Corporate sustainability has a special place in Nudge’s heart. Fun fact: before Nudge became a digital communication platform for deskless employees, it was Greengage Mobile, a tool that helped companies share complex environmental initiatives with their frontline staff. We sat down with CEO Lindsey Goodchild to learn more about Nudge’s roots 🌱 – and get her advice on how organizations can work sustainability into their core brand purpose.
Where did the idea for Greengage Mobile come from?
Lindsey: I started my career in consulting. I was working on a really cool project around sustainable tourism that involved big hotels, ski resorts, and restaurant chains to reduce their environmental footprint and improve their contributions to their local community, but in a way that created a big economic incentive for the organization.
We needed to find ways to bring these strategic initiatives to life throughout the organization. In a hotel or resort where there’s thousands of employees and tons of different roles, it’s really hard to get everybody on the same page with this big change that’s happening, and what exactly they need to do to be a part of activating it. It was a huge challenge because those employees are non-desk, and didn’t have access to computers or emails, so the only way to really get the information to the frontline employee was to kind of cascade it down from HQ to regional directors or managers, down to the frontline. We found that the messages were getting lost and there wasn’t a lot of clarity and action on the things that needed to happen.
I was trying to understand how to fix this broken communication so we could activate all these plans that we’d been building for two years. I was doing interviews with groups of frontline employees, and as I was presenting to them, they all had their phones under the table. I was like, your HQ is telling me there’s no way to digitally connect with the frontline, and here I am in this meeting and no one is listening to me because they’re all on their phones!
So I thought, why don’t we meet this audience where they are – in a way that looks and feels like the other tools they use – to help them understand how they’re contributing to this bigger picture.
So that led to Greengage Mobile.
Yeah. I went to the organizations I worked with and pitched the idea of a mobile app. I got some initial funding, and I said, let’s do this. I wasn’t planning on being an entrepreneur, I wasn’t planning on starting a company, I just wanted to solve this problem that was so pervasive in my consulting career. So that’s how the whole thing really got started.
As founders, we – myself, Dessy Daskalov, and Jordan Ekers – were really aligned on the idea of bringing something new to the world that would make life better for our end users, and were aligned on supporting environmental and social issues along the way. Just think: in these massive corporations with tens of thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – of employees, if you get each of these employees taking one action, it makes a huge difference.
How did Greengage Mobile evolve into Nudge?
It happened organically. We started the company to help companies with focused initiatives around environmental and community impact. When we got it there, we saw such wild success with adoption and engagement. Our first customers said they never had a tool that allowed them to reach the frontline as effective as this – and it had such a virality to it. They were getting huge levels of adoption, really intense engagement that they’d never seen in other channels. So they started thinking, if this is our most effective way of reaching our team, what if we started putting other key initiatives through it?
At the time, we weren’t sure if it was going to work. But it did – and it aligned us to the higher purpose of reaching this audience who previously hadn’t been able to be effectively reached. The dynamic nature of the app, combined with a huge transition over the last decade of digital natives taking over the workplace played really well into Nudge coming to life.
Let’s talk a bit more about corporate sustainability.
I think some of the world’s best companies have sustainability at their core. Patagonia is one that I always point to, because I think that they’ve really shown what’s possible with a strong commitment to sustainability. When you look at the world of retail, they continue to be one of the most successful retail brands out there. So I think being a sustainable business and being a good business can go hand-in-hand if you do it right, and I would love to see all businesses make that shift.
There’s been some pretty massive shifts around the recognition that climate change actually poses a huge threat to many companies (and all of humanity for that matter). With some of the changes of legislation around climate risk reporting, I think it’s really pushing the issue to the forefront. Now you’ve got companies that are doing it really, really well, because they know it’s good for their business, and then you’ve got other companies that are just trying to find their way through it for the first time. But I see a future where it becomes core to every company, because it’s core to how we survive on the planet. I think it’s going to take a multifaceted approach, with every stakeholder on this earth having a role to play in making sure that we’re creating a future that sustains us.
