Matt Lynch - System Sustainability Coordinator at University of Hawaii

Matt Lynch - System Sustainability Coordinator at University of Hawaii

Matt Lynch joins Sustainable Nation to discuss:

  • Sustainability programs and initiatives at the University of Hawaii

  • Hawaii's ambitious renewable energy future and UH's contributions

  • Reimagining organizational design for sustainability

  • The Hawaii Sustainability in Higher Education Summit

  • Recommendations and advice for sustainability leaders

Matt's Final Five responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

I'll give the same advice that my grandma gave me: you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I would say cultivate and practice the skill-set of active listening, and then related to that is go seek out a mentor that can help you with dynamic group process and the skill-set of developing a group design, processes that can facilitate productive meetings. I think if I was to boil down the job description of sustainability professionals, one of the, the minimum qualifications would be something along the lines of the ability to design an agenda that does not result in death by meeting.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability and regenerative development?

I really think that this emergent, I don't know what to call it, I don't know if it's a practice or a lexicon, but there's this sense that we're getting from the field - the leading edge of practitioners are all talking about the need to look at, reimagine our sort of organizational design and the ways that we navigate these organizations. So I've heard different language for it. I think Leith Sharp and her group are using the term "Flow State Organizations;" they've connected with Janine Benyus who is focused on the biomimicry world, and are now coming up with additional terms. Locally, I've heard it referred to as a "network based organization," and I think that this tinkering with our human operating systems is by far the most exciting thing, another exciting piece in the field of sustainability right now.

What is one book you'd recommend sustainability professionals read?

Hard to go with one. I'm going to say Social Physics, a book by Sandy Pentland who is a mathematician using big data to study behavioral science at MIT. It's really transformed my understanding of how we make decisions individually and as a group.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really helped you in the work that you do?

This is specific to higher ed, but there's a great green schools list that has been in existence for over 10 years, you know when emails lists were a thing, and this has survived because of its utility - and outside of Higher Ed, I've actually have been a long time subscriber to a newsletter called Thoughts from the Frontline and it's published by a hardcore republican hedge fund analyst. I find his financial and geopolitical analysis to be fascinating. He called the mortgage market meltdown. It is not that norm of what a sustainability professional might be paying attention to. So it gives me this completely alternative viewpoint that I can bring back into this practice and I continue to find that a really valuable resource.

Finally, where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're doing at UH?

In our sustainability website is we're starting to focus on developing a larger social media presence as well so you can find us there well.