Today I was thinking about several recent meetings I had with executives of two Fortune 100 companies and it becomes very obvious to me that creating a new model for them that incorporates sustainability is not going to be easy. That’s because points of contention — or as I call them, “points of pain” — typically are things that Fortune 100 companies run from. In fact, when such points of contention continually arise, as they do with any startup or with the vicissitudes of doing business, the very thought of possibly having to make changes to accommodate them has a way of causing key managers to divert their attention to other projects, other brands or other divisions rather than having to working through them.

But as every entrepreneur or “intrapreneur” (an entrepreneur within a large company) knows, points of pain are where the real breakthroughs –the “game changers”– invariably come about, and where sustainability issues ultimately get resolved. And there’s nothing more important in promoting sustainability than to figure out how we can make it more that just a buzzword in all of the Fortune 100 companies — something I know is possible and I’m confident will eventually happen. But all of the managers and people working on these issues need to understand that there will be points of pain involved, and that the real magic takes place in working through them.

Let me offer a couple of personal examples. In one instance, I was engaged in attempting a turnaround of a failing $300 million seafood company, which was proving to be a more painful experience than I had bargained for, since there was little or no branding on commodities like shrimp and crab.  I was about ready to bail on the whole endeavor, but continuing to persevere in hopes of finding an answer, when I chanced to see the movie “Forest Gump.” And that was how the “Bubba Gump Shrimp Company” went from being fiction to fact in less than five weeks.

Then there was the time I was working on my Code Blue recycling venture and just couldn’t seem to figure out how to make a recycling company connect with consumers. I was totally out of money and ready to give up on the whole thing when I attended a produce convention in Las Vegas. Now I happen to love produce, and figured if all else failed in the recycling business, I could always try some enterprise related to fruits and vegetables. But by sheer coincidence, while there I tripped on one of those electric cord covers, which resulted in my taking particular notice of an adjacent exhibit featuring traceability software. The exhibit was one built around tracing tomatoes and produce from field to table through the UPC code, but no one had thought of using it to keep tabs on recyclable materials. I had literally stumbled on the remedy for my Code Blue “point of pain”  — a unique solution that eventually became the basis for Greenopolis technology.

There are many such examples of solutions being found to situations that appear to be irresolvable, some of which I’m sure you can supply. My hope is that corporate social responsibility officials can summon the patience and the will to persevere through the organizational points of pain to “birth” the new models we need to help ensure sustainability.