What are the challenges organizations face when trying to implement sustainability initiatives?
Let’s flip it around. The companies doing it right – what are they doing? So take a company like Patagonia again. They have a really clear definition of who they are, what their value is, what their culture is around corporate responsibility and sustainability. Everybody that knows that brand, everyone who shops there or works there, really has that true alignment to that. I think it’s just been so clearly communicated and disseminated as to who they are, so everybody that’s there is on-board and is activating on what that brand promises. And I think that’s a very special thing to achieve. In a world where there’s a war for talent, having a purpose-driven company makes a really big difference.
I think the lesson we can learn is to have a really clear definition of your brand purpose, what those associated values are, and find a way to have your team live those values. That’s where I think Nudge can play a really big role. We’re all about finding ways to connect and align the team to what a company stands for, whether it’s a sustainability initiative or introducing a new product. Nudge is all about making sure that everybody is aware and ready to act, and understands how their actions contribute to this larger goal.
So a clear understanding of that initiative is crucial in helping teams to act on it.
Exactly. At Nudge, we use a lot of nudge theory and behavior theory – that comes from my postgrad research around how to drive change in big organizations. And there’s a set of best practices of how you get people to do new things. The reason we built Nudge is to make it easy to help people take on these behaviors in little bite-sized pieces so it doesn’t feel like this big daunting shift. We make it easier for them to adopt the change, and really spend time helping them understand the whys.
I think that’s especially important when it comes to programs around sustainability, because they really are those things that make a difference in the world and that feels good for people. It feels good to know that you’re being part of a solution.
What are some of the ways that organizations can implement that sustainable change?
When you have tens of thousands of employees and you get everybody taking an action toward whatever the goal is, that amounts to huge change. And I think that’s one of the things that Nudge does really well – it breaks it down to be a small thing for each person, but then it makes it easy to look at that collective impact.
I think a lot of companies are doing many great things, but their teams just don’t know about them. So highlighting what the company’s already doing and also introducing fun new ideas is a great combination. When you have something as simple as encouraging employees to participate in Earth Hour, it’s so fun to hear from employees across the country – or across the globe – on what they’re doing. They’re posting pictures of playing games with their kids by candlelight, or taking walks with their friends in a new natural area they haven’t explored before. These connection points and sharing moments are essential for creating common ground and camaraderie – no matter the initiative at hand.
That’s another thing that really excites me about Nudge – when we can create community and common ground between employees. Because that really enriches the employee experience. That’s one of the things that makes me really proud about what we do.
What’s one tiny sustainable step that every company could take this year?
I speak a lot about the environment, because I’m really passionate about the environment. But companies could also look at their impact on the society or community they’re in. Sustainability could also mean looking at inclusion or diversity. It can mean so many things. And I think every company should find something that’s really core and true to their value as an organization, and really make it personal for every employee. Like, truly find a way to make it something that actually aligns with the culture and values of the organization.
I think when that happens, that’s where you really get that compelling return of what they call the triple bottom line, where you’re making a positive impact on the environment, the community, and the economy. But just as importantly, I think it’s more about that connection that employees have to the brand and to each other. When you get that, you start to see benefits in many different ways. That’s where you get that truly meaningful impact.
I think some of the issues that we face in this world seem really daunting. But when you’ve got tens of thousands of people taking one small action, the impact is huge. I think there’s just so much opportunity for us to just like do things together to make the world a better place.
What’s something that each person reading this can do to make the world a better place?
Every person should be doing something that they care about – and make an effort to do something differently to create a better future for our planet. But that aside, my personal motto on this is “help the bees, trees, and seas.” I like to help bees, our essential ecosystem pollinators, by planting wildflowers or other native plants that help support our local bee population. I am also a big fan of planting trees to both capture carbon and clean the air. And lastly, contributing to efforts to clean the seas by eliminating single-use plastics and reducing the toxic products that go down the drain. Bees, trees, and seas – excellent little diddy.