Erb Perspective Blog Has Moved

May 19, 2011

We’ve moved to our new Erb Institute website.  Please visit us here:

Erb Insitute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

Thanks for your interest and support!


Erb Perspective Blog: 2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,400 times in 2010. That’s about 20 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 57 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 117 posts. There were 40 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 617kb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 25th with 267 views. The most popular post that day was ErbWire: Innovations in Education.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for offshore drilling economics, economics of offshore drilling, we are the weather makers chapter summaries, and success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


ErbWire: Innovations in Education May 2010


Does “Green” Corporate Social Responsibility Benefit Society? January 2009
1 comment


The Simple Economics of Offshore Drilling October 2008
1 comment


The Simple Economics of Offshore Drilling April 2010
1 comment


The EcoValuation Working Group on location: Chicago February 2010

A Blue Sweater visit from Jacqueline Novogratz & Some tips for your own book club

December 18, 2010

As part of the University of Michigan’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Emerging Markets Club was delighted to be asked to organize a book club to discuss The Blue Sweater, which brought together students from across the campus to discuss issues raised in the book with Jacqueline Novogratz.

The event, held on November 19th, was marketed across campus to both graduate and undergraduate students as a unique opportunity to interact with Jacqueline in an intimate setting and take part in a substantive conversation with her about the book.  As such we limited the registration for the event to 30 people.

The event was structured in two parts. First, we held small group discussions for an hour in groups of 8-10 people during which each group formulated 3-4 questions that delved deeper into specific topics. Next, we had a30 minute discussion with Jacqueline based on the questions generated by the small groups.

If you want to plan a similar event, but don’t have the benefit of Jacqueline’s insights, I would suggest formulating the output of the groups into a short presentation (4-5 mins) given by one member of the group.  Depending on the size of the audience it may also be possible to discuss one or two key questions or discussion points raised by the groups.


We appointed a facilitator to ensure that the group discussions were both effective and inclusive and that the groups focused on developing questions that were concise and that would make for an interesting discussion later on with Jacqueline and the wider group…questions that couldn’t necessarily be answered just by reading the book.

Since we had a relatively short period for the group discussions,  it was beneficial to have the facilitators be ready with a list of questions that would act as a starting point to prompt the discussion; however the facilitators didn’t feel compelled to use these if they weren’t needed.  For larger events, allocating specific themes to each group might also help avoid any overlap or repetition in the discussions.

Discussion Groups

The discussion groups chatted about the book for an hour and used flip charts to record their thoughts.  During the last 15 minutes, the facilitators focused on finalizing questions and assigned each question to a member of the group to ask.  Some of the questions addressed specific topics in the book while others developed from participants sharing their own experiences within the group. We found it particularly useful to have a single facilitator roam between the groups to get an understanding of the scope of the conversations and questions being developed.

Discussion with Jacqueline

Each group had written their questions on a flip chart and these were placed around the room for the discussion with Jacqueline.  This segment was run by the roaming facilitator who selected group members and questions based on the flow of the conversation, which loosely progressed from issues of Jacqueline’s individual motivation and experiences to questions about Acumen Fund and issues regarding the institutions it interacts with.

Alternatively, for groups that don’t have Jacqueline present to take part, the roaming facilitator would invite each group to present a summary of their discussions and, if appropriate, facilitate audience response on key questions or issues raised by the groups.  Given the time constraints, it wasn’t possible to do this as part of our event, however, it would have been very valuable to gain wider views on some of the issues discussed, especially given the diverse experiences and backgrounds represented in the audience.

We plan to use the success of this event to continue to engage students on campus in substantive conversations about topics in emerging markets, as feedback suggests that there are too few outlets for this type of interaction and that students appreciate the opportunity to discuss these issues with their peers and to benefit from each other’s experience.

Colm Fay

Colm Fay is a second year MBA student at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and is Vice President of Academic and Educational Development for the school’s Emerging Markets Club.

Erb Returns 2010: The Constancy of Change

December 2, 2010

On two beautiful crisp fall days this October in the warm familiarity of Gladwin’s Barn, 65  Erb/CEMP alums and some 30 members of the greater Erb community gathered to reunite, share their stories and experiences, and rediscover the warm bonds of community that time and distance can sometimes make you forget.

