Green IO
#40 - Triggering action in green software: a Nordic perspective with Satu Heikinheimo and Janne Kalliola
June 4, 2024
🤔 Why do we do so little to decarbonize software despite already knowing so much? 🎙️ In this episode, Gael Duez is joined by Janne Kalliola, author of "Green Code," together with Satu Heikinheimo, Planet Diplomats’ founder, to discuss how to trigger more actions among Tech people to reduce the carbon footprint of our code. 🌍 Both being based in Finland, a nice side-benefit of their exchange was exploring how the Nordic countries handle the environmental footprint of digital technology. Key takeaways: 🏃 trend of employees considering resigning if their company's values don't align with their own, 🤝 importance of collaboration among multidisciplinary teams to create sustainable digital products and services, ⚙️ concept of carbon-neutral software and the choice of focusing mostly on energy consumption, and 💡 Nordic approach to trust, self-organization, and low hierarchy in fostering psychological safety and agency for individuals to drive sustainable initiatives
🤔 Why do we do so little to decarbonize software despite already knowing so much? 

🎙️ In this episode, Gael Duez is joined by Janne Kalliola, author of "Green Code," together with Satu Heikinheimo, Planet Diplomats’ founder, to discuss how to trigger more actions among Tech people to reduce the carbon footprint of our code.

🌍 Both being based in Finland, a nice side-benefit of their exchange was exploring how the Nordic countries handle the environmental footprint of digital technology.

Key takeaways: 
🏃 trend of employees considering resigning if their company's values don't align with their own,
🤝 importance of collaboration among multidisciplinary teams to create sustainable digital products and services,
⚙️ concept of carbon-neutral software and the choice of focusing mostly on energy consumption, and
💡 Nordic approach to trust, self-organization, and low hierarchy in fostering psychological safety and agency for individuals to drive sustainable initiatives

❤️ Subscribe, follow, like, ... stay connected the way you want to never miss our episode, every two Tuesday!

📣 Green IO next Conference is in London on September 19th 2024 (use the voucher GREENIOVIP to get a free ticket until June 18th)

📧 Once a month, you get carefully curated news on digital sustainability packed with exclusive Green IO contents, subscribe to the Green IO newsletter here

Learn more about our guest and connect: 

📧 You can also send us an email at to share your feedback and suggest future guests or topics.   

Satu and Janne’s sources and other references mentioned in this episode:


Intro 00:00

When we talk about agency, we need stories. We need to hear what somebody has already done. Otherwise, how is it possible?

Gael Duez 00:20

Hello everyone. Welcome to Green IO with Gaël Duez. That's me. In this podcast, we empower responsible technologists to build a greener digital world, one byte at a time. Twice a month on a Tuesday, our guests from across the globe share insights, tools and alternative approaches, enabling people within the tech sector and beyond to boost digital sustainability. And because accessible and transparent information is in the DNA of Green IO, all the references mentioned in this episode, as well as the transcript will be in the show notes. You can find these notes on your favorite podcast platform and of course on our website,

Sometimes, and I do mean sometimes, nice connections happen via social networks. When Janne Kalliola, Exove CEO, reached out to me to chat about his book Green Code, I was happily surprised to discover his work and a bit ashamed that it flew under my radar so far. Our discussion went from code efficiency to the Nordics way of deploying sustainability. Janne being based in Helsinki, Finland, and it made me curious about local specificities once again. So, after Latin America, Singapore and soon Japan, let's focus on another geographical area to see how the Nordic countries handle the environmental footprint of digital technology. A sector where they weigh significantly more than the size of their population would suggest around 26 million if we gather Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. 

And I also wanted another point of view, less technical and with a clear focus on organizational challenges to bring sustainability within the IT sector and beyond. Hence our second guest, Satu Heikinheimo, longtime founder of Helsinki design company, who launched Planet Diplomats last year. So welcome, Janne and Satu, thanks a lot for joining Green IO today.

Janne Kalliola 02:28

Thanks for having us. It's a pleasure.

Satu Heikinheimo 02:30

Thank you. It's fantastic to be talking about very important topics with you today.

Gael Duez 02:36

Yeah, thanks a lot. And you know, before we deep dive into green coding and enabling action in the Nordics way, I'd like to understand better what triggered both of you to become more planet aware, I would say. And Sato, you mentioned to me in an earlier conversation that you were a climate quitter. At first I thought you meant that everything was lost and we cannot save us from the massive force calming climate disruption. But actually, I got it all wrong, didn't I?

