors and locations make general rules inappropriate or difficult to enforce. A lack of understanding of the office ecosystem by executive staff means that real opportunities for change are also missed.

At the same time, workers in large companies may not identify with the organisation, or see limited impact in their own behavioural changes when others are not doing likewise. This creates a sense of powerlessness and inertia.

For businesses to move towards carbon neutrality they need sustainable policies and practices — emails demanding people print less can be seen as ignorant and bullying.

Social software offers the opportunity to give staff a key role in determining sustainable practices within the organisation — these ideas need to be raised, explored and advocated before they have a chance of becoming part of the company culture.

Footsie aims to engage the full range of workers — eager, keen, thoughtful, cynical — with a gaming environment that allows them to participate in a range of ways and with minimal and optional commitment; all staff can then see the effect of their behaviour on the future of the company while they shoot for a high score.

For a description of how Footsie works, visit:

What’s really new about your idea?

Edenbee is an excellent site which helps individuals improve their carbon footprint. It’s focused around completing goals, and has a great timeline view of their impact on your footprint.

For micro-companies, Edenbee could work well. Footsie is focused on bigger companies (100+ staff) where efforts to create co-operative change are more challenging, and where neither a top-down nor an ad hoc approach can fully work.

We want to engage everyone, even those people who hate their company. Allowing them to bet on failure and express their black hat thinking in return for personal kudos is, we think, a novel approach.

Using a prediction market to manifest staff attitudes to corporate change is a new idea, and some of the details should prove innovative, such as giving all users online anonymity.

Why anonymity in a social web application? Because we don’t want this to become a tool of monitoring and coercion by executive staff. Each user will pick an avatar from a list of 8-16 types representing different personality types and attitudes to climate change.

The avatars can be changed at any time, and there are no visible usernames. This will give another (fun) view on the connections between attitudes and behaviour in the company.

The pledge concept was first articulated (we think) by Pledgebank. We admire (and would steal) interface features from Get Satisfaction, which very effectively corrals discussion threads into specific, useful responses. We won’t be facilitating open discussion, but will ask for quick explanations of why a user will/won’t sign up for a pledge and why they found it difficult (or easy) to meet that commitment this week. This will highlight the challenges in creating lasting change.

From 1-5, what stage of development would you say your idea was in?

We’re at Stage 2: we’ve discussed the need with industry figures, sketched out the idea, and located developers with experience of building online markets.  We’re speaking to a couple of climate change organisations and are confident we can bring along a relevant expert.

What can we do for you?

We need two days away from the distraction of other work. We’d like the space, the interaction, the feedback, and the sharing with other Sicampers that will knock this idea into shape. At the end of it, we’d appreciate some advice on finding seed funding (3) to take it to the next stage.

This idea was submitted by Chris Marsh and Ian Hallworth.

Chris and Ian run 72 dots, a design agency in Brighton. For fun they listen to old cassettes, go cycling, and argue about music.

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