See a list of attendees here:

For those of you who were there, we’ve prepared this as a reminder. Please remember to enter your feedback on this year’s event in the following survey that Dominique sent by Sunday, Dec 5th, 11:59p.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it, here’s a taste of what you missed:

After a warm introduction by Erb Returns chair Tony Gross ’08, the official program began with a Job Crafting Exercise, facilitated by Janet Max of the POS Group, designed to help people identify opportunities to make their jobs more engaging and fulfilling.  (Jane Dutton, Ross MO Professor, is one of its creators).  It begins by asserting that there are three ways to make your job better – by making changes in the tasks you do at work, by making changes in your work relationships, and by making changes in the way you think about your work.  It then provides a framework to identify how you actually spend your time at work and how you would like to spend your time at work, based on your strengths, motives, and passions.  The final exercise was to create a diagram of the work life you want to have, and identify actions necessary to move in that direction.  And the best part of the exercise?  Playing with stickers.  If you missed the seminar and want to check it out, it’s available for $15 on the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship’s website:

The Job Crafting Exercise was followed by an introduction (or re-introduction) to the Ross OCD staff – Marla McGraw, Leslie Lynn, and new mom Leslie Mulder (and baby!).  Bottom line:  whether job crafting or job searching, they’re still here if you need them.

Professor Gretchen Spreitzer, Chair of the Management and Organizations Department at Ross, followed with a presentation introducing some of the concepts employed by the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship.  The center “seeks to study organizations typified by appreciation, collaboration, vitality, and fulfillment, where creating abundance and human well-being are key indicators of success.”  One of the techniques Gretchen shared was that of “appreciative inquiry,” which is a particular way of asking questions that fosters a positive and co-creative relationship between the inquirer and inquired.  Basically – treat people in a positive and respectful manner and you get great results.  Perhaps obvious to Erbers, but it’s nice to have some academic research backing it up.  You can find out more about POS at

After a tasty lunch (provided by Mona Sotolongo of Cezanne Catering) that even featured a vegan delight (earning two thumbs-up from vegan Liz Abbett ‘10), we were treated to a refreshingly honest and inquisitive keynote by Chris Park, head of Deloitte’s sustainability practice.  He shared some insights from his experience working with clients on sustainability, but also wanted to get our opinions on the new positioning he is developing for the sustainability practice.  (Great free consulting from us – we need to start charging!)

What emerged was that at the big corporate level there is still a great deal of work to be done on the sustainability front.  While some of their clients are interested in moving sustainability efforts forward and looking for help with how to do so, many still need to see clear financial bottom-line gains, and some are not interested much at all.  It was a reminder of how important it is that we push sustainability agendas at companies we want to change from both within and without.

New Erb student Neesha Modi ’12 gave a quick talk on Erb “Resource Groups,” an initiative born in the last few years that seeks to put our collective knowledge of different sustainability areas on the web.  Erb alums can see what groups exist and sign up at  Many kudos to students and staff for their work in making our collective knowledge more collectively available.

The next programs of the afternoon were topical breakout sessions:  “Change Theory into Practice” led by James Lloyd ’03, “Corporate Sustainability” led by Rob Frederick ’00, and “Climate Change & Carbon Markets: Copenhagen & Beyond,” led by Doug Glancy ’07.   In the Change Theory session, we role-played dealing with those folks at work who just don’t get it (sustainability, being a decent human being, etc.).  We discovered a lot of value in this type of role play, and as one-day-to-be organizational-change-guru Emily Plews ’10 put it, a role-play allows us to try out in ten minutes different approaches that might take ten weeks to try out in real life.  Who knows what happened in the other sessions, though sporadic cheering and shouts of “Chug! Chug! Chug!” indicated it was not all business.

The final session of the day was an update from Erb SAB co-presidents Nate Springer ’11 & Katie O’Hare ’11, and Institute jefe Rick Bunch on the state of the Institute.  Rick had a lot of positive things to say about the program and the alumni.  A main point was that it is US – the alumni – that keep Erb ahead of the other programs through the “cutting-edge stuff we are doing in [many different] fields.” He wants everyone to know that this is a watershed year – we have 100 students enrolled in the Erb program and 200 alumni.  He went on to say that Erb graduates should not shy away from any position centered around sustainability because we are without question the most qualified for it.  Very nice to know.

The next day, after folks staggered in following a night partying at the Cottage Inn with fellow alumni and current Erb students, we began with a second round of breakout sessions: “Renewable Energy” led by Ian Black ’08,  “Green Building & Development” led by Rich Bole ’06, and “Clean-tech Start-ups”, led by Jeff LeBrun ’09.

One thing that the breakout sessions made clear – we have an enormous breadth of knowledge and experience in the Erb network.  Take advantage of it!

The breakout sessions were followed by a great new idea – Erb TED talks!  Seven-minute stories about life, work, and sustainability.