Satu Heikinheimo

Yes, a little bit. Okay, so two things. So what got me into sustainability was actually already a long, long time ago. More than ten years ago, I was studying service design and business like strategic design. And then I had an opportunity to do my Master's thesis, actually quite near where you, well, not near, but near where you live in Zanzibar. And I was examining how you can use design tools or can you use design tools to solve systemic problems. So that was like my starting point. And then I realized that sustainability is my thing and there is so much to do, and with design skills we can make a difference. And then ten years, or more than ten years passed, I worked in IT and in very many different sectors. And then I realized that I actually want to do only sustainability. And that wasn't possible in my current position, like previous positions. So that's why I am now calling myself a climate quitter since last fall. And that means that I am fully dedicated to fight climate change, create businesses and services that are fully embracing sustainability, the opportunities within sustainability, and to create a better and more regenerative future for all of us.

Gael Duez 04:40

And actually, you're not the only one. I think there is a significant trend of people changing jobs.

Satu Heikinheimo 04:47

Absolutely. There have been lots of studies made recently where I can see that I'm not the only one. So, for example, there was this study made by Paul Polman. It's called the 2023 Net Positive Employee Barometer. And they were researching the climate quitting phenomena and it seems that it's major and we're not really talking about that much. According to the study, nearly half of the employees, I think there were like 4000 employees interviewed or answering in the survey, were considering resigning their job if the values of the company did not align with their own values. That's major, isn't it?

Gael Duez 05:32

Pretty impressive. That's something claiming it and then something doing it. So congratulations for doing it.

Gael Duez 05:41

Janne, did you have an uh huh moment? Or was it more something consistent over your professional career and personal path?

Janne Kalliola 05:50

I think that I had like two moments that were sort of like a pinch moment, like in a war, that there was one from our employees, from Exove, that their demands for the sustainability, especially social sustainability, and the diversity, equality and inclusion were getting stronger. And as I'm a middle aged white male from a developed country, then there was a lot for me to learn. So that was one sort of starting point that there's something here that I need to understand better. And then the other one was that I'm the Chairman of the Board of Code from Finland association, and there we had a sustainability initiative. And then I went to Finnish think tank Sitra to discuss the ecological impact of IT, to understand it more, and then found out that everything is not right, that it actually is. There's a lot to fix. And then I started to think that, okay, I will do something about it on gold from the Finland side. Then I started to talk about it and hoped that somebody would pick up the topic and do something. After doing that for a while, I found out that actually nobody is really moving because of that. I'm beating the drum. So I decided, okay, I'll do it instead. And I started to write the book and preach about these things, because at the end I thought that the. I have three kids, so I would like them to inherit a livable planet. And if they later ask me, dad, or maybe someday. Granddad, what did you do when we were ruining the climate? And I said, I actually sat back and hoped that somebody else would do something. That is not a really good story that I would like to tell to anybody. So I decided that, okay, I need to roll up my sleeves and then get things done. And then it's sort of one thing that has led to another, and then I've been more and more entangled in a positive way with the topic and being discussing and speaking and doing things.

Gael Duez 08:08

That's a very good way your grandchildren keep on visiting you. The only other way is to dig a pool. But I'm not sure that you use it that much in Finland. I'd like to start this episode by being a bit nerdy first and talk about Green Code. And before we cover several points in this book, Janne, I'd like to ask you a question. What are the two most unconventional tips that you gave in the book?

Janne Kalliola 08:33

One is for the. I don't know whether they are unconventional, but at least these are not easy. Let's put it this way. One is for the companies to actually use the golden rule that they who have the gold make the rules. So the organization that buys a lot should demand sustainable solutions and maybe put some money out of it on it. But especially that it would be a requirement because the money makes the world turn around. And then the adoption of sustainable policies would be way easier. The other one is probably very hard, that everybody should restrict the use of digital services. Less watching videos, less doom scrolling, less Netflix, more being outside, more being with friends without devices, at least from personal experience. It's surprisingly hard. And it's sort of a habitual thing that you grab the phone and people are not sort of… we don't sustain boredom, for example, anymore. And that is really bad for creativity.