We heard some great and inspiring stories from:

-Tony Baptista ‘05…on birding in Cape Cod & keeping your sustainability metrics simple and sustainable for your organization

-Ruth Scotti ‘05…on working at BP during the recent oil spill crisis and the silver lining of opportunities the spill created for biofuels

-Michael Hokenson ‘05…on why glossy slides with coffee farmers and artisan women won’t raise you millions in financing on Wall St. — but persistence will

-Laura Flanigan ’06…on how navigating a career in sustainability is like being an astronaut

-Meghan Chapple-Brown ‘02…on best practices in bringing novel media and innovation exercises to green government initiatives

-Tim Reed ‘00…on the reunion theme of constancy of change. What has and hasn’t changed over 10 years of CEMP/Erb graduates

Everyone did a great job in the inaugural (and hopefully be a continuing tradition of) ErbTED.

The day closed with well-earned thanks to Tony Gross ’08, Melissa Vernon ’02, Emily Plews ’10, Annie Barton ’10, Ian Black ’08, Christina Gilyutin ’08, Priyanka Bandyopadhyay ’09, Devon Douglas ’09, Doug Glancy ’07, Jess Lin-Powers ’07, Rick Bunch, Cyndy Cleveland, Dominique Abed, Henry Ladd, Karen Houghtaling and all the others who put in a lot of hard work to make it such a great event.  This was followed by a group discussion on how to continue to build on the experience in the future.

Again, PLEASE FILL OUT OUR ERB RETURNS FEEDBACK SURVEY BY Sunday., DEC.5th at 11:59pm.  We need your input to continue to improve Erb Returns!

If one theme emerged from Erb Returns it was this:  while life may bring constant change, one thing that does not seem to change is the quality of Erbers/CEMPers from past through present.  We’re an impressive group, with an amazing pool of knowledge, experience, empathy, and all-around good people.  Some great ideas were raised for how to keep that community vibe going when we’re not all in the same place – hopefully this will happen.  But sometimes you need to be in the same place.  So next time Erb Returns returns, give getting here the ol’ college try.

If you’d like to see the all the photos from this Erb Returns, please click on the link below (the Password is “erberite”):

If you are interested in being involved in planning alumni engagement activities and the next Erb Returns, please e-mail Tony Gross at

On a final note, Fred Erb has fallen ill and is currently in the hospital.  Please keep him and his family in your thoughts.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a healthy and fulfilling 2011.


Dave Fribush ’10 and Jamie Lloyd ’03

Net Impact at Ross

November 23, 2010

Jamie Shea

by Jamie Shea, MBA/MS student at the Erb Institute, Class of 2012.

From October 28th – 30th 2600 students and professionals descended on the University of Michigan for the 18th Annual Net Impact Conference. It is the capstone event for the Net Impact organization, an international nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire, educate, and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. The theme of this year’s event was 2020: Vision for a Sustainable Decade, and focused on the tangible steps that could be taken over the next ten years to make both business and society more sustainable. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from 2010 Net Impact Conference

November 8, 2010

by Kevin Wooster, MBA/MS student at the Erb Institute, Class of 2013.

“Your job is not to create more NGOs.”
These are just a few of the words of wisdom Majora Carter shared with Net Impact members duringtheir conference’s closing keynote.
Majora went on to explain that those seeking to help communities in need too often rely on non-profitapproaches that require continuous contributions of capital. In lieu of this approach she argued weshould focus on creating for-profit project and business models which will sustain themselves and enrichthe community. It seems the old proverb still holds: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Later in her speech, Majora also made a terrific observation regarding social and environmental justice.As she pointed out, the more marginalized people are economically, the easier it is to marginalize otheraspects of their lives. Not coincidentally, Majora and others now focus on improving local communityeconomies, or as Majora puts it “Home(town) Security” as a first step towards achieving social andenvironmental justice.

——————————————————————————————— Read the rest of this entry »

Does It Really Matter If You Believe in Climate Change?

October 25, 2010


Emily Plews

Emily Plews


by Emily Plews, MBA/MS student at the Erb Institute, Class of 2010.

This commentary is cross-posted on The LIFT Blog.

Key points in this blog entry:
  • A story of people who were able to collaborate in spite of disagreements about the science of climate change
  • A description of how the positions we negotiate can be red herrings that prevent us from achieving mutual interests
  • Focusing on positivity and commonality can move us past polarization on red-herring issues
This week, we would like to share and then analyze an experience that Emily had a while ago in her efforts to organize a city-wide Earth Day. This story is powerful for many reasons, and we cannot address all of them in one entry. Therefore, in this week’s entry, we will analyze the content, or result, of Emily’s story. In future weeks, we will discuss how she accomplished this result. Read the rest of this entry »