Gael Duez 09:54

For example, it's a consumption angle. And there is the chapter in your book that I love the title, which is raiders of the lost efficiency. And it really connects to a battle that a dear friend of mine is fighting at the moment. So Tristan Nitot, about the reverse Moore's law, he calls it the erooM law and starting with this simple statement, which is our 20 years old computer, they still work, they're still perfectly functional. The problem is that we cannot operate anything on them anymore, because software gets bigger and bigger and bigger, et cetera, et cetera. And it kind of resonated with what you wrote about code efficiency and us becoming lazy in this raiders of lost efficiency. What were your main drivers to read this chapter?

Janne Kalliola

Let's start from the history that I was nine years old when I got my computer in I think Christmas 83 or 84, I'm not 100% sure which Christmas, but it was week 20 with 5 kilobytes of memory, 1 MHz processor. And you could not do much with that computer. And every single software should be and had to be really efficient, because otherwise it would not run. And if you have patients who are nine years old, then you know that you don't wait too long for the computer to crunch the numbers. And recently, a few weeks ago I was in the alumni meeting of a 30 year old club that I founded when I was in university. And there was week 20 there with demos, with recent demos, like one year old demos. And I could not believe how much the people could get out of that computer. They were really fancy, the stuff that was there on the screen. You can do a lot. And I think that we don't currently after Amigas or the early PCs, Atari ST. You don't really need to stretch the envelope anymore, because there's always enough power. Deep loading is harder and then most focus. And I think that because it makes economic sense, the faster the code is produced, the better. And that is the problem. The problem is that the coder's time is way more expensive than the electricity used by the bloated code. But you're absolutely right that they are perfectly fine devices. I have an old iPad mini, the first version that runs two software of those that have been installed still, luckily for me, they are the software that I'm using almost daily. So it works. But for example, I can't surf any web pages because it runs out of memory. For the same sites that I used to flawlessly use on that iPad like five, seven years ago. The site has blown it, but the information, the amount of information that is on the site hasn't changed. You don't need to do an all encompassing software. And you don't need to do software that is like a hundred tools with an army knife. Just do something simple like it used to be back in the days and 70s, 80s with Unix. That there are very simple things that do one thing and they do that one thing well, and then you can combine those things to do something else. But then one thing that is crucial to understand is that the software developer is sort of at the mercy of a designer, because the designer figures out how the software interacts and a lot of that interaction then decides how it has to be implemented. And then if the designer doesn't really understand the eco-friendly approach, then the developer can do just that much.

Satu Heikinheimo

Yeah, I think, Janne, you're wonderfully talking about the importance of collaboration and how important, when we are creating more sustainable products and services, digital products and services, how important is that we bring the knowledge and the skills of different experts on the table. No developer alone can create the premium sustainable service nor can a designer. So this is what I've also been seeing, that we are so much going into our own boxes when, in this era, when we are wanting to tackle and actually create super good, very human centered services, digital services, we need to bring the multidisciplinary teams to work together.

Gael Duez

A final question when it comes to your book, Janne and Satu, please help us also to understand this decision. You decided to focus solely on energy consumption as an environmental variable. That was really the red line in all your book. Not that much mention of embedded carbon or carbon footprint of devices themselves, and no other mentions to water consumption, resource depletion. Why did you make this choice?

Janne Kalliola

I think that the energy consumption, or at the end, the efficiency is the key. That if we have more efficient software, we need less energy to run it, we need less hardware to host it, we need less network capacity to move the data around. So if we have the efficiency in the core, then the rest automatically follows. Of course, you need to do improvements, efficiency gains on the server side, on the network side, that development needs to march on. But for me, everything starts with the energy usage, and everything else sort of is a secondary matter because the software dictates the environment. Of course, the environment somewhat dictates what kind of software you can run, but the requirements of the software create the rest of the ecosystem and not vice versa. So that's why I started from the software.

Gael Duez 17:16

That's why you started from the software. And Satu, is it something, this focus on carbon and more specifically on energy consumption, is it something that you see a lot in your different initiatives, or do we also start discussing other environmental variables?

Satu Heikinheimo 17:33

I think it's like what Janne has been like, the focus Janne has in his book about energy. I think energy is very. It's kind of easy to grasp because energy equals money. So if you can save money by creating more sustainable software, then it's very easy. It's easier for businesses and leaders to understand, isn't it?

Gael Duez 17:58

Yes, it is. I'm just concerned about the pollution transfer there. But I guess it's less the case in your country. But we're seeing more and more a trade off between carbon reduction in water consumption, for instance, in data centers, and to cut this cycle. Actually, I'd like to investigate another aspect of your work triggering action. Because what I've noticed, reading your book, and what I've noticed discussing with you, Satu, is that we already have quite a lot of tools and quite a lot of awareness on these issues. I mean, it's pretty rare to find a CTO not being aware that there is an energy consumption issue. And no matter how hard it tries to reduce it, there are new usages, new needs, or not, maybe not needs, but popping up everywhere. So my question, and it will be starting with you, Satu, is why don't we act more? What is preventing us from building an agency? And I know that's a word that you use a lot, so could you maybe explain to us what are, according to you, the main pain points?

Satu Heikinheimo

Yeah, of course. Everybody wants to do good in their job and in their lives, right? Nobody wants to harm the planet and destroy it, unless you work in the oil industry. But even there, you have people who want to change things. And I think fundamentally, the core of humanity is to grow, to build, to create. And I think in the past years, we suddenly woke up to the fact that we have a climate crisis. It's been going on for years, but suddenly it's like we are in a serious situation. And that's why I think if we really want to change things, we have to consider that every job has to be a climate job. And now that Yanne has written a book about green code, he's doing what he can in his domain of ICT. He's giving the tools. And like Gaël, you said, there are already a lot of tools in different industries of how to really actually do the change. But what I think Janne has been able to do is that he's been giving the information, creating awareness, but also showing, like practicing what you preach. And I think this is like when we talk about agency, we need stories. We need to hear what somebody has already done, right? Otherwise, how is it possible? So we need inspiring stories, we need to make sustainability and even green coding a fun thing. It's not scarce, it's suddenly you're like, oh, I need to do something like I'm losing something. But we need to think of sustainability as a positive thing that brings hope. And when we are in this environment of hope and where we see that what we do has a meaning in the long term and also now, then we can get that agency. But agency is not possible if you don't have a community to support you.

Janne Kalliola 21:33

Yeah, I think that you're absolutely right. The thing is that I don't know how to put this in a positive spin because I fully agree that this should be fun and this should be cool and so forth. That everybody should be at the end accountable. What did I try, did I do or did I invent excuses because China is a bigger polluter? Or we have this like my company's parent company, they are printing a lot with the traditional printing. We could say that here in Exeter we don't really need to do anything because there's always the printing that is using propane and using a lot of electricity and producing a lot of garbage or that kind of thing that needs to be recycled, we don't need to do it because the bad guys are somewhere else. Everybody is a bad guy. And if we can make it so that you don't do it because you have that kind of climate angst, that you are motivated by fear or depression, but you are motivated with the possibilities.

Gael Duez 22:48

Could you, both of you, concretely share an example of how you manage to create a momentum towards change regarding green coating or even sustainability in general?

Satu Heikinheimo 23:02

I have been working with social sustainability before. I think it all starts when you realize what your values are, what is important to you, and then when you are in a healthy relationship with yourself, then you can start doing these things and then you can inspire others. That's how I see it. And sustainability has been my value for a long time. So, for example, in my previous job, I started to talk about, like, maybe we should create a sustainability strategy. And then kind of getting a little bit of buzz inside the company, I invited people to speak about interesting sustainability topics so that, you know, creating awareness for my working community, basically. So creating awareness, getting other people also excited about, oh, these are the opportunities. Maybe I could do that too. And suddenly we started creating sustainability training and then we created a sustainability strategy. And then Janne has been developing this green code, what do you call it?

Janne Kalliola

Yeah, the carbon neutral software company label in Code from Finland association.

Satu Heikinheimo 24:30

Absolutely. So I also discovered that and I'm like, of course we're going to get that. So getting people involved is super important. And also getting people to discuss these topics together. I think that's super important.

Janne Kalliola

Yeah. For me, the turning point was, in all of my thinking, when I got kids. Now the oldest one is 19, and soon, soon goes to the army. We will have a less full house. But then I have found out that I'm not the most important person in my life. That was sort of a turning point. That was actually worded by our CTO a few years ago, because then there were a lot of that kind of demands from the developers, especially the younger generation, that what they are entitled and so forth. And he said that it would be really good, that they would not be the most important person in their lives. And when you find out that you are not that important, that there are more important things, then suddenly a lot of things that you felt that were sort of burdensome to you were actually pretty okay things, if they were good for the other people that you felt more important. 

And then the other one, that I think that sums nicely, this meaningfulness and the fun. And the other is the Japanese concept of Ikigai. I don't know if you know it, but there's that. If you do what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs, then you have passion, mission, professional vocation, and that forms the Ikigai that is the meaning of your life. And I'm currently doing those things at that time. I'm sort of good at it. I'm still learning. I love the topic. I get some money out of it, and then I surely know that the world needs it. So there's meaning in my life and having meaning, being on a mission with a passion, is truly an empowering thing.

Gael Duez

The fun fact is that I used Ikigai three years ago when I decided to pivot, and that was really like. I remember printing the page and playing a bit around. And after a few days, it was crystal clear that I would focus 100% on digital sustainability, and hence Green IO and all the things. There is something that I find quite interesting is that when I ask you the question how we could trigger change, et cetera, you start a lot from an individual perspective, and I'd like to deep dive a bit more with the Nordics way of doing things. I think it's very important for both of you to say, okay, this is, pardon my French, but this is your shit. You know, you need to eat it and to manage it. And you were not that much into it. Our leadership should do this, the government should do that, et cetera. Satu, you mentioned several regulations, but more of the force for good, rather than something that was a blocker or needed before starting to act. Could you tell me a bit more about how you do things and how you implement sustainable initiatives in the Nordics, starting, obviously, with Finland, where both of you live?

Satu Heikinheimo 27:59

Yes. It all starts from the individual. And I actually launched a podcast about the psychology of sustainability today. And I think it's… Even if we are, I can see that there are lots of collectives, communities being born. But at the same time, I believe that we're moving very much more towards the individual era. And that means that we are kind of like, people are tired, people are burned out because they've been grinding in their jobs for years, and they don't see the rewards. And then they realize that, oh, okay, so this wasn't as promised when I was 18 and I went to study business, for example. So now people are kind of turning back inside themselves, and I can see that there is more and more of this happening. So we're going into this individual era where people are actually doing more Ikigai. They're going deeper into what is important to me. And I think there was a good saying. One of my friends said this quote, that your future self is talking shit about you. So I think that we are actually becoming more aware of what is a good life for me, how I want to live, and what is a good life for me. And that also requires that we actually do the work ourselves. What are your values? How are you treating yourself? Or are you just numbing your pain, for example, with doomless scrolling and such things? And that's where we go into the lifestyle changes. So from there, when you are more in line with your values and with your Ikigai, I think then we can actually make massive changes in companies, because then you can be honestly, brutally you. You can talk with your colleagues, you can create honest, aligned communities that are in the same mission as you. And that's what I'm seeing happening a lot, especially in Finland. We have so many networks of like minded people who want to do good. People are in different stages in their processes and lives. But I think that's where we create communities. And I think the communities can exist, like outside of companies, but also inside companies. And that's where we can create massive change. And the leaders are part of these communities. Right? That's how I see it.

Janne Kalliola 30:42

Yeah, I fully agree. I think that the Nordic way starts with that there's inherent trust, that people are trustworthy, that they can be trusted without proving that they can be trusted, that this seems to be the other way around in most of the parts of the world. And then the other one is that we are expected to be self guided or self organized. I don't know, maybe because we have been always so little amount of people compared to the amount of land that you are there in middle of forest, with yourself or with your family back in the days like 1800 century or whatnot. And then you need to cope because there is no network, there is no huge amount of people. This is something that reflects that when people are self organized, then the communities start to self organize. There are a lot of companies in Finland that the management doesn't really tell people what to do, but expects and trusts that they will do the right things when it's time to do the right things. And that goes… It's not against planning, it's not against sort of structure. It's more that the planning and the structure happens during the execution, during the work, and it sort of emerges out of it. Instead of that somebody needs to say that, okay, this is the scaffolding that you need to work inside, because somebody else has decided that we can't really trust you, that somebody would go, that if he would let people roam free, they would go outside of the area and do something else somewhere else that would not be beneficial for the organizational community. So that is probably one of the striking things that then helps us to create those ad hoc stuff. Of course, I am sort of product of our culture, but I think that it's the crucial way, because the climate disaster is upon us right now, that everybody needs to start moving, and then we figure out what are the best ways, what should be stopped, and then you should be humble enough to say that, okay, I did not take the right direction in the beginning and I learned, and I'm now changing. Instead of that, I will go to this direction at the bitter end, because that is the risk that everybody starts doing things and then some people get stuck, that this is actually harmful, that it feels that it's not. It sounds like that it's good, but actually it's harmful because of reasons A, B and C. And the person said, no matter, I'm still. I've sort of invested myself in this cause and I need to continue that one. So if you can avoid that risk by accepting that nobody's perfect and failures to happen, which in Finland, we are not that good compared to states, for example, that if there's a personal bankruptcy, then that you are just one experienced richer here in Finland, you are member of pariah class, that you are not to be trusted because you couldn't handle your own personal finances. So there are differences also on the other side. But I think that the pace is more important in the beginning than direction, because the direction will form, the pace is harder to create.

Satu Heikinheimo

Yeah, I totally agree with the low hierarchy and this you can see everywhere in the society in Finland and also in the Nordics, and also in the society and also in companies that there is… When you have a low hierarchy, then you have a higher chance of having psychological safety. And when you have psychological safety, people feel safe in themselves and with others that is making the agency then possible, because agency, you can't act if you're not feeling safe, then you're just kind of in this fight or flight mode.

Janne Kalliola

Yeah. And then you feel that you are fraud, and then you end up later in burnout or something that you try to predance, something that you don't feel that you are, even if you could be.

Satu Heikinheimo 35:12

Absolutely. And we have this peace. I wanted to also talk about peace, because we understand the value of peace. It's very much linked with safety, so we have a respect for others. And that also has to do with, again, low hierarchy. So let's say Janne has an idea of developing something in his company. He can just put it in Slack. I have this idea of an initiative, so it's very peaceful, safe to start things. And I think we need more starts, initiatives where people can then, you know, be engaged.

Gael Duez

The specificities of the Nordics' way are definitely based on law, hierarchy, and a sense of self organization. Like, you know, you're on your own in a big forest, you need to do your stuff, and you don't have to be told what to do. But there is also this sense of safety that you will be able to try something and fail. And that's okay. This is where I'm not fully sure to understand, because on the other end, Janne, you say that if you fail in Finland, you're a bit of… you're part of the pariah class, at least if you fail your business. So isn't there a discrepancy? Is it safe to fail? And do we need to be able to fail? If you really want to create momentum or to accelerate things? When it comes to sustainable initiatives?

Janne Kalliola

Yeah. I think that we are not the perfect society. That is the one thing that I want to make crystal clear. This is not the perfect way of doing everything. Even if we are in a number of different surveys, the Nordic countries are always on top and it's about happiness or different kinds of economical performance. So something there is done right. But that example was for the… that we could still learn from the other countries that are more tolerant of certain countries. This doesn't mean that we have… we would not have that kind of issue, that if somebody fails that this would fail worse. Like the, like some of the, that we don't lose face except in financial sense, that this problem is an exception. But then the other one, people understand that you can't be in the business, that you can't succeed in everything. And it's not always that it's sort of successful then out. This is not the way we do here, but we understand that people fail. But of course if it would have even the… although also the financial failure buffer like the states has, we could be way better. I think that in the other Nordic countries that failures are not seen that critical, but the safety comes from, I think, from the trust that you are trusted upright. If it fails, then it might be that you lose some of the trust and so forth, and you might lose some of the safety. Yes, that might happen, but it's still better that everybody is trusted upfront because then everybody has the possibility to have the agency and not wait until they have sort of proven themselves to somebody that they have the agency.

Satu Heikinheimo

It's a good place to start innovating and creating. But then again, I also see that safety has this kind of dark side in the Nordics. At least I can tell. I've been living in Sweden and Finland, so I can talk based on my own experience. But sometimes I think we are also afraid to take risks. And I think that's the dark, like the other side of safety. So we want things to be so safe that we are not taking risks. So everything has to be like, well, not everything, but you know, like we want to see that somebody already did it and then we can take those steps. And that's also a reason why we need more agency, more brave, courageous people like Janne and Gaël to show us examples, stories through podcasts and different kinds of events and so forth.

Gael Duez 39:52

I think what I really like about the discussion we had on the Nordics way is that once you've built trust, you've got this ability to try and fail. Even if you've been perfectly honest about the dark side, as you say,Satu, sometimes we don't dare enough, but I think it makes total sense. And it's come almost all the way back to what triggered the agile revolution. And I'm not talking about it in a buzzwording way, but really, truly, at the beginning, we realized that developing software was super complex. And actually, sustainability is super complex. And we can literally freeze in front of such complexity because we're so afraid of failure that we want to have like double, triple, quadruple safeties before starting to code or starting to design or starting something. And what is scariest than climate change and biodiversity collapse, etcetera? Nothing. I mean, for me, nothing. Not even maybe nuclear war. But let's not talk about this. And my point is, if we don't dare to take small steps, knowing that others will trust us to at least go in the right direction, even if we make a mistake, then it can really freeze us. And that's something that I see in many organizations. Where do I start? And if I make a mistake, and if I do enough, don't do it right. But the truth is, when it comes to sustainability, everyone makes a lot of mistakes because we don't fully understand the magnitude of the problem, but we understand the directions. When you reduce energy, that's okay. Now, you know that it's a bit more complex than this because, of course, you've got the rebound effect, etcetera, etcetera. But if you're meaningful about reducing energy and you're meaningful about not reinvesting this energy in something, even with more consumerism, that's the right direction. That might be the best absolute, that might not be the absolute best choice to make right now if we had a full map and a full modelization of the system, but that doesn't happen. So I really like this kind of approach, like enabling people, trusting people, and daring to do the first step. Hence, to build success stories to follow. And then, of course, they will be broadcasted on my podcast. I follow your piece of advice.

Satu Heikinheimo

I also wanted to add one thing. When we're thinking about how we, like, actually make the change happen in a product service, digital development, sometimes. Like Gaël, you also said that there is enough information available, but now it's time to act. And how can companies and how can people in their daily jobs act? So I am hoping to see, like, a shift from lean consultants and scrum consultants to actually, like these sustainability coaches who are going inside companies, walking, you know, going hand in hand with the development teams, and then in practice, making these little changes that Janne is also talking about in his book. So really small steps, and that's where we can start building, like, bigger things and the maturity in the company grows, and then there is more willingness to actually pivot to something more incredible and something with bigger impact.

Gael Duez

You believe, Satu, that some external help is still needed to trigger change at some point?

Satu Heikinheimo 43:38

Sometimes it's the same with facilitation. Sometimes it's good to get someone from the outside. It's like, hey, come and help us out a little bit. So it's like the person comes with a different position, doesn't know about the history and the legacy and whatever is going on in the company. And then just focusing on, let's get this thing done brings the value. So, yes. So external. Yes. But also the awareness, like, I'm not really sure, like, how much sustainability training there is for, say, regular employees. So there actually needs to be training, like practical training. Sustainability shouldn't be something that is only for the sustainability directors or leads. It should be part of every single job. So everyone should be able to, or at least given an opportunity to reflect on their own job. From this perspective, what does it mean? In my life, you can't even make the change if you don't even know how to. How to change your job or what you're doing that day, isn't it?

Janne Kalliola 44:44

Yeah. If you don't understand the vocabulary and it feels like that it's only for the experts. And it might be that the best expert for your job is probably yourself. But if you don't have the tools, if you don't have the understanding, if you don't have the awareness, then it might be really hard. There's a good example of how we have launched the green it metric model in Exove, and we tested that out with our parent company. And after the test run, sustainable director said that this was the first time ever that she had been able to discuss with IT about sustainability on IT terms. And the IT people understood what sustainability actually means outside, that they need once a year, provide data for the carbon calculation. So there was that kind of missing link that we could then forge together in that meeting. And then now there's a green IT committee formed that there are people that are doing those things. They made immediate changes to certain ways of procurement and so forth. So there were a lot of sparks happening because they had the mutual understanding vocabulary, and then they shared the values and the goal. So then things started to happen. There was nothing actually changed except that they learned a bit more about the ways of understanding IT and sustainability. And then a lot of things happened. And I think that this is crucial, that there's so much expertise and sort of execution power locked, because people don't really know what they should do or what they could do because they just are not asked to think about this.

Satu Heikinheimo

Yeah, absolutely. I love this example. And here again, the importance of dialogue. And what is the narrative that is in the company, in the teams? Is it like, oh, yeah, the sustainability team is doing these strategies and doing, taking care of the compliance and da da da da. Or we need to actually change the narrative so that, okay, I'm a UX designer, for example, okay, what can I do in my job? How can we create an internal team where we discuss these things? And I've seen this already happening in big companies and also small companies in Finland, where teams are coming together or people are coming together and forming teams, and then they're showing like, oh, I did this kind of thing here, this kind of change in our product, and this was the impact, and people get excited. So, yeah, the narrative and the dialogue is super important, and the change is happening through people. When we're talking about products and services, it's the people who are actually the creators and the developers.

Gael Duez 47:58

Fair point. Now to close the podcast I will ask my traditional question to both of you. Could you share one piece of positive good news regarding sustainability? And who knows, maybe sustainably in the IT sector.

Janne Kalliola

Awareness is rising. And I was yesterday speaking in lobbied and the University of Technology to students that were focusing solely on sustainability, on IT, that their whole study program is about sustainability. So we are getting new generations that are sort of tooled already from the universities to tackle the problem. I think that there's hope at the end. The hope is something that if you have the hope, then you can do miracles. And I think that there's hope especially how quickly things have progressed on the sort of talk level. Of course, talk is shit that the actions matter about then they typically talk always comes first and then the action comes later. And we are now in the talk phase and hopefully we are in the action phase soon.

Satu Heikinheimo 49:09

I actually also have two answers. And the other one before you even said that you were lecturing or had a keynote yesterday. I would have also said the same, that there is so much happening in educational institutions, in academia, there are even doctoral programs where the focus is sustainability. And this to me shows that the idea of every job will be a climate job is becoming a reality. It starts from different levels and education has a huge role in it. And also the collaboration that different educational institutions have with businesses then. So I think that is fabulous to see. And I hope I can also collaborate more in the future also with these domains. 

The other thing that came to my mind is we're going back to the people. I think it's great that it's easy to find your people who have the same values because it's becoming more obvious now. Maybe it's a little bit polarized that you have people who are super into sustainability, then you have people who are like, I'm interested and curious, and then you have the people who are kind of. It's not in their agenda, but most of the people that you meet nowadays are, at least I meet, super inspiring and we have fabulous conversations and there are opportunities for collaboration. And I think that's where what Janne mentioned about Ikigai comes into play. So I think it's very important that we as individuals also know where we are standing and where we are headed and we have a vision. I think it's super important to have a vision where you're going and then you can execute and of course there are several like I don't know dozens of ways to get there but I think it's important that you have a vision, you know your values and then you will be able to find your people.

Gael Duez 51:15

I think we can close the podcast on this statement. Thanks a lot both of you for joining. That was inspiring and it was an interesting angle to see how the cultural context helps to understand what works well and what doesn't work that well when it comes to sustainability. So thanks a lot. It was great to have you on the show. I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Satu Heikinheimo 51:41

Thank you so much Gaël and Janne, thank you. It was a pleasure.

Janne Kalliola 51:45

Yes, thanks for having us. It was a true pleasure.

Outro 51:49

Thank you for listening to this Green IO episode. If you enjoyed it, share it and give us five stars on Apple or Spotify. We are an independent media relying solely on you to get more listeners. Plus, it will give our little team Jill, Meibel, Tani and I a nice booster. 

In our next episode, we will talk about Amazon web service, AWS and low carbon cloud operations with a renowned expert, Adrian Cockroft, the former VP Amazon Sustainability architecture and a leading force in the Green Software Foundation initiative to achieve a common reporting standard across all cloud providers. Stay tuned. Green IO is a podcast and much more. So visit to subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, read the latest articles on our blog, and check the conferences we organize across the globe. The next one is in London on September 19. Early bird tickets are available until June 18, but you can get a free ticket using the Voucher GREENIOVIP. Just make sure to have one before they're all gone. I'm looking forward to meeting you there to help you fellow responsible technologists build a greener digital world one byte at a time.

❤️ Never miss an episode! Hit the subscribe button on the player above and follow us the way you like.

 📧 Our Green IO monthly newsletter is also a good way to be notified, as well as getting carefully curated news on digital sustainability packed with exclusive Green IO